Tuesday, June 30

Tombstone Tuesday: Elizabeth DENHAM

Thanks to another Find A Grave Photo Volunteer,
I now have the exact date of a great-great-grandmother's death.

The bottom fragment finally answered the question
'When did Elizabeth DENHAM die?'.

Until a few weeks ago, I only knew it occurred sometime in 1855, the date in the records of Rossiter Cemetery near Charlotte, Clinton Co, Iowa.

Elizabeth's daughter Sarah, my great-grandmother, always said she was four years old when she came to Kansas with her dad, Obed W. DENHAM, and step-mother Nancy.

However, Kansas Territorial records show O.W. Denham, Nancy, and four children didn't arrive until sometime in 1857. This would make Sarah, born in November 1849, almost seven when they left Iowa, so I suspected she'd transferred her age at her mother's death to the move to Kansas.

Until Rossiter's records came online, I concluded from Sarah's story and Iowa odd-year censuses that Elizabeth had died in 1854 or '55. Turns out she died not quite two months before Sarah's 5th birthday. My hunch about which life-changing event occurred when Sarah was four years old had been correct.

I might've learned this years ago had I requested a photo of Elizabeth's grave when I first joined Find A Grave in 2005. Never occurred to me to do so until recently, after I myself became a Photo Volunteer.

Less than two weeks later, an email arrived from Bill Fatchett that he would fulfill the request over the weekend. A few days later, a notice came from Find A Grave that the photo had been posted. Snoopy dance!

But my heart fell on seeing the stone in two pieces that at some point had been set in concrete to keep them (sort of) together, and that the part where I assumed the date of death would be was missing.

Disappointment turned to joy again upon realizing Elizabeth's age at death was there: 48 years, 5 months, and 23 days! I only had to punch those numbers into a date calculator with her birth date of 7th April 1807 to determine she died October 5th, 1855! Two days short of a year after the death of husband Obed's sister, Margaret (Mrs. Elias) STALLCOP on October 7th, 1854.

Obed had lost his beloved only sister and his wife in less than a year. No wonder he was anxious to leave Iowa for good!

Read more about Elizabeth and Obed and their children here.

In the reply to Bill Fatchett's initial email, I asked him to also photograph Margaret's grave, which I said "would be nearby".


I had Margaret's death date, but only "about 1805" for her birth. Thanks to this photo I now know she was 49 years, 8 months and 21 days old, which calcs to a birth date of 16 January 1805.

It didn't dawn until many days later that there was no earthly explanation for how I "knew" Margaret was buried near Elizabeth. Even in small cemeteries, relatives aren't necessarily close together. I just did, and she was!

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3 comments:

dustbunny8 said...

I was doing the Genealogy Happy Dance
for you!Great story and finds!

JamaGenie said...

Thanks, dustbunny8! Maybe genies are too easily entertained. :-) Show us a tombstone we've been hunting for for ages and we get all weepy and jump up and down like we just won the lottery!

Duchess of Tea said...

I adore the tea shop mystery books by Laura Child. As a matter of fact, I just finished reading Blood Orange Brewing and I have started reading the Silver Needle Murder. I have a draft on her books ready to be published on my posts in a day or two...how funny!!