Treasure Chest Thursday: The Trip of a Lifetime

Beautiful Front Beach, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, apparently unaffected by the oil spill (not one tar ball found)!

We found so much new information, and made so many happy memories, but here are  five treasures  from our dig that immediately come to mind:

  • 5. Standing in front of the stained glass windows dedicated to my great, great-grandfather, Col. W.R. Stuart and his wife, Elizabeth McCauley which decorate the sanctuary at St. Paul’s Church in Ocean Springs. The lovely employees there took pictures of us in front of the windows.  And parishioner, Terry Linder drove us out to the cemetery to pay our respects to our people.
  • 4. Visiting the graves of my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton, great, great-grandfather, Col. W.R. Stuart and their children all at  Evergreen cemetery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  In New Orleans, we  visited my grandmother, Lillie Mae Ford at Lakelawn Cemetery,  my third great-grandfather William R. Stuart who rests across the street from her in a mausoleum at Cypress Grove, and my grandfather, Martin Ford at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Metarie.
  • 3. Discovering that Col. W.R. Stuart  had a family bible that used to be stored at St. Paul’s.  Sadly, it’s been lost.
  • 2. Talking to a 95 year-old woman who knew Monique’s great-grandmother, Tempy Elizabeth Stuart.  She remembered Tempy Elizabeth playing the piano for her and her family at her home.
  • 1. Learning that great, great-grandma Tempy Burton who had been a slave and couldn’t read or write, owned a home! In deed books it was called Tempy Burton’s Lot.

Tombstone Tuesday: Great, Great-Grandma’s Gussied Up Grave

Great, great-grandma Tempy Burton's grave looking spiffy! The colorful rocks are mementos prepared by Monique, myself and our daughters before we left on our journey.

While on our research trip last week to the Mississippi Gulf, my cousin Monique and I paid our respects to our ancestors’ graves, including great, great-grandma Tempy Burton’s located at the Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  We were overcome with emotion (and mosquitos) when we came upon her tombstone, covered by a canopy of trees and overlooking a bayou. We were also struck by how clean and white the tombstone looked especially since it’s almost 100 years old!  Could it be that someone gave Tempy’s tombstone a makeover?  (Maybe Granny told them her people were coming!)

But seriously, this is what her tombstone looked like a few months back when Find A Grave volunteer Ann Nash discovered it:

Tempy's grave at Evergreen Cemetery a few months ago, courtesy of Ann Nash.

Monday Madness: The lost and found Ancestor

Is my great-grandmother, Josephine Burton Ford buried in one of the unknown and unmarked plots pictured here in Evergreen Cemetery, Ocean Springs, Mississippi? (Photo courtesy of Ann Nash)

As happy as I am that I finally have some concrete information about what happened to my great-grandmother, Josephine Burton Ford, the documents that laid the mystery to rest have also raised more questions.

I did a happy dance when I received her funeral record which listed May 15, 1922 as her date of death, the following day as her date of burial, and Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi as her final resting place.  But when I ordered her death certificate based on this new information, it listed May 25, 1922 as her date of death.  The doctor who signed the death certificate even stated that he’d last seen Josephine alive on May 24th.  That’s more than a week after the May 16th funeral date indicated on the funeral record.

And speaking of  doctors, did the same Dr. A.B. Powell who is the certifying physician for the funeral record also sign the death certificate?  His name is very clear on the Bradford O’Keefe Funeral record, but less so on the Mississippi State death certificate.  Another discrepancy between the two documents is Josephine’s age.  She’s 46 on the funeral record and 44 on the death certificate.   What can account for all of these inconsistencies?

At least I know where she is buried…sort of. When I saw on the funeral record that she was interred at Evergreen Cemetery, I thought for sure it would just be a matter of a phone call to determine what plot she was buried in.  Three phone calls later to the city, the funeral home and the county record department,  none of them had a record of a plot in that cemetery with her name on it.  They do have several unknown persons buried in plots near Josephine’s mother, Temple Burton and brother, Alfred Burton Stuart.  I assume one of those unknown plots could be her.  But how can I ever know for certain which one if any is her?  Just when I thought Josephine was found, she’s kind of lost again.

Wordless Wednesday: My Great, Great-Grandmother's Grave is Found!

Tempe Burton's tombstone at Evergreen Cemetery, Ocean Springs, Mississippi (Photo by Ann Nash)

Appropriate that it is Wordless Wednesday in the genealogy blogosphere because I am speechless over the pictured tombstone. I didn’t know a tombstone for Tempe Burton, my great, great-grandmother even existed until my cousin, Monique Smith Anderson forwarded this picture last night.  It was found and photographed by Ann Nash, a volunteer for Find A Grave, an organization that collects photos of final resting places all over the world by request and for free! Nash said that Tempe is in “a very shaded area and the sun came through just on her headstone.”  Bless you, Ann for forwarding us this picture and connecting us with another piece of our history!

No Place Like Home

A black and white photo of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, an ancestral home

My first cousin recently moved a stone’s throw from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, pictured above.  As I plan a visit to see her as well as our ancestral home, it made me think how  so many of us in my family end up back where we started.

When I was a kid, I thought for sure that I’d end up living some place far from the home I grew up in like Paris or L.A. At 16, in pursuit of my quest, I spent a year in Brazil as an exchange student but ended up next door to a town called Americana, named for it’s founders who hailed mostly from the Southern states of the USA, just like my ancestors.  Since then, I’ve never lived more then an hour from my old stomping grounds where my parents and a lot of my old high school paraphernalia still reside.  None of my four siblings have strayed far from the family hearthstone either.  One is as close as 15 minutes from my parents, another as far as an hour and a half.

I think I’ve inherited this desire to stay close to my roots from my ancestors on both sides.  My grandfather, Alonzo Walton lived the last 25 years of his life on a tract of 150 acres of Ozark land he spent a life time accumulating.  He shared the tract with his brother, his sister, and his nephew.  Before retiring to his childhood home in Arkansas, he lived in New Jersey, less than 10 miles from his daughter and five grandchildren (including me).  If it hadn’t been for his Air Force duties stationing him on McGuire’s Air Force Base, I’m sure my grandfather would have never left Arkansas.

I loved growing up with my grandparents so close by.  They let me wait on customers in their candy store, eat more than my share of Reggie bars (remember those?) and Slim Jims, but most importantly they told me their stories and brought me to their childhood homes in Arkansas and Oklahoma.   I got to walk through my great grandfather Bud’s garden with him, his old shotgun slung over his shoulder and  eat my great grandmother Marie’s delicious buttermilk pancakes, memories to this day I consider my greatest treasures.

The story is similar on my father’s side of the family.  My father lived in a house on property that once belonged to my great great grandfather, Col. W.R.  Stuart.  Census records show that his cousins, the Stuart Smiths lived just down the road.  My grandfather, Martin Ford was also born in that seaside town, Ocean Springs, Mississippi as was his mother, Josephine Burton Ford.  And her mother, Temple Burton lived all of her free life there (she was born a slave), died there, and is buried there in the same cemetery with the colonel, their son, Alfred, and the colonel’s wife, Elizabeth.  That’s some interesting eternal company – a master, his slave/mother to his children, one of those seven children, and his wife who couldn’t bear him any children.

Whether you’re Dorothy or Toto, a master or slave, I guess there’s just no place like home.

Evergreen Cemetery, Ocean Springs, where my great great grandparents Temple Burton and Col. W.R. Stuart, their son, Alfred Stuart, and the colonel's wife, Elizabeth McCauley Stuart rest. (photo by Terry Linder)

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