Friday, October 28, 2011

Reddick Cemetery Revisited: A Lesson Learned

Rusty iron gate at the entry to Reddick Cemetery

In 1999 my mother and I visited the Reddick Cemetery in Rush County, Indiana and it was a lovely visit. I wish I'd had a digital camera back then and was free to take more pictures. But, alas, my film was limited so I didn't take all the photos I would have liked to have taken. Too bad.

My husband and I returned this year, one dozen years later, and I was appalled at what I saw. At first things looked good. All was green and nicely mowed. Then, I saw that the groundskeeper had moved stones, piled them up against trees and against other, larger tombstones. Both of my family tombstones were removed from the graves and I never did find them. I was mad. I was sorry to the deepest part of my heart that I'd even decided to return. It would have felt better not to have known.

I am so thankful that in 1999 I photographed the tombstones of my maternal third great grandmother, Martha (Brown) Cook and her young daughter Elizabeth Ann. (Click here: Tombstone Tuesday: The Cooks of Reddick Cemetery) I'd even found and photographed the footstone of Martha's husband, Giles Cook, that had been pulled up by some idiot and used to prop up another tombstone. That made me mad at the time, but I was glad that I had at least found the footstone because his headstone had been removed since the time the reading of the cemetery had been done, many years before. So much sacrilege!

In fact, Giles' footstone was the only one of my family's stones remaining, or at least that I could find, so this time I took better photos of it from different angles.

The problem is, even if Martha's and Elizabeth Ann's tombstones are found, or if I were to purchase new replacement stones, who's going to know exactly where the actual graves are to return them to? My old photos don't quite give me the exact placement. 

I won't forget that. It's a good lesson about taking photos in a cemetery....always take more photos than you think you'll need. You'll never be sorry that you have too many photos.



  1. Says something for plotting the burial sites too, doesn't it?? Which of course, most of us do not have the time to do (and, I am not so sure I have the skills, eh?? SIGH) when we are traveling and visiting. Wonder how panoramic photos would work??

  2. I just had a friend over from the Rettig family in Cincinnati. I wonder if Reddicks and Rettigs are from the same family. Do you know?

  3. Grrr! But are there NO records anywhere? What if someone wants to bury their father there today?

  4. Carol, I don't think I have the skills either. But the right photos can certainly help. I knew approximately where they had stood, but that is not really good enough, is it? Sigh!

    Kathy, I do not know if the two might be connected but it's certainly possible. I don't have Reddicks in my family or I might have more knowledge of that.

  5. I don't know about records Wendy. There was a reading of the cemetery in the 50s or 60s but I don't think they plotted the ground. There is plenty of room to add new graves and I would hope they wouldn't end up digging any on top of the now unmarked older ones!

    I was so beside myself about this that I couldn't even write about it right away, or who knows what kind of profanities might have ended up in my blog!

  6. Lisa, this is good advice (and I love your photos). Another tip: if headstones have been transcribed by a local historical or genealogical society, it pays to check whether someone else did a second transcription (earlier or later). In the 1980s I transcribed every word on about 600 headstones in the cemetery at Cunnamulla, Queensland, Australia - an outback town 500 miles west of Brisbane. (Don't ask why I didn't have a camera - it's a long story.) When I went back a couple of years later to do a survey of the monumental masonry, I checked my transcription. To my astonishment, I found a very old headstone (old of the oldest in the cemetery) that was not visible before. It was small and lying flat, and on my first visit it must have been buried by a sand dune which was later moved by strong winds. This is just one of the problems with cemeteries in rural Australia!

  7. Very sad and disturbing. Hard to imagine someone would do something like that without making proper measurements and notes as to the original positions. Very frustrating but a very good lesson learned. Thanks for letting us learn as well. Keep up the good work.