Who Else Walked Here?

Entrance to Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, “South Prairie Cemetery,” Golden, Adams County, Illinois

Sometimes I am so busy taking pictures of tombstones and thinking about whose tombstones are in the cemetery that I forget.

I forget who has been there before. I forget who has been there on a trip that was more solemn and on a trip where the purpose was different.

Like at the South Prairie Cemetery near Golden, Illinois. I was there on a sunny day in 2016 to take pictures. My Behrens family was there in 1881 to bury eighty-year-old Trientje (Claassen) Behrens in a grave that may (or may not) have been next to that of her husband. My Behrens family was there again in August of 1889 to bury Ulfert and Fredericka (Lichtsinn) Behrens when the couple who were in their sixties died within twenty-four hours of each other. The family was there on other occasions as additional members of the family were laid to rest one at a time over thirty or forty years.

And there I was on a warm summer day in 2016 right in that same spot where quite a few of my ancestors had walked over a century ago and where some made one last trip. When you visit a cemetery you’ve been to before for a funeral, it’s easier to remember those other trips you made. When it’s a cemetery you’ve only been to as a genealogist, it’s a little bit different as there’s not always an immediate reminder of those other days and those other visits. But your kinfolk have been there on other days. Days that were more somber.

Just a little something to think about when you make that next trip to a cemetery…even if the stone’s illegible beyond belief.


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