Saturday, October 24, 2015

Is Great Grandma Really Buried There?

I have run across a few challenges when trying to find the graves of my ancestors. 

One of them is my maternal Great Grandmother Minnie Belle Holland, maiden name Kirkland.  I looked and looked for information on her burial place and couldn't find any information.  I remembered what her name was from listening to my Grandmother, Stella. 

After really analyzing the census records of 1930, I noticed that the Holland family, lines 25-30, lived on Coke Hill in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Coke Hill as it turns out, was a Shanty Town at Belle Point in Fort Smith close to where the Poteau and Arkansas rivers meet. My family lived in the slums. 
A shack at Coke Hill is threatened by flood waters on April 15, 1927, near the mouth of the Poteau River.  Belle Point is where the first Fort Smith was located.  

Once I tracked down where Great Grandmother Minnie lived when she passed away, I contacted the genealogy department at the Fort Smith library and asked them if they had an obituary for her.  I also sent away for a death certificate.

I hit pay dirt with my obituary request.  It was published in the Southwest American paper on March 29, 1930.  I did have to make a second request to find out where and when the obit published as the information wasn't originally given to me.  

From the obituary, I was able to ascertain that Grandmother Minnie was buried at the Noland Springs cemetery.  The cemetery is also known as Nolan/Newland springs.  The other information in the obit is either off or not fully correct.  G Grandmother Minnie was 47 when she passed away, not 50.  She was survived by more than just her husband who was John Wesley Holland, known as Wes Holland.  She had several adult children and as you can see from the 1930 census, she was survived by several younger children as well.  

She was buried less than 24 hours after she passed away.  There was no death certificate recorded.

I posted a request on asking if someone could look for her grave and take a photo of the stone if there was one.  A very kind woman responded, and told me that she couldn't find a stone for G Grandmother Minnie.  She even took it a step further and went to the library looking for a city death record or a funeral record, but didn't find anything.  It is possible, I suppose that the family may have buried her themselves.  Its also highly likely that they couldn't afford a stone to mark her grave with.

I read somewhere that the county would help to pay for some people to be buried in that particular cemetery if the family didn't have the funds.  I still need to do more research, but at this point, the most information I have for G Grandmother Minnie's burial place is her obituary.

The cemetery is an old one and doesn't have many markers apparently.  It is kept up to some extent and the grass is mowed.  It was described to me as being a deserted there such a thing?  A deserted cemetery?  There are people there even if they're dead....

Most of us don't think about what the place where we might be buried might end up looking like after a period of time.  It is up to people like us to keep track of those who came before us, so we can share the information with those who come after us.

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