Monday, July 6, 2020

Statues ... learn from them or destroy them ...

I was just reading Todd Gray's article on the destruction of statues and monuments that's been going on recently.  It's happening everywhere and to be honest, I hate it.  It's like seeing an old stately home being torn down and replaced by a modern condo.  
In Victoria, BC they took down the statue of John A MacDonald because of his role in the poor treatment of the First Nations people of Canada.  There's an article listing "15 racist statues in Canada that people want removed".  They should change that to ... that SOME people want removed (keep in mind that 9 of these statues are of John A MacDonald).  I get it that there are statues of people that at some point in their lives did horrible things.  Who of us has never done a horrible thing (though not necessarily to that degree)?  Some of these people also did great things.  John A MacDonald was Canada's first Prime Minister!  That's something that should be respected, not destroyed.  It's happening everywhere, in the UK, the States (no surprise there), Canada, and no doubt other places that I'm too lazy to look up right now.  It breaks my heart to see history destroyed in any form, and it worries me that they'll escalate into destroying documents, books, buildings, and other things that represent things of our past, whether good or bad.

Capt Jesse Gray was a slaveowner.  It's a fact.  His family had a plantation and they had slaves.  He brought a few of his to Nova Scotia, it's documented in many books.  With him being my ancestry brick wall and the American Revolution and slavery records being my main source of information on him, these destroyers of historic things could very well end my whole search for his origins, thus my own.  It's like they think they can erase every bad thing that happened just by destroying the evidence/proof that it happened. 

The incorrigible President Trump (I cringe every time I even hear his name) said in one of his many, many tweets or speeches, that he was "changing history".  He actually thinks he can change history LOL ... I guess he must have a time machine we don't know about, since that's literally the only way that can be done.  
History happened.  It doesn't have to be celebrated, but it should be documented, it should be learned about and from, and we should grow into better people by knowing not to do those horrible things in our own lifetimes because we have learned from it.  If they don't want the statues out in the public because some people are offended by them, then put them in a museum or something, don't go vandalizing them, or bashing them to bits and tossing them into harbours. 

I do realize that I'm one of those of "white privilege", which I also don't get because I don't feel privileged.  I don't think I'm any better or worse than anyone else, I don't think I deserve any different treatment because of the colour of my skin any more than the colour of my blood, but maybe people think I don't understand it all as personally and deeply as others might.  But white privilege or not, I'm not stupid, or unfeeling.  I've done ancestry research for a good friend of mine who happens to be black, and it is nearly impossible to get beyond a certain point in her lineage because the records simply do not exist.  That breaks my heart too.  I watch shows like Roots, or others on slavery, or read the books or the historical records in the archives, and I sit there and literally cry over the treatment the people had to endure, and I'm grateful that I wasn't one of them and I feel deep sympathy for those that were.  
It appalls me that things like what happened to George Floyd are happening in this day and age when we should know better.  We should DO better.  But doing better doesn't mean destroying what came before us.  It doesn't change what happened 200+ years ago.  It means working together towards a better future.  Despite what Trump says, we can't change history.  But we can learn from it.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Wistful ...

It's an interesting range of feelings that come over me when I'm documenting cemeteries.  Some of them, like the one out in Brenton, are full of people that are so distantly related to me (like the grand-nephew of the husband of a 2nd cousin 4x removed) that until I photographed their stone I had no idea they'd even existed.  For these unfamiliar ones I just go through the area respectfully cleaning them off for the best photo possible, straightening what I can, taking the picture and moving on to the next one.  In a cemetery like that I can usually get through it pretty quickly, even more so if it's overrun by mosquitoes.  It's a rare one, though, when I can get through an entire cemetery without encountering a familiar name, related to me or not.

