I come from a small community in the mountains of Virginia, USA. It is the kind of place where everybody knows your name.
When I began my genealogy studies a few years back I assumed my Dad's family would be easy. His mother's family founded the town we lived in. Ought to be a piece of cake. Right? Wrong.
I assumed everyone was buried in the same cemetery. After all, the family had a large plot and I knew the names of our dead there. I went to this cemetery with my Dad and we went down the rows of family names and discovered that William Jackson Bowie, the name of my Dad's great grandfather was missing. We found Dad's grand father, and his mother but not his father. We looked again to be sure he was not placed in a different line or a different area of the cemetery. Nope. Still no William Jackson Bowie.
About this time my brother, who is a member of an organization that tracks burial sites of soldiers, told me that a member of his group had told him of a William Jackson Bowie buried in an adjoining county. What? This could not possibly be our family. To add additional wonder to this wanting discovery, he was buried in a Hannabass family cemetery. We are not nor related to any Hannabasses that we knew of. So why was he in this other county? Was this really him and why, oh why was he buried among Hannabasses?
In my notes I placed the name William Jackson Bowie with a question mark beside it. After all, prior to arriving in the Virginia mountains, the family had come from the Tidewater region of Virginia. I had thought I would find him back home, as it were, in Tidewater. I would revisit my notes from time to time but I still was nagged by the discontinuity of what I thought I knew and what I did not.
Years went on and again the man asked my brother if he found out the story of my Bowie gg grandfather in the Hannabass cemetery. Now my curiosity was really piqued. I kept digging, hoping to find the answer to the question through some sort of straight forward conventional means. And we amateur genealogists with any experience know that seldom are things straight forward when it comes to the who, what, where, why and how of our ancestor's lives. Human nature would dictate that their lives would be just as messy as ours today are. And human nature is seldom wrong.
My brother traveled to the Hannabass cemetery he had been told of and documented the grave of William Jackson Bowie for my records. Yep, the data matched. It was him. But why was he buried in Franklin County Va and his wife buried in Vinton Va? I tried imagining something like he and his wife preparing for divorce or perhaps illness or family business had taken one away. The reason they were buried separately still bothered me. Until one day, not particularly thinking of this conundrum I was looking at some newspapers in an online database. I was not looking purposefully. In truth I was just killing time familiarizing myself with this database. Suddenly I see a story about a woman and her 3 children being caught in a house fire. The woman's father was visiting her family at the time it occurred. The family name? Hannabass. The woman's maiden name? Bowie. And her father who was visiting and caught in the house fire? William Jackson Bowie. It seems the fireplace caused a fire in the attic while the family was sleeping in their beds upstairs. Mrs. Hannabass's husband traveled for his job so her father frequently stayed with her and her girls for security. The newspaper article told of Mrs Hannabass getting 2 children out of the house while her father rescued the third child.
Eureka! I found the answer to the nagging question of William Jackson Bowie buried in a Hannabass cemetery. I felt like I had caught lightning in a bottle. I finally found the answer and needed to tell somebody! I immediately called my brother, who after all had started all of this search for Mr. Bowie. "You won't believe what I just discovered!" I am excitedly saying to him over the phone. I would have jumped up and down had I been younger and inclined to do so. I could not believe our good fortune. Finally I understood Mr. Bowie being buried away from his family. But then I realized he wasn't really buried away from his family. He was with his daughter and grand children. He had fought to rescue one of the little girls. Sadly, they all suffered smoke inhalation and died shortly after the fire. Now I understood his being buried away from his wife. He was off being a father and grandfather. He was not being a husband that day, but he was heroically trying to save his daughter and grand children.
And now when I think of him being buried among Hannabasses I am not bothered. He is with his family in Franklin County. And his wife is with their family in the family plot in Vinton. The fact that they are separated in death is a testament to their family values and that makes me proud.