Hunting headstones

Saturday I took a little road trip that I had been wanting to take for over a year. This was an effort to not waste a beautiful spring day by wallowing in the feel-bads as I have been for a while. Through my genealogy research, I have learned where some of my ancestors are buried. Several are reposing for eternity in Elmwood Cemetery in Yale, Michigan. Yale is about 65 miles from my house at the far northern end of St. Clair County. It’s a farming community, for the most part. My sister and her son lived there for a short while in the late 1980s, and my father lived there as a child. I was supposed to find three of dad’s grandparents and two of his great-grandparents there.

I say “supposed to find,” because … well, it was about as inconclusive as anything involving granite can be. I managed to find the markers ridiculously easy, given that I had no directions on the grounds. Dad’s mother’s parents had a big marker right by a turn in the road. I hardly had to search for it at all.

But … OK, first off, there’s just a birth date for father Cady, no death date. My suspicion is, after they misspelled the name of his late beloved wife Phoebe, he was so upset that he refused to be buried there. OK, maybe his wife really pronounced her name “FEE-obe”; it was the turn of the century and things were different then. Anyway, I can’t say he’s there or not.

Then there were the Montneys, in the opposite corner of the Cadys’ section of the cemetery. My hopes were up when I saw a large marker emblazoned “MONTNEY.” Hopes were dashed when I saw the surrounding smaller markers.


The two on the left are pretty much worn smooth. I can barely make out the dates on one that correspond to what I know of my great-great-grandmother. But the other marker is truly smooth, and crooked besides. The only indication that it might be my namesake great-great-grandfather is that the flag bears a badge for the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) with the dates of the American Civil War, 1861-1865. My GGgrandfather did serve, but then so did a lot of other Montneys (there were 13 siblings in all, most of them male).


The taller sub-marker on the right is for my great-grandfather, the only child of the original Charles B. He died in the 1890s at around 30, way too early and under circumstances I have yet to discern. His marker had clear enough name and dates, and then some script that I couldn’t really make out. Maybe this is where paper and a charcoal pencil would’ve come in handy. I thought photographs might supplant the rubbing practice, but maybe not.

Which brings me to the last disappointment. I did not realize the camera was set to its lowest resolution until I got home and downloaded the pics to my computer. A few weeks ago, I had changed the resolution for a couple of unimportant photos to go on Facebook, and I forgot to change it back. So all I have are little tiny images. There’s no blowing these up to see higher detail. I’m kind of embarrassed to put them on Flickr.

Oh well. The markers aren’t going anywhere, and I can go back some other time. Till then, I can do a bit more research and try to nail down some more details. It was a nice road trip, anyway. I think it’s the farthest away from my house that I’ve been since last July.

P.S.: There are seven total pix so far in the Yale, Michigan set on my Flickr.

About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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4 Responses to Hunting headstones

  1. changeling72 says:

    Interesting. Even American cemeteries and headstones look different to ours.

    I know some of my great-grandparents graves aren’t marked, so I would have to ask to see the cemetery plans.

    • songdogmi says:

      Different? Huh. Well, I would guess that most of our markers would seem ostentatious, maybe? I don’t know if there are any notable people in this cemetery (beyond, say, city officials or local business owners), but there were a lot of large markers.

      As John says below, seeing the cemetery plans would help me, just to make sure I was in the right spot. There may also be other ancestors buried there whom I didn’t know about.

  2. jjfmi says:

    Charlie, if the cemetery is still taking burials, there’s probably an office. They should have a listing and map of who’s buried where. Just a thought.

    • songdogmi says:

      I never saw where the office was, though I parked next to what I thought was the maintenance shed. Maybe that was actually the office. I’d have to get there earlier in the day, but that would probably be worthwhile. I have that thing about asking questions, but I suspect that’s not a good approach here.

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