Then there are the ones like Kemptville, Plymouth, Pleasant Lake ... I grew up in Plymouth, went to church in both Plymouth and Pleasant Lake, and much of my family came from Kemptville.  Going through these spaces is an altogether different experience.  In the cemeteries in Kemptville I recognize most of the names as ancestors, whether closely related or not, they are family.  Some stones I feel closer to than others, even if they aren't direct ancestors like grandparents ... many are distant aunts, uncles, cousins, however many times removed.  A Gray on a stone makes me smile, those are guaranteed to be my people.  The smile isn't always a happy one, sometimes it's more of a sympathetic one ... like for Joseph Gray and his wife Caroline (Woods).  They had 13 children altogether, almost half of which died in infancy, often just days after birth.  I see these stones, the names, the dates, and I can't even imagine what they went through.  I tend to spend a little more time just standing there, being present for them.

In Plymouth and Pleasant Lake although parts of the cemeteries are very old, they also hold people that I knew personally.  I get the same feeling for the old stones as I do in the other places, but inevitably I end up looking down at a name that I grew up with.  The parents or grandparents of someone I grew up with, my own grandparents, aunts and uncles, my mother.  As with the unfamiliar ones I still clean up the stones, straighten what I can, pull the weeds from around them, tidy up the area if it's needed.  But as I do this I'm filled with a rush of memories.  

Thelma Sims was the "boss" of Sunday School, she led the singing (will anyone who was there ever forget the day she asked for requests and Stacy Newell wanted to sing "Jesus watches my children while I go shopping"? lol).  Ruth Purdy played the organ in church.  Jean "the bean" Scott played as well, and taught S.S. classes. Going sledding down the big hill next to Aunt Bernice's house, later Aunt Carrie & Uncle Merrill's house (next door to the cemetery).  Uncle Merrill standing by the record player playing along on his fiddle as Aunt Carrie played piano.  Skating on the various ponds throughout Plymouth, sometimes with a nice bonfire on the side for marshmallow roasting and warming up. Ralph Churchill driving the school bus.  Grampie also drove it, #22 ... later taken over by Dad.  The day little Andy Newell died.  The list goes on .....

When I drive through Plymouth these days it's obvious that it's no longer the village I grew up in, the landscape of the area has completely changed in so many ways but it's also so much the same as it always was.  I see the old homes and recall who lived where, who I'd see when we went Trick or Treating every year, it's like nothing has changed at all.  And then I walk through the cemetery and see the stones of these people I grew up knowing and I'm filled with feelings of melancholy, wistfulness, sadness.  I feel richer for having known them all, and a sense of loss for their absence.   They say you can never go home again, and in this case it's literally true, as the homes I grew up in are no longer there at all.  But when I do go home and walk through these places it takes me more than twice as long as anywhere else.  These are my people.  I knew them ... I know them.  I take a little extra time at each one and just remember.  I may not be able to go home again, but I can never forget where I came from.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Fact Checking Frustrations ...

I've had a fair number of emails and facebook messages from people who have also been on their own search for Capt Jesse Gray's roots over the years.  Some have been very helpful, mainly in regards to more recent ancestors, like Capt Jesse's grandchildren or great-grands.  This information is often provided via old family bibles, which is an excellent source.  I love getting copies of these pages, mainly because they were usually written down as the events happened, so how much more accurate can you get?  Headstones are often mis-named in spelling, or name order (mixing up first and middle names according to how they were used, rather than how they were actually named), and sometimes if a stone isn't placed immediately after a person has passed the dates are guesstimated and often off by a year or so, but the bible records can usually be counted on to be pretty accurate.

Then there are the people who have done their own family tree online and have read something somewhere on someone else's tree and copied it over to their own.  This is great IF that information is correct, but unfortunately is often is not.  Too many people still figure if it's on the internet it must be true.  I have news for you people:  THE INTERNET LIES.
I fell for it too at one time, for about 3 minutes, then once I saw the unsubstantiated claims of "truth", lack of documentation, waaaayyyy too much guesswork, I pretty much stopped believing most of what I see online unless it's in an actual official document.  And even then sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt.  Always try to remember that the information recorded online is only as accurate as the person who put it there.

