Morenci's Old Cemetery 4.15.09

Written by David Green.

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.

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 (www.geocities.com/lenaweemi) 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.

Names

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.

(Buy an on-line subscription for full article)
  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016