The phone call came a couple months ago from Wisconsin. The caller, Laura found my name on the town website listed as the Cemetery Sexton and she was searching for records. On a long quest to follow her family genealogy she soon discovered the Mayflower Society and how to trace back and show your roots as founders of the Nation. Their acceptance is pending and the strength of the tie dependant on finding some pertinent dates for a few members of the family tree, and the missing link is in my jurisdiction.
So I get a few of these a year and know the town family names well so I ask , “which family are you trying to follow?” Her reply Crane, makes me laugh. “well hello cousin!” We discuss the lineage and sure enough the town isn’t and never has been that big, it just has to be, and we find the common ancestor for indeed some sort of cousin we are.( actually my husband’s side) She asks what I know of the Crane family, my husbands grandmother was a Crane, and we lived in the big farm house with them for 10 years. She was born on her parents farm and it is still there. Laura is looking for particular people and headstones, info and any dates that might help n the quest to put her missing Daniel here in Mansfield at about 1820. She thinks it should be at a cemetery called Attwoodville. Well that one is closed and I don’t have the records but assure her it’s not that big, I will go look.
I send photographs of a variety of family stones and what info I can. Finding John and Abigail’s stones at Pink Cemetery dating 1765 and sending that along the grim angels from many stones staring out through time in the photos. To support her quest which is so close to completion they planned the family vacation in the east.
Yesterday towing the pop up camper and with three travel weary kids in the van they arrived in town. Laura and I headed to the vault of town hall and the incredible record of our town and its people. Dad and the kids went off in search of a hotel and swimming pool. We emerged from the vault a couple hours later when their closing sent us on our way. We found land and deed transfers, we found births, deaths and marriages. We found many references to Daniel and Ebenezer but no actual proof it is the one and only we are looking for and no record of dates of birth death or marriage surfaced yet.
I was paging through the yellowed text with the fancy script writing and the name Baldwin popped up, here is a tie we are looking for could we find him in the group? We have several sir names to follow depending on which generation and the women’s maiden names so I am scanning lists looking for Baldwin’s Crane’s, Eldredge, Hall, Swift, there are a lot of all of them from 1690 on into the present. Here is a Daniel Baldwin and what is this roll of names for, why does he have a Beaver?!!!! I begin to really read the page and laugh right out loud. “your kids are going to love this….the family dog was named Beaver! Sure enough I stumbled on the record of dogs kept by the ancestors of 1860 and there was the Baldwin family owning a mid size black and white spotted dog named Beaver! How funny and they had to pay a $2.00 tax on that dog! Just for fun I read a bunch of the descriptions and bounding off the pages come long lost hounds, best buddies and herd dogs. So long forgotten and joyfully frisking in heaven but recorded and preserved forever in the town vault a testimony to man’s best friend.
Today we will return to the vault seeking that lost link to the family tree, just a date or absolute record of our Daniel, where he was and where he went that somehow led that branch of the family out of town and into the nations heart. They didn’t go so far that we can’t find pieces of their lives and know that trotting along side the family was a faithful dog named Beaver!
After the vault today an auto tour with stops to see the Crane farm, the family swimming hole the old cemeteries, the general store, the church our farm where the family name continues in a sign over the barn door – CRANE BARN. Beaver is coming with me,there is a story there and I think I will work on that after the pop up camper heads west to Wisconsin and the road dust settles.