The month before Memorial day is always busy for me. This year with 2 different hospital stays in April & May, I haven't been able to get ahead for Memorial Day. On Friday I was at Riverside Cemetery trying to get as much done as possible before Monday when I hear a voice behind me say "What are you using there?". I turn around to see an elderly gentlemen sitting on Rascal scooter. He was wearing a hat that showed he served in the U.S. Navy. I walked over and extended my hand and told him who I was. He told me his name was Henry Mathes and that he was a former commander of the local American Legion. As I took a knee, Henry began to fill me in about his family. Henry's brother Sidney served in 3 different wars while in the U.S. Navy and Henry's wife Elva was already at rest in their plot. Henry's father was the chauffeur for Byron Bancroft Johnson, who created the American League Baseball and was the first president of the league. As I listened to Henry talk, I couldn't help but try to remember where I had heard that name "Mathes" before. After spending the better of 45 mins chatting with Henry, I went back to my work of cleaning Civil War headstones. Later that night I remembered where I had heard the "Mathes" name. A lady by the name of Reba Butler had contacted me to see if I could locate a Hester Mathes in Riverside Cemetery. I did locate Hester, who lies beside her husband Silas Henry Harrison Mathes. Reba volunteers at the Historical Museum in Bedford and they had letters that Silas had written to Hester during his time away serving in the Civil War. She had transcribed the letters and they was planning an exhibit this summer. I had previously reset and cleaned Silas's headstone so I reset and cleaned Hester's and sent her the pictures. Hearing Henry's tell his stories about his families sacrifice serving in our nations military was amazing. Thanks to all our Veterans, not just on this Memorial Day, but every day of the year!
Some of you may know of stories and the importance many men from Owen County played in the Civil War. As you know, Headstone Healers takes special intrest in preserving our military mens headstones and final resting place. I always love sharing with you what I find when I research these brave men. The 19th Indiana, along with the 2nd, 6th, & 7th Wisconsin & the 24th Michigan, created what was known as "the best fighting brigade of the Army of the Potomac" called the "IRON BRIGADE". Many Owen County men served in the IRON BRIGADE and are buried here. These men fought in Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Overland, Richmond-Petersburg, & Appomattox. There are some great websites on the IRON BRIGADE and the 19th Indiana that make wonderful reading. Thanks to some of those websites I have compiled a list of men from Owen County in the 19th Indiana that I linked to their Find-A-Grave page.
Headstone Repair is like restoring an old car. Some take alot of work while others just need very little done. Over the years people have come up with good & bad ideas on how to mend their families headstone. I have seen in person and on the internet some of both. The picture below show example of both and are picture I found on the internet so they dont belong to me or represents my work, just some examples. Without seeing the stone in person it wouldnt be right for me to give the proper instruction on how to fix each stone but I will point out the good or bad of each repair as it appears in the photo. I always love seeing photos of stone repair you have found so feel free to share them with me. Sharing ideas and seeing what others have done, good and bad, helps us all grow in our knowledge of stone repair. Before you do any repair consult myself or someone with the experience to make sure you dont harm the stone.
Here we have a stone with two different breaks that seem to have extreme wear at the breaks. If you look behind this stone you will see another one fixed in the same maner. Its obvious that this fix will only hold up until the wire rust apart leaving the stone vulnerable to fall and create new breaks.
Here we have a stone with what appears to be a center break and possibly a bottom break. This stone appears to have little wear at the center break and should have been a simple fix. I have no idea what the concrete at the bottom of the stone is for but I'm sure it shouldnt have been used. The galvanized steel frame would have been a good idea for a more permanant fix but was sloppy exacuted and wasnt used to help stand the stone back in place which would have been its intended purpose.
Here we have a stone with a simple lower to mid break. Its very obvious that they drilled through the stone and bolted this iron flat metal for support. As you can see in the picture, the iron is rusting and staining the stone but the most harm was done with the drill by creating a week spot in the stone where it is now drilled.
Not everyone in the Headstone preservation work would agree with me here but this is a great example of how metal can be used to give a more permanant fix. The metal used here is aluminum channel and was used properly so that it doesnt cover the face of the stone and is welded with braces in the back. The stone itself was nicely repaired and the metal was used to help support the stone to stand. This addition should last many years to come.
Here is another repair that some headstone preservationist might get ill over. I dont believe that this stone needed the addition of the concrete frame but it will provide extra protection. The mid break in the stone seems to be a simple one and would have required basic repair but the person who did the work on this wanted the added protection and did so in a neat and clean way that doesnt obstruct the face of the stone or damage the stone in any way.
