Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travel Log: Portageville Old Catholic Cemetery

Portageville, New York is where my great grandparents lived. This is the original Church of the Assumption Catholic Cemetery, now known as the Old Catholic Cemetery. The last time it was used was in 1903. The transcription done in the 1930s comments that it is a well tended cemetery. Now it is marked with stone leaning this way and that. Many are buried half in the earth. Many are toppled with inscriptions that face the ground.

This is the one cemetery I would be willing to restore if I was young and strong. I feel as though I know some of the people because I have read the church records and census so many times. I am pretty sure that my Great and GGreat Grandparents knew many of these people.

The cemetery is in a hollow. It goes down hill toward a forest of trees and appears dark because of the trees. It definitely could be in a picture representing a spooky story.

Hubby gave me a split second to run around and take pictures. I took a picture of every stone that was readable while the wind blew and the rain started. I will be posting them to Find A Grave later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boys will be boys, even at the cemetery

In the 1950s boys were not playing video or computers games on a nice sunny day, or even an awful winter day, they were playing in the cemetery. What better place to run and hide, to taunt and tease and to tell secrets. But most of all to scare each other!

A crowd of boys in Johnstown, Pa always knew where to find one another….it would be at the cemetery. This was a very old one, especially to 10 year old boys. Very old, therefore the most scary. The stones marking the dead ones are all catawampus, many are very low in the ground, some are tumbled over, probably many are hidden underground along with the bodies.
There was a flood here in 1889, a very big flood, one that every school child knew about. It was at this cemetery that the landscape was washed over. This is at Sandyvale Cemetery, where many cemetery residents were also victims of the great flood.

From the Sandyvale Cemetery website the history is briefly told:

"Sandyvale is a pioneer cemetery that was developed by the Horner family and used by many first families when the City of Johnstown, Pennsylvania was established in 1800. The veteran's graves date from the Revolutionary War through World War II. Sandyvale has been a part of the fabric of the City and region for over two centuries. In the early years it provided a gathering place for many community civic and social events. It was a beautiful green spot in the pioneer days but with the industrial era and the development of the steel mills and plants and the birth of the railroad access to this industry, it came to be an area that was isolated and forgotten, sustaining extensive flood damage and neglect for many years."

This group of boys made memories here, ones that are remembered 60 years later and have been retold many times.

When new kids came to town they would be enticed to join the gang at the local cemetery. There they would be told ghost stories, chased and de-pantsed, Yes ...de-pantsed (is that a word?). As the new kids would be running someone would surely pull off their pants, toss the pants high into a tree, perhaps not to be found again. After all the scary stories, the new kid might not want to look for them.

The poor child would be left to either search for his pants or run home with no pants on. Once a kid had his pants torn off and he had no underwear on!!!

I learned of this story from a John, a man that I met at jury duty. When he was a kid the cemetery was neglected. Researching the cemetery today indicates that there are some great plans to make it a beautiful place!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

We Are The Chosen

My co-grandma sent this to me. I haven't seen it before but
I think it is beautiful and perfect.
We Are The Chosen

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to
find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell
the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead,
breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers
of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes.
Those who have gone before cry out to us, "Tell our story!" So, we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood
before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the
ancestors, "You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us."
How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there
was love there for me?
I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. I goes to who am I and why do I
do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost
forever to weeds and indifference and saying,
"I can't let this happen." The bones here are bones of my bone
and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about
it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how
they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their
hardships and losses, their never giving in or up, their resoluteness to go on and
build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep
us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were
doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to
give us birth. Without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as
far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might
remember them. So we do.

With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence because we
are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell
the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to
answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and
old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we have
never known before.

Author Unknown

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Biking to the Cemetery

Today my husband rode his bike from our house in Corona to the Riverside National Cemetery. He said it was about 35 miles. There are lots of ups and downs on the road to get there.

It is funny that I keep coming across some type of transportation in cemeteries. On Friday a friend and I went to search some cemeteries around the Inland Empire. One of the workers told us that a fellow was buried with his motorcycle. The bike was set in the ground as though he would just get on it and ride. He took us over to the grave and it looked ordinary from the top. He told us that when he had to dig a grave nearby parts of the bike was rusty and fell into the next spot.

Not too long ago I found a interesting postcard with a car in the cemetery. http://travelswright.blogspot.com/2009/06/kansas-rabbit.html
I have also seen tombstones with motorcycles engraved in them. In San Diego there is one with airplanes on it.
I have also seen pictures of a horse drawn buggy bringing the person in to the cemetery.
This is becoming a theme.
A Member of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits