Saturday, September 2, 2017

Genealogy Vacation to Polk County Missouri and Nearby Areas

Searching for Ancestors and Their Secrets

A few months ago, we made a fact finding trip from California to Missouri to conduct genealogy research.  We also met up with some cousins, and friends that I have made through the years over the phone and online.

I met with my cousin Linda Ivy, face to face for the first time.  She and I both descend from Hartwell Johnson and his oldest son, Williamson Johnson.  We have been communicating for years through Facebook, Ancestry, and email.  We first met on Ancestry through our DNA.  We had a wonderful time together!

I also met with Mike and Mona Duby who are possible cousins from the Griffin side.  We had a ton of fun together too!

We all met at the Polk County Genealogical Society in Bolivar, MO, for the first time.  I also met Susan Sparks, the president of the society, face to face for the first time as well that same day. 

We  spent the day at the Society research center researching our ancestors.  During my visit to Missouri, I came away with some additional bits and pieces of family history to add to the files.  The folks at the Society are very helpful.  They have been assisting me with my research efforts from afar for several years.  Susan, has been especially helpful.

During this trip, I came away with the court records for the trial of my Great Grandfather, Virgil Eagleton Johnson and his cousin Loman Johnson.  I will not say at this time, what the trial what about.  Suffice it to say, that it wasn't for something that was frivolous. 

My Johnson line is one of the main reasons I named my blog, "Hell Raisers and Holy Rollers" although, I can't place all of the blame on them.  The Johnson Family were Baptist.  Back in the day, when they weren't being good Baptist, you can rest assured, they were raising some kind of hell.

I also came away with an obituary for the last one of Hartwell and Lydia's children to pass away.  In it, the person who preached at her funeral and wrote the obituary mentioned how close he was to the Johnson family.  He also mentioned the Johnson sons that he had fought with in the Civil war on the Confederate side.  Apparently, Leonard Johnson saved his life.  I will write about that and include the obituary at another time.

The Old Johnson Cemetery

We all met up in Morrisville, Cousin Linda, her husband Charles, Cousins Mike and Mona Duby, Lisa Ann (lives in area), and Frank and me. We proceeded to drive out to what used to be part of the old Johnson farm but now has a new owner.  It is my understanding that Hartwell's former farmland was split up and two different people own it now.  The owner that has the land with the cemetery on it, allows the Johnson descendants to visit it whenever they want to.  It is in the middle of a pasture.  The pasture was really overgrown, and we were a tad concerned that we might start a fire driving through it with our cars. Please see attached films of the caravan of cars.  Please note, we were the number two car in a caravan of four cars going there.  There are two other cars behind us.

Here are a couple of films showing us leaving the Cemetery with HJJR narrating.  That's me :-) 

Below are photos of gravestones taken in the Johnson Cemetery.  I would have taken more, but there were a lot of critters out there.  Charles and Frank cut down quite a bit of brush.  The cemetery is located in the middle of a pasture. 

 Hartwell's stone is flat on the ground and had been buried under over 100 years of dirt and debris.  That is probably why it is so well preserved.   The above photo was taken before it was cleaned.
 This photo was taken after Hartwell's stone was cleaned with water.
 Lydia's stone had been broken off of the base when a big storm came through.  We found it propped up against a log.
 These were the children of someone, but I wasn't able to make out the parent's names.

We finally found Hartwell Johnson's gravestone with the help of Lisa Ann.  I met Lisa on ancestry a few years ago on a message board and we have been in contact ever since.  She is writing a book about the area and is quite knowledgeable about the family history of various families in the area.

Above are some of the photos we took while at the Old Johnson Cemetery.  Some of the gravestones were difficult to read until they were cleaned.  I took jugs of water, gloves, and rags to clean some of them off with.

Below are several photos of historic and old buildings located in the town of Walnut Grove, MO.  My Great Grandfather, Virgil Eagleton Johnson was born in Walnut Grove.


Below are photos of the Brighton Post Office.  This is the very same Post Office that Hartwell Johnson used.  He sent and received many letters regarding his fight to obtain his pension from the War of 1812.  He conducted much of his business in Brighton as well, buying dry goods, etc.                                                    

We also visited many antique shops and a few historical sites while we were there.  Of course, we didn't have nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do.  I, at least will be back.  It reminds me of my hometown of Poplar, CA.  I love the people in Missouri.                                                                                                


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