Tuesday, 1 May 2018
#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 17 - 'Cemetery
Week 17 Prompt: 'Cemetery'
I met a newly found relative of mine in Australia who is also a very keen genealogist. We share ancestors on my maternal side and we pool our findings. She had been to England a few years ago and found out as much as she could on the Palmer family of ‘Forest of Dean’ in Herefordshire. However, there was one burial she could not find. Esau Palmer (1807-1857) who was meant to be buried in the cemetery at the Baptist Chapel in Ross.
I promised her I would do my best to track him down for her. So in 2015 whilst travelling in the UK and on my family history trail I had this brilliant idea that as it was Sunday we should attend church at the Ross Baptist Chapel. My ancestors there had been very religious and attended the Chapel.
It was a very musical service and an interesting video was shown on people-trafficking all over the world and how we can help prevent it. Then a sermon on “The first Commandment” The preacher was a good communicator and had a bit of fun along the way.
After the service, we joined the congregation for coffee and a digestive biscuit. We introduced ourselves and found a lady who said that there hasn’t been a cemetery there for years, that it is now all carpark. BUT she said her children had once found some old gravestones under the Pipe organ in the church when they were exploring. I asked could we see them please and she said it would be difficult as they were now under the floor with a door panel over them and filing cabinets on top !!! She asked her husband and then came back and said that he wouldn’t be able to do it this week - no time. I said we were only here today and tomorrow and pleaded that I had to see them before I go, having come all the way from Australia.
‘Was there someone else who could help? - or could John and I do it ourselves now ?’ She went off again and eventually came back with her husband who said he would have a look with us, after all.
So the men moved the heavy stuff and lifted the trapdoor. Put an extension ladder down the black hole. The husband went down first to trial it and then down I went squeezing my chest through a hole it didn’t fit. Then my husband peered through from above. No room for anyone else really. Luckily there were a couple of little lights down there. And so down into the dungeon we were.
Lo and Behold I found 2 Gravestones covered in rubble on the ground/floor down there. The last of the stones that were still visible apparently.
The husband scraped away what he could of the rubble so we could try and read them. I had some paper in my hand so folded that up and tried to scrape with that also. Made a little headway to clear enough to read some of the inscriptions. Sadly no luck with them being ours :(
But I felt honoured to be seeing these gravestones in memorial of someone’s ancestors from the district, that are lost to everyday sight.
One was for a daughter Harrietta Eliza and a boy JS Griffith aged 15 who died in March 180(9)
The other one we couldn't remove all the rubble and the part we cleared was probably the middle section which had a quote from the bible. I tried to take some photos in the dark.
Although the search had proven fruitless for finding Esau's grave, I was very thankful to the couple for helping us and allowing us to look.
Once we were out again and dusted down, the lady checked with the new Records officer at the Church - if there were any records available to see. She told us that there are none there now - they have all been given over to Hereford Records Office.