Earlier this week, I wrote about the paper treasures I brought back from our four plus day trip to north central Ohio. Today I want to write about the other treasures of the trip.
We visited four different cemeteries, and found all the graves we were looking for. At two of them, we found wonderful people who went out of their way to help us. The ladies at the Mansfield cemetery, in particular, were real gems who wanted us to be successful in our hunt. I didn't get their names but if you ever need help at the big Mansfield cemetery, you are in for a treat. I was able to stand at the grave of my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Black Hetrick, and pay my respects to the lady who was described in her death record as "truly a pious woman". Neat! We also visited the graves of John and Hannah Finch Bell (helped by a lady at a neat hardware store just a bit north of the cemetery), Robert and Mary Yost Bell, in Bellville (with the help of a cemetery walker and a caretaker), and Alexis Lemmon, and Abraham and Sarah Lemmon Hetrick at yet another cemetery. (That one, we walked for a while before we found our targets). What was especially neat was that we were able to put flags on the graves of two War of 1812 veterans and two Revolutionary War veterans, three of those on Veteran's Day.
We met such wonderful people on our trip. Besides the cemetery helpers, a gentleman at the Morrow County courthouse turned out to be the county recorder, and he was kind enough to open up the genealogy library for us on a day that it wasn't officially open. At a restaurant in Bellville, I asked the waitress about the history of the building. She pointed to the booth next to us and I was soon introducing myself to the mayor of the town. When I said that I was a descendant of Robert Bell, who founded the town, I was almost a celebrity. I got a brief tour of some of the downtown area, and my name was passed on to the newspaper everything woman (reporter, editor, publisher, etc), who called and wanted to do an interview. So that was another neat experience, and I guess today or tomorrow the weekly will come out, with a little column about our visit to Bellville. All of these were serendipitous, or at least unexpected. And in the courthouses and libraries, everyone without exception was both helpful and gracious.
It was a strange experience to walk the streets of Bellville. Although nothing is left of Robert's town except the streets and general layout, still I could get a sense of what it must have been. I could see in my mind the area, devastated by a recent tornado, that Robert chose for his town, knowing much of the work of clearing the trees had already been done. I could see Huron Street as a trail by the river, used long before by the Huron Indian tribe. I could imagine log cabins giving way to stick built homes, and stick built homes giving way to larger ones, as the town developed. Bellville is a neat little town and if you're a Bell descendant, or even if you're not, it's worth a visit.
I also have several pages of notes to go through, that might be bread crumbs on my way to finding ancestors, or that might provide data that is missing in my records. More treasures, for the taking.
It was a "most excellent" trip. I plan to return to the Ohio Genealogy Library just outside of Bellville, because I was basically able to only go through one of their many sets of files and records there. I know there is still genealogy gold, and I hope to mine for more! For anyone reading this, plan your own trip, find your own treasures, and celebrate, with a happy genealogy dance, or otherwise!