There is something special about growing up in Sweet Owen County. Many before us raised here have gone on to do great things and help progress our state and country into the world we know today. One such person was Samuel M Ralston, former Indiana Governor and State Senator. Samuel was born December 1, 1857 in Ohio. by the age of 8, his family had moved to a farm in northwestern Owen County near Poland. Here Samuel attended school and worked on the family farm with his three brothers and four sisters. In 1873, after the family suffered a finacial hardship, they lost the farm in Owen County and moved to Fontanent, Indiana. Samuel worked in a butcher shop and a coal mine to help the family finacially. Later his father open his own butcher shop. Samuel decided to take work as a school teacher while going to Central Indiana Normal College. After obtaining a science degree, he decided he wanted to study law and was admitted to the bar on January 1, 1886. Later that year he opened his own practice in Lebanon, Indiana with partner John Abbott. Samuel ran for Governor in 1912 and was elected to the office on January 13, 1913 and served until January 8, 1917. Samuel was elected to State Senator and held that office from March 4, 1923 until October 14, 1925 when he passed away. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon, Indiana.
Those of us that have been blessed to grow up in Owen County know what a positive influence this must of had on Samuel as he worked his way up the political ladder. There is something special about growing up here, you cant put your finger on it...its just a feeling.
When it comes to hobbies, Genealogy is 2nd only to Gardening in the US. Some genealogist will claim its not a hobby but a way of life and for some it may be. I have been researching my family line since 1996 and it can become somewhat of an addiction. The challenge to discover your family roots stays constant and feeds the addiction to dig deep and see where the journey takes you.
So was the case when I met Cindy Coleman. Cindy had been in contact with my friend Casey Winningham as she prepared her trip from Florida to Owen County to find her ancestors. Cindy found that some of her family headstones were in need of some maintainance so Casey had her contact me. I met up with Cindy and Riverside Cemetery and my first impression was what I was hopping for. I could tell right away that she shared my passion for preserving our ancestors final resting place and the excitement of finding her family was very contagious. We looked at some family headstones there then proceeded to River Hill Cemetery where I reset and cleaned a member of her Coffey familys headstone. She was so happy, and the next day her sister Rene flew in from Washington state and joined the journey with her.
Their travels took them to Columbus, Ellettsville, & Freedom and it is here that Cindy contacted me again. They was looking for their McIndoo Cemetery in hopes of locating some of their McIndoo family and was unable to find it. I had never been to McIndoo Cemetery but the next day, Tracy and myself headed out to find McIndoo Cemetery and even though it was a long hard hike, we found it. I told Cindy that I found it and Rene and herself met with me the next morning so I could guide them to it. There was 3 McIndoo farms back in the day and they all layed on the east side of the railroad tracks south of Freedom on a farm now owned by Abrells & Hickams. The ladies and myself headed out on the close to 2 mile hike down the tracks and through some of Owen County's beautiful woods. Upon our arrival, the ladies were so excited as I cleaned the face of each stone and they was able to read them.
Although their mother has passed on, they are looking forward to sharing everything they have seen with their father and future generations in their family. They was able to document and photograph so much legacy that there is already talk of a return trip later this fall. Thanks for the adventure Cindy & Rene!
I met a new friend named Mike Dean the other day. He told me about his strong connection to Owen County and about a cemetery named Surber that was close to his house. What is special abour Surber Cemetery is that it is the final resting place of at least 3 Revolutionary War Soldiers. So I met Mike at his house and we headed off to Surber Cemetery. Surber Cemetery is spread out over approximatly 50 yards in a very wooded area. Thre are 22 known burials there. Mike gave me the grand tour as I mentally calculated each headstone's needs for restoration. One of the 22 headstones belongs to John Snoddy. Mike told me that John was Revolutionary War Soldier.When I returned home I decided that I would see what information there was on John Snoddy and was surprised to see that his military files contained quite a bit. John Snoddy was born February 23, 1758 in Rowan County, North Carolina. He enlisted in January 1775 and served three months as a private under Capt James Purvines. between 1778 & 1782, he served a total of two years as a private and served under Capt Moses Goss, William Stuart, Major Joseph Dixon, Colonel Clevland, & Colonels Isaacs and was involved in many skirmishes. In 1782, John moved to Kentucky and lived 41 years before moving to Owen County, Indiana. His file contained many letters written by those who knew him, one saying "that he supports the character of a very honest man". There is a very long and hard to read document written by John himself telling of his experience in the war but the one that got my attention was written by Pauline Snoddy Crow which says that John was a Special Messenger for General Washington! There are many other letters in the file, even one written by Owen County's own Thomas C Johnson. In March of 1843, John Snoddy passed away, and his final resting place lies in Surber Cemetery in the middle of a woods in central Sweet Owen.
