Monday, April 10, 2006

On the Road Again

Another long, satisfying day. We started off by returning to Niccum Cemetery and completing our photo history of the burials there. I was glad to finish the camera work, but rather sad to leave. I felt a real connection with the pretty little cemetery.

Just before we left Danville, we took a swing by the Illiana Genealogical Historical Society so I could pick up a couple of CDs of marriage and burial records and whatever else caught my attention. This was our first experience this trip with the snooty, holier than thou keeper of the records you want and I have and just see if you can figure out a way to get me to let you see them type. My word, some folks are just so impressed with the power they hold over the poor family historians.

The gentlemen who was helping me could not have been nicer and he bent over backward to help. But the LADY IN CHARGE OF THE COPIER, which heaven forbid the common folk should attempt to use, was certainly not going to let these folks from GAWD ALMIGHTY TEXAS get her to bend her rules one iota. Lana and I are really good at playing aw-shucks humble with these types and we managed to get everything we were after anyway. I had the last word; when my total for the books and cds and copies hit about $85 worth, I plunked a portrait of Benjamin Franklin down on the counter and told them to keep the change. I somehow got the impression that most folks don't walk in with cash, let alone leave without the change they are due. So take that, Miss Snoot.

We headed on down to Moultrie County and arrived about lunchtime, and decided to indulge in a Cracker Barrel experience. Which was a good thing, since we worked ourselves down the rest of the afternoon. Despite our experiences of earlier in the day, we decided to head first for the genealogical society, since we had no firm directions for the half dozen cemeteries we wanted to visit. (We actually managed to find the first one on the way, with our usual bumbling luck.) We arrived, to be greeted by a formidable white-haired lady with a 'tude, and braced ourselves for the worst.

But to our surprised pleasure, Miss 'Tudy turned out to be a gal with a dry wit and a heart of gold. She pulled folder after folder from their vertical files, each filled with pictures and obituaries and family data for Lana's Waggoner folks. We kept the two ladies there busy with the copier for the better part of an hour. We had quite a pile of paper. And we hit another one of our lucky strikes. A gentlemen who was a frequent visitor to the facilities, but who had not been there for quite some time, arrived shortly after we did. I was busy trying to locate cemetery directions while Lana sorted through Waggoner folders, and I wasn't having much luck. He fussed around with the records and pulled out a book with just the map I had been looking for. If he hadn't known to look for that book, I'm not sure what we would have done, because Miss 'Tudy didn't seem to know much about the cemeteries. We left, after showering our ladies with thanks and a contribution for their renovation project, and started the next cemetery assault.

Finding your way among the farm roads of Indiana and Illinois is not the same as finding your way around rural Texas. Everything up here is based on the township system and all the roads are numbered sequentially from some point, with the same numbers counting N, S, E, & W from that point. So you will see 1000N, 1000E, 1000S, and 1000W and they will NOT be the opposite ends of each other. If we had not had the luck to find that detailed map, we would never have found the cemeteries we were seeking, let alone find our way out of rural Illinois and back to Mattoon and our beds for the night. With Lana acting as navigator, we somehow managed to get oriented and hit four cemeteries in quick succession before calling it a day and even though one was on a road posted with a "No Trespassing" sign (see previous post on how much we pay attention to warnings when we've come 900 miles to see something).

We have two more cemeteries to visit in the morning and then we head back to Indiana, a shift forward in time, and tackle the Mason family in Pike County as our last project for this trip.

It is amazing how relaxing it is to roam around the back roads looking for family. At the end of the day we are bone tired, but by morning we are ready to tackle it again. I have really enjoyed walking the cemeteries, listening to the robins singing in the trees nearby, and looking over rolling fields that are waiting for the plow and a new season of growth. I would really love to see these places when the corn is growing high and the trees are green. It is a beautiful country we are travelling through.

No picture tonight, because my connection is acting flaky and refusing to cooperate. I'll try again tomorrow. I have a great picture of an old barn.


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