There are two lines in particular that several people have decided are Capt Jesse's family.  These trees do both have a Jesse Gray in them, and in theory if you're not really looking closely they could be plausible.  I'm not going to say right out that it's impossible, because at this time I just can't prove it beyond a doubt.  But I will say that both are highly unlikely.  Like super sky-high unlikely.  I do have my reasons, so I will elaborate. 

One of them is the family tree of Henry Gray and Sarah Harding.  We do have many Harding relatives sprinkled throughout the tree, so even there we could be related to her, but I haven't found a link there so far.  This is probably the most common tree that people have brought to my attention, swearing up and down that this is IT.  Nope, sorry people, I do not believe it is.

Henry Gray  (1714-1773) and Sarah Harding/Hardin (1702-  ) did have a son named Jesse.  They lived in Virginia, which is one of the possible places Capt Jesse may have come from.  Their son Jesse was born in 1738.  Now here is why I don't believe he's my guy.
Capt Jesse Gray died in Kemptville around 1843.  I don't believe he was 105 when he died, that would have been extraordinary considering the rough life he led and it would have been documented somewhere as such.  Plus his youngest child was born in 1815 .... I really don't think he was still making babies when he was 80, which is how old he would have been if he was born in 1738.  Plus every family story and historical records of the American Revolution state that he had a brother named Samuel.  Henry Gray did not have a son named Samuel.
Now, it could be that one of Henry's sons was the father of Capt Jesse & Samuel Gray, but so far I haven't been able to find anything that indicates this.  I haven't given up on that idea, but I'm pretty much convinced that Henry Gray and Sarah Harding are not the parents of my Capt Jesse Gray, so unless you have absolute definitive proof that they are, please stop insisting the ridiculous.
If you look in my Patch of Gray tree on Ancestry you will find them there, but not because of the Grays.  Rather, my connection to them is through Henry Gray's nephew James Samuel Gray who married into the Mangum family.  Yep, the same Mangums that married 3 of Capt Jesse's sons, or cousins of them, but the same gang nonetheless.  So there is definitely a connection there, and to me it's too much of a coincidence to ignore, so I'm still looking for other ways Capt Jesse could fit in there, but I haven't found it yet, I just know it's not Henry.

There's one other family that many people have also tried to convince me are the roots to Capt Jesse.  This would be the family of William Gray and Lydia Anderson.  They, too, lived in Virginia.  William's parents were John Gray (1690-1751) and Agnes Rose McGowan (1695-1759). William and Lydia have sons Jesse and Samuel.  It's always been a story in my family that Jesse & Samuel were twins ... whether that was true or not, I don't know, but we do know they were brothers.  So far, so good, right?  Nope. This Jesse Gray was born in 1765, which is both logical and likely for my Capt Jesse.  But this particular Jesse moved to Kentucky, where he was married twice and died in 1819.  See what I mean when I say it pays to do your homework.

One thing I've learned over the past few years is how bloody common the name Jesse Gray was in the southern states in the mid to late 1700's.  There are a LOT, like seriously a LOT of Jesse and Samuel Grays and it's really hard to distinguish them from each other unless you do a ton of serious digging and reading.

I do appreciate each and every piece of information anyone offers me that they've found in their own search, and I will do my utmost to try to prove or disprove whether it's valid or just another wandering trail to the wrong family.  So please do keep messaging me and keep sending me whatever you have or think you have and we'll go from there.

For now, the search continues .......

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

What it takes ...

Every year after a trip to NS I return home with many, many cemetery headstone pictures.  By "many" I mean literally hundreds, often over 1,000.  A lot of actual work goes into all of this, I often wonder if people realize exactly what's involved.  I know I didn't when I first started this project.  I figured hey, I'll just pop out to a few cemeteries, take a few pics of stones, no big deal.  That first time turned into taking pictures of ALL the stones in 13 cemeteries.  

Over time I figured out that the time of day needs to be taken into consideration when photographing certain cemeteries, certain stones.  Some stone materials don't photograph well in bright sunlight, others aren't great in shadows.  It's nearly impossible to go to any given cemetery and get perfectly fantastic shots of every single stone the first time out ... there are always some that have issues.  I am getting better at narrowing my original photo to the stone and just the stone ... the less cropping I have to do later, the better.  And I've learned to get a picture of the cemetery sign before I start doing the stones, even if I'm just popping in for updated shots or scouting for new stones.  I used to think "Oh, I'll remember I did that stone at this cemetery".  No, I won't.  There are just too many to remember exactly where each one was.  So a shot of the cemetery sign then the stones within it, another sign, more pictures, makes it so much easier to figure out what goes where.  Live and learn.  Once a cemetery is done, it's still not actually done.  Every time I'm there I revisit all the ones I've previously done to check for updated or new stones.  Plus some cemeteries could have done maintenance work to clean up old stones, which is a great opportunity to get a clearer picture.

The flour will be a must-have from now on.  I'm going to have to experiment with darker concoctions to use on the unreadable light stones like Louisa Cook.  I know her name, and where she lies, who she's among, whose plot she's in, so I can guess who she was, but without being able to read the actual stone info it's pretty much all guesswork.  This one has been edited on the computer to try to better define what's etched on it, but it's still not very legible.  She's a mystery to me, that Louisa, but I'll figure her out in time.

I keep a copy of all my cemetery pics on my home pc and on a memory stick so I have them with me no matter where I am.  That way I can use them when I'm away in NS, or at the library, or wherever.   Plus, a backup is always good to have just in case.  Once the photos are all uploaded from the camera and my phone they have to be cropped and sometimes fiddled around with to make them brighter or more easy to read, then renamed from the image number to the actual names on each stone.  Yep, every. single. one.  Each is saved in a folder named for that particular cemetery.  I have done about 28 cemeteries now, some aren't yet finished being cropped and renamed from my latest visit.

I maintain a few different trees on Ancestry, but  my main one is A Patch of Gray, my original tree in my Search for Capt Jesse Gray.  It quickly spread out to tens of thousands of entries, demonstrating to me how we really are all related, so I decided to make the Yarmouth County, NS tree.  So now I try to use A Patch of Gray for stuff more closely related to me, and everyone else goes in the Yarmouth County one.  Once the stone photos are all renamed and ready to use I head to  Some cemeteries are already started or done or partially done on there, some I've done completely myself.
Findagrave is great if all you're doing is looking for someone that has already been documented.  You find your person, and if it's done well it's got the photo of the stone, maybe even a photo of the person, with links to their parents, spouse, children, etc.  Getting all that information in there is a mammoth task.  Here's where my multi-screen computer system at home comes in super handy.  I have 3 screens and I use them all, with a couple of Findagrave windows open, plus Ancestry, census, NS Vital Statistics, and other cemetery registries.  With one stone entry on Findagrave I have to enter the person's full name, date and place of birth and death, then add the photo, then edit the entry to add parents and spouses.  If it's a relatively recent death (like within the last 10 years) I also look online to see if there's an obituary.  This helps out a lot in figuring out relations, often there's a photo of the person, and I also copy the obituary to the Findagrave page. There's no quick and easy drag/drop way to do this, it all has to be done manually and it's SO incredibly time-consuming, but I get such a sense of satisfaction when I finish up a family and can compare it to Ancestry and see that everyone is there and linked up properly.