Since the article in the paper, I have spoken with several wonderful and supportive people and I have a list of some that I still need to call back. One of the greatest reward of doing this type of work is when you get to see the family and hear the stories behind the headstone. The other night a gentleman named Mr. Fogle called me and told me that his grandfathers Civil War headstone was crooked and needed cleaned. We made plans to meet on Friday in a cemetery about 40 mins from my home. After seeing the stone I knew it was gonna be a simple reset and clean and got my tools out to start the work. While I worked, Mr Fogle told me the story of his grandfather and how he had traveled to Pennsylvania to the Fort where his grandfather fought so he could stand in the same place his grandfather was over 150 years ago. He spoke of his father and how he never had a stone until about 10 years ago when his wife and himself purchased him one. How his brother Jacob quit school at the age of 13 to support his mother and himself after his father died, and his headstone was just a few rows over. He spoke of the struggle his sister had and how her stone was on top of the hill. Then finally he pointed to his own headstone that he designed and told of how him and his wife were both battling cancer and that he was the last of his siblings. While listening to this amazing story, I finished my work on the stone. I asked Mr Fogle if he knew where the Boone-Hutchison Cemetery was in the area because it was one with a lot of Squire Boones family was buried in and a smile came across his face and he said "Park your car and I'll take you there!". So off Cemetery hopping we went and in the short 45 minutes I spent with Mr Fogle I got to hear the legacy of Corpl Jacob Fogle and I made a new friend and it all started with a crooked headstone that needed cleaned. Thanks Joe!
They Would Have Shot Him Forthwith Written by Laura . Posted in Genealogy Martin Van Buren Scott was born October 11, 1828 in Raleigh, North Carolina to Henry and Lucy (Evans) Scott at a time when Southern states were passing strict laws prohibiting the education of even Free Blacks. Martin was brought to Indiana by his parents and grandparents when he was four years old. His family settled in Wayne and Orange Counties, working as farmers and wagon makers, before Henry, Lucy and Martin came to Owen County in the 1850s. When the Civil War broke out most of Indiana's African American soldiers were part of the Twenty-eighth United States Colored Troops. Martin Scott, however, enlisted in the 19th Indiana Regiment, Company I, a "White" regiment mustered out of Owen County on March 17, 1864. It was soon after this that Martin and the Indiana 19th found themselves engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness which raged across 70 square miles of rugged terrain in Central Virginia on May 5, 6 and 7, 1864. It was here that Martin Scott was shot through the thigh. Lieutenant John Dittemore, also wounded, later recalled how Martin Scott crawled over him in the battlefield and they lay side by side before being captured by the Confederates. Upon his capture Martin Scott was incarcerated at the infamous Andersonville Prison at Fort Sumpter in Georgia. In his 1918 obituary, published in the Owen Leader, it states that, "He often spoke of his predicament while a prisoner and stated it was lucky for him that he was no darker skinned than the majority of the weather tanned yankees. Had it been known that he was a "EDITTED African American", they would have shot him forthwith." On September 2nd, 1864, General Sherman's Army took Atlanta and Union prisoners were moved from Andersonville to more secure locations. Martin Scott was moved first to Camp Lawton in Millen, Georgia but as Sherman and his Army approached Millen as they Marched to the Sea Martin was moved again before being released May 24, 1865. In all, 12, 913 of the 40,000 Union soldiers held at Andersonville Prison died from starvation, disease and ill-treatment, accounting for fully 40% of all Union fatalities in the South. After the War the superintendent of Andersonville Prison, Dr. Henry Wirtz, was found guilty of eleven counts of "murder in violation of customs of war" and was hanged November 10, 1865. He is the only Confederate tried for war crimes by the US Government after the Civil War. In Carl Anderson's 1943 book, As I Remember It, he describes Martin Scott as one of four men, all former prisoners at Andersonville he considered by be his heroes, writing, "Scott was a "EDITTED African American", but not very dark. Had the Confederates known he was a "EDITTED African American" they would have made short work of him."After the War Martin returned to Owen County where he lived the life of a well respected famer. He was married twice, first to Reana Walden with whom he had three children, and then to Almira Griffin with whom he had four sons and two daughters. He was active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Spencer, an organization that Charles Blanchard's 1884 History of Owen County notes, "Considering the great difficulties under which they labored, the members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church deserve great credit for what they've accomplished, and the support and encouragement of the community in the future."Martin's father, Henry Scott, died 1890. His obituary, published in the Owen County Journal, states that he, "was known as an honest and industrious citizen". Martin Scott died after a series of strokes on April 1, 1918 and is buried alongside his wife, Almira, who died in 1920, in Riverside Cemetery, Spencer. His son Noah Scott, a retired butcher, died in the Owen County Home in 1956. In 2001 descendants of Martin Scott met in Owen County along with a representative from the Smithsonian Institute to visit the places where Martin Scott spent the majority of his adult life. *NOTE* Sometime in 1864 the 7th &19th were merged with the 20th.
