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"There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings." -- Hodding S. Carter (Borrowed from the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher.)
Armed with just a few print-outs from Find-A-Grave, some Google satellite maps,  a plat map from the county tourism office and my trusty camera, I headed out for two days of genealogical bliss.

It is my very good fortune, genealogically speaking, to have many Greats buried in the same quarter-section of Fayette County, Illinois. All had come from Tennessee by the mid-1800s and they apparently liked what they saw because three and more generations stayed put, right there.

This is what I was working with. You can see how close to one another the six cemeteries I visited those two days are.
cemetery map 003

I headed out mid-day on one of those kinds of days only early Fall can deliver. Temps were in the upper 60s, the skies were mostly blue and there were just a few little zephyrs to mess up my hair.

It wasn't but ten minutes or so after leaving the tiny village of Ramsey that the roads I needed to find looked like this. And they were, indeed, the right roads ...

road to little hickory 038

C'mon over the hill with me and see what I saw...

Little Hickory Church Cemetery was first on my list. Having been there in 1995 I vaguely remembered the contours of the place. There was only a small clearing hidden behind the orange and yellow-painted trees and it had to be the place I wanted to be.
entrance to little hickory 110

This is what I was looking for - the church in the photograph I had taken 17 years ago.
little hickory church for web

Sadly, the beautiful little church had burned down and all that was left was the foundation, a few blackened timbers...
LHC foundation remains 071

... and an old shed.
little hickory shed 068

Eyes filled with tears, I let my instincts push me on through the trees...
little hickory drive 073

I knew it had to be there. The pull was very strong...
LH just a little further 066

What's this? I had to park my car and walk now.
almost there little hickory 065

Ah, there it is! My instincts were right.
there lies little hickory 062

little hickory 116

The marker for my Great-Grandparents, Ashley and Nancy Elizabeth Davis Halford. Ashley is not buried here as he was cremated. His ashes were spread from a little single engine plane over these hills and fields he loved so much.
lizzie and ashley marker 044

The mostly illegible - in this photo, anyway - marker of Ashley and Lizzie's youngest child, Vera Lynn, who died not in the house fire that led to her mother's mental breakdown because she believed Vera had died in it, but in 1926 as a young woman of twenty years. By that time Lizzie had been institutionalized for what turned out to be the rest of her life.
vera halford marker 045

The tears really flowed upon seeing this. I didn't remember it from the last visit. What to say? Ashley, I am very sure, poured this concrete marker himself. This was their first child and died two days after his birth. My Grandpa Roy was born 13 months later. I suspect that either there wasn't enough money for a proper marker or that Ashley - or A.R. as he was commonly known - was so devastated by the loss that this was all he could do. And why it says only "Enfant son of A.R. Halford" without mention of Lizzie, I simply cannot fathom. Maybe her name was there in the beginning.
infant son of  a r halford 038

Another Great. James Thomas Hicks was my 4th Great-Grandfather. He was Nancy's  Great-Grandfather. She certainly would have known him as she was seven years old when he died. His wife was Catherine "Caty" Harris, daughter of Wooten and Frances Adams Harris about whom I've written in the past. Try as I did, I couldn't find Caty's marker although I know that it is there.
James Thomas Hicks stone 118

I could have spent the day at Little Hickory, had I the time but there were more graves to see so it was back on County Road 25E to the next family resting place.
on Fayette county road 200N 109

This cemetery, though containing only a few very old bones was, surprisingly, clearly marked...
halford cemetery sign 148

... but the way to it was mostly concealed except to true seekers like us. I was very thankful - as I often am - that I had grown up in farming country or I would never have attempted to negotiate this path in a car. As it was I had to drive on the edges of the cornfield, weeds and cornstalks brushing against my car's undercarriage, so as to get around a fairly big ditch about midway. The burying ground is way up at the top center of the photo where the greenway ends.
path to halford cemetery 149

This is was awaited me
halford cemetery 124

My two times 4th Great Grandmother - once on my paternal grandfather's side and once on my paternal grandmother's side, the elusive Sarah Wallace Hammond (nee Riley) was the first to be buried on this plot of ground. Her son-in-law Bradley Halford asked her where on the farm she wanted to be laid to rest and this is where she chose. Sarah's daughter Barbara Riley Casey and husband Wilson Casey - my 3rd Greats - also are buried here. Their stones are apparently so worn that the inscriptions cannot be read but I have since found their location so... next time.
sarah riley hammond long 135
I must somehow see to it that this place can be better maintained. Brand new sign but weeds practically overtaking the graveyard?

Next up was the Harris Cemetery and it was here that I was searching for the graves of Wooten and Francis Adams Harris. Do you remember my story about them? I feel a very strong tie to these, my 5th Great Grandparents, in large part because I wrote that diary.
harris cem sign 073

The bare bones of this tree, one of only two there, really did a good job of setting the scene not just for the Harris Cemetery but for the whole trip.
harris cemetery dead tree equ 084

I walked all over the place peering through squinty eyes at all 134 markers. No Wooten Harris. I knew he was there because I had seen a picture of his marker and knew it was flat. I wisely traded logic for instinct again and let it guide me to the exact spot! It was nearly covered with grass and weeds but I saw a glint of something and a glimpse of an "oten". I got to work pulling and tugging and finally laid eyes on this wonderful treasure in bronze.
wooten harris marker 087

Try as I did, I couldn't find a legible marker for Wooten's wife Frances Adams Harris. That is one of many reasons why there will be a next time.

                                           TO BE CONTINUED

I hope you enjoyed a little country flavor on this day. Part II will be coming on December 7th

Originally posted to Genealogy and Family History Community on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 09:00 AM PST.

Also republished by J Town and Pink Clubhouse.

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