PSRoots-L ArchivesArchiver > PSRoots > 1997-05 > 0864112021
From: Cyndi Howells <>
Subject: We're home from our trip!
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 00:07:01 -0700
Hi all -
Well, Mark and I are back from our trip to Washington DC and I'm officially
back online. We had a wonderful trip! We saw almost everything that there
was to see - the White House, the Capitol, the Smithsonian, the DAR
library, the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln
Memorial (both at night which was really beautiful), the Library of
Congress, Mark's cousin & family, and Mount Vernon.
You will never guess what I got to do. I actually got to work on my own
research for a change. What fun! I spent an entire day in the Library of
Congress. First I met with an online friend who works as counsel in the
House and whose offices are located near the Library. Then I spent my time
going through books on Ohio and found a reference to the court records for
Morgan County. Apparently my 4th great-grandfather, Thomas KNOX and his
brothers were arrested in 1824 for assault and battery. Neat, huh? Now I
have to find out what they did. I hope it will be something scandalous!
We spent several hours at the DAR library on the day we came home. Just
before leaving I found a wonderful book on cemeteries in Rockingham County,
Virginia. I ordered copies of several records from that book and can't
wait to confirm the names I found listed at a quick glance. I also think
I've found my 3rd great grandmother and her father as well. The marriage
records for the county give information that confirms that Elizabeth C.
DUFF married a KENNEY and her age matches that of my Elizabeth KENNEY who
was 80 years old on the 1880 census. I need to confirm that she is one and
the same. If so, her father was James DUFF and he appears to have owned a
slave which he mentions in his will. There should be some very interesting
records to go through on this family if I prove the connection.
I had my first spiritual bonding experience with my ancestors in a
cemetery. I have lived in Washington state all my life and my family is
from the midwest, the Dakotas and Virginia. So I've never been able to go
cemetery crawling until the weekend before last. My paternal grandmother,
Beatrice Minerva THOMAS, would have been 100 years old this year. I loved
my grandmother dearly and still miss her and think of her daily. She was
born in Timberville, Rockingham County, Virginia, just above Harrisonburg.
Mark and I drove down through the Shenandoah Valley for the day and we both
fell in love with the countryside. It is absolutely beautiful there and
very hard to imagine the Civil War battles that were fought in so many
historical spots like Manassas, New Market, etc. We found Timberville very
easily and visited the local cemetery. I knew many of the surnames in that
cemetery, but not any of the specific people buried there. I checked my
files and noted that my 2nd great grandparents were buried in Mt. Clinton
in a Mennonite cemetery. This town appeared to be not far away, just a
tiny dot on the map, so we followed several backroads to see if we might
find the cemetery. The roads we ended up on were dirt and gravel, winding
through rolling hills and farmland. When we found the signs for Mt.
Clinton we were at a crossroads with very little there. We turned right
and followed our instincts. A bit up the road we spotted a brick church
and a small cemetery across the road from that. The church was the Mt.
Clinton Mennonite Church, so I was sure that we had the right cemetery. It
was surrounded on all sides by a farm, with several very curious cows in
one field. We began walking through the cemetery one row at a time.
Again, I found all the familiar surnames. Then suddenly I spotted
"Elizabeth HESS" and next to her "Noah HESS". I jumped because this was
the first time I'd found one of my own family names on a tombstone!
Elizabeth was the sister of my great-grandmother, Sarah Catherine KENNEY.
Wow - I really started to get excited. So I started moving a bit more
rapidly up and down the rows. I found several more people - all cousins,
siblings, etc. Then I moved around a row of headstones and came face to
face with my 2nd great grandparents stone. James William KENNEY was born
14 May 1830 in Virginia, died 26 July 1903 in Rockingham County, Virginia.
Maria Catherine McDORMAN was born 01 March 1838 in Rockingham County,
Virginia, died 29 August 1916 near Singer's Glen, Rockingham County,
Virginia. They each were known by their middle names. I can't tell you
how it felt to actually find these people. This couple, whose blood flows
through my veins, were actually lying there at rest on this quiet hillside
under my feet. I started to get a bit teary-eyed when I realized that
these were my own family. I studied every detail of their stone and even
though I already had all their information I checked each bit carefully.
The tombstone is a tall obelisk which is tilting precariously to the right
and will fall completely over at any time. Mark and I are going to contact
the church to see if we can find someone who can fix the stone for us.
I was reluctant to leave that spot in the cemetery since I had just found
my gggrandparents, but I moved down the row a bit and soon realized that
the children of William & Catherine were all buried within close range.
All except my own great-grandmother who had moved to North Dakota in 1902
to homestead. I found the tiny headstones of my grandmother's two brothers
who each died as infants. I had always felt sad to know that these two
boys were left behind when the family moved to N. Dakota, but now felt
satisfied to find that they were with their aunts, uncles and grandparents.
The next tombstone brought me to a halt again. It was my 2nd
great-grandfather, John William THOMAS. Born 1813 in Orange County,
Virginia. I hadn't expected to find him here! I found his second wife
and children, grandchildren, etc. in the same area. I asked him to tell me
about his first wife, but he remained silent on the issue. Once I had
realized that over half of the people buried in the cemetery were from my
own family I really started crying. It was an amazing feeling and one
which revived my drive to research this family line again. We spent over
three hours in this cemetery! Mark faithfully video-taped everything for
me (including the cows that watched the two strange humans kneeling at
tombstone after tombstone). I took pictures of every tombstone and for
all those that were difficult to make out, I read the inscriptions out loud
for the video camera. There were two wonderful finds in this cemetery. The
first is in finding that so many of my family are there in one spot
together. The second is that there are several dozen tombstones with the
McDORMAN surname on them. My 2nd great grandmother's maiden name was
McDORMAN, so I now have several possible names to work with in order to
track down her family line.
All in all the trip was a wonderful success because I did get some fun
research done and Mark and I had a great time site-seeing. We also were
able to meet my wonderful online friend, John Fuller. He maintains the
Genealogy Resources on the Internet web site. We had dinner with John on
the Wed. night before we came home. Even though we had only met via
e-mail, it was like meeting with an old friend. Poor John is now working
overtime to update the listings for all the mailing lists which have begun
moving from the MAISER server in Indiana due to the spamming problem.
Now I'm back and hoping that it was all worth it (it was!). I had over 700
e-mail messages waiting for me. I guess I will be a bit busy over the next
P.S. After crawling around the cemetery and visiting my ancestors, the
grass-stains on Mark's jeans refuse to wash out. Do you think that is just
good, hearty Virginia grass? Or could it possibly be the stubborn streak
running in my family? ;-)
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