Our last full day in Anderson was filled with emotion and fun. If you have read this blog for awhile, then you might remember my post – Independent From Birth – about my maternal grandfather’s foster sister, Eva – specifically the following paragrah:
She and her husband split up and divorced, and when Eva was in her early 40s, she discovered that she was pregnant. The specter of what lay ahead of her would surely be weighing on her mind: an older mother, a single mother, a mother of a grown son, a woman who had limited income. Any number of reasons would have aided her in her decision to give up her daughter – just as she had been given up. It was only many years later before Eva died, that she would be reunited with her grown daughter.
I have also written a series of articles concerning the Clues to the Mystery of Clara (Eva’s biological mother). All of the research stemmed from a comment I received on my genealogy web site many, many years ago from a woman telling me she was Eva’s biological daughter. Ever since Lynn and I began communicating way back then, she’s given me what little information she was told. I’ve used that and gone on to find documents and news articles to help her find out more about her biological family. When I knew that I was definitely going to be in Anderson, I made sure Lynn knew our schedule in order for us to finally meet face to face. Little did I know that she had a surprise of her own for me!
When Lynn and her husband pulled in to the motel parking lot to pick us up, I could hardly contain my excitement! As soon as we could, we hugged and laughed. It was as if we had known each other forever. Originally, we had planned to get a pizza and go to one of the parks, but the pizza place wasn’t going to be open for awhile. That’s when she told me that Eva’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter were also going to be with us for the day! I had never met them. The granddaughter (Lynn’s niece) had plenty of questions about Eva as well. We met up with them and they followed us to Culvers for an early lunch. Immediately, we all began pouring over the information about Eva and Clara as well as my grandparents (Eva’s foster parents).
That’s when I told my cousin and her mother that they were about to have their mind blown. We did share a family connection via the foster parent to child connection. BUT – further back – one of Clara’s direct ancestors was the brother of my direct ancestor – on my grandmother’s side. There was a blood connection! It was so thrilling to provide this information that it was hard to eat!
Soon, lunch was over, and we drove over to Mounds State Park and grabbed a picnic table to sit and enjoy the cool day. There was plenty of conversation. Lynn recounted to us how she finally found Eva and was able to talk with her. Her niece recounted meeting Lynn and also talked about her dad – Lynn’s older half-brother. While we were engaged in family history talk, Lynn’s husband and my grandson went to explore the Great Mound. The sky was beginning to turn and threaten rain. Lynn’s niece and sister-in-law had to leave. We took some nice photos before we parted ways.
Left to right: Wendy, Lynn (seated), cousin “B” and her mom “J”
Lynn, her husband and I drove through Anderson and happened to pass a cemetery. I saw the sign that said “West Maplewood” and then both my grandson and I exclaimed “There it is!” It was the gravestone that had been so elusive to us the last two days! I didn’t realize that West Maplewood Cemetery was off another road than East Maplewood – no wonder I could never find it. So Lynn’s husband pulled in to the cemetery. We all got out and set about exploring.
The photo above shows the very tall grave marker in the Hawkins family plot. At the upper right is the stone for Coleman Hawkins and below that is for his wife (and my great-great-grandfather’s sister) Elizabeth Blazer Hawkins. For more on their story, please read Mingling of Families and Murder.
This collage above shows the stones in the Hawkins family plot. Then from bottom left across and then up to top right: Ida E Hawkins (b. 1873 d. 1898); Silas Hawkins (b. 1870 d. 1901); Rufus Hawkins (b. 1866 d. 1896); stone hard to read; and George G Hawkins (b. 1860 d. 1885).
In another section of West Maplewood, I found my great-great-grandfather’s (Frank Blazer) and Elizabeth’s other sister, Mary Jane Blazer Webb. She was next to her husband, Marian Webb, and sons: Rufus V Webb and Wilson S Webb. There were several interesting gravestones we saw as we explored the cemetery. From there we went to Frisch’s to eat. Once again, I had the Swiss Miss! We topped off our day at Shadyside Memorial Park in Anderson. Here is a photo I have of my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, as a young boy with sheep at Shadyside in the early 1900s.
The Terraced Gardens at the park were beautiful. There is also a memorial dedicated to all veterans from Madison county.
Below are photos of the Veterans Memorial.
We had spent quite a bit of time at the park when it started to sprinkle. The day was growing late and Lynn and her husband had another couple of hours on the road to get back to their home. Reluctantly, we piled back in to their vehicle so they could drop my grandson and me off at our motel. We said our good-byes, and they left for home. It was time to start packing up to leave the next morning and finish our journey home.
Next: Finding Lincoln
(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use)