Monday, August 14, 2017

Best Laid Cemetery Plans

It looks like I accidentally deleted my pre-reunion post detailing my plans for visiting cemeteries in Quebec and the contents of my new cemetery kit, so I'll review it a bit here.

Before heading home from last week's reunion, Mum and I had hoped to visit six cemeteries to pay our respects to our ancestors and photograph their headstones. Our previous attempt three years ago had to be called for weather when the area was hit with six inches of snow the night before our arrival.


Well, you know about best laid plans, right? I still think we could have completed our mission, but we chose to spend some extra time with our cousins instead. There was also one cemetery we decided to skip on this trip because the cemetery didn't respond to my inquiries for plot numbers before we left, and it is a big cemetery.

As I packed my clothes and other necessities, I also assembled a cemetery kit in a large knapsack on wheels. Inside were:

First aid kit that included a whistle and compass
Bug spray (containing Deet due to a bad tick season in the area)
Lint rollers (to check ourselves for ticks, they can be very small)
Long dishwashing gloves (again, tick protection)
Gardening gloves
Exam gloves just because I had some
Pruning shears
Cardboard wrapped in foil for directing sunlight on hard to read stones (a large mirror would also work but I was trying to reduce weight)
Soft paint brush for removing dirt from lettering
Spray bottle filled with plain water which I had heard can sometimes enhance the lettering on stone if it is difficult to read/photograph.
Old throw pillow covered in plastic tarp for kneeling on while trimming any overgrowth around flat stones or foot stones.
Crate for sitting on to take photos at the level of the stone.
Extra memory card for camera.
Extra/rechargeable batteries for camera.
Directions because I didn't have cell service in Canada, printed lists of stones, extra paper and pen all on a clipboard.

I also had soft cleaning brushes with me from cleaning Donald's grandmother's headstone, something his parents wanted us to do. We hadn't planned to use them, but we did decide to remove some of the lichen from my great-grandparent's stone. It is a thick, sturdy stone and was practically illegible when we got there. I know that scrubbing stones is controversial and there are plenty of stones we saw and visited that we would not have touched, but this one in particular we thought would be okay. If both of us hadn't had sore backs that day, we probably would have gotten a better result.

George R. Smith M.L.C./Feb 17 1860-Feb 20,1922
Isabella F. Smith/Aug 12 1868-Feb 20 1940

I still had to spray the stone with plain water to get it this legible. I'm not sure if we're going to leave it at this point, or try again with the soft brushes and water on our next visit. I'm sure the stone can take it, but I don't want to damage the raised lettering.

Even though this plot is in the same cemetery as my grandparents, I only remember visiting my great-grandparents once before and had forgotten that George's foot stone included the Masonic symbol, or that he was even a Mason.

All three of these stones must have been something to see when they were new. I hope we can figure out a way to keep them legible and looking as my great-grandparents wanted without harming them.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bean Burying Ground of North Hatley, Quebec

When I first saw "Bean Burying Ground" in one of my ancestors burial records, I thought I might have to make my my way there through a stand of maple trees or find it inaccessible due to growing crops. Thankfully though, the Bean Burying Ground is now Lakeview Cemetery and is accessible to anyone.

As its former name implies, Lakeview Cemetery started as a burial ground for the Bean family on the farm of Moses Quimby Bean, my 4th great-grandfather, an early settler in North Hatley, Quebec, who was born in New Hampshire. It was quite something to stand on this hallowed ground, taking in the beautiful scenery and the surrounding farmland and know that it was originally cleared and farmed by my ancestors.

Although it isn't quite the quiet spot it once was due to the fact that it now lies on a busy route through this countryside, it is still a beautiful place to farm or to spend one's eternal rest.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Funeral Card Friday - John Dean

Well, if you read my last blog post about my then upcoming trip to Quebec for a family reunion, I'll end the suspense for you now and let you know we did not make it to six cemeteries while we were there.

We did have a wonderful time, I did meet cousins I'd never met before and see others I hadn't seen in decades. I did get to share my research and photos to much appreciation and I don't regret a moment of how we spent our time, only that we couldn't have stayed longer.

And I wasn't the only one to bring goodies. One of my cousins made a foam board display covered in photos and ephemera that was absolutely wonderful! It included the funeral card (1) of my 2nd great-grandfather, John Dean, who died of pneumonia in February of 1888.

I cannot even describe my reaction to this piece of family history. I just about fell over when I saw it. I had no idea that Susan had such treasures. I am able to share this scan with you thanks to the treat that I bought myself a the week before we left, a Flip-Pal mobile scanner. It paid for itself the moment I was able to bring home all of Susan's treasures in digital form.

You may notice that the scan is cut off at the top. That is not the fault of the scanner. The Flip-Pal comes with instructions and software for stitching scans together when you scan something larger than the glass, but I didn't have time to learn that trick before I left. I have this image for now, though, and I can always ask Susan to take this out for me the next time we visit.

I still haven't found the burial record for John Dean, but I do have two newspaper notices with conflicting dates of death, so this is a nice addition to my documentation about his death.

(1) Funeral card for John Dean, Dean Family Collection, privately owned by Susan Dean [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2017. Inherited from Kenneth E. Dean, grandson of John Dean.
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