Banner photograph of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery, Bath, North Carolina - Taken by Judith Richards Shubert October 2008

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
- Thornton Wilder

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Digging for Family Roots

I decided to republish a post that I first placed on my Genealogy Traces blog back in April. I wanted it to appear on my Graveyard Rabbit. Hope you enjoy it.

My uncle was a diligent record-keeper and he was very eager for me to help him locate the burial place of his great-grandfather. He knew he was in Texas and had the names of a few places where he thought he might have lived at the end of his life, so we started "digging" a little deeper looking for that elusive clue.

About ten years ago I started searching for a way to safely store the genealogy information that he and others in my family had been collecting over the years. I not only needed a way to store it but a way to quickly calculate relationships and print family group pages and reports. I decided to invest in Family Tree Maker. I say invest because since then I have purchased one update after another. But I feel it was money well spent. Since my first introduction to the Family Tree Maker format my list of names has doubled, tripled, even quadrupled.

My uncle had names and dates as far back as 1817 and he knew that his great-grandfather Stone was born in Missouri. He also had all of his great-grandfather's brothers and sisters' names and years of birth. So we had a great starting point. I cannot say enough about the Internet and how it has helped me in my genealogy research over the years. I was thrilled when I found this family online at the USGenWeb Project in Galena, Stone County, Missouri. Stone County was named for Great-grandfather Stone's father, William Tilford Stone.

An excerpt from "History of Stone County Missouri" published by Stone County Historical Society 1989, pages 645-647:

The William T. Stone Family

Stone County, Missouri, can look back with pride on the pioneer whose name it bears. Old records show that William T. Stone was a native of Maryland. He left that state at the age of seventeen, migrating to Virginia. Here he lived for a time, and moved to Tennessee where on 15 March 1811, he married Martha Hailey: b. 15 March 1791, Tennessee; d. 16 July 1878, Galena, Missouri; buried Galena, Missouri Cemetery. 11 children.

In 1833 the family left Tennessee and moved to Polk County (now Christian County), Missouri. Shortly after this he moved his family into a wilderness frontier, took up residence on a farm where the town of Galena now stands. He entered upon the government land, which was then located in what was known as Taney County, Missouri. Two additions to the family were born here bringing the total to eleven children. William T. Stone died on March 31, 1846, and was buried in the Galena Cemetery.

When Stone County was organized in 1851 (from a part of Taney County), it was named in his honor. Old records state that he was a man of much importance in his day, well and favorable known throughout the Southwest. He held a number of prominent offices of trust, was a successful tiller of the soil throughout his lifetime, and always supported the Democratic Party (now Republican), being of the Jacksonian type. He was the first representative from the county.

He had served under General Jackson throughout the War of 1812 and was with him at the famous Battle of New Orleans. His death at Galena brought deep regrets by all who knew him. He had been a noted Nimrod of his day, killed numerous bears and deer, and killed one bear in Galena.

My Uncle's Excitement

My uncle was so excited when I found this information. The aforementioned book gave the names of William Tilford Stone's children and my uncle's great-grandfather's name was included! He was thrilled.

I ordered the book from the Stone County Historical Society and presented it to him that summer. He read that book over and over. My uncle was a Deacon in the Church of Christ and it was very natural for him to study a subject until he could teach a group of folks everything he knew about it. He and I spent many hours that summer and several years afterwards learning about and researching his "family roots."

My uncle died a few years ago and I now am the keeper of the "History of Stone County, Missouri." I will one day give all of my research done on his side of my family to one of his grandchildren. He has eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. Two or three have expressed their desire to continue their beloved grandfather's interests and pursuit of the fascinating story of their ancestry.

If you have not searched for your ancestors you would be amazed at what you can learn by just "surfing" the net!

You remember that we were trying to find where my uncle's great - grandfather is buried? Well, while at the website I placed a query on the discussion board for Stone County. I was pretty excited when I got an email from a young man who claimed to be the great-grandnephew of my uncle's great-grandfather. He had a letter written by his grandmother that included all sorts of names and dates that backed up facts that we knew to be true. His grandmother's maiden name was Stone.

He wanted to meet my uncle and so we planned a visit to my uncle and aunt's on the weekend when the University of Oklahoma played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. They said they always tried to attend the game. So that year we all met one another and shared stories and pictures. They even brought a video of some of the Stones at family picnics.

From their information we learned that my uncle's great-grandfather Stone was buried in Malakoff, Henderson County, Texas. We were very excited to learn this but didn't have the name of the cemetery. One day after our meeting with these distant cousins, my husband and I drove my uncle and aunt to Malakoff to see if we could find his grave. Although we went to several cemeteries we weren't able to locate his headstone, but we spent a wonderful day that fall roaming the countryside and snooping around the cemeteries. I feel sure Great-grandpa Stone is there. One day I'll find him. I promised I would.

All photographs taken by Judy Richards Shubert
Malakoff, Henderson Co., Texas


  1. This was a great post, Judy, and such an informative one. Just wanted you to know that I really emjoyed reading it.


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