“Gravehunting on Friday the 13th” Today was David’s big genealogy day, spent in eastern Vermont. The first stop was East Topsham, where my 3rd-great-grandfather George Washington Lovrien is buried in a small family plot that was not as easy to find as we thought. It is right off the highway but it is only visible for just a second as you drive past. There are only about 15 gravestones here: George W. and several members of the Bixby family (George’s in-laws). After George died at age 32, his widow Sophia and most of her children moved out to Iowa. We also stopped by the farm that was once George and Sophia’s.
Next we drove into Barre (turns out it is pronounced “Barry”) and to Elmwood Cemetery where I found the Keith family. Another 3rd-great-grandfather, Francis Keith is buried here along with his parents and two of his three wives. The wife from my direct line was Clarissa Batchelder, who was born in nearby Plainfield, so that was our next stop.
Plainfield (as many towns around here) is very quaint and rustic, and it seems there are more people buried in the cemeteries than live in the town. We found the main old cemetery in the center of town and found lots of Batchelders, but no solid connections. We had lunch in a small cafe and asked about other graveyards. They pointed us to a tiny graveyard where we found only a couple dozen graves but the drive was beautiful.
Then we drove into the state capitol, Montpelier, to do some research. I spent about an hour in the library and found some great town histories that put stories to many of the graves we had found. I also found a map of all the cemeteries in the state and saw we had missed at least one other big one in Plainfield. But by that time I began wondering if Clarissa had not already been married prior to becoming Francis’ 2nd wife, which would change my strategy significantly. We decided to move on.Next stop was Chelsea and the drive was a bit of an adventure. The map showed a state road that would connect us but we drove up and down the highway and never saw the turn-off. We decided to gamble and take the street marked only “Chelsea Rd”. We figured, why would they call it that if it didn’t go to Chelsea? Seemed like sound logic, but the signs quickly got ominous (today’s date kept popping into my head). After several miles we came to a sign that said “PAVEMENT ENDS”. Great. We forged ahead. It became a dirt road, but it was in good shape. Then we came to another sign saying “ROAD NARROWS”. Wonderful. The road got smaller and our doubts got bigger. We wondered what the next sign might say – Dead End? Cow Path? But sure enough it let us out onto the next leg and we were fine. Still, it’s weird that a dirt road would end up on an interstate map.
Chelsea is a “shire town” – Vermont’s word for a county seat, and we ended up visiting 3 large cemetaries. Two were in town off the main road and the other was quite a ways outside town (off another long dirt road). Found several interesting gravestones and took pictures but never found the two we were looking for (Amos Hood & Sally Ramsdell). We found at least one Amos Hood but the dates were newer than the old-timers we sought. We followed a lead another genealogist had sent me and stopped by the local country store, where they sell a paperback on local history that mentions my family quite a bit.
By the time we finished in Chelsea (and our SEVENTH cemetery of the day!) It was dark and we decided to head back to the hotel. Tomorrow we’re going to meet up with my genealogy friend up here and then head across the state to Bennington.