Laura May Whitman Balentine had lain unmarked since 1927. Dying of TB she passed leaving 6 children motherless. There was no money for a headstone. She lay unidentified and I worried when I passed, there would be no one left to know where she was. I wanted her identified.
To mark her grave, I had to take a long investigative journey that began with family lore and ended within the cemetery office and its incredible amount of files and papers and maps. Family lore is always curious. It’s always a bunch of facts that have morphed over the years as families pass the stories onward. As stories pass, truth fades and new conclusions are made. Family lore then becomes a collection of hints to follow and prove. Ending my journey with actual burial cards and plot deeds tells a clear and distinct set of facts from which to move forward.
Laura lays where my Grandfather always showed me. But in the process I also found her mother Mary Hudson Whitman and changed family lore.
The story was told that there was no plot for Laura so the Wyatts donated a side piece of their plot. Actually the opposite is true. When Laura died, she was simply buried next to her mother in their own Whitman family plot. Her sister Blanch passed later and joined her sister and mother. Alfred, the father and husband then joined the women. Many years later, it was Blanche’s husband that was given a side plot to the Whitman family so that Earl could lay with his wife, Blanch.
I not only corrected the back story. I identified both Laura and Mary’s Grave. I have marked them temporarily and in spring will return with headstones.
Also, worth noting here is the fact that Mary Hudson Whitman is the family brick wall. We have only sketchy unproven family lore, no proof of birth, we can’t even identify her parents. She seemed to have crept into the world quietly and unidentified. And since 1912, she had existed the same way, lain to rest unidentified. Now she will receive a headstone along with her daughters.
I have photos. Here I am standing on the plot that I understood to be Laura May Whitman Balentine. The flowers in front sit on the gravestone of her father Alfred Whitman. The space behind me was at the time of photo, an unknown space and where I would later discover to be the plot of Mary Hudson Whitman.
Here are the plots now with temporary markers on them. Alfred in front, then his daughter Laura behind him. His wife Mary in the back.
Here is a close up of each marker.
When the headstones are placed, I will write a follow up and share photos.
I have to say that this was the by far the most rewarding investigation I have done so far. I hope I have helped.
A big Thank you! to Barbara Shepherd, John and the Mount Vernon Cemetery!
Thanks for reading!