Sunday, April 3, 2016

Persistence - Don't Ever Give Up!

This article was written 28 May 2014 for the West, Fike and Allied Families in   I am posting this today to point to the importance of not just deciding the facts will never be found.  Joy Ikelman and Ben West have told me that they are preparing articles for this blog... I am so excited to see their articles, I decided to find something to help the time pass!  My article will show that I am stubborn about finding what I want to learn.  I hope it will encourage all that read this to decide to knock down brick walls in their family tree research or in anything else in their lives that is of importance to them.   - John G. West

Don't ever give up! I have been studying my family history since I was a kid of about 10 years of age. At times life got in the way a little for me to stay at my life-long hobby, but I would pick up again and continue the course. College and dating girls took me away from genealogy. Then being in the Air Force for four years was a serious obstacle to researching... but I would still do a little research and Mom would send me little notes about the family. She knew that the service was not where I wanted to be, but I had to serve like everyone else and it was my duty. She also knew that family history kept me going and made the not so great times more bearable!

Mom's father died when I was about 12 in 1959, he was an old man that had a rough life and 8 kids. He worked very hard - my Dad had worked with him in a factory for a few years... stating that no man worked as hard as he did! He was known to drink a lot over the years, but never missed work, though. He drank only on the weekends!  He was almost 79 when he died and had very little money or possessions. His small life insurance policy paid some of his final expenses, family paid the rest. He had enough to pay for the funeral and a grave spot near his father's grave and a number of family members in a large cemetery in Owensboro, KY where he lived. The $255 from Social Security was supposed to help and should have paid for a grave marker. One son got the check and was the one that was supposed to get the marker made and installed at his grave. It apparently never happened!

Dad's father did not get a marker either. Not long before my father died, he & Mom decided that their father's should have markers. Dad got the one for his Dad (Warner West) in Christian County, KY. It had been over 10 years since Mom's father had died and the cemetery could not figure out from the records where his grave was actually located which made placing a marker impossible. After my Dad died I took Mom to the cemetery to help her find the grave, but we spent a lot of time in vain. I have gone back and walked the whole area trying to figure it out many times. Two years ago, I insisted on the cemetery director to actually go out with me and find the grave. He was determined to help me find it - the cemetery should know where he was buried, the burial was in recent times (1959). We spent several hours even after it began raining. I really did not want to give up.

This Memorial Day weekend (2014), I was determined that I was going to find grandpa's grave. It was an outrage that the cemetery did not know the exact location. They had records, why was this so difficult? I had been in charge of Evansville's city cemeteries with Oak Hill Cemetery being older and larger than the Rosehill-Elmwood Cemetery in Owensboro. After trying again, going from information in the office files and back to the cemetery section and back again three times, I finally asked if I could actually examine the records to see what the problem might be. I finally figured it out. Section G had 3 divisions. The burial list that was recorded in alphabetical order had him buried in Section G,
Division 2, Lot 44. While the burial plot maps had him in Division 3. These two records were never cross-checked before. Division 3 is where all of my grandfather's family was buried, Division 2 is next to # 3 not all that far. However the two divisions had over 800 burials. Once I looked in Division 2 after consulting the records in the alphabetical listing of who should be buried around him, it was easy to find the lot. His was the only plot that did not have a marker in the rolls and graves near lot 44.

It would have been easy to just forget it and accept the fact he was buried somewhere in Division 3 near his father and let it go. Persistence (ok and stubbornness) paid off in finally finding his grave after all of these years. The records have been corrected. Now, if only I had the money to get a marker for his grave.

The moral of this story is to "never give up." The answer is there somewhere, keep looking. Many in this group have found records that everyone said was forever lost. New information seems to pop up from other sources. New technology changes what we currently know. Just look at what DNA has done to help us discover our family connections, what new tools will the near future give us? Keep searching, be persistent and discover the facts!

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