Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Colors and More

The fall colors in our area have not been as outstanding as in past years, but nevertheless this is my favorite season and I like going for a drive to photograph the changing landscape. We decided to combine a fall drive with a genealogy trip, something I am not able to talk my husband into very often. But he doesn't mind visiting cemeteries, so he was okay with coming along for the ride to an old cemetery. I have been tugging on a branch of my dad's tree recently, and found a link to some ancestors who are buried in the Denson Pioneer Cemetery located just north of Ursa, Illinois. The Hightower family can be traced back to early Virginia in the 1600s, and beyond that to the 1500s in England and Ireland. Of course, there is the small matter that I have to prove the lineage.

George Hightower, my fourth great-grandfather, and his family moved from Virginia to Kentucky sometime before the 1800 census was taken. George and his wife then moved to Ursa, Illinois prior to 1840, and two of their six adult children also moved there during this time period. I found the burial information on the on the website I highly recommend this website if you haven't already checked it out. Volunteers are photographing headstones, transcribing them and putting them on this website. It is very helpful in corroborating death dates and/or locating exactly where your ancestors are buried. Often family associations are listed in the description of the deceased as well.

Kirby in the pumpkin patch
We took a leisurely drive to Ursa on Sunday, stopping whenever the mood struck to take photographs. I feel fortunate that my husband is just as enthusiastic about taking pictures as I am. Otherwise, one of us would not have been having a good time yesterday. We took the dog along, and he is definitely not as enamored with pausing for photo ops. He also did something at the cemetery that probably has resulted in him not going along for the ride in the future. More on that below.

The fall colors actually seemed a little prettier the further north we traveled. The area near Hannibal was the nicest I have seen anywhere this fall. Mark Twain would definitely have had something to write about had he been looking at the beautiful colors this weekend.

Denson Pioneer Cemetery sign
We arrived at the cemetery shortly after lunch. I am glad that the findagrave website included instructions on how to get to it, as I have no doubt I would have been unable to locate it on my own. You exit the county highway onto a tractor path to reach the small cemetery, which is completely surrounded by cornfields. The farmer had already mowed down the corn stalks, which made me wonder if you could even see the cemetery during the spring and summer months. I wasn't sure exactly where my family members were buried in the cemetery but I needn't have worried as it is quite small.  We found the headstones rather quickly. The state of the stones is quite sad, and not just the ones belonging to my ancestors. You can tell that a veterans group (most likely) is replacing the stones of the men who served in the Civil War, as they look pretty new. But many of the remaining stones are broken and/or toppled over. I don't think it is vandalism but instead is the result of years of the elements taking their toll on the limestone or sandstone markers. Here are the stones of George and his wife, Frances Ann (Hall) Hightower, along with their son Austin and his wife Mary (Caldwell) Hightower. Also we found George and Frances Ann's daughter Mary and her husband John Riddel. And while we were photographing the stones, the dog decided to take a roll in the hay, so to speak. Unfortunately it wasn't hay but horse manure he found. Why someone was riding a horse in this precious cemetery is anyone's guess. Let me just say that it was an extremely long ride home with a smelly dog.

Mary Hightower              

Austin Hightower

John Riddel

Mary Riddel

Frances Ann Hightower                                                                                                    

George Hightower

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

You had me at "Kirby in the Pumpkin Patch."