When I'm doing a tree that has already been entered or started by someone else I tend to get a bit annoyed because it's rare that they've been as thorough as they could/should be.  Often the page is just the name and year of birth and death.  No exact dates (that's why I keep the NS vital stats open, so I can find these nitty gritty details) or places, and rarely are they connected to the rest of their family.  I appreciate the effort, but like I always say, any job worth doing is worth doing well.  I hate to see someone half-ass it, then take credit for the "wonderful" job they did after I've had to go in and do all the actual work.  It's kind of like those people that take a picture with a bazillion filters to make it pop and sparkle, then post it for all to see and people oooh and aaah like they're some kind of fantastic photographer.  Sorry people, give the credit to photoshop.

As each photo is entered on Findagrave I also add them to the correlating profile on Ancestry.   My trees are public, so anyone can see them and have the photos ... that's why I'm doing it, after all.  Why take all these pictures of other peoples' family stones if I'm not going to share with them? 

So this whole adventure started with a "few" photos in a couple of cemeteries and has exploded into thousands of photos in many cemeteries.  I foolishly started out just taking pictures with my phone ... ohhh so silly, no phone has that much room LOL 
Now after doing this for a few years I have cemetery gear that goes with me to every one.  This includes my actual camera (with 2 32gig memory cards), a notebook, a tablet (paper, not computer, though my other tablet may be added in the future), pens and pencils, a good stick (for scraping off lichen - sorry Dad, but I need to read the stones), a small bag of flour (next trip there'll also be something for the light stones), a rag to wipe off dirt or excess flour, moist wipes, and rubber boots.  I made a bag to carry all my stuff in (it's reversible, pockets inside and out) but I may have to make a bigger bag ... my gear just keeps increasing as I discover new obstacles in my photo-taking. 

It may sound like I'm complaining about all the work it takes to do all of this, but believe me when I say I'm not at all ... I truly love it.  I love the cemeteries, the older the better.  I love walking among the stones and feeling the history that surrounds them.  I love the feeling of a job well done when I've got everyone all linked up and documented.  And it's not something that I have to worry about what I'll do when it's done, because it'll literally never be really done.  I'm not looking for thanks or praise for the work either, though it is very labour intensive, I'm happy to do it and love it when I see a message on ancestry that someone has benefited from it, especially people that live far away and want to know about their people.  And I love a good mystery ... like my friend Louisa Cook mentioned above.  If you have a brick wall, or someone you can't figure out and they're buried in Yarmouth County, I will do whatever I can to help figure it out.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Hard to leave ...

During my visit this year I spent a lot of time on my own, just driving around visiting cemeteries I've already done to get updated stones, or looking for new ones to photograph.  Then of course I had to visit Capt Jesse's house, which is looking worse with every passing year.  This breaks my heart but there's nothing I can do about it, nothing anyone can right now besides the people that own the title, and they're not interested apparently.  I've often thought about how cool it would be if I were living back in Nova Scotia and could buy the house and have it moved to wherever I'm living, stabilize it so it's safe, and reconstruct whatever needs it (likely that's pretty much everything, realistically) and then use it as my quilt shop.  Now that would be cool.  An unrealistic dream, but that's why it's called a dream.   Another spot I always make time for is this beautiful spot in Kemptville.  It's a branch of the Tusket River that runs under the Gray Road just around the corner from Capt Jesse's house.  It's beautiful and quiet, all you hear is the water ... I could stay there all day.

Of course I had to spend some time in the Tusket Lakes Cemetery, which continues to be my favourite.  Not because it's full of Grays, because it isn't, there are only 2 Gray girls there ... one married an Andrews, the other a Hurlburt.  But the residents of this particular cemetery are among the oldest in the area, so to me it resonates as something special.  Plus it's so secluded and quiet, with the stone wall and trees all around, I do love it there.  When my time comes I figure I'd like to be buried either there or in the Plymouth Cemetery.  My sister and I came up with a "plan" for all that, for a chuckle you can read the Tale of the Ancestral Eye.

