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This is the very small family plot for George Washington Littrell, his wife – Kitty O. Blakely – and their young daughter – Annie Elizabeth Littrell.  The plot is now located on privately owned land in Chariton County, Missouri outside the city limits of Mendon.  Luckily, the owners are aware this is a family plot and allow the family to visit the small burial ground.  George Washington Littrell is the 2nd great-grandfather of my husband.  He was born in 1828 and died just prior to turning 40 years old in 1868.  Kitty was born in 1837 and died at age 42 in 1875.  Little Annie was born in 1863 and died two years later in 1865.  They parented many children who went on to produce many descendents.

gwlittrell-cemetery

The first time I visited this sacred place, weeds had grown tall and obstructed the stones and littered the ground.  My husband and I went back later to clear it all away.  Each summer when we visit, we try to make sure the cemetery is cleared of debris and weeds.

Most of my husband’s other ancestors, uncles, and grandparents are buried in Mendon City Cemetery located just next to his parents’ home.  My children have visited that cemetery each year and taken countless photos of all the headstones. 

Photographed by Wendy Littrell in July 2002.  Digital photo owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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Gravestone of Sarah C. Wilt born to Israel Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash on Oct. 16, 1859 in Indiana.  Married John Hofherr Aug. 16, 1894 in Delaware County, Indiana.  Mother of Bertha May Hofherr Pierce.  Died Aug. 27, 1928.  Buried at Hawk Cemetery near Yorktown, Indiana.  Survived by husband, two sisters, four brothers and three grandchildren.  Sarah was my great-grandfather’s sister.

Photographed by Glen R. Johnson (my grandfather).  Original owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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My 2nd great-grandparents, Israel and Christine (Nash) Wilt.  Buried in Miller’s Cemetery, Middletown, Indiana.  Israel Isaac Wilt was born 20 June 1823 in Rockingham County, Virginia and died 11 Sep 1919 in Henry County, Indiana.  He married Christine (also documented as Christena) Nash, daughter of Alexander and Elsy Nash, on 5 Feb 1857 in Prairie Township, Henry County, Indiana.  She was born in 1837 and died on 18 Aug 1876 in Henry County, Indiana.

Israel and Christena had ten children – 6 sons and 4 daughters (Jacob Marion, Sarah Christina, George A., Alice Jane, Clement V., William David, [my gr-grandfather] Joseph Napolean, Mary L., Ida Belle, and Charles H.).  George A. and Ida Belle both died close to 2 years old.  The others lived to adulthood.

Tombstone Inscription:

WILT
Israel
1823-1919
His Wife
Christine
1837-1876

(Photograph taken by my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, in September 1959.  Original owned by Wendy Littrell.)

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Gravestone of my 2nd great-grandmother, Nancy Caylor Stern.  Born May 10, 1840 and died Dec. 21, 1900.  Buried in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana.  Photo taken by my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. Original in my possession.

Nancy married Emanual Bushong Stern on Feb. 6, 1857 and they had 8 children: Susannah, Samuel, Margaret (Ellen), John, Daniel, Elias, Martha (my great-grandmother), and Mary between 1858 and 1874.  Nancy and Emanuel divorced before the 1900 Census.

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Location: a cemetery in Coshocton County

Time of Day: Broad daylight – middle of the day

Weather: Warm

Event:  While looking for an ancestor’s grave, the day suddenly turned cool and shadows were splayed over the headstones.  The feeling was that the area was “haunted.”

True or False?

UPDATE: This post is TRUE – although I reported it second-hand!   When my cousin, Billy, went to Orange Grove Cemetery (also known as Richmond Cemetery) in Coshocton County to take pictures of Frances (Price) Amore’s gravestone (she was the first wife of my 2nd gr-grandfather, William Amore), he said the cemetery was very spooky.  The town close to the cemetery hasn’t seen much activity for almost 100 years.  He said it became quite eery and chilly on a warm day and didn’t spend too long lingering.

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Can I get in on this at this late hour?  Just today I scanned some more photos that I’ll be cleaning up & cropping to post to Find A Grave

My grandmother, Vesta (Wilt) Johnson and her brother, Clarence Wilt, at the grave of their father, Joseph Napolean Wilt, in Bethel* Cemetery near Lexington, Scott County, Indiana.  Joe died in January 1944.  When he died it had been many years since my grandmother had seen him.  My mother remembers standing “on the side of a hill” during the burial and the ground frozen solid.  This picture was taken by my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, in 1959.

Taken three years later, four of Joe’s six children, gathered at the gravesite.  One son, Jesse, had passed away in 1959 and the second oldest, John, did not travel from Oregon to Indiana.

The headstone also lists Joe’s second wife, Anna Park, and their son, Albert. 

Joseph Napolean Wilt – born January 21, 1868 died January 9, 1944
Anna Park Wilt – born April 12, 1879 d. 1941
Albert Wilt – born 1917 d. September 1933

*Other information lists the cemetery as Beswick.

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Alva Lester House buried his wife, Mary Lucy Besser, on February 17, 1920 with their stillborn son and next to their two babies – Arthur and Esther – in South Lawn cemetery, Coshocton County, Ohio.

With his two surviving children, Evelyn and Jarold, recuperating from the flu, and feeling as if life has dealt him a losing hand, Lester had to find a way to move forward especially when a few months later his older brother, James W. (Willie) House, died from bronchial asthma.