Asberry Jarvis was born August 17, 1842 in Monroe County, OH to John & Elizabeth Loughead Jarvis. John & Elizabeth were married March 4, 1830. Asberry grew up in a house of 14 siblings which included 8 brothers, 2 sister, 2 half brothers, & 2 half sisters. His mother passed away in around 1848 when Asberry was only about 6 years old. Asberry's father remarried the following year to Susan Dennis in Ohio. When the Civil War started, Asberry served in the 77th Ohio Infantry. He obtained the rank of Corporal January 1, 1862 at the age of 20. He mustered out December 27, 1864. During the war he fought in the following battles under Colonel Jesse Hildebrand :
Battle of ShilohSiege of Corinth
Battle of Bayou Fourche
Battle of Prairie D'Ane
Battle of Marks' Mills
Battle of Jenkins' Ferry
Siege of Spanish Fort
After the war, Asberry returned to Ohio and married Mary Ellen Dillen on October 15, 1865. The family moved to Owen County, Indiana before 1870. Asberry passed away February 18, 1910. It was an honor to clean Corporal Asberry Jarvis's headstone.
How many times are you able to hear the story behind the person buried there or their headstone that marks their final resting place? Well that is one of the rare joys that we get to experience doing the work we do. Today Tracy Wilson & myself, Co-Founders of Headstone Healers of Indiana, were able to enjoy that today. We was looking for a cemetery that we believed to be west of Fish Creek Road here in Owen County. As we turned on this road we was greeted with a sign that said "Dead End" but our determination pushed us on. We got to the end of the road and there was this beautiful creek with an amazing waterfall and an old iron bridge that hadn't seen a vehicle in over 50 years we found out later. To our right was a drive that went back to a old cabin and barn and signs saying "NO TRESPASSING".
Well we no more than stopped the car and here comes this older gentleman, appox 80+ years old, in bib overalls on a lawn mower down the long lane. I stepped out of the car and met the gentleman and when he turned his mower off I greeted him with my name and he said "Mines Leonard Hendershot, nice to meet you". So I stated our business for being there. I said "We are looking for a cemetery in this area, have you ever seen one around here?". He looked me over and scratched his chin and thought for a second. Then he asked me "How big is it?" and I replied "I have no idea, the county has no record of it." Then I notice a small toothless smile come over his face and he said " I think I know what your looking for." So I asked him "Can you tell me how to get there?" and he said "Well you wont have to go very far, follow me."
So we walk about 20 feet back down the road we just came from, following Mr Hendershot, and he stops and says "We'll go up the bank right here." So up this steep embankment we went and when we got to the top he said "Now I havent seen this in many years but my mother told me the story about it. See my grandfather cut the logs and built the cabin I live in around 1840. My mother was raised here and she told me wonderful stories of the people that came through here when this was the main road to Terre Haute. She told me stories of when the circus would come that they would camp out here and the elephants would move the wagons around because they was heavy for the horses to move. She even witness one of the elephants get mad and pick up a wagon and smash it. There is only one grave here and the story my mother told me was that the lady died while traveling through going west and that her family buried her here and made her this stone before they moved on to where they was headed. Only one other person has ever showed up asking about it. The headstone is leaning against a tree and made of sandstone". So we started looking for this stone and low and behold we found it! It read "Eliza Gash 1848".
I began cleaning the stone and like always, the name and dated started to appear. The tree it was leaned against was now only a rotted stump. Mr Hendershot said "That was a nice size tree when I seen it".as he sat down to rest. It was almost like finding GOLD! So if your every west of Spencer and want to stop and visit with Mr Hendershot, I'm sure he would love to tell his stories to you as you visit Ms Eliza Gash.
My name is John Maxwell and I am a Co-Founder of Headstone Healers of Indiana and a Find-A-Grave Volunteer who enjoys working with old headstones. Many tell a story of days past and the people who lived then.