When I travel north I try to pick an area to stop in that I can spend a couple of hours gathering information for my family history. I have learned through trial and error to plan it all out well, at least better than my first trip. My first trip to Mercer I thought I had all of the information that I need to dig through the cemetery and find headstones. The map was lying on the passenger seat as I headed into town. Somehow small towns and mapquest maps don’t always look the same when you are actually in them. I ended up on the wrong road headed out of town at a “y” turn. Actually either road would have been wrong as the cemetery I was hunting for was neatly overgrown and stuffed behind a small old garage type building on the main street.
After turning myself around and trying not to create an accident, I found the cemetery by turning down what seemed to be a residential street and sneaking up on the backside of it. Parking the car in what I hoped wasn’t a tow away zone, off the country path, in what I figured wasn’t someone’s yard, I crawled out of the car, camera in hand. The cemetery wasn’t very well manicured, in some instances I don’t think it had been touched in a decade. I looked and looked and snapped shots of headstones I thought might be related. After searching for what seemed like hours I finally left. It seemed odd that all of the relatives that I knew should be there simply weren’t.
After returning home I found that the Mercer graves had been cataloged. The cemetery that I needed wasn’t the one I had been standing in. I had driven right straight past it. I sent for the index cd and then ordered the needed editions. By the following year I had everything I needed to search the correct cemetery.
Bracing myself for the next hunt I once again had my map at hand as I drove into town the following year. Sure enough, I had driven right past the needed cemetery on my hunt to get lost the previous year. I turned into the unmarked archway and found a local to inquire if I was in the correct place. It was Memorial Day weekend and the man looked at me and my Tennessee tags as if I was an alien, or an imbecile. He didn’t realize that I “play with dead people”.
This time I was in the correct graveyard and now I needed to find the headstones. I had a map of the cemetery and guessing at the markings made a stab at where to start. I pulled the car over, grabbed my extensive stack of documents, placed my laptop on the seat for further reference and began the hunt. I walked straight into the Kilgores, Breckenridges and Mckims. The Stewarts had to be someplace close. Studying the map closer I began to walk towards a large obelisk in the cemetery, when I suddenly realized that was the Stewarts. I had hunted all over Mercer for what turned out to be one of the largest monuments in the cemetery.