These gravestones do not belong to my family, but are in a cemetery I frequently pass. Many of the oldest stones are reaching the end of their readability. They are also veterans of some degree that should be remembered.
Willard Grove Cemetery, western Will County, Illinois
We are a family of runners. I was a medal-winning high school runner. My husband was a state cross country champion "back in the day" and even ran professionally. Both of my sons are state-qualifying cross country and track runners. Trust me, we have the t-shirt and hoodie collection to prove it. So it isn't a surprise to find our family camped out in front of the television over the weekend, watching an international track meet.
Part of the recent history of distance running includes amazing athletes from Kenya. My husband raced against many. And while the United States has improved internationally, Kenyans are still medal-winners in many middle and long distance races.
The start list of a recent race prompted a family discussion of names and naming customs. Many of the Kenyan athletes had the phrase "Kip" as part of their name. So we investigated.
Kip generally refers to events surrounding one's birth:
Kiplagat - born at sunset
Kipkirui - born shortly after dark
Kipkemboi - born at night
Kipruto - born away from home, on safari
These names belong to an ethno-linguistic group called Kalenjin. This is only a snippet of a complex custom, similar to patronymic naming. I am certainly no expert, just a fan, and there are many articles online, including Kenya Runners and Kenyan Names if you are interested in reading more. When the London Olympics roll around later this summer and you hear a Kenyan name announced, you'll know how to find out what it means. This is how two of my worlds - genealogy and running - collide.
Last year, my mother and I volunteered to help place flags at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery the Friday before Memorial Day. It was my second outing, and equally as moving as the first. Watching the literal swarm of flag-carrying volunteers move as a human wave across the grounds is breathtaking.
This is really a family stone, and a little bit unique at that. The Riley family stone memorializes many of my family members. I wish I was tall enough to photograph it evenly.
Virginia 1906-1917 (daughter)
Elizabeth 1909-1940 (daughter)
Lizzy 1866-1948 (sister)
John 1871-1955 (patriarch and my great-grandfather)
Rena 1882-1967 (his wife and my great-grandmother)
Joe 1911-1986 (son)
Irene 1909-1998 (daughter)
Bernice 1914- (daughter)
John and Rena (Blanchard) Riley and their unmarried children, as well as John's sister Lizzy, are all buried in this family plot. Bernice, who died in 2000, is the exception. She is my grandmother and is buried in Elmhurst Cemetery in Joliet, Illinois alongside my grandfather. There was a family rift that I was never privy to, and the reason Bernice is in "both" cemeteries is carried to their respective graves.
On a recent work outing to obtain several old newspaper records, I needed to visit a local library. It was such a pleasure to pull the drawers of an old wooden card catalog. When I found my microfilms, I then got to use a good ol' microfilm reader.
I love internet access and modern technology as much as the next person, but sometimes it gives one an appreciation "from whence we've come" to use the old technology.
These are scenes from Mount Calvary Cemetery, high up on a hill overlooking the Illinois River and the quiet town of Seneca, LaSalle County, Illinois. I don't know all its history, but just by walking, this cemetery appears to be home to mostly Irish families, who likely worked on the I & M Canal or in area mines.
These photos don't do the view justice. I will go back again to visit...perhaps with a walking stick!
Charles and Elizabeth Clifford, Irish immigrants, have some mysterious (read: not yet known) connection to my Lockport McWeeney and Riley families. Members of my McWeeney family lived with the Clifford's over several censuses. What that connection is, and even more mysterious, the fate of the Clifford's, has yet to be determined.
Charles Clifford has this tall monument bearing his name in South Lockport a/k/a Saint Dennis Cemetery, Lockport, Will, Illinois. And that's it. Just the name "C. Clifford". There are carving panels on each side that are all blank. It doesn't even mention his wife. It is also one of the tallest markers in the entire cemetery.
Is anyone buried in the Clifford grave?
C. Clifford, with John McWeeney in the lot
Known census records:
1850 Illinois, Will, Lockport: Charles 31, Elizabeth 29, both from Ireland
1860 Illinois, Will, Lockport: Charles 45, Elizabeth 44, both from Ireland
1852 Illinois Land Tract Database: eight separate Lockport village lot purchases
This weekend, I was searching mid-1800's US census records, trying to make new family line connections. On a first name only search, this gentleman and his family showed up, completely unrelated but nevertheless, made me smile.
1860 US Census: Illinois, Will County, Village of Lockport, p 17, lines 1-7
John Blog, 34, day labor, born in England
It's probably a stretch to think his "day laboring" was writing, huh?!
These are the repaired and replacement graves in Runyon Cemetery, in Lockport, Will, Illinois (see my previous post). Unfortunately, it has been vandalized over the years, even inside the boundaries of the Will County Forest Preserve. The cemetery is well-protected by the living neighbors, who were keeping a watchful eye the day I entered the property. It is a place you would never know existed unless you were knowingly searching for it, which should help keep it preserved.
It is a lovely little spot, isn't it?
approaching the cemetery
Oliver P., son of Armstead and Mary Crawford Runyon (1846-1853)
Win(i)fred, daughter of Armstead and Mary Crawford Runyon (1847-1849)