Sunday, August 21, 2011

Romancing the Stone

Photographing our small local cemeteries is one of my side projects that I do whenever it seems to be a beautiful day to go tromping around in a cemetery. I had started this day on an old cemetery just down the road from my house, called the Melott Cemetery. I had walked down two rows and was photographing each stone. I came to two identical stones sitting next each other; clearly none of the other stones in the nearby rows were close to them. They were beautiful in their simplicity and design. They were simple stones both made of marble with an oval design cut on the face. The lettering was all inside the oval and was of the same style. The problem was that the second stone was broken and part of it missing. I searched everywhere for it. Being a genealogist I decided that to correctly record this cemetery I should find out as much as I could about who these stones belonged to. This is the first time I had taken this much time. I had become captivated by this pair of stones.

To find out who the broken stone might have belonged to, first I had to find out about the person on the stone that was still intact. It was on the left facing west. It read:
Hannah M., wife of John Moody,
Born Mar. 9, 1820, Died Nov. 11, 1863,
Aged 42 Ys. 8 Ms. 2 Ds.
Odds are the broken stone belonged to John Moody her husband, but I needed more proof. All that was legible on the broken stone was:
67 Ys. 6 Ms. 16 Ds.
There was nothing left of the top of the stone. For all I knew it could have belonged to anyone else. I checked our Brown County Cemetery book and Hannah was the only Moody in the book.

The next thing to do was to find a John and Hannah Moody in the census. That proved to be harder than I expected. I did a search on Ancestry in the 1860 census for Hannah Moody. Going by her age calculated from her stone she would have been about 41years old. None were even close to her age with a husband named John. This is the most trouble I have ever had finding anyone. I was about to give up and thought, why don’t I just record the stone with the information I have and go on. But I’m tenacious and I’ve learned sometimes you have to be creative in your searches. That’s why I like using Ancestry’s soundex searches.

I finally found what I thought was my couple in the 1850 census in Wood County, Virginia. The family members were John Moody age 51, Hannah age 31, Lysander age 19, John age 12, and Jacob age 8. Hannah’s age was a little off from my calculations but this seemed to be the closest family I could find. I needed to find them in the 1860 to help prove this was the same couple and to check her age. This time I used one of the sons’ names, Lysander as it was an unusual name. I found a family that seemed to match the couple in the 1850 census. In Brown County, Ohio the family was Jacob Moody age 68, Jacob surely didn’t look like it was John though. The wife was Mary Moody age 56 or 36. I couldn’t quite make it out. But a couple of the other children seemed to match up. In the household was Jacob Moody age 17, the right age to match the Jacob in the 1850 family. Lisander age 32 was living in the next household. But what really convinced me it was the same family was that there was another boy in the family by the name of Jonathan Hines. The Hines name leaped out at me, there was a Hines family in the 1850 census living next to John and Hannah Moody. That had to be them. I also remembered that on Hannah’s stone her name read as Hannah M. Moody. The M had to stand for Mary! But how did I know this was still the couple that belonged to these stones?

It was time for research on the local level. There was a marriage record for a Jacob V. Moody to Juliana Foreman in Brown County, Indiana on Oct. 18, 1866. This occurred three years after Hannah’s death so was this the father that had remarried or the son, Jacob that married? The next document I needed to get was the 1870 census to see what Moodys were living in Brown County, Indiana. It showed a Jacob Moody age 32 with a wife named July age 25. So this was the son, Jacob Moody, living in the same area. From this I could deduce that the son, Jacob didn’t belong to this broken stone. The stones were apparently made at the same time both looking to be very old and same weathering. There were the two other sons, Lysander and John, that was in their household in the 1850 census but it is highly unlikely that the stone belonged to either of them as the age on the stone was for a 67 year old. This had to be John Moody Sr. This is what a friend of mine calls "inferential genealogy."

To make a long story short, I posted the information on for John and Hannah Moody. A short time afterward I received a note from a descendent of this couple. She was so thankful that I had found what she had tried to find for years, the grave of John Jacob Moody. She was a descendent of the younger Jacob Moody and confirmed my research results that this was indeed the right couple. I handed over to her the memorial page of the Moodys on Findagrave. A copy of my research results are filed in the Archives of our local Historical Society. My long infatuation with these two stones was over, but I still like to go by and look at them once in a while. I may not be their descendent but I’m guessing I’ll be the only one that remembers where they are and will be a regular visitor.

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