Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society
If the cat had not been looked upon as a demonic creature, Europeans might have escaped the Plague.
The oldest legible tombstone in Washington County is in King Cemetery, located near the Black Oak Community, and is dated 1832, 4 years before statehood. Thus began Susan Young’s program on “Haunting Tales of Tombstones”. Susan, a native Washington County resident, is one of Shiloh Museum’s most requested and talented lecturers. She has collected tombstone photographs from large and small cemeteries in the 5 county area that comprises Northwest Arkansas. Not only is the information contained on the stones valuable to genealogists and family historians, but also the design, artwork and epitaphs are windows into the cultural society of our ancestors.
Most of the early stones are made of fieldstone and are simply carved. A few of these fragile stones are signed by the stonemasons, but most are not. Many stones from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are made of marble which is also a very soft, fragile material that is being worn away by the forces of nature. Later in the 20th century the most popular type of stone was granite, which is one of the hardest of rocks and is not as susceptible to the ravages of time.
The symbols found on early tombstones had meanings to the people of the time. A hand pointing upward was used to symbolize the way of the reward to the righteous, meaning that the deceased was known as a righteous person. Susan stated that on a recent field trip with a group of elementary students one child found a tombstone with the hand pointing downward and asked “Does this mean that the guy was bad and didn’t go to heaven?” She explained that while that was a possibility, it was unlikely and the hand was probably meant to illustrate, “Here lies the body of….”
Asked for one piece of advice to leave with our members, Susan responded that there are some very clever ways to bring the lettering on old tombstones to light, but the one thing a person should NEVER do is to make a pencil or charcoal rubbing of the fragile and crumbling marble and field stone markers.
Here is a list of the symbols commonly found on tombstones and their meanings.
Acanthus leaf = gardens of Heaven
Anchor = hope
Angel =Heavenly hosts or guides
Arches = victory in death
Bible = Resurrection through the Scriptures
Broken ring = broken family ties
Cinerary Urn = the remains of human life, from which the soul arises to heaven
Clouds = Heaven
Daisy = innocence and hope
Drapery = entrance to heaven
Dove = purity
Flowers = brevity of earthly existence
Garlands = victory in death
Grapes and vines = blood of Christ
Hand pointing upward = the way to the reward of the righteous
Handshake = farewell to earthly existence
Heart = the soul in bliss
Lamb = innocence
Lamp = eternal life
Lily = immortality
Oak leaf = strength and virtue
Palm fronds = victory in death
Severed branch = mortality
Sheaves of wheat = the divine harvest
Sun = resurrection
Trumpeter = heralds of the Resurrection
Willow = earthly sorrow
Wreath = victory in death
The Shiloh Museum is located at 118 West Johnson Avenue, Springdale Arkansas, 72764 or visit their website at www.springdaleark.org/shiloh
The Corpse Who Came to America
by Adrian Abbott
This story was contributed by a friend, who has shared it to offer some help to those of you who may need to research records in England. Adrian Abbott and his wife, Shannon, live in Durley, Hampshire, England.
When I was a boy growing up in England in the Second World War, we occasionally got parcels of food and other goodies from John Waddle and his sister Margaret who lived in New York. Eventually John returned to England in about 1950, and I have very fond memories of him. But who was he? I knew he was a second cousin of my mother but little else. I knew that my maternal grandmother was one of a family of at least 8 siblings, and I had a few names from my mother, but I didn’t have much faith in the information.
In England (and Wales and, to a certain extent, Scotland) we have three principal sources of information. As in the US, we had a census every 10 years, but there is a 100-year secrecy rule so we cannot access a census after 1901. We have had a law requiring State registration of births, marriages and deaths since 1837. We also usually have access to Church records of baptisms, marriages and burials.
The Census of 1881 has been transcribed by the LDS and is available on the Internet. You can also buy it on CDs. This and the other censuses can be accessed at the Government Record Offices in London, and many can be purchased, transcribed or copied. Registration records can be searched at most County Record Offices in the UK because the basic details were logged in a central register; if you find an entry you want, you can then purchase a copy of the original certificate. You can also search this information on the Internet, usually for a fee. Finally, many Church records are in the LDS’s IGI, but quite a few are not. Nearly all of the church records are now stored at the appropriate local County Record Offices and have been microfilmed so that you can view them, and some can be purchased as microfiches for home use.
So, knowing my grandmother’s name was originally Hannah Wilson and that she lived in Sunderland, I searched the 1881 census and found a family with the right selection of names and ages. This gave me approximate birth dates for Hannah’s siblings. Having this information, I could search the registration lists for likely births and marriages. From those I could account for all of the siblings except two – Jenny and Eleanor. I couldn’t find any Waddles, but I was fairly certain that one of these two girls must have married a Waddle, but it had to have been in America because it certainly wasn’t in England!
