Friday, February 6, 2009

Little Ones Lost

I’d heard stories about my great grandparents, Robert and Rosa Logie Bennett homesteading a farm since I was very young and often wondered about them. Of the ten children in the Bennett family, three babies died either at birth or before they were three. All three were buried on the family farm in there in the bottom land of Fort Canyon, Alpine, Utah.

I missed living on the old homestead by a few months and never knew where the Bennett children, Beatrice, Pansy and a stillborn son were buried.

In 1983, I asked my family about them and my oldest brother could still remember where grandpa had buried them beside each other in a small area on the north end of a section of the orchard. Our grandmother and other family members had shown him the site many times when he was a young man.

Great grandpa Bennett had planted a large apple orchard on part of the 160 acre farm. When we went to look for the site, all of the trees were either dead or had been removed. I thought to myself, “This is going to be hopeless. He won’t be able to find the spot now that it looks so different than it did years ago.”

A few landmarks still existed, so I stood back while Bob looked around orienting himself. Within seconds, he knew exactly where we were standing in relation to the old orchard.

He looked at the ground, turned left and started to walk calling out what the topography should look like under our feet. Within five minutes we were at the five foot deep dip in the ground that he said we’d find. Looking left and then right, he said we should see a wide spot in the dip fairly near our location.

Again, he was right on. Less than twenty feet to the east the depression widened and we walked to it. Bob raised his arm and pointed to a spot just south of the bank and stated that the babies were buried ‘right there’. I asked if he was sure only to receive a look that answered the question better than words.

I made notes about the spot and then began stepping off the distance directly back to the road. Having designed thousands of miles of power lines over the years, tying down a location was simple business, especially since I had wandered the location repeatedly in my youth and was very familiar with the land.

I told Alpine City employees where the graves are located and have put a map of them on my family history website hoping to keep some focus on the tiny cemetery. I hope the babies won’t be disturbed by future building and growth in the canyon.

A new home was built just west of the graves and a road was constructed just to the north of them a few years ago. The babies were buried the same day they died, so I doubt if caskets were used. My ancestors probably buried them in blankets and over the 100+ years since, I doubt if any of the soft bones have survived. I’m not as sure about the two-and-a-half year old young daughter though.

Dick Eastman mentioned a webpage that identifies cemeteries in unusual locations in one of his posts recently. The page is well worth reading. It will make you wonder if you have ever unknowingly passed by similar sites. Click here to read it.

Do you know of any similar burial sites? If so, you’ll want to let as many folks know about them as possible including government officials if they haven’t been preserved already.

There must be tens of thousands of small burial grounds like these around the U.S. I wonder how many exist all over the world?

As for me and my wife, we long ago purchased burial lots in a well established city cemetery to receive our mortal remains. With any luck, the property won’t become so high in value that our graves also end up in a parking lot or under a multi-unit dwelling.

I included the video below in one of my postings about eighteen months ago. The efforts of the young Eagle Scout are so noteworthy, that you’ll be well rewarded by taking a few minutes to watch it. Hopefully, it will inspire you to protect the burial location of someone in your own realm of experience.


M. Diane Rogers said...

Great story. Hope people let their local, state or provincial genealogical/historical societies know about 'stray' burials too. I know the group I'm in, the British Columbia Genealogical Society, is collecting and recording that kind of information all the time, so that we can help descendants. Thanks for posting the video too - inspiring!