Thursday, August 04, 2011

Finding Family Up Fish Creek Road, August 4, 2011

Whether we recognize it or not,
we are connected with our past.
~S.W. Kimball

Hello Family and Friends,

As Cindy and I made our way up Fish Creek Road outside Spencer, Indiana a few weeks ago, I was concerned that the Spear Cemetery would elude us once again. Twice before I had attempted to find it, without success.

Two years ago Cindy and I had looked but failed to locate it. 20 years before that I had made my first genealogical trek to Spencer with my dad, and we had made a serious effort to find it, but were unsuccessful. All we had found on that hot muggy July day in 1989 was a field of thick weeds about 3 feet high. "Were the headstones completely overgrown?" I had wondered.

Spear Cemetery
This time I had actually "googled" Spear Cemetery and found it online! (See it yourself here.) And we had a car with a GPS system. So I was cautiously confident as we headed west out of town on Hwy 46 and then drove north on Fish Creek Road. After leaving the pavement on Lennox Road, we drove on gravel about a mile and crossed Fish Creek. We then came to the same intersection where Dad and I had been stymied. Everything was the same: hot and muggy, overgrown weeds, not a headstone in sight. 

This time we decided to look around. We crept south on the crunching gravel about a hundred yards and then took a right turn, which swung up a hill and back northward. On the right was a wall of tall trees and thick bushes. About 30 yards up this grade I noticed a kind of tunnel cut into the bushes, barely big enough for a car to drive into. No sign. No road. No indication that anything of interest might lay inside, besides maybe a back woodsman chewing tobacco, sitting on a porch with a shotgun! 

James and Callie Spear Davis, 1896
As we drove inside the tunnel an opening appeared. Then we saw a modest barbed wire fence, beyond which was a clearing, maybe half an acre in size. The trees overhead shaded the entire sanctuary, which was dotted with a few dozen graves, most of them carrying the name Spear. This was it. The Spear Family Cemetery. 

This was the burial ground of the kinfolk of my great Grandmother Caroline "Callie" Spear Davis (1865-1951). Though she and husband James Brooks Davis were born and married in this community, they are buried in Beaver County, Oklahoma where they migrated with their children in 1913. But in this Indiana cemetery, on a hot day last month, we found a number of Callie's relatives, whose names are in our family tree. It was a rewarding find, a sacred place, hallowed ground. With fading memories of lives and loves that still provide the foundation for the family we are in 2011.

Select this link to see several of the graves we visited at the Spear Family Cemetery. You'll see a photo presentation that actually includes pictures we took at 6 different Indiana cemeteries last month, each of which was a unique visit. None, however, was more satisfying to discover than the one off Fish Creek Road outside Spencer, Indiana.

James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage
Happy Anniversary Kelly and James! One of Callie Spear's GGgranddaughters is Kelly Shepard Sauvage, of Weatherford, Texas. Tomorrow she and husband James celebrate 11 years of marriage. Congratulations!

Kelly: It’s been crazy at work as I’m trying to close out the budget for this year and get ready for next year. Yes, our 11th anniversary is coming up on Friday. We don’t have big plans; probably just dinner out with the four of us. We are both busy with work and our boys. Not many changes around here. We are all doing really well though, just trying not to melt. We are working on 30+ consecutive days of at least 100 degrees! Thanks for remembering us.

It's getting closer: Shepard Family Reunion, Aug 13, Anacortes, Washington.
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