A man who thinks too much about his ancestors is like a potato—the best part of him is underground.
I love cemeteries. Silent sentinels of by-gone eras, the rune stones of family lore stand mute with volumes to tell.
Part of delving into any ancestral past includes a little boneyard venery, and it's much more fun than sitting in a musty old archive room watching a microfiche film shoosh by and growing nauseated from the dust and rapid eye-movement vertigo. Not only is it a scavanger hunt of sorts, cemeteries are fascinating places. (Unless, of course, you are there for a more somber purpose.)
Recently, a distant cousin from my "Hicks" family tree branch introduced herself through email, courtesy of a genealogical posting site. (Thank you, GenForum.) We wrote back and forth and she shared some terrific photos of my great great grandparents, among others. One such photo was taken in 1934, an old sepia print with an inscription on the back: "Evant - Joe and Belle Hicks buried there":
Evant is a dead and dying little Texas town about two hours from our house. Kman and I got up early last Saturday morning with camera and photo in hand to see if we could find this cemetery and the last resting place of my paternal ancestors, Joseph Henry Hicks and Missouri Belle Carter Hicks:
Upon entering Evant, Kman spied the turn off immediately at a sign reading "Murphree Cemetery"; on first approach it certainly had the right look and feel of the old photo - lots of cedar trees at the top of a lonely wind-swept hill. It was quite devoid of any other visitors, though certainly more headstones had been added since 1934, for sure:
After a long car trip of two hours and a tall Dr. Pepper to go, that's exactly what I had to do...."go": quickly find a suitable cop-a-squat spot for a little bladder relief. (Kman and likewise my youngest daughter, who often is my cemetery Watson, know my habits well.) I headed straight away for the furthest back part of the cemetery and located a nice semi-circle of crepe myrtle bushes. Perfect. And fortunately, a large wide headstone for a little extra insurance my white butt didn't shine from afar like the top of the Chrysler Building.
With a now far less anxious attitude, I joined Kman in the search for the missing grandparents. We went up and down the rows, amused at the various names and stones:
No wonder she was a "Loner" with a name like Zelpha Pugh.
And at this weird monument, Kman and I simultaneously harmonized "Walk Like An Egyptian":
Weird headstones et al, but nary a Hicks to be found. So, we headed further into town to find a native to direct us to other local graveyards. Our list now included Langford Cove Cemetery, Pilgrim's Rest, and Kingsbury Cemetery just off the Goldthwaite highway.
Neither of the first two yielded any results, nor did they have the right "look" per the old photo. Twice, we went down the powdery caliche county road that was marked for Kingsbury Cemetery but never found anything other than private ranch gates and leaping herds of small exotic deer.
Two more hours later and thoroughly frustrated, I convinced Kman we needed to go back to the very first place we looked, Murphree Cemetery, and try one more search. Besides, I had downed another large bottle of Dr. Pepper (the best kind, a Dublin Dr. Pepper made with real cane sugar) and I knew a good spot now!
I finished my "business" and in the process of fastening back my jeans, I realized I had never looked at the front of the stone the first time I employed its hiding properties. Walking around to the eastern side of the big monument, I lifted a low-hanging limb to better read the inscription:
Wait for it....
I felt like the biggest goof, and then a thought came to me that my great great grandparents must have been sending some sort of silent bat/DNA signal for me to have chosen their headstone so immediately upon our first arrival. And how do I thank them? With a crude little yellow ground-watering, not once, but twice.
So goes the life of a SCS-WSBS: Sherlocking Cemetery Sleuth With Small Bladder Syndrome.