Searching the US Social Security Death Index, I found John’s death in 1998. This gave me his Social Security number, so I sent off to Washington for a copy of his application. That record gave me his parents’ names, Eleanor Wilson and Stephen Wilson Waddle. Success! I now knew how John was related to my mother. But a new puzzle had presented itself. Who was Stephen Wilson Waddle?
At about this time, access to the Ellis Island Immigration records became available, so I searched the name Waddle. This brought in a positive goldmine of information. I found out that the Waddle family of Sunderland had gone in and out of New York regularly and that Stephen Waddle’s father was another John Waddle, a ship’s engineer, who lived in Cuba with a wife named Phoebe. On his last visit to New York in 1921, he was described in the ship’s manifest as “corpse in the care of Mrs. Waddle”.
Now more questions intrigued me. How had my great-aunt Eleanor comes to marry the son of an English ship’s engineer living in Cuba? Back to the 1881 British census. Searching for all the Waddles I had found from Ellis Island, I located a mother named Hannah Waddle living a few streets from my Wilson grandparents, with two children named Stephen and Gertrude. The father was obviously absent on a ship, but the most interesting fact was that Hannah Waddle had living with her a sister named Phoebe Wilson. I now researched the Registration records and obtained certificates showing that John Waddle married Hannah Wilson. They had two children, Stephen Wilson Waddle and Gertrude. Hannah died in December 1881, and John decided to take up with her sister Phoebe. Up until 1917 it was illegal in England to marry your dead wife’s sister, so John and Phoebe went to live in Cuba. I have never found out whether they actually married, but Phoebe described herself as Mrs. Waddle, and they had another six children. As far as I can determine, the fact that Hannah and Phoebe were Wilson’s, as was my great aunt Eleanor, was pure coincidence. Stephen Waddle regularly visited England and must have met my great-aunt through their adjacent homes.
For those of you wanting to research ancestors in England, there is now a mass of information available via the Internet:
General information, free: www.genuki.org.uk/big
Church Records – the IGI, free: www.familysearch.org
Births, Marriages, Deaths, (Government registers), free. This is a site being compiled by volunteers and has a long way to go before completion: http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl
Births, Marriages, Deaths, (Government registers), fee-based: www.1837online.com
Census Records: 1881, free, same site as the IGI; 1901 is on a Government searchable site, the basic search is free, then details are fee-based: http://www.1901census.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
Ghosts and Goblins
The ancient Celts celebrated Samhain at this time of year when they believed the “veil” between this world and the next was the thinnest and their dead could return home. Boy, would we have some questions for our ancestors! In a totally distinct culture, Christians began celebrating All Saint’s Day on November 1st to remember the lives of all the saints and those who had died. The night before became known as All Hallows Eve. These two distinct traditions have evolved over the centuries to become the Halloween we observe today.
The Irish are often credited with beginning the tradition of carving pumpkins. Originally, the tradition called for using turnips, but when many Irish immigrated to America, they found an abundance of pumpkins, and thus the jack-o-lantern that has become symbolic of the holiday was born. But sadly there is no Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
The ancient Aztecs held a similar celebration in the 10th month of the year honoring their dead. With the arrival of the Spanish and Catholicism, Dia de los Muertos, or “The Day of the Dead,” was changed to All Souls Day, November 2.
One of the most famous of Halloween tales was Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. If you haven’t read it lately, take some time away from the computer and curl up with a good, scary book on this cold, dark and rainy eve. But listen carefully to the sounds in the night for there may come a knocking… knocking… upon your door… and the goblins are a’gonna get you if you don’t …watch…OUT!!!
Our New Name
Did you notice our new name? Your newsletter is now “Family Links”. Thanks to all of you who submitted your ideas. The name was chosen by the membership at the October 10th meeting from a slate of 5 names.
In October, we had to move our meeting from The Headquarters House, due to an unforeseen emergency, but all should be repaired and in good order soon; we should be back in our regular location by our next meeting. The November meeting will be a little different because we will be finalizing our upcoming seminar with Russell Baker. Our program will be “Doing the Genealogy Dance” You know what that is – the little dance you want to do when you finally find an elusive relative or the one piece of evidence you have been searching for since time began. We’ve all had them, so let’s share. Bring your story, about 5 minutes worth, along with anything else you would like to show off to be included on the program. Hmmmm, now where did I put that document that proves the parentage of my 7 g-grandmother, previously known only as Nancy???
Send in Your Reservation NOW!
The Family History Seminar with Russell Baker, Chief Archivist for the Arkansas History Commission, is set for November 20, 2004. If you haven’t already done so, send in your reservations now! This is going to be a great, day-long seminar. The sessions will be in a restored courtroom in the Historic Washington County Courthouse. This will kick off events for the Courthouse Centennial Celebration which runs until May 2005. The price includes a catered, box lunch and afternoon snack plus beverages. Come join the fun!
I hope you have enjoyed this Halloween edition of “Family Links”. On a more serious note, Tuesday, November 2nd is Election Day. Our ancestors secured for us a most precious right – many times purchasing it with their own blood.
Blessings to you all and happy hunting,