Sunday, October 2, 2016

Just Another Unmarked Grave (pic)

Aunt Gussie

I’m sure that marked graves actually make up only an infinitesimal number of even modern graves world-wide. In the old days, I’m sure that only the super rich got stones with their names on them. Still, in western countries, there’s been an effort the last few centuries, by those who can afford it, to mark the site of their loved one’s interment. Not everyone can afford to do so, of course. Two of my great-great grandfathers are buried in cemeteries with no stone to mark their grave, so we of this generation have no clue as to where they’re graves are located in those final resting areas of departed souls. My paternal grandfather’s parents were likewise for many years.

My granddad’s mother had two daughters and two sons by her first husband, I believe, before he passed away rather young. He wasn’t rich, but he was “comfortably situated” in life I’ve heard. She then married my great-grandfather, several years her junior and poor as a church mouse. She never let him forget it either, but they got along well enough in the beginning to first have two sons and, lastly, a daughter.

Great-Aunt Gussie was a somewhat attractive young woman—decent and religious, yet always ready for some fun. She and her brothers used to play for some of the local dances. She played the piano, Granddad the banjo and my great-uncle the fiddle. Their hobby was probably considered a bit scandalous by some, since they were raised Baptist. In fact, Gussie played piano in one of the local Baptist churches. I’m not sure exactly how that was accepted.

It was probably during one of those dances that she met a banjo-picker named Matheny. He began courting her and they eventually wed. He seemed to think he’d have a ready job, working for my granddad in the oilfields, but the guy turned out to be worthless and Granddad finally had to let him go. When Gussie came down with Tuberculosis, he disappeared outright. I don’t think that she was even out of her twenties when she passed away, leaving no children.

She died not too many years after my great grandpa did, so they buried her in the grave downhill from him. They didn’t see any need to save that one for great-grandma, since they hadn’t lived together for years. Apparently even GGM felt likewise. Later, when Great-Grandma died, she was buried in the next plot below my great aunt. (This was told me by my great aunt, who knew each one personally, and attended funerals religiously (and had a mind like a steel trap). Only a cement block, with the top set at ground level, marked each grave.

A few years ago, one of my elderly second cousins decided to provide markers for our great grandparents. So, she had a marker placed for GGD, THEN she had a marker for GGM placed NEXT TO HIM. Then she had a marker placed below that for a granddaughter of theirs that I had never heard about. No marker was placed for Aunt Gussie. Apparently, my elderly second cousin didn’t even remember her being buried there.

So now, poor Aunt Gussie has her mother’s name on her grave. Great-Grandma has the name of a granddaughter on her grave. And the granddaughter’s actual grave has no marker at all. Her life must have been a sad one, to be buried with her grandparents, rather than her parents, or anyone from her generation. The cousin who had the markers placed has passed away also.

If I had the money, I’d have the whole situation corrected, but I don’t. I figure at this point, it probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me. When The Lord comes, we won’t stay in the grave any longer anyway. © 2016


buddeshepherd said...

It all goes to show that banjo players are nothin but trouble. Hope colliery is reading this. It is not too late for him to turn from his wayward ways and go back to the fiddle

Gail said...

I think we all have some history like that. There is a grave here of the first land owner's daughter, unmarked, but word has passed down and we make sure Eve's grave is clear.

At the cemetery where many of my folks are buried, the Board had a way of setting letters in wet cement. When this began the elders knew who was buried where and make flat cement stones stating name and date if they knew that part. Their beginning project in the fifties was to provide markers for all and they did.

You are right, it doesn't really matter. The marking of a grave is for those left behind.

Have a blessed week.

Gorges Smythe said...

Yo hush yo mout, Budd - talkin' 'bout may granpappy like that! - lol

Did you ever think about marking it with an upright field stone, Gail? I've seen that done.

Vicki said...

This comes under the heading of "It is a small world." The last name of the banjo picker who did a runner when your Great-Aunt Gussie got sick is the same as my family name. It is said by those who have seriously studied the genealogy of my family that all those with the name Matheny (and variations of the spelling) are related. Which means that you and I could be related via the marriage of Great-Aunt Gussie and the banjo picker. That should scare you enough to keep you awake at night!! :)

Gorges Smythe said...

LOL - Vicki, there are some other folks in the the area with that name that are fine, upstanding people. He just wasn't one of them!

Ralph Goff said...

One of my great uncles was a brick layer/farmer who made the grave covers and markers for some of the family back when money was very short in the 1930s

Gorges Smythe said...

Do you have a photo of any of his work, Ralph?