Gravestone Update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how my great-grandparents’ gravestones have disappeared from Old North Cemetery (“Graver Situation,” March 11). I finally heard from the city and Larry and I met John Timm from the public works department on Wednesday.

Mr. Timm and I exchanged information. He gave me a clearer map of the cemetery than I’d been able to pull off the microfilm, and I gave him the documentation of the burials from the Hale records, death certificates, and obituaries. The big tree is still sitting in chunks all over the area, and this time a good portion of the back half of the cemetery was under water from the recent deluge. We managed to slog down to where Ash found the gravestones of Charles and Lillian James.

The map showed the cemetery divided into sections, and the two graves were in the right section, though we all agreed that they looked as though they’d been moved. For one thing they now sit at right angles to each other, almost touching. We walked all over the back part of the cemetery that wasn’t flooded but found no evidence of any other James graves.

We did see a small white marker with the letter “J” on it and thought maybe we were in the wrong location since the James graves were supposed to be in Section “I” according to the records that I located. Then I spotted a small letter “A,” far from what was supposed to be Section A. Then I saw a letter “S.” The letters only go up to “O,” so the little white markers must be boundaries for family plots: The “A” marked a boundary for the Adams family. The “S” was for Spencer, I think.

I explained all this to Mr. Timm, and we went back to Charles’ and Lillian’s gravestones, which were right near the small “J” marker. At this point we all agreed that the “J” marked a boundary for the James family plot. While we were standing there, I happened to notice another stone, leaning over and separated from its base. It said “Mother” on the top and then Isabella Pierce, wife of William H. Pierce, 1847-1901.” Something nudged at the back of my mind. Those were the names of Lillian (Pierce) James’s parents, which I had discovered last week when I looked up Lillian’s death certificate as a confirmation of her burial in Old North.

I’ve double checked, and sure enough, that’s Lillian’s mother who is buried in the James family plot, or nearby.

With a little more research I uncovered two more generations of Lillian’s family. Lillian and her mother Isabella were living together in the 1880 census, when Lillian was eight. Isabella’s parents, Lorinda (Florinda?) and Cornwallis (C.W.) Lee go back to 1845. William Pierce’s parents, Samuel and Rosana (Roxana), go back to 1851.

Mr. Timm is looking up the cards that the city has kept on the cemetery and will forward any information he finds. Once I nail down all the data, I’ll send him the information about Isabella (Lee) Pierce.

At least I feel some progress is being made at this point.

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