Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Obituaries-The Side Dish

n. pl. o·bit·u·ar·ies
Med. Lat.-obituarius (report) of death.
A published notice of death, sometimes with a
brief biography of the deceased

This is the Webster Dictionary definition of the word obituary. However, Sonoran Jackrabbit thinks this definition falls short. It certainly does not allow within this 'published notice of death' the many morsels of information the obituary may offer the genealogy researcher. Patient reader think of the obituary as the side dish to the main course of our cemetery and headstone research.

How satiated the SJ feels after trekking five states from where we live to snap many shots of our elusive relative's headstone when we are fortunate enough to have an obituary to complete the experience.

As a matter of history, obituaries were begun in the 1500's with the advent of the printing press. They contained little but the name and age of the deceased. When a publisher in the 1800's thought it socially viable to let the reading public know who amongst them had succumbed from one printing of the publication to the next, obituaries became longer and more detailed.

SJ is only a rabbit, who does not feel the need to wax on when the evidence presented is sufficient to allow the reader to form his own conclusion. How much more fulfilling is finding the headstone of Domitila Robles Yanez when SJ has an obituary to go along with it.

All that just could not fit on a headstone. Not meant to. Seriously, why write about obituaries when most of us do understand their value as a resource? Because in Arizona there is a web site that we only became aware of this weekend that consists of nothing but Arizona obituaries. Maybe other states have something similar. This free data base of 33,900 obituaries grows daily from reader's contributions. SJ lives in Arkansas and we were able to submit almost 400 obits for Arizona this weekend alone. It is so simple to access information and just as simple to enter obituaries. Just wanted to highlight
Arizona Obituary Directory

http://obits.arizonagravestones.org/post.php and the wonderful database they are building.

Lots of people from around the United States are Arizona Snowbirds in the winter so even if you are researching someone who is not from Arizona, per se, you may find an obituary for them listed in the database. You never know unless you look.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Robles Virtual Cemetery at Find A Grave

Let me acknowledge here and now that I have used the masthead logo above from the actual Find A Grave website. Hope they don't shoot me as I am a contributor to this wonderful and free site and utilize their logo with the humblest respect.

Most genealogists will be aware of Find A Grave and their contribution to the research of our ancestors so don't let me preach to the choir, as it were. However, for the Sonoran Jackrabbits family, La Familia Robles (The Robles Family) of Arizona, California, Sonora, Mexico (mainly) let me tell you a little about the site so that you also may become interested in contributing to Find A Grave.

Basically, it's a virtual graveyard. No, the concept is not as cold I may make it sound. Here in one place a person wishing to locate the final resting spot of their loved, and maybe unloved ones, may be found. The contribution of information regarding the deceased comes from people like you and me. We upload to the site biographical information, historical information, photos of the individual and perhaps (hopefully) their headstone marker to the cemetery where they are buried. There are thousands of cemeteries with millions of memorials listed for all 50 states and all around the world. If the cemetery doesn't exist on the Find A Grave site you may add it.

We don't just add our family information to this site, but others. Imagine how marvelous it is at midnight to find the resting spot of someone you have been looking for, for over 40 years and just never seemed to have been able to locate when you traipsed all over the cemetery in the heat and the cold where they were suppose to be buried. I know because it happened to me.

Around midnight sitting in Little Rock, AR, tired and thinking I'll check just one more name on a whim, I entered my brother's name, David Joe Vasquez under the Globe Cemetery, Globe, AZ search and to my amazement his name appeared. I clicked on his name and found myself looking at his headstone. I have been looking since I was 18 years old (that was awhile ago) to find his grave....even our mother who is 91 years old now could not recall where he was buried....him having died as an infant when she was 18 and too poor to afford a headstone for him at the time. The city records for the graveyard could not tell me which plot was his. But someone knew and has honored his memory with a beautiful marker.

Located, at last, because of a stranger's kindess to take a photo and upload it to the Find A Grave site. And there are probably thousands of stories like mine.

Now, here is what I think is the really cool aspect of Find A Grave. They allow us to create a virtual cemetery for our loved ones. No matter which cemetery they rest at we can 'bury' them at our virtual cemetery. That's almost inconceivable until you do it. I created a virtual Robles Cemetery where our loved ones from 20 different cemeteries are gathered together, so to speak. The link for it is below.

Find A Grave from a genealogy point of view really is invaluable. Gave great happiness to a 91 year old woman who now knows her child has a headstone to mark his existence. It was found from 1000 actual/cyberspace miles away. You can't put a price on that. But from a practical standpoint, while it's ALWAYS preferable to be able to visit the actual cemetery you are researching, it is not always financially or timewise practical to do so.

Robles family I challenge you to stop at that cemetery you are so used to just driving by, armed with your camera so that you, too, may become a contributor to Find A Grave.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Woodman of the World-Globe, Arizona

Woodman of the World (W.O.W) is one of many fraternal organizations that have designated areas of a graveyard as sections to, "bury their own". Usually, a member of this organization will have a headstone in the shape of tree stumps. Not in this case, though. The Higdon's gravestone appears to be a huge stone with the headstone marker carved into the rock where they rest in Globe, Arizona. The insignia of the W.O.W includes the maul, wedge, axe, dove of peace and their motto in Latin, dum tacet clamat, "though silent, he speaks".

