Posted by: marthabernie | August 11, 2015

UNION CEMETERY – Union Township – near Phillipsburg, Missouri

002aThis photo was taken toward the back of the Union Cemetery near Phillipsburg, Laclede County, Missouri.  My McMenus great grandparents and three of their children are buried here, along with my great great grandparents Joseph and Sarah Selvidge McMenus and other McMenus relations.  This cemetery is located just across the road from where my mother grew up.  The cemetery was well cared for until the 1930’s when it became overgrown and many of the stones and monuments sank after rains etc.  In the 1970’s, descendants (mostly cousins of my mother’s) went in and cleaned it up, pulling out debris and bringing in soil to fill in where the earth had subsided.  Most of the headstones had to be pulled out of the dirt.  Once cleaned up, a maintenance fund was set up for future care (mostly mowing in the summer), but family members have donated their time for decades with the fund not being touched.  I wrote a piece about the cemetery near Memorial Day in 1997 and submitted it to the Lebanon Daily Record in the Laclede County seat of Lebanon, Missouri.  I thought with any luck they might publish it on the back page of the holiday edition.  News must have been light that weekend because my article appeared as the headline article on the front page!  I will dig it out one of these days and post the story.

Back to the photo here.  The stone on the right is that of my great grandfather, Joseph McMenus, who died in 1901.  When his wife died in 1908, the stone for Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus was put up and is identical, though she has no plant around hers.  The small stones to the left (two on the right of the tree and one on the left of the tree in direct line with the bigger stones) are for their three small children.  Their first baby died at birth, a boy.  A daughter, Sarah (named for her McMenus grandmother) died at age 18 months and is also buried here.  Then their last child, another baby boy, born after my grandmother, also died at birth.  The two unnamed boys are marked with only “Infant McM” and the year.   Little Sarah’s marker says, “Sarah McM” with the date.  The cemeteries no longer allow fresh flowers to be put on graves, so we always take artificial flowers when we visit.


Responses

  1. I printed your potato salad and am going to try it with radishes (for hubby), but my commenting got all screwed up. WordPress is annoying me lately . . . a lot!

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    • The beauty of that potato salad is that you can add or remove anything you like. I never thought about radishes, but have sometimes added pickle juice and/or chopped pickles or pickle relish.

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  2. It was always a tradition in my family to visit the gravesites of our relatives, even people most of us never knew personally; I think it’s a beautiful and honourable thing to do. I’m glad to know other people think the same. Great piece. Thank you.

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    • As a family, we always went to the graves at least twice a year; when we visited Missouri on family vacations, trips to the various grave sites was obligatory. Even though Memorial Day was originated to honor the war dead, by the 1930s it became a day that people routinely went to cemeteries to either do clean up work from the winter decay and spring growth, just to place flowers on the graves. In 1997, when my niece and I spent a week in Missouri researching family history and visiting various sites, most of my photos were of headstones. In fact, when I returned and took all the film in to the one hour photo guy, he wanted to know “what on earth” I had done on my “vacation”!! Last year in Ireland, we spent a good deal of time in and around the Curren and Magherafelt (Derry) areas looking at headstones hoping to come across the surnames, but if they existed in the 1700’s and 1800’s, they were long gone by 2014.

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      • My family is from Derry on my mother’s side and Tipperary on my father’s; I’m sorry that you couldn’t find the headstones, but guess what? The fact that you honor your ancestors so very much would mean more to them than any monument. People don’t know what they’ve missed, or are missing.

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      • We stayed in Magherafelt at a B&B called Laurel Villa. The owners are genealogists and help tourists that stay with them. We were able to actually stand on the various parcels of land in Curren where the families farmed, and on the corner was the Presbyterian church with it’s modern building and cemetery. In the 1850’s records, the Presbyterian church was in the same location (it was called the meeting house), next to the Presbyterian branch of the family, so we were fairly certain that some of them were probably buried where we were standing, just the stones gone. On the way out to Tubbermore there was a very old derelict graveyard with ruins of small chapel, and I suspect some of the Church of Ireland branch of the family might have been buried there.

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      • I was thinking about your comment last night, and I think it really is important to honor the ones who came before us…or just keep them in memory. My great aunt ANNIE, the one who features so prevalently here on the blog because we got so many photos and other things from her…she had four children. The youngest, RAYMOND or “Little Ray” as they called him, died when he was only 9 or 10, probably from pneumonia (reading between the lines of various letters). It was 1900. Where they were living at the time was not near any of the cemeteries where other family members were buried, but they buried him in the one that was closest to where they lived. Aunt Annie took his death very hard, and long after she was gone, we found the little hand made box of marbles that had belonged to him, and photographs where she had taken a group photo and had a photo made just of him. Also a baby photo and a lock of his hair. 115 years later, I keep a small photo of him out where I can see it every day. Of course, I never knew him, and I barely remember Aunt Annie as she died when I was only 4. But I know it would make her happy to know that someone remembers and honors his brief life. And when I am in Missouri, I always go out of my way to visit his grave. They put up a very big marker for him, it must have cost a fortune back then, one of the largest in the cemetery of mostly flat headstones. She wanted him to be remembered….

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      • That was heart-breaking, but brave and brilliant. As far as I know for sure, our only immortality comes from those who remember us when we’re gone. It’s very rare to find someone who recognizes this these days. You’re the most prolific and diverse writer I follow, and I’m thankful for your writing.

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      • Thanks! I appreciate it very much! Lots more to come!

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