Monday, March 26, 2012

Mystery Monday - Who ARE These People???

Family plots can be a funny thing.  And not exactly "funny ha-ha."  In very old cemeteries, they are sometimes clearly marked, either with pillars and chains, a small wrought iron fence, or perhaps marble posts in the ground.  Usually the markers are a different shape from the cemetery's own section dividers, to prevent confusion.  But in the absence of such markers, it can be difficult to determine the plot boundaries.  And just as in life, family plot "familiarity" can breed contempt, at least in the heart of a generations-later genealogist such as myself. 

The stones pictured here are in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore. 

Toppled stone to left is great-aunt Ada Forrest Penning and her husband George Penning.
Headstone for Ada's father, C W Forrest, is third from top, in the three nearest in this photo.
My grandfather is buried in the unmarked space to the right of his father, C W Forrest.

 Last September, I visited my maternal grandfather's unmarked grave for the first time.  I did not know him.  Family lore is that he was not a kind man.  OK, why mince words...apparently he was real bastard.  He married my grandmother when she was a teenager and he about ten years older.  He had many affairs with other women during their short marriage, to the point that these women would knock on my grandmother's front door, babe in arms, asking for my grandfather. 

That's not the worst of it, but the point of this post is not to focus on him.  Fortunately, my grandmother divorced him after five years of marriage.  By then, she was in her 20s, and my mother was just a toddler.  I say, brave woman!  So young, divorcing a husband back in the 1920s, when that kind of thing was simply not done.  I love that Grandma realized her worth, and decided to focus on a better life!  Even back then, Grandma ROCKED!!!

I feel compelled to add that despite this man being a brute, his sister, my mother's Aunt Ada, was a kind, generous and loving person.  She and my grandmother were occasionally in contact throughout the years.  Aunt Ada, my grandfather, and their father are buried together in Loudon Park Cemetery.  But in their tiny family plot are two additional stones.  The stones match in style and are the right ages for this to be a married couple.   

Carroll H.
1899 - 1955

These two stones are close enough to the Forrest family stones to seem to be part of the family.  I think they must be, because neither stone has a last name.  Also, they are a similar style to my great-grandfather's stone. 

Are they Penning (Aunt Ada's married name)? 

Are they Forrest, my grandfather's surname? 

I've seached census records using their first names with both surnames, and come up dry.  I've also checked throughout the collateral relatives to see if any even have these first names, Mary and Carroll.  No clues there, either.  So I am really stumped!

Wife - Mom - Grams
Mary A.
1901 - 1970

I suppose I'll just have to wait a few days for the 1940 Census.  Since I know where some of the Forrests lived at that time, I can check to see if perhaps this couple were dear friends, neighbors or relatives who lived nearby.   

Seems like other than that, my only option is to request information from the cemetery office.  I'm hesitant to do so, because frankly, I don't want to pay a fee for information on people that may not be family.  And if they are family, my mom certainly didn't know them (and I don't care if my grandfather knew them). 

Is this terrible?  Or am I being a prudent genealogist?  What would you do?  Any ideas? 


  1. At the least, I'd contact the cemetery office to see what information they can provide. There may not be a fee if they give the info over the phone... There is always a chance that those people (or their children) could provide some clues to your family history. Even though your grandfather was "not a nice man" he still comprises a part of your heritage. My grandfather apparently wasn't the greatest either (I never knew him as he died before I was born) but I still research his family lines. Without him, I wouldn't be here today. Not judging. Just saying...