Friday, January 25, 2013

Cemetery Adventures and Lessons Learned

This genealogy tip of the day from Michael John Neill resonated with me when I read it because of my own experience. 

Are there "empty" spaces in your family's lot of graves in the cemetery? Is it possible that there are unmarked burials. The cemetery may (or may not) have records of burials even if no stone was erected after the funeral.

Used with permission:  © Michael John Neill, “Genealogy Tip of the Day,”, Posted: 07 Jan 2013 06:15 AM PST

A few years ago I was trying to locate the graves of my Primas Great-Uncles.  I knew that two of them were at “the windmill cemetery”, officially known as Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, Illinois.  I went to the main office and asked for the location of all persons with Primas as their surname located in the cemetery.  I received the list I expected, with one surprise:  Emma Primas, my great-grandmother.

Emma Stroschein Primas
I knew my great-grandfather Paul Primas (Emma’s husband) died at the age of 46 years in 1906 and was buried in Concordia Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois.  When I visited the grave site there was space but no stone for Emma.  I assumed that she was there with no marker.  


There was a child of Paul and Emma’s named Franz that died at the age of 2 years, 6 months of croup and diphtheria.  He was also buried in Concordia Cemetery.  When I inquired about the location I was told that he had been buried in a special section for children.  That area had no permanent plots, it was in effect leased.  There was no marker to be seen. 

Emma died at the age of 63 years in 1928, having lived 22 years longer than Paul.  She was left a widow with five children to raise, so it seemed that perhaps a lack of money might have been the reason for no marker.  Maybe the family planned to get a marker when they had more funds.
So what was Emma doing in Mount Emblem?  I went to find her grave site.  There was only a cement disk with the number of the plot.  No headstone.  Next to her space were headstones for Ernest and Evelyn Stroschein.  Ernest, called Ernie by the family, was Emma’s nephew, her brother’s son.  Across the road were Emma’s sons Frederick and Otto, her daughter Amelia (called Millie) and Otto’s wife Marie.  Fred and Millie have no markers.  In a different section of the cemetery are plots for her other sons: Oscar (my grandfather) is on one side of the road, and on the other side of the road are plots for Frank Primas and his wife, both unmarked.
When I asked why there were no markers on the plots for Frank and his wife, his son told me “they aren’t there”.  They are buried in Missouri where they had retired years ago.
I am still left with more questions:  why is Emma in a different cemetery than her husband?  Did the children not know or forget about the Concordia plot?  Why is she buried next to her nephew and not her sons?  Why is Paul's grave marker so large?  Why does Emma has no grave marker?
Some lessons learned from this adventure: 
     1.       Always ask at the cemetery office for the people you are looking for
     2.       Don’t assume everyone has a marker
     3.       Don’t assume that because someone bought the plot that they are in it

Your Cousin Caron

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