Thursday, September 13, 2012

I left my pink elephant in Ivanhoe Cemetery

I have been a little lax on posting lately. Besides having little to say, I have been on a trip. I really didn't do much genealogy or family history in the past few weeks. It was a nice break to clear one's mind.

This last Monday I met with Marty, my 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade friend! We met at the Ivanhoe Cemetery (1852), Ivanhoe, Illinois. She has been adding memorials onto Find A Grave and came up from St. Louis to visit with family and the cemetery among other things. I can't think of a better place for old friends to meet after 60 some years of being lost to one another! It was a wonderful few hours walking through the cemetery looking at headstones and discussing some history of the interred or getting some questions answered or solving a mystery. We also went to lunch and talked about Mundelein, Lincoln School, and our dear teacher Abby Dalton (1st & 2nd grade class picture on Aug. 6 post). It was a beautiful day and just the right time of day to get good pictures, too.

My parents, paternal grandparents, and paternal great grandparents are buried in Ivanhoe Cemetery. It was nice visiting their graves again...saying a little prayer, taking a few moments reflecting on the loved ones. Carroll & Edna Porteous (my parents); William D. & Carrie Ida (Snyder) Porteous (my grandparents); John & Willimina [Wilhelmina] (Smith) Snyder (my great grandparents).

My two sets of paternal great-great grandparents, SNYDERs and SMITHs, came to Lake County, Illinois sometime in the mid-1800s. I know the Smiths were there around 1843. I'm sure the Snyders were there about the same time, because I found the marriage record for Wilhelmina Smith marrying John Snyder in Waukegan September of 1850. I have a lot of fill-in work to do on these families. The pieces are starting to fit as I gather information.

The Snyders settled out on Gilmer-Volo Rd. (now just Gilmer Rd.) closer to Volo, Illinois than to Gilmer. This area was in rural Fremont Township. I do believe the house and barn are still standing, but then again, I can't confirm the ones standing are the original buildings. I'm not sure where the Smiths settled or even where they are buried to boot!

Wilhelmina (Smith) and John Snyder
Identified by my aunt Violet Chandler.
John and Wilhelmina had five children (all lived to be adults). I was told they also had two babies that died very early. No names, sex, or dates for these infants, but as of last Monday, I am sure I have images of their headstones! I don't know how many times I have visited that site and never noticed them to the right of George. I was fortunate to have Marty there to bounce thoughts off, we decided these stones could be marking the infants' graves.

Snyder family plot, Section B-East, Lot 55. Graves are all in a row.
As you look at this image, John and Willimina's [Wilhelmina] headstone is flush to the ground on the left. The next one (upright) to the right is their son George Albert. To the right of George are two small white stones. The stones are so worn out I could barely see "SNYDER" on the face of one. The other, well, there was so worn I couldn't even guess what could have been there. Because both are the same type of stones, we are sure they belong together. 

Very hard to see even enhancing this image.
Willimina 1831-1903 and John 1815-1908
(Great grandmother's name should be spelled Wilhelmina.)
I checked the copies of the Ivanhoe Cemetery graves' listings Marty brought with her. No babies were listed with John and Wilhelmina's plot on page 14. Yet, these graves weren't accounted for on any other family's plot listing either.

With the little evidence we have, we can only conclude these were the Snyder babies. If anyone has more information to add, can verify or dispel our conclusion, please email me. Having the correct information is very important to me.

When I was growing up, my parents and grandma Carrie would drive out to the cemetery to attend to the graves. While the adults planted geraniums or weeded the little garden near the headstones, my brother and I would play in and around the headstones... we would "ride" the horizontal cylinder-type stones (I saw those stones on Monday; they made me smile and think of an old story.)

On one occasion I took my stuffed pink elephant –– worn from love, tattered from play, and wouldn't survive another washing. I don't remember if it had a name, but I do remember hearing the story of when I left my dear pink elephant in the cemetery. We got home after visiting the graves; it was dark. I was crying because my pink friend was left at the cemetery. My dad wasn't about to go back with a flashlight to look for a pink elephant! My grandmother, who was close to 80 at the time called the caretaker "this is aunt Carrie. We were just out at the cemetery and left a pink elephant behind." The caretaker thought it was a hoax and hung up on grandma! Grandma realized that she didn't tell the caretaker the elephant was a stuffed toy. She and mom couldn't stop laughing at the thought of what the caretaker thought. Well, the next day, my mom called him to explain grandma's call. 

I guess he looked for my elephant the next day, but couldn't find it or so my mom said. Now that I think of it, I bet she didn't really want him to find it so she wouldn't have to wash it anymore. I believed that little white lie and didn't feel so lost without my friend the pink elephant. Mom never did admit the truth.

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