Monday, November 18, 2013

The forgotten Cemetery

When I moved to Ohio over ten years ago, I already new I would be spending some time searching through cemeteries and historical records to research my Father’s family. A family member on my mother’s side had already compiled a large family genealogy of her side. My mother was born in Millis, Massachusetts….and being from New England, the records were bountiful.

My father on the other hand was born in Ohio. We knew one of his Great- grandfathers had immigrated from Germany as a child with his parents. One relative was thought to have moved to Ohio from Missouri. It is rumored this relative was a distant cousin of the famed “Jesse James” and the Dalton Boys. As of this writing, I haven’t found any proof one way or the other with this connection. I have been able to research some of his relatives and found some of them moved to Ohio from the Shenandoah region of Virginia.

My husband’s family is also from Ohio. A family Genealogy of his father’s side exists in a book compiled by Grace H. Croft  entitled “Descendants of Johann Jacob Dispionit”. His mother knew very little of her father’s side. So I began with what we knew and began to research historical records found in libraries, church and court records, cemetery records and census records.

I became friends with a man, who then lived in Florida. He had done a great deal of research on many Ohio families, including some that were also in my husband’s family. He led me to many of the local cemeteries and helped fill in many of the blanks.

This led me to go in search of Turkey Run Cemetery. I was told it was a very remote cemetery in shattered remains. It was marked by a wooden sign at the end of a one lane dirt path partially hidden by a cornfield at the time. I visited there over eight years ago. The first time, I drove right past as the sign could only have been seen from one side.

This year in one of my photography classes for college, we were given the assignment of building a series for our portfolio. I would have preferred to use my vast collection of Football photos, but the instructor wants us to “step out” of our comfort zone….My next choice was Tombstones….Our first assignment was to find a photographer that does something similar to what we have chosen, and to present it to our instructor. I found such a photographer in John Thomas Grant, who coincidently is from Massachusetts, near where my mother spent most of her childhood years.

The next steps were to take a series of photographs (25 or more), convert them to black and white, narrow them down to the 5 or 6 best photographs and be able to present them to the class each week for critique.

My first thought was to go back to some of the 30 or so cemeteries I had visited previously and take photos there. My first cemetery was Elmwood, which I have blogged about previously. I went to 3 cemeteries that day; but when I went in search of Turkey Run Cemetery, I could no longer locate it.

In class I went through websites and copied names and directions to over 30 cemeteries I would like to visit. Turkey Run was among them. It wasn’t until my third trip out to cemeteries that I decided to do what I could to locate it. I looked for the familiar fence lining the farm across the street from the sign and found what I thought was the right fence, but no sign for the cemetery. I drove awhile longer and made a u-turn to head back the direction from whence I came. And out of the corner of my eye, way back off the road, I spot the old rural church that sits beside the cemetery. I slow down searching for the dirt path that leads me back to the remains of what is Turkey Run. The sign no longer exists. If the cornfield had not been plowed and cultivated, I may never have spotted it from the road.

I share these photos with those who may appreciate them….There are 33 photos. Click on the link and hit “View all” to see them

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