I learned a new trick before my trip this year.  I had been contacted a few months back by a distant (7th) cousin and we were working together online in working out some old family mysteries on her tree, which of course connects to mine in a few ways.  I was able to clarify some things for her, which was great -- it's funny how satisfying it is to solve a mystery, even a small one. 

Then she told me about a neat trick she'd seen on a video online to help read old dilapidated gravestones.  All headstones are not created equal.  There are some that are so old yet stand the test of time so well that they are still easily read hundreds of years later.   Take this one of Sarah Crocker Hatfield ... it's 182 years old yet still in great shape, well made and clear to read.  I don't know anything about stone itself, but just from my experience and wanderings in many cemeteries it's obvious that is is one tough cookie when it comes to longevity.  

Then we get the ones that don't hold up so well, and they aren't even this old. This one on the left is a great example.  It happens to be in the Arcadia Cemetery, but I find them everywhere.  It's another type of stone (to my eye anyhow), and it does not hold up well over time.  To the left is how it just normally looks now.  Then I watched the video she sent me and tried the method they used and voila - AMAZING!   As I travel around from cemetery to cemetery to the Archives, all over the county, I take a few things with me everywhere:  camera, notebook, pens, scrap paper, a stick, a rag, and now included in my little bag of tricks: flour.  Yep, regular all-purpose flour.  You just wipe it on the stone and it fills in all the engravings and suddenly you can read it all.  It took some practice, especially on a windy day which, let's face it, is almost every day in Nova Scotia.  But I quickly learned that if I cup a bit of flour in my hand, start at the top of the stone and work my way down, gradually smooshing (yes, that's a word ... or it should be) the flour into the crevices as I go, then I wipe off the excess with my rag and take a perfectly legible picture of the stone.  Of course it doesn't work on very white stones, but I'll work on a remedy for that.  I tried adding some coffee grounds to whole wheat flour and using that on a white stone, and it helped a bit but not really.  But being able to at least finally read these ones with the white flour is an awesome thing.  No more incorrect dates or wrong names because I had to guess at what it might say, and the best part is -- it's only flour!  It blows off into the wind or washes off in the next rain with no damage done to the stone at all.  My little cemetery bag is gradually getting full with all the new supplies I'm dragging around, I may have to make a new bag before I go next time. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Branching out ...

Along this journey of tracing back my family tree and taking photos of all the cemeteries I've visited, I'm noticing more and more how the whole "6 degrees of separation" is really true, and not only in regards of friends.  The theory states that "Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps."  

Where I grew up everyone always joked about how we were all related.  I don't think many of them really realized how very true that is.  Maybe not first or even second cousins, but as I go back in time I'm finding more and more links between families that I had no idea were even remotely related.  

I guess it's inevitable in a small community, even one that has grown into a small to medium sized town and the county that surrounds it.  We have an interloper here and there that I'll come across a stone for and kind of scratch my head as I think "where the heck did this guy come from, he's not one of ours!"  But for the most part, at some point, any family that has been in the area for a few generations is no doubt in some way related to the others that have been there just as long or longer.

As my own Patch of Gray tree on Ancestry grows and branches out, I often find myself spending a whole day just filling in names, dates, spouses, children of a husband of a 2nd cousin 7 times removed.  I don't mind that they're not more closely related to me, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time in discovering their families and filling in their information, doing a little extra digging to find out some hidden truths, but yesterday it did give me pause and I made a decision.

Rather than just fill this information in on my own tree, which is fine and helpful for all, I decided to create a tree and name it Yarmouth County, NS, since it is growing far beyond my immediate family.  I get a lot of my information from books such as Yarmouth, Nova Scotia: A Sequel to Campbell's History, plus various other historical texts, both online or in the library, and I do get some info from other people's trees or  The last two I have to be careful, as I'd encourage anyone else doing family research, as some (too many) take what they see on other trees as gospel and just copy it over to theirs, then someone else does the same and so on and so on until nobody is sure at all where the information even originated or if it's correct.  And too often it is not.  
I'm not giving up on Jesse ... he's elusive but I know he can be found, I find new lines of research all the time, but after a while it gets so frustrating that all I want to do is fill in names and dates of sure things.  

