2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 22 (May 27 – June 2): At The Cemetery
I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.
If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!
At the Cemetery… memories
As this prompt falls on Memorial Day… many will visit cemeteries to pay their respects to loved ones and place flags on gravestones of their military members. While I know “Memorial Day” is to honor those who gave their life for their country, it’s an honor to place a flag on all those who served.
Edgar Leroy McKinley – US Army – WWII
PFC 2 INF 5 INF DIV
My uncle Leroy died during WWII at the Battle of the Bulge in Metz, Germany. He was drafted and sent immediately to the front lines… and while out clearing a wooded forest area, he was shot by enemy sniper fire; he was my mother’s only sibling. My post on Leroy as the boy, the man and soldier can be read Here.
The flag and Purple Heart of Leroy McKinley will be passed to his great- niece, of who was named after him… McKinley Lee Gillon.
I placed a flag at The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall that came to West Haven, CT. to honor my uncle PFC Leroy Mckinley
Stephen J. Insalaco – SGT US Army
We visited my husband’s father’s grave to visit and place a flag for his service and to honor his memory. I wrote about his military life in the previous post over Here. Often we find the local American Legions placing flags on gravestones as they walk the rows… it’s awesome to stand and watch as the flag is placed and as they salute the grave.
Harold “Clayton” Bryan (US NAVY)
My father’s grave is over 900 miles away, so it’s not often that I’m able to visit. I hope the local American Legion leaves a flag this year to honor his service in the U. S. Navy. “Thank You” for your service Daddy! My father served on-board the USS Washburn and the USS Blue Ridge… which served at Bikini Atoll for the first atomic blast tests.
In years past, I often dragged my two children to cemeteries on their vacation to Georgia to visit their grandmother. I was more into family history at that time… so what better place to gather information… than the family cemeteries. They laugh now… telling me how they told their friends that they were going on vacation to traspe through cemeteries… but now tell me that they actually enjoyed it. My mother didn’t often like to visit there… telling me she’d be there soon enough!
Years ago, after visiting Cane Creek Church in Dahlongega, Georgia, The Lumpkin Nugget newspaper wrote about my visit and the ghostly photos taken inside the church. I was soon contacted by an unknown cousin planning a Civil War reenactment for our shared Civil War grandfather Berrien Clark Bryan. That was the most unusual funeral I’ve ever attended at a cemetery… as it was a reenactment funeral. The men wore Civil War uniforms and carried muskets… while the women of the Confederacy group wore billowing black mourning dresses that flowed along the ground as they walked to the gravesite; a bronze plaque was placed in front of his gravestone.
It was an eerie experience as many Bryan family descendants gathered to honor, once again, our Civil War ancestor in an reenactment funeral.
Both regiments gathered for a picture after the funeral reenactment!
Often hubby and I ride through cemeteries we discover to view old graves, especially if I see old gravestones from the road. He enjoys reading the names and ages at death, while I enjoy photographing unique and unusual monuments. It’s interesting to see how loved ones were remembered years ago with such unique headstones and tremendously large ornate monuments. One of the most interesting cemetery we visited was St. Bernard’s Cemetery in New Haven, CT. I immediately noticed it was a predominantly Irish cemetery, but what quickly caught my eye was that many of the monuments listed their country home birthplace directly on the gravestone. I was so in awe… and so wished that my Irish family was buried there! My blog post of discovering the origin of the family home directly on the gravestone was picked up by Family Tree Magazine as another way to possibly discover where your ancestors were from.
What an awesome find on a gravestone… A place of birth! Born in Co. Tipperary, Parish of Tomb, Ireland in 1847
My McKinley ancestors, William (1743-1815) and Mary McKinley (1740-1806) are buried in Steele Creek Cemetery in Charlotte, N.C., and while traveling through a few years ago, we made a detour off the highway to visit this cemetery. It was quite an interesting cemetery and you can read all about my visit and discoveries over Here. My cousin, Robert Bryan, visited there many years ago to take photographs for me, but it had always been my dream to visit there in person… to walk the same land my ancestors walked on and see their gravestones in person.
I need to make a return visit to Steele Creek Cemetery as I have discovered many more ancestors buried there… in as I didn’t have time on that visit to search them all out.
Winding Stair Road… a service park road on Springer Mountain that led me Hickory Flats Cemetery.
One of the most unusual places for a cemetery I’ve ever visited, was when my cousin Charles Bryan took me to Hickory Flats Cemetery. What was so unusual, was that it was located on top of Springer Mountain in Fannin County, Georgia… sitting alongside the Appalachian Trail. To get there, we rode ’round and ’round Springer Mountain on a park gravel road called the Winding Stair Road… hardly room enough for one car. My passenger side looked down the side… down into a deep gully below… no guard rails, and I didn’t like being close to the edge! It was quite a scary ride up that graveled road… and I was constantly praying that we met no one coming down! I think cousin Charles enjoyed taking me up that specific road… watching me squirm; he knew there were other safer roads he could have taken!
Hickory Flatts Cemetery – New Bethel Church
I was in such awe of this place… that I totally forgot about taking many photos that day… I plan a return trip soon. Notice the sign above that says, “campers welcome.” The Appalachian trail runs alongside the cemetery, so campers are allowed to camp there. On the day we arrived, we found a group of “Long” family members holding their yearly family reunion. After much conversation, we discovered that we actually were related to them through Sanford P. Long who married Sara Catherine Bryan… daughter of my great great grandfather William Madison Bryan; they hold a reunion there every year and camp for the weekend.
Francis “Jemima” A. Fortner
1851 – 1893
The Hickory Flats community was way back in the mountains and part of New Bethel Church, which later relocated to Tennessee. It was said that Fanny died during a cold winter and often whichever cemetery was closest to pull a wagon to, was often where you were buried. Her husband, William Madison Bryan, was buried next to his father at Cane Creek Cemetery in Lumpkin County, Georgia in 1921.
Stay tuned for Week 23 … Namesake
Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!
To read more Family Stories… click HERE.
© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved