Apr 21, 2010

Grave Tuesday

One of the reasons we're camped in this part of the world is so Dar can do more family tree research. In the middle 1800's ancestors on my Dad's side settled in this corner of Iowa after having immigrated from Germany and spending some time in Bucks County Pennsylvania. They left behind a lot of descendants, gravestones, and colorful stories over the years.

We stopped here in the Fall of  2008 to meet with Kevin, a 2nd cousin of mine, who grew up in the area. He spent a day driving us around, meeting people, seeing homes and churches and cemeteries, and showing us where all the bodies are buried. His own extensive family research made him the perfect guide on our tour of Marion County.

But this year, with renewed vigor, more questions than answers, and new family tree software on her PC, Dar needed to gather more information to fill in some of the gaps. So on Tuesday, we spent the day haunting cemeteries all over the area and taking more photos of headstones than I thought I had ancestors. But when one generation has ten kids, and each of them have large families, an each of them...  well, after a few generations it'd be possible to fill a small stadium with them all.

Just between you and me, I'm glad Dar is into this. I love reading about it, studying the charts, hearing the stories, but at some point my eyes glaze over and my mind shuts down when the details become overwhelming.

We stopped in the little town of Lacona, one of the place names mentioned in all the research. There's not much to Lacona -- another of those little rural towns that were so important during an earlier time, but in slow decline today. There is a farmer's co-op grain elevator, feed mill, gas station, a church or two, a couple bars, and a nice collection of homes, most of which are cared for and in good condition -- so the little place isn't giving up easily.

Since it was mid-afternoon and we needed to quench our thirst, we picked one of the bars and went in. Inside was the woman who owned the place and three other guys at the bar. After ordering a beer and taking stock of the situation, which seemed light and friendly, I asked, in a loud enough voice so everyone could hear, "Do any of you folks know any Hoch's?" Immediately a couple hands pointed to a fellow standing right next to me... Ed Hoch... a distant cousin. I wasn't surprised. Where else would one expect to find a Hoch in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon?

Well, Dar went out to the car and dragged in some of here papers, and she and Ed went over things while I chatted with the now even more friendly crowd. We were only there for an hour or so and by the time we left we felt like regulars... knowing everyone on a first name basis. Dar picked up a few more clues to add to the growing pile of data that her new PC program was supposed to eliminate. Hmmm.

Later we met Kevin for dinner on the south side of Des Moines and had a very enjoyable time. After dinner he invited us over to his place so he and Dar could compare family tree information and to just chat. But faced with an hour drive back to the bus-house I disconnected the genealogical workshop after a couple hours and we headed back home.

With Dar processing all the grave details...

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