Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cemetery Visit 2023

For as long as I can remember, my parents would visit the cemeteries of loved ones before Memorial Day. It was called Decoration Day when I was young. They would make an occasion out of it and take my grandparents or other family members. It was a big deal to get flowers for the cemeteries. My parents would always take a rake and do some landscaping. My mom's parents and grandparents are buried in a country cemetery in City Point, Wisconsin. Every year they would pull weeds (probably spray them with Round-up before we knew how bad that stuff was) and bring in a fresh load of white rock. It was tradition. Now they are gone, and I feel I should keep up that tradition. I don't go all out like they did, but twice a year I visit the graves of my ancestors. My parents are now buried along with my dad's parents and other family members in the Neillsville, Wisconsin cemetery. Although Memorial Day is meant for those who died in the armed service, I continue the tradition of Decoration Day, which it was called until 1967.  

This year I had intended to use "real" flowers, but soon realized that I live too far away to keep them watered. A two hour drive is pretty far to drive to water plants when watering my own plants gets to be a hassle after awhile! As much as I don't like silk flowers, that is what I use.  

My husband and I always took a day to do this, but now my daughters take me. Last week we went to the Neillsville cemetery first. It was a gorgeous day. We did a little maintenance, but mostly we put out the flowers and reminisced. It is interesting with every trip I notice a connection to friends and family I hadn't noticed before.

Next stop was a little drive around Neillsville and a sandwich at Hardee's. I hadn't been to a Hardee's restaurant for years. Then we drove to City Point.  

I love this cemetery. It is a quiet old cemetery in Jackson County Wisconsin. It has been cleaned up and is now being maintained better than it was. I miss some of the old bushes and trees but understand why it needed to be spruced up. I don't bring in stone and do the job my parents did, but every year I try to do something. I planted irises a couple years ago and I was so pleased to see they were blooming. 

I will bring more next time because they are such a low maintenance flower. I was warned not to plant hostas but I did. I was told the deer would have them eaten before I left the driveway. I guess they did because not one hosta survived. I planted lilacs and they were gone too.

We took a lot of time walking around. With all my recent genealogy reminders I realized that most of my grandpa's siblings were buried here with their families. My mom would walk around every time they visited. I hadn't paid much attention but now I know that half this cemetery contains many of her aunts, uncles and cousins. They had all settled in this area after immigrating from Denmark. Eight of the ten children came to America. I don't think they spent a lot of time together however. Each family had their own struggles making a living and feeding their families. I remember my grandpa visiting with two of his brothers, but I never knew about the others. If my mom talked about them, it wasn't very often. Some had died when my mom was young, leaving only stories. One particular story was known by all. My grandpa had a brother named Soren Peter. He went by the name Peter. He was the oldest brother. 

As the story goes Peter was a bartender in nearby Merrillan, WI. One day two vagrants came to town. They were trying to sell stolen goods. The Marshall followed them into the saloon and attempted to arrest the men. One slipped out the back door but the other drew his gun. The Marshall called Peter to help and in the struggle Peter was killed.  He was 40 years old and unmarried.  Fast forward to several years ago.  My mom was walking the cemetery and found Peter's grave buried in the ground with only the top showing. She was so happy to find his grave after so many years. I found this image on Find A Grave. 

Last week I noticed this gravestone. It looks new and is positioned right next to his sister's daughter who died when she was just 15 years old. Someone has remembered him by placing a stone. If any of my relatives know who this was, I would like to thank them. What a wonderful thing to do.

I had mentioned in an earlier post about the spelling of Jepsen (Jepson) name. Grandpa was so adamant about spelling his name with a "sen", but apparently the others spelled it with "son". I noticed that even my grandpa's name was spelled Jepson on his Declaration of Intent to become a citizen. I think when other people filled out paperwork, names got spelled many ways. 

As with most things in life, even cemeteries have changed. Many people are not living close together in communities. People are living and dying all over the world. Another thing that is happening is many people are being cremated and their ashes are being thrown to the wind, some over golf courses, lakes, and many other favorite locations. I think of old cemeteries as libraries where families lived together and stayed together after death. A lot of information can be gleaned from cemeteries. It is going to be much harder to track families without gravestones. Of course with technology records are getting easier to access. I think I want to be put in a permanent place.