Joseph Cullen Root founded W.O.W. in Omaha, NB in 1890. It's a non-profit financial organization that provides insurance services to it's members....members being the operative word. In addition to insurance, various programs are available to it's senior citizens, a youth program, and a disaster relief program, among others. They made a controversial but profitible decision to invest in radio stations and have built some of the tallest buildings in Omaha. A significant benefit to it's membership was the distinctive tree stump gravestone. This benefit deemed too costly was abandoned in the 1920's, but hundreds of them can be seen in cemeteries across the country.

If you would like to view some excellent examples of the tree stump monument, visit this website where there are over 2300 shown: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~langolier/woodmen.htmlpages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~langolier/woodmen.html.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Buffalo Soldiers in Arizona

The Indians respected the mighty buffalo they hunted; they respected the strange, dark skinned, woolly haired men who hunted and fought them who reminded them of the buffalo. The Indians called them the Buffalo Soldiers.
Their motto was Ready and Forward. They served on the Western frontier and the border of Mexico protecting the pioneers from the marauding Indians and disgruntled Mexican factions. They were regarded as highly disciplined and were acclaimed as having fought valiantly.

Buffalo Soldiers (above) were barracked on the border at Naco, Sonora, Mexico. In 1914 the 9th & 10th Calvary engaged in a two and half month battle against the Federales living under the searing desert sun in tents set up on sand among desert scrub bushes (above, right). From tents Fort Naco was established and it is the only one of twelve border forts that still exists, but it is in great disrepair falling to the harsh elements of the desert.

Cathay Williams was the only documented female Buffalo soldier. She enlisted in 1866 as William Cathay and her gender was discovered when she was admitted for medical treatment for the 5th time. Which means she managed to elude discovery 4 times. Cathay was 5'9" and worked as a cook. Medical examinations were not required when she enlisted. Shame was that when the Army discharged her they denied her any benefits. Read more about her at www.buffalosoldier.net.

Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista, Arizona was home to the 9th &10th Calv Buffalo Soldiers. From here soldiers were discharged or retired and some settled in Arizona far from their homes in the South where they had been born. The influence of their presence in Arizona is permanent enough that today in Tucson there is an Arizona Buffalo Soldier Association, www.buffalosoldiersw.com.

A few of the Buffalo soldiers found their way to Globe, Arizona. The Sonoran Jackrabbit located these headstones at the Globe Cemetery in November 2009.

(Naco photos part of the collection of Garrick Bailey University Tulsa)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chinese Section of the Globe Cemetery

One of my uncles recalls a Chinese family in Globe that was engaged in the laundry business when he was a kid in the 1940's. But the Chinese migrated to America in the hopes of riches like everyone else around the turn of the 19th century and were engaged in several lines of work. The single men worked on the railroads and some went to the mines. Some intermarried with Hispanic women and established families. The number of Chinese in Arizona never attained the numbers that immigrated to California so they lived in very small groups and did not become large societies with a cultural support systems. So the small faction of Chinese in a small town like Globe were productive, industrious workers or shop keepers that learned to blend in and remain low key. When they died, though, separate they became again in Globe. The Chinese have a separate section where they have buried their dead in Globe for 100 years.

Old Pirtleville Cemetery

Owned by the Diocese of Tucson, no one has been buried here for over 50 years. Located just North of the Mexico border at the intersection of U.S. Route 666 and Oak Avenue (Hwy 191), the people buried here are real pioneers of Arizona who lived here when Arizona was still a territory. It would be accurate to note that 95% of the people buried here are Mexican. They came to work in the smelter in Douglas, AZ.

Pirtleville's terrain is flat, harsh, hot and dusty. When the wind blows in the summer it sears your skin from the sheer heat. There are very few granite or marble headstones. If you see one it was placed by descendants of the deceased many years after their demise. Mostly, iron crosses and handwritten plaques commemorate those lying here. Cement frames may outline the grave. Cement and iron have weathered the elements. Wooden crosses and headstones have not fared so well. Most of them are in a seriously deteriorating state. But I love the wooden crosses because they are as natural an element of this environment as the heat and the wind. They seem to grow out of the very dirt they rise from.

This cemetery was featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not because of the custom of some choosing to be buried facing the South towards Mexico awaiting the Resurrection and return to their homeland. The wooden cross of Plutarco Robles above has the the common inscription, Q.E.P.D., "que en paz descanse" which translates, "rest in peace".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Solomonville Cemetery

Located up a very winding road at the top of a hill in Solomon, Arizona, it's like the world comes to a halt when you arrive at this cemetery. It's you, the graves and the sky above. And a view that you can see for miles across the valley. And in every direction you look there are mountains.

Here many relatives of the Sonoran Jackrabbit are buried. Some have gravestones. And others do not. But I didn't see it at first. I had traveled the twisty, dusty road to the top of the hill in search of my great grandmother Margarita Lopez Robles. I had heard the story from my mother about Margarita and Miguel traveling North in a wagon from Bisbee, Arizona with their brood of children enroute to California. Along the way Margarita died. I haven't been able to locate a death certificate for her so I don't know officially when or what she died from. My mother says it was during childbirth. Not sure that can be corraberated. But what is agreed upon is that Margarita is laid to rest on top of this hill. Her daughter Adela Robles Figueroa is laid to rest here with her also. And it was she that knew exactly where her mother was buried, which pile of rocks covers her resting place. Because Margarita is one of the many that have a blanket of rocks over them; no headstone. And the generations following Adela really aren't sure exactly which grave is Margarita's. Her husband Miguel stopped long enough to lay her to rest at this cemetery off of the Bisbee trail, covered her remains with rocks to keep the animals from bothering the corpse, and mourned as he continued on his way to California. He only got as far as Globe, Arizona. As my mother says, it was the way things were done back in 1914.