The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
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    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
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    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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The Old Cemetery in Morenci 2009.04.15

Written by David Green.


When walking through Morenci’s Old Cemetery on North Street, it doesn’t take long to comprehend a basic fact of life from the 19th century.

The tombstones show the painful reality that more than half of those buried there never made it to adulthood. Forty-three percent died before reaching their teen years.cemetery_trees.jpg

Two people listed among the 271 cemetery records lived into their 80s and 10 made it into their 70s, but disease claimed many young lives in the 1800s when childhood death was a common occurrence.

An effort by members of the county’s Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter was launched in 1939 to make an inventory of the names and dates on the Old Cemetery tombstones. A followup inventory was completed in 1996 by Mary and Walt Teeter.

“A lot of the stones from the 1930s are gone now,” Mary said, “so we went by the 1939 records.”

The Teeters’ findings are listed on the Lenawee County Genealogy website ( and every so often the phrase “not found” appears. Many of the old tombstones have toppled over and are no longer in place.

When Oak Grove cemetery opened in 1857, several graves were moved up the road to the new graveyard. In addition, some families chose to move remains from area farms for reburial in the new location.

“They have surprisingly good records from that cemetery,” Mary said, and they’re available on-line up through 1947.

Newer records can be read only in a printed format through the Lenawee County Family Researchers organization.

Checking records proved to be quite a challenge, Mary said, as the sandstone tombstones often sink into the soil and continue to weather away. Many are no longer legible, but genealogists have their ways of coaxing hidden details into sight.

“There are a lot of little tricks you can use,” Mary said.

For years people have used chalk rubbings, although that’s now discouraged because of effects it may have on the stone. Spraying water or vinegar onto the stone can also help, along with positioning yourself in just the right place to get the most help from sunlight.

Shaving cream can be spread onto stones to reveal the faint data, but it might come down to a careful touch.

“Sometimes you use your fingers, like Braille,” Mary said.


Common names from the first half of the 19th century can complicate matters when genealogists try to sort through family relationships. There are so many occurrences of the name Sarah, Jane and Elizabeth, William, John and Charles.

On the other hand, researchers encounter plenty of names that rarely appear anymore. From Morenci’s Old Cemetery come the first names Almond, Ancy, Aurelia, Cassius, Delia, Elihu, Electa, Elmina, Gideon, Lovincy, Lunette, Philander, Philena, Philinda, Phoebe, Salome, Scoby, Theodacia and Viletta.

Many surnames are no longer known in this area, either.

“A lot of the pioneer names are gone,” Mary said. “So many families are no longer here.”

From the Beckwiths, Barkeys and Barers to the Waldens, Wesleys and Worths, many families apparently moved on by the time Morenci’s 1919 telephone book was published.

Mary receives several requests every week for assistance in tracking down relatives. She does her best to help out, first by searching through records.

“If I don’t have the records here, I go out and look for them.”

She’s been interested in genealogy for most of her life. She gained a fellow researcher when she married Walt and he was drawn into the interesting pastime.

“My mother was into genealogy and she got me into it when I was a kid,” said the West Unity native. “That was our entertainment—to go out and look at cemeteries.”

They generally are serene locations to spend a few hours, although there can be surprises such as the cemetery inside a golf course the Teeters visited when Walt searched for family members in Pennsylvania.

“The Lenawee County Family Researchers are trying to get records on-line of the entire county,” Mary said, “but only two or three townships are done. It’s a long, hard process.”

Mary knows that well from the countless hours she’s spent in cemeteries, but she sees the effort as a valuable use of time.

Genealogists quote an old Russian proverb that states, “We live as long as we are remembered.”

Mary intends to help keep those memories alive.

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