Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Current Adventures: Finding Old Documents and Tombstones

Besides the trip to Harman land, which I wrote about last week, additional exciting happenings occurred on my recent vacation.

Just to remind you, a while back, I wrote about meeting my third cousin on the Troutman/Pratt side, Hal Campbell, who showed me the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church’s session minutes dating back to 1836. He let me copy a few pages relating to the Troutman history. Since then, Hal and I have talked several times about the importance of those minutes to genealogists and family historians. Not long after seeing the minutes, I learned (on good old Facebook) that the Smyth-Bland Regional Library was digitizing many historical documents from Smyth County.[1] Immediately, I contacted the person on that project and told her about the session minutes.  She was definitely interested.

Finally, on Wednesday of my recent trip, I met with Hal, got the session minutes and took them to the library. Now the ball is in the library’s court to get the records digitized and indexed. I can hardly wait!

But that’s not all. Hal produced a bonus document. He had found a ledger for a country store in Rich Valley owned by F. G. Buchanan dating back to 1905-06. Entries were arranged alphabetically, so I quickly found names from my Troutman and the Waggoner families.

Dated Dec. 4, 1904 - Dec. 29, 1906, this shows Mrs. Troutman's purchases; this was most likely America Troutman. The only other "Mrs. Troutman" would have been John W. Troutman's wife, Jennie, America's daughter-in-law.
Dated Sept. 3, 1902 - Dec. 31, 1903, Eli Waggoner's purchases and payments. Eli was my paternal grandmother, Mary Waggoner's father.
May 6 - Oct 4, 1905, Emory Waggoner's purchases and payments.

1905-06, Gordon Waggoner's purchases and payments.

1906-07, Mrs. Waggoner's purchases and payments. This would be Rachel Waggoner, wife of Eli and mother of Emory and Gordon--and my grandmother Mary. Notice that  my Mary's name is associated with two of the purchases. Looks as if Rachel sent Mary to the store for her. I'm sorry that this one is blurry. Didn't get it focused well.
Another one of the goals for this trip was to see the cemetery where Andrew Hayes was buried, so that's what we did the next day, Thursday, July 9. We met Shannon, owner of the land on which the Shannon Cemetery rests. Matching names are a coincidence--one of many odd and uncanny happenings in Shannon's experience. She had ghost stories to tell. 

With the baaing of penned sheep in the background, we hiked across a foot bridge and through a steep pasture shared by Shannon's Lipizzan horses. At the top of the hill we found the cemetery. Although it was as full of brambles as the Harman Cemetery from Tuesday's outing, Shannon had cleared a path to Andrew Hayes' grave. Sad to say, in a winter storm, a tree had fallen on it and broken off another chunk. Shannon still hopes to find the first missing broken piece and repair the whole thing.
Shannon's Lipizzans, looking down the hill at them.
A cleared portion of Shannon Cemetery. Andrew and Martha Hayes tombstone is third from left.
View going back to the house, across the bridge. Sheep are under the pink roof.
Shannon and I are a bit windblown. Shannon is a wonder woman. She built the bridge; she's remodeling the house; she takes care of the horses and the sheep; she mows the pasture, she's going to clear the cemetery; not to mention that she has two children and a husband. And, she researches family history. ( I don't know why she mows the pasture when she has sheep and horses to eat it.)
Last but not least, on Thursday evening, Myron and I had a relaxing meal at Cracker Barrel in Abingdon with Find A Grave friend, Barry L. Seitz--talking about cemeteries and such. Didn't get a picture of Barry's Santa beard.

[1] To explore Smyth-Bland Regional Library's digital collection, go to and click on S-B Digital Collection, top of left column.

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