 

Marriage Permit of Lester House and Pearl Davidson

A little over four years later, he married Pearl Davidson on June 14, 1924.  She was the daughter of Isaac Newton and Mary Davidson of Keene, Coshocton County.  Born the youngest of four children on April 6, 1893, she had lived in Keene until her marriage.  Immediately she became a second mother to Evelyn, age 10, and Jarold, age 8.

Even though Pearl was 31 years old at the time of the marriage, it is unknown if the couple tried to have children or if she had any pregnancy complications. 

Several months after their wedding, Lester’s father, James Emory House, passed away. He was 82 years old. The year following their wedding, Pearl lost her mother, Mary Davidson, due to diabetes.
 
Several years later, Lester’s son, Jarold, went into the U.S. Army.  He enlisted on July 19, 1940 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio.  During his duties, he was sent to Trinidad in the British West Indies, stationed at Camp Robinson in Arkansas, and also Italy.  In August 1943 he married Elizabeth Johnson.  When she went to visit him a few months later in Arkansas, she found him “leading an improper life and associating with other women”.  Soon she had filed for divorce.  It took over a year for the divorce to be finalized.  There hadn’t been any children born to this union.
 
In April 1942 Lester was required to register for WWII.  Called the “old man’s draft”, he completed the registration card at age 55.  He listed Pearl House as the person who would always know his address.  He lived in the same house he’d grown up in: 423 N. Eleventh Street, Coshocton, Ohio (the home that was willed to him by his parents).  He was working at the Warner Brothers Theater on N. 6th Street in Coshocton and listed that he had distinguishing characteristics of both his thumb joints.  He was 5’10” and weighed 160 lbs. with blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.

In December 1944, Pearl became ill, possibly having a mental breakdown.  Lester took her to the doctor.  Requesting that he take his wife to a hospital in Columbus, Pearl was hysterical.  She threatened to end her life as well as her husband’s.  Thinking that he would try to prevent any suicide attempt, Lester took the firing pin from the shotgun he owned and went to work as a janitor at the Bancroft school building on the morning of April 5, 1945.  Not too long after her husband left for work, Pearl figured out how to work the shotgun and killed herself.  Lester had called the doctor and then went back home where he found his wife’s body.  The coroner listed her official cause of death as multiple lacerations of brain due to discharge of shotgun in head, self-inflicted.

With his son in the service in Italy, Lester and Evelyn had to come to terms that Pearl had ended her own life in the community they had lived in all their lives.  She was buried in Prairie Chapel Cemetery in Coshocton County, Ohio two days later.
 
 
Once again, a devastating tragedy had left Lester looking for a way to pick up the pieces of his life.  He had hardly gotten his breath when his older brother, John, died on October 22, 1945 due to coronary thrombosis.  He had already lost another brother, Florus, in 1941 and a half-sister, Lucina, in 1937.  His oldest sister had died in childbirth in 1907.  There were only a half-brother, half-sister and one sister left. 
A month after John died; Lester celebrated the marriage of his daughter, Evelyn, to Ellis Murray close to Thanksgiving 1945.  The joy soon turned to more grief as Lester’s half-brother, Ed House, died three days after Christmas of a cerebral hemorrhage.  It had been so quick and sudden that it was initially reported that he’d died of a heart attack.  Lester’s family was dwindling and more people he loved were dying.
 
Then came the news in 1946 that his son had been wounded serving with the United States 5th Army in Italy.  He’d received wounds to his right arm, chest and thigh and received a Purple Heart.  In July of that year, Lester’s only remaining sister passed away of breast cancer. 
 
A bright spot came in June 1947 when there was a wedding to celebrate.  Jarold and Margaret Ruth Wohlheter married at the Zion Methodist Church in Adamsville, Muskingum County, Ohio.  Within several years, the couple’s family had grown as their children were born. 
Lester then lost his last surviving sibling, his half-sister, Belle Dora (House) Ruby, on November 12, 1951.  He was the last one left of his father’s children and time was slowly catching up to him.
At some point, something must have changed within Jarold.  Something so unsettling that Lester had even more to be concerned about.  In 1958 his son was arrested on morals charges and sent to the State Mental hospital for a sanity hearing.  Finding him sane, he was released back to Coshocton County to be arraigned.  In March he was sentenced to 1-20 years in prison at the Ohio Penitentiary.  A month later, Margaret filed for divorce.  The judge hearing the case found no evidence of cause and dismissed the divorce.  It is unknown the length of Jarold’s sentence or if a divorce ever occurred.
At the age of 76 years, he responded to a letter from his niece.  In the text of the letter he wrote, “I can’t write much as I have a crippled right hand with arthritis.  I am only one of all the children left. And I will be 77 May 9.”
Lester died in January 1968.  He was survived by his son, Jarold, his daughter, Evelyn, and four grandchildren.  Services were held at Gibson and Bontrager Funeral Home and was buried next to his wife, Pearl, at Prairie Chapel Cemetery in Coshocton County, Ohio.
  

Epilogue: Jarold died in August 1980 and Evelyn died in 1985.  It is my wish that my Great-uncle Lester finally found some measure of happiness in his later years.  He had endured so much tragedy and loss in his lifetime that he deserved some bright spots.

 

 

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