Friday, July 23, 2010

Genealogy Road Trip, Mission #1

Perhaps a better title would have been "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE."  There's something particularly satisfying about getting out of town when all day long, nature and fate have conspired to keep it from happening.  The day started at 4:30 a.m., with a drip coming from the ceiling, landing on the floor next to the bed.  Actually, it was a *bunch* of drips, landing in the *puddle* on the floor next to the bed.  The rest of the day followed suit, but by 6 p.m., all the days' fires had been extinguished, and we were on the road, only a half hour behind our hoped-for schedule.

First stop: Clarksville, Butler county, Iowa, to locate and photograph the graves of Andrew and Flora (Wells) Stevens.  Andrew, a New York native and son of Lemuel Stevens and Celinda Sharp, was a blacksmith in the area for 59 years.  His wife, Flora, was a native of Stephenson county, Illinois, the daughter of Philip Wells and Matilda Miner.  They raised twelve children in Clarksville and Northwood, Flora passing away in Northwood, Worth county, Iowa in 1924, and Andrew at the home of his son in Longmont, Colorado, in 1936.

I wasn't completely expecting to find Andrew and Flora's graves, since this cemetery was not specifically mentioned by name in their obits, but was hoping to find a small cemetery that we could walk easily.  What we found, however, was a pretty sizeable grounds, with a LOT of burials.  We walked the older sections, probably close to a third of the cemetery,  but the heat, humidity, rain sprinkles, bugs, and darkness finally forced us to give up.  We are expecting some return calls from some potentially helpful local resources who might help us locate their graves more specifically, and maybe we'll be able to find them on our way back home.
A small section of the cemetery

 When walking cemeteries like this, seeing the same surnames over and over, spanning several generations, I'm always a bit envious of those who lay forever in "their" land with "their" people, and the sense of continuity and belonging it provokes.

Clarksville was a great little town.  Everyone we talked to was so friendly, and the town was full of beautiful historic old homes, many of the ones we saw being in some state of refurbishment.  I wish we would have had more time to "poke around" - this antique store in the old corner bank building looks particularly interesting -- love the architecture ---

Hopefully we'll be able to stop again on our way back home.  Meanwhile - the Neat Sight of the Day, observed along the road somewhere in Iowa, on a van we passed on the interstate:

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