Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cemetery Hopping

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary.  After having a nice breakfast buffet, we went cruising—at a very slow pace—through a local cemetery.  We went not for the scenery, but for a specific grave.  We did the same thing yesterday, in another place, looking for a specific grave.  What most people would assume seeing us walk up and down the cemetery rows is that we were looking for relatives.  Well, we were; but, not our relatives, someone else’s.

I recently added my name on Find A Grave website as a volunteer photographer of headstones.  People post requests for headstone photos because they are usually too far away to make the journey themselves.  So, we headed out to find people we did not know, to cemeteries we did not know, to try to find headstones somewhere in a cemetery.

The first stop was outside of Humbird, Wisconsin.  We were looking for Fairview Catholic Church, your typical small country church.  We wound around on one-lane roads that I would not want to traverse during the winter; yesterday was bad enough:  Even the car complained by creaking every once in a while.  I had a map, but we still managed to miss the church until we turned around and saw the spire in the distance. 

Fairview Catholic Church, Clark County, Wisconsin

The church is supposed to have been the first Catholic Church built in Clark County, Wisconsin.  Fortunately, the cemetery is not large, but the majority of headstones were in terrible condition:  covered with lichen which grows on and into the headstone.  After walking up and down the few rows and fighting off bugs, we found the headstones in question; of course, they were the last ones we found.  We were looking for three names.  We found the family of one, a three-year-old child, but there was no headstone for the child.  There was one headstone with a death date one year before the child’s death, probably the mother; and, it made me wonder if perhaps the child was buried in the mother’s grave.  The other two were a husband and wife whose headstone was not that old (1980s), but it was almost completely covered with lichen, and it did not photograph well.

Today, the second stop was a cemetery in Eau Claire.  We were specifically looking for the Scandinavian Cemetery.  It turned out that the cemetery was actually six cemeteries in one:  B’nai B’rith Jewish, Lutheran Scandinavian, St. John’s Lutheran, Norwegian Lutheran, St. Patrick’s, and Sacred Heart.  Where to start? We drove up and down, at a very slow pace on 14 roads, looking for a very common Scandinavian name.  We had no luck.  But since then, I have done some online research of this cemetery; and, I have narrowed where I am supposed to be looking:  the Norwegian Lutheran Cemetery.  So, sometime this week, when the weather is just right, we shall return to the hunt.  

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