Last night I found another missing West grave. Rawr.
First, a little back story. The graves of my infuriating brick wall ancestor George W. West (b. about 1819 in Spartanburg, SC – d. 1895 in Forsyth County, GA) and his wife Jennett Cowan West have eluded me for a long while. They both died in Forsyth County, Georgia and had ties to both Concord Baptist Church in Forsyth County and Hightower Baptist Church just across the line in Cherokee County. But I’ve been unable to find their graves at either location. Their daughter, Elizabeth West – who I can’t find a marriage record for or any mention of after 1880 when she was living at home at age 23 – is similarly missing.
Now, I’ve been tracing forward the family of his son and reluctant estate administrator George W. West (1848- abt. 1920) and discovered that his wife, Margaret C. Redman, is similarly missing. She’s alive in census records in 1880 and gone by the time George W. Jr. shows up as “widowed” in Yell County, Arkansas in 1900. Was she buried in the black hole where the rest of my Wests are laid to rest? Or did they divorce and he just skirted around that issue by saying he was widowed? (He never remarried as far as I can tell. But it seems unlikely that he would pick up and take all the children to Arkansas with a living ex-wife back in Georgia.) I know George W. Jr. was in Georgia after his father’s death in 1895, and that a lot of West’s succumbed to something in 1891. Nope, I think Margaret C. Redman West died and I think she’s buried with the other missing Wests.
Where the heck are those Graves?
Maybe George W. West’s estate case provides some clues. By this time, unless the mysterious Elizabeth was still around, George W. West, Jr. is the only child of my 4th great-grandfather George W. West still living in Forsyth County. Sarah Jane West McClure and Paschal were already in Arkansas. My 3rd great-grandfather Lightner West and his 3-year-old sister Mary Ann died during the Civil War. William R., Edith West Harris, Leander West and Monroe West all died in 1891. (Oh btw, the graves of William R. and Leander are missing, too. Argh!)
After old George’s death, George W. Jr. was all set to administer his estate, but in the intervening months something happened and George W. was relieved of his obligation. (In a bit of a haughty manner, I must say!)
Later on in the case, it’s reported that George W. West’s “home place” of 160 acres has been sold to pay off debts. I wonder… were George W. West, his wife and some of his children and maybe even a spouse or two buried on that land in a family plot?
I think maybe they were, and that that plot is somewhere right in here:
Why I Think My Ancestors are Mouldering in the Forest 😦
If my ancestors were going to be buried anywhere except in a family plot, I would think they would be buried at Hightower Baptist Church or Concord Baptist Church. If they’re at Hightower, I haven’t found them, and neither have some church members who made a detailed map and listing of burials there. (Available or lookups!) They could be at Concord, buried with their two daughters, Edith West Harris and Mary Jane West. I’ve been relying on FindaGrave.com to tell me they aren’t there, and that just isn’t good enough.
They COULD be at Hightower or Concord in unmarked or poorly marked graves. But I just don’t think that’s the case. For one, Mary Jane West died in 1863 – before her parents – and her gravestone is very readable to this day.
How am I going to find these graves?
Fortunately, there are plenty of things I can do to find these graves. I just need to actually make time to DO them.
I need to:
- Call or go to Concord Baptist Church and actually look around for graves with deteriorating markers. Two of the daughters in the family are buried there, maybe George, Jennett and family are there, too and just haven’t been counted as they should be.
- For pete’s sake, just make time to get to the Forsyth County Clerk of Court’s Office already and look up where exactly the family land was. From there, I could find out who owns the plot(s) now and even *gulp* make cold calls or knock on doors and find out if anybody knows about a stray graveyard out back.
I just wish I had a guide every time I try to look at land records. I get overwhelmed, I get a headache trying to read the old handwriting, and I’m never sure I’m looking in the right place. What I need is a Land Records Guardian Angel.
So I leave it at that. I have a feeling my ancestors and collateral ancestors are buried in the woods somewhere on 160 acres of land that was sold off for taxes in 1895. Huzzah…