Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tombstones and Graveyards and Churches, Oh My!

At the Family Reunion with cousins Linda 
Garrison Sessoms (l) and Kolby Garrison (r) and
her precious guide dog Amelia.
I had the opportunity, recently, to attend the Garrison Family Reunion, in Wilmington, NC.  This is my mom's side of the family and as I have mentioned in prior blogs, she was one of 12 children, which produced many grand and great grand children.  Unfortunately, only two of the 12 are still with us but both were at the reunion!  What a blessing that was!  There were probably 35 or so relatives there, which is a smaller number than when we had the reunion years ago, but still a great turnout, considering how busy everyone's lives are.

We had the reunion at my cousin's house which had the perfect backyard for such an event.  It was a gorgeous day and everyone had a great time.  We talked about reunions of the past, and special memories of those we have lost.  It was so nice to see everyone. Thanks to my three cousins, Delores, Debi and Gwen, who put it together.

One of the subjects we discussed was our family history, the genealogy we have worked on, and trying to find out who the father of my Great, Great Grandfather John Wesley Garrison really was. Several of us have looked into it and have found no definitive answer, but more on that in a later blog.

Mittie Hayworth Garrison's family home, before it was 
taken down.   The gentleman who owned it was going 
to renovate but must have thought it was too far gone.  

Our first adventure, after the reunion, was to try to find my grandmother's family home near High Point, NC.  We had an address, put it into the GPS and off we went.  Sadly, when we arrived at the address, we realized that they had recently torn it down.  You can't image the sadness when we made that discovery. Thank goodness, my cousin Anne and my Aunt Gladys had visited there not long ago and taken some pictures, so we do have a visual record.  After leaving the location where Grandma's home had been, we started hitting the cemeteries that were close by, where some of my relatives were buried.  

I had always heard tales of Abbott's Creek Primitive Baptist Cemetery and how beautiful the tombstones were.  The way they were intricately carved, showed pride and workmanship by the person who created them.  Unfortunately, many were very old and well covered with moss or lichen, which made them very difficult to read.  Some of the different styles are shown above.  

It was cold and rainy that day and my husband was a real trooper, marching through the graveyards with me, during that week of Halloween. We visited about six cemeteries that day, including two where my Quaker relatives were buried, Deep River Friends Meeting (est. 1754) and Springfield Friends Meeting (est. 1773). The gravesites we visited in these two places went back to the 1700's and 1800's. 

While visiting the Springfield Friends, and looking for Micajah Haworth's gravesite, I met the new Pastor, who had just started weeks before.  He was a very nice man and was very helpful in helping us locate the tombstone. He also gave me the name of someone higher up, should I need further help in the future.  

I couldn't make it to all the cemeteries that day, but I got to a lot of them and enjoyed seeing many of the family plots for myself.  It became obvious, very quickly, that I could spend weeks, trekking around the state, walking through many more burial grounds. But that will have to take place at a different time.  I will share more about this fact finding trip in the next blog.  Needless to say, being this close to where my family members lived, just reignited the fire to find those elusive, long lost relatives!