I encourage anyone who views or uses the information they find on my Yarmouth County, NS tree to please let me know if you find any errors or have any additional information or photos that could be incorporated on the profiles.  I'm always open to suggestions and would like to be sure that the information I use is as accurate as possible.  Please - check it out!

Monday, October 1, 2018

More stones, more stories, more mysteries ...

I just returned from another trip to Nova Scotia, where I got to spend 2 more weeks visiting the cemeteries, taking pictures, poking around through the archives at the Tusket Courthouse, and of course visiting family.  This time I had my dad's company for most of my cemeterying, which was great in a bunch of ways.  

There were a couple of cemeteries that I had done already but the light wasn't good or I missed a few stones so I went back to re-do them.  Then there was one I'd heard about through findagrave that I hadn't even seen because I hadn't gone all the way through a back road, just went in one end and back out the same way.  Note to self: don't do that.
It was good for Dad to get out to these places that he hadn't been to in years, or maybe ever, like Capt Jesse's house. We peeked in the window like Tracy and I had a year or so ago, it's in worse shape than it was even then.  Since the chimney was taken down and they didn't bother patching the hole in the roof where it had been, it's been a victim to the elements ever since.  Thus the floors are all rotted and sloped, likely it's home to any number of critters.  

As we visited the various cemeteries (I think we saw 7 over a 2 day period) he saw the names of people he'd heard stories about over the years ... seeing these old familiar names jogged his memory about all sorts of things.  Then every now and then we'd see a Gray stone with a name he was totally unfamiliar with, so that was my turn to tell him what I knew. 
We also went out to the Old Burying Ground in Plymouth.  This is where the stone for Abner Barrows has been found and now lays in the yard of the current owners of the property.   When I was a kid, old Mrs Bradley lived there and denied that there was a cemetery on her property, regardless of the fact that Dad clearly remembered cutting through there (before her house was built) on his way to school and jumping over the gravestones.  He knows for a fact that his great-grandfather Benjamin Gray (1820-1890) and great-grandmother Judith Hayes (1822-1914) were buried there.  He knows this because a. he saw them there, and b. he saw the notes about them in the cemetery log books when he was the Plymouth Cemetery caretaker.  Back when they started using the current Plymouth Cemetery, Benjamin had been given a plot for himself and his wife but he had given it to his son, Edgar, stating that he would be buried in the Old Burying Ground as he had originally intended.  Dad and I went poking around (I had warned him ahead of time to bring boots, it's a good thing we did!) in the trees, alders, pickerbushes, and swampy brush down the hill from the house where he remembers the stones being, but all we found were a bunch of broken trees, sinky swampy ground, and garbage.  He figures the actual cemetery was likely covered over by landfill when they built the Bradley house years ago.  Likely the excavators at the time figured it was so old nobody would remember or care and just plowed right over it and now the stones and plots are under 20 ft of soil.  Sorry guys, somebody does remember, and we're not impressed.

That was a little adventure for us, one of a couple (like driving way out on a dead-end dirt road that was being worked on looking for a cemetery that wasn't there - OMG my car was so dirty after that! LOL ).  I ended up getting new photos of some I needed redone, plus 2 cemeteries I hadn't done at all before, in all I took over 800 pictures.  Now I get to edit them, rename them according to who they belong to, assign them to their profile in my tree on Ancestry, then build the cemetery in findagrave.  Sounds like a lot of work?  You bet your boots it is, but it's work that I love doing.  I learn so much from every stone I do.

