In late August, early September I attended the 3rd International Black Genealogy Summit. The workshops were more geared toward beginners. I am now an intermediate researcher, not an expert yet so I'm eager to learn more. But it is becoming harder to find those avenues that are geared toward researchers like me.
Last week I finally made my way back to Mississippi. It was a long over due trip. I have been wanting to attend church services at Rocky Point Baptist Church in Summit so that I could ask if anyone remembered my family. The church has the cemetery where I found my gr-gr-grandmother's tombstone. I got dressed in my Sunday best and made my way to the church in the woods. No one was there. I was dumbfounded. I assumed the church would be open but found out that due to a dwindling, aging congregation, they now hold services every other Sunday. This Sunday was not the Sunday.
Not letting that deter me from my other quest, that of finding more tombstones of my family, I trudged my way up the road to the cemetery. I was met with the barking of a very large dog near by. It had been three years since my last visit during a sweltering summer. The heat was gone and so was my memory of where the tombstones stood. With no one to ask for help, I wandered around the cemetery, taking a few photos, looking for any familiar names. The barking dog discouraged me from staying too long and so I left, extremely discouraged. I hadn't found my ancestors, not even the ones I found before. Or so I thought.
My mission was a failure. Even worse, the photos I took years before had been lost during a external hard drive crash. The only ones I had were those posted to Facebook and ancestry.com.
Yesterday I looked at the recent photos trying to decipher the inscriptions by zooming in on the tombstones. One in particular was hard to read until it was zoomed to reveal that it was one I had photographed before. It belonged to my gr-grandfather's sister, Elizabeth. It had faded so much in three years, I hadn't recognized it. I thought someone had removed the tombstones. Did I just walk past them because they were so hard to read?
Too late I researched how to read faded tombstones. Armed with the discovery that thin aluminum foil can make inscriptions come back to life, I am now encouraged to go back. Taking the foil hand a better camera, I will return sooner rather than later this time. I am driven by the notion that my ancestors are fading away into nothingness. I have to do my best to stop that from happening.
|Tombstone of Elizabeth Cotton wife of S.C.Ames, photo taken 2013|
|Same tombstone taken 2016|
|best guess Lucy wife of James Love|
|Rocky Point Baptist Church, Summit, Mississippi|