Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Old photo taken at Centerville Cemetery and Baby Anna Lenora Bonner
We have been questioned about why we are expending so much effort to create a database, when Find-a-Grave is already on the Internet. As many genealogists know this is a handy resource but is only as good as the information presented by the researchers. Once a mistake has been made on a date and published, that mistake becomes "the truth" regardless. County Historical societies have a duty as well as an obligation not only to preserve and disseminate local information but also to do so in as correct a manner as possible. As good as Irene Black's Cemetery Book is, even she admits there are mistakes. Researchers often rely on these 'mistakes' creating family trees where children are born before their parents, or mothers die several years before a child is born. Our goal with the Centerville Cemetery is to show that with researching and systematically analyzing the information we have we can show others how to do the same thing with other cemeteries. We confirm the facts by re-reading the tombstones and comparing them to Irene's Book, the death records at the courthouse, and census records. Then we create an interactive plat map that will not only show where the graves are, but who is related to whom. With the map, our veterans' graves can be easily found for volunteers who are placing flags there on Memorial Day, and descendants from out of town can find 'lost'graves easier.
An example of research correcting a mistake: The Black Cemetery book lists "Annal, daughter of D L and T L Bonner, February 26, 1878 aged 1 mo 6 days." This information is also shown on the Find-a Grave site. Researchers have probably been using this information since 1976 when the book was published.
We confirmed that tombstone itself said Anna L not Annal. (probably just a typo in the book) The Death records at the Lawrence County Courthouse start in 1878, and after just a few entries we found Bonner- Anna Lenora; white female; age 5 weeks; date of death 2/24/1878- 1:00 pm; born in Allison; cause of death Pneumonia. She was buried at Phelps (an earlier name for Centerville) Cemetery Feb 25, 1878 by the undertaker E B Garner of Vincennes; Dr Meskimen attending her during the four days before she died.
A check of the marriage records showed that a Daniel L Bonner (D.L.) married a Tina L Ludington (T.L.) on April 5, 1877. Baby Anna had to have been their first child. The 1880 census shows that Daniel was a 24 year old school teacher and Aratine his wife was 22. By 1880 they had a son Theodore age 1 who would have been born in 1879, about a year after their little girl had died.( In doing genealogy it is important to remember that babies are at least 9 months apart.)
Anna Lenora Bonner will never appear on any census because she was born and died between 1870 and 1880. A tombstone is the only record of this little baby girl's existence. Don't we owe it to her and all the others to get the facts right?