I usually spend a couple of half days at the Tusket Archives in the old courthouse, which of course I did.  I was slightly more prepared this time, I had made a list of all the files I wanted to take a look at, which I'm sure made their job that much easier than me just walking in and asking for "Gray info".  I talked to Cody and Judy (Judy works there, I think Cody is a volunteer) and they were very helpful.  Near the end of my visit my sister, who homeschools her kids, wanted to do a little history field trip with me so I took them out to my favourite old cemetery, Tusket Lakes. I took them around to all the stones there, explained who these people were, how they relate to us, everything I could remember about each of them.  There are a few new stones in there from more recent years that have nothing to do with our family, but besides them we are related to everyone else in there, just as we are with every other cemetery in the area.  There are only 2 actual Grays in that cemetery, but I just love that it's probably the oldest one in the area, it's right off the main road but sheltered by trees so it's quiet and private-ish, I just love it there.

Then we went over to the Argyle Township Court House and Archives.   They wanted to do the tour of the old courhouse and gaol, so I went over to the Archives to continue working on what I had left out from the day before.  Peter Crowell, one of the main archivists there, had been conducting their tour over at the gaol.  When the tour was finished he came over to see me in the Archives.  Apparently he'd heard from Judy that I'd been there already that week and wanted to talk to me in person, since we'd never met but have so much in common, including a direct link to Capt Jesse.  It was great talking to him, we both had so much to say and bounced information and ideas off each other until it was time for me to go.  He showed me some binders of photos he'd been given of Grays in Kempt, plus all the houses in Plymouth from years gone by, so I returned the next day to go through all of those and get some copies for myself.  I could talk to him all day, he knows so much and is as interested in it all as much as I am.  

Peter had an interesting theory about Capt Jesse that I had actually been considering myself just a week earlier.  Jesse's wife, Sarah Moulton, died in 1817, just 2 years after their youngest child was born.  At that time they were still living at Morris Island.  Shortly after that he got his land in Kempt and moved out there.  After that we know he was off doing slave trading and whatever else it was he did with his brother Samuel, back and forth to and from Nova Scotia to the lower States.  So all that time, who was taking care of his many young children?  I had considered that likely it was one or more slaves, and there were a few on his property at that time.  But Peter told me something I hadn't known.  He had heard from someone he considered a reliable source that the Sarah buried with Capt Jesse in Schoolhouse Cove was not Sarah Moulton ... that after she died Jesse had remarried another Sarah and it is she who is buried with him.  This makes complete sense to me, since when Sarah Moulton died they weren't even living in Kempt yet, so she likely is buried at Morris Island, probably on the property they were living/squatting on at the time.  So if he married another Sarah, who was she?
Anyone listening in on us would have thought we were crazy with all the different ideas and things we were tossing around, but to Peter and I things were starting to make some sense.  He also mentioned the "Mr Mood" that is mentioned in various texts as being buried in Schoolhouse Cove with Capt Jesse and his wife Sarah.  He didn't have time to really elaborate on that, as my ride was ready to go and it was near closing time for them, but it did get me thinking.  

Jacob Mood, the "Mr Mood" mentioned, was married to Sarah Eldridge.  He died in 1824, leaving her a widow, just a few years after Sarah Moulton had died.  I'm wondering if maybe Sarah Eldridge could have been the 2nd Sarah that Jesse later married.  Sarah was a very common name, so it could have been any number of women, but this one in particular is one I'm working on now ... particularly since 2 of Jacob & Sarah's girls married 2 of Jesse's boys.  And if Jacob was buried at Schoolhouse cove it would make sense that his wife be buried there too, along with her new husband.  I've been out there, a couple of years ago, and it's a shame that there are no stones or markers remaining.  If only I had unlimited funds and could get out there with ground penetrating radar to see what's really there.  While we're at it we could take the radar out to Plymouth and find Benjamin and Judith....

All in all it was a great trip, though way too short.  There were a few friends I had hoped to see but just didn't have the time, a few more cemeteries I'd have liked to photograph.  I love getting out there in the country and being surrounded by my history, my family, even though most of them are all gone now.  Some day I will get back and stay.