About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 23 June 2009

We arrived at Spring Hill Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee, at almost 5pm on Memorial Day, 2005, looking for the grave of my great-grandfather's brother (my great-granduncle), Clarence P. Wilcox. I knew the location and discovered that the plot was shared with the Smiths, but the stone was knocked off the base (Wilcox side down, of course). Our dog, Buddy, found the grave and laid down on the stone to await our realization that this was, in fact, the stone we were searching. But what to do? We had no crowbar in our camper (and doubt we would have attacked a tombstone with it if we had!), and the stone was securely wedged into the ground. I got the information about the Smiths (Clarence's second wife's brother and his wife), but wanted the information hidden from view.

There was a man and a truck in a nearby section (he was one of only 2 other visitors to the cemetery at that hour, on a holiday) and I bugged my husband Butch (in the dark blue shirt, below) until he agreed to go talk to the man to see if he might have a tool to help us. Well, it turns out the man was a tombstone carver! And his truck was equipped with a full stone-lifting rig! What are the chances? He maneuvered the truck into place by "our" grave and enlisted my husband's help.

With the dog's encouragement (and me, taking pictures throughout the experience), they lifted that stone to reveal Clarence, who died 30 June 1939, 70 years ago this coming week, had been buried with his first wife.

The stone was positioned next to the base so others can find this man, born in 1869, who was caregiver to his parents during their last years. R.I.P. Uncle Clarence.

Clarence P. WILCOX
(son of Nathan W. WILCOX and Irene FREEMAN)
b: 11 April 1869, Winchester, Franklin, Tennessee
m1: 11 February 1894, Maggie M. W____ (b: 19 October 1866; d: 12 January 1912, Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee), Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee
m2: 21 September 1919, Jennie R. SMITH, Nasvhille, Davidson, Tennessee
d: 30 June 1939, Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee


  1. "...a stone lifting rig..." what ARE the odds? What a great experience! Thank you for sharing with us.


  2. Jean,

    Fantastic story. Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to finding the ancestors!

  3. A great story! And you did give Buddy an extra doggie treat, right?? ;)


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