31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 11

31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 11: Version 2.0

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31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 11

I’m taking Amy Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!

31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs

Day 11 – Explore Where Your Ancestor is Buried

I couldn’t wait to pop into my email this morning to see what Day 11 would be – and “Yes” Amy you were right – I loved this topic! Visiting cemeteries is one of my favorite places to explore. Although I don’t freely admit that to non-genealogist, as they might suggest that the people with the white coats should be called. I’m very lucky that my husband doesn’t mind accompanying me on those trips; while I’m stumbling across gravestones, he enjoys looking at the names and dates to see what their timespan of life was. As I’m photographing, I often hear him in the background, “who said people didn’t live a long life, this guy was in his nineties when he died” or “he must have been a woodworker with this gravestone looking like logs.” There have been a few times when he’s found what I was looking for, by just walking or driving around.

Roger Sherman, Signer of the Declaration of the Independence – Buried at Oak Grove  Cemetery in New Haven, CT.

Besides exploring where my ancestors are buried, I’m often looking for a specific gravestone of someone totally not connected to me, such as a recent excursion to Oak Grove Cemetery, where I was looking for the grave of Roger Sherman for a July 4th post. I couldn’t resist a walk through while there, and discovered the graves of Eli Whitney, Noah Webster and Major Glenn Miller.

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My all-time favorite cemetery is where my ggg grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan, is buried; a cemetery named Cane Creek Church in Dahlonega, Georgia. I’ll never forget the first time my cousin, Charles Bryan, took me to visit. It was quite aways out of town, turning down this road, rounding that corner, and down a winding road. It was after all in the Blueridge Mountains. After finally arriving at Cane Creek Road, he turned onto a red-clay somewhat muddy road with deep ditches along each side. Charles laughed telling me, “if something happens to us, they’ll never find us out here.” Well that put thoughts in my head… and not positive ones either!

That narrow, muddy road led back into the mountains a good mile or more. I thought out loud….”what if we meet someone on this road – it’s not wide enough for two?” Charles just looked at me – but we didn’t!

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Cane Creek Church

We finally arrived at a large open area where Cane Creek Church sat. What a beauty… an old white-board country church. Situated behind the church, up a slight incline was Cane Creek cemetery, totally engulfed all around by Georgia pines.

As I was taking in the beauty of the church, while wanting to check out the cemetery I could see in the distance…but what actually had first caught my eye was the old logging truck sitting off to the side. While I didn’t say anything, I felt a little nervous; my thoughts were, “odd place for lunch”, but if they didn’t want to be found.. well this was the place!

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Doors leading to church

We explored the church first finding the doors unlocked, and what beautiful double wood doors; I couldn’t help but quickly becoming enchanted with the inside of this old country church established in 1866. How could anyone not enjoy its knotty pine walls and ceiling. There was a plain oak pulpit for the preacher and an old piano sat waiting in the corner. Oh how I wish I could remember my lessons, I wanted to tinkle those keys to the tune of “Church in the Wildwood.” They still hold worship there once a month, maybe on one of my visits I’ll sit in one of those pews for service.

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The inside – complete with ghostly images

I have visited this church several times since, almost every time I visit Dahlonega; it draws me there. On one occasion, my photographs showed ghostly images of the inside, which quite intrigued me. They occurred after a walk to find the homestead of Berrian Clark Bryan; his cabin is just back through the woods, down the sloping of the mountain where the church and cemetery are. The Dahlonega Nugget printed an article on my ghostly images and walk to find his homestead.

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Berrian Clark Bryan – his gravestone clearly identifies him as a Confederate soldier.

Besides the grave of Berrian Clark Bryan, his wife Berilla Free Bryan is next to him and their son William Madison Bryan(t) is also there. He is the only one who uses a “T” at the end of Bryan; see how names change with reasons unknown. Within a short distance is another daughter, Nancy Bryan Bruce, buried with her husband George Winston Bruce. They have the largest gravestone in the cemetery; maybe that’s due to the story about the gold they buried. Also nearby is a cousin, Lizzie Gooch, she’s the one I have a spooky story planned for around Halloween this year.

In my search for family gravestones, I have yet to find any extra information other than the maiden name and birth and death dates. I  discovered a cemetery in West Haven, Ct. recently, St. Bernard’s Cemetery, with many Irish gravestones that left me wishing they were related to me. As we drove by the first one, I quickly asked my husband to stop and back up, as I couldn’t believe what I had just saw. On those gravestones were the names of the counties in Ireland of where they were from. If I had found that type of information on my family graves, I’d have jumped up and clicked my heels – as I would surely have found the pot of gold.

Rossie L. (Sharp) McKinley with son Lonnie McKinley

As to symbols on gravestones, I only remember finding two, a hand with a finger pointing to heaven on my great grandmother’s grave in Powelton, Hancock County, Georgia, with her young son Lonnie; his looks to be a Dove, the symbol of peace.

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© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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