Saturday, April 12, 2008

Of Flowers, Lentzes and an Amazing Woman

We left Gadsden today and headed for a little area of northern Alabama where my Lentz ancestors lived and died. Along the way we enjoyed more of the beautiful dogwood, both white and pink.

We arrived in Lentzville around 1PM, and it wasn't easy finding our way to the family cemetery. Lentzville used to be a real town, with a post office and church and now there's not much but the cemetery and a road sign. The roads twist and turn along a lake or river and by the time we found the cemetery, we weren't sure we could find our way back out.

The cemetery was probably on land once owned by my great-great-great grandfather Samuel Lentz. He owned quite a bit of land here. His sons also owned a good bit of the surrounding area. I figured this lush pasture adjoining the cemetery was probably his once upon a time.

Samuel's parents, Henry and Sevilla Lentz, came to Limestone County, Alabama, from Rowan County, North Carolina in the early 1800s. Henry was a Revolutionary War veteran and one of the earliest settlers to arrive in Limestone County. In this picture I am standing between the graves of my great-great-great-great-grandparents. Henry is on my right and Sevilla is on my left. There is still a great debate raging among their descendants regarding Sevilla's nativity. Some claim she was a Cherokee Indian, while others believe her to be of German descent.

And here I am at Samuel's grave.

Samuel and Barbara Lentz had 15 children. Three of their sons migrated to Texas, including my ancestor Gabriel Moore Lentz. As I walked through the little cemetery, I found many of Gabe's brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.

Today I retraced the steps of my own grandmother and her sisters. I have photos of them standing at the very spots I was standing today, taken probably 30-35 years ago. My grandmother was quite proud of her Lentz ancestry and so am I.

After we completed our visit to Lentzville, we took a tourist trek to see the birthplace of Helen Keller. I became fascinated with the story of Helen Keller when I was a young girl and I could not pass up the chance to visit this landmark to pay homage to a great lady. We toured the house and saw the dining room where one of the anchor scenes of "The Miracle Worker" occurred - the battle between Helen and her teacher over Helen's lack of table manners. We saw the cottage where Teacher retreated with her student during their initial weeks together. We saw the pump where Helen first made the connection between the letters Teacher was spelling into her hand and the water that was flowing from the pump.

It is a simple place, but the extraordinary thing that happened here makes it a very special place and we were glad we decided to stop in Tuscumbia and visit.

Afterwards, we drove on to Pickwick Landing, just a few miles away from the Shiloh National Military Park where we intend to spend tomorrow morning. We found a hopping little eating place just down the road from the hotel and had fun listening to the folks around us teasing each other as only long time friends can do. The food was good, too.


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