Sunday, August 28, 2016


In 1815, the young wife of Jacob Kellum, Catharine Kellum died.  On her tombstone of white marble, all that was recorded was her name and age – 29 years, four months and six days.  Jacob, a farmer, buried her in a small hilltop graveyard on Section 20 of Ezra Martin's farm along what is now County Road 400, a few miles west of Connersville in Fayette County, Indiana.

Between then and 1999, the elements – wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail and of course withering heat in the summer – took their toll, until the stone broke into bits and eventually  these were buried in the ground.  There is no record of how long they remained hidden, but eventually one of the few gravestone restorers in the United States, who happens to live right there in Indiana, found 24 chunks of a tombstone that when matched like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle turned out to have Catharine's identifying information (above) on it.

In an article published by the Indianapolis Star in 1999, the story of John Walters, the grave restorer, and Catherine, the young wife who died in 1815, is told, along with stories of other graves he has found and worked on. 

It seems to me that Catharine has been lost for too long, and getting her tombstone back up and visually accessible is a step toward putting her in front of the genealogical community to be claimed. 

And she is certainly a good candidate for being an ImmortalNobody.

Detailed information can be found at the link below.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Many years ago I remembered  reading about a fellow surnamed DOBBINS who was killed when a boiler on a steamboat blew up.  At the time, I had no interest in genealogy, but the article caught my eye because my maiden name was Dobbins and I wondered if maybe he had been related in some way to us.  But I soon forgot all about this....until recently when I read an item that indicated explosions on steamboats were just one of the hazards that befell folks as our nation grew toward the west.

When this long-forgotten Dobbins death came to mind recently, I asked Google to do something my mind couldn't do -- and sure enough using the few words I put into its search engine, it brought up the very Dobbins that I was looking for.

Here's the article from the the Quincy Daily Whig, Illinois 1854-06-01:



An extra from the office of the Oregon Spectator, published at Oregon City, dated April 8th, received in this city yesterday, from Thos. Pope, Esq., contains the following:
The Wallamette Fall Co.'s new steamer Gazelle left her wharf this morning at 6 o'clock, and had just landed at Canemah at 15 minutes before seven, when a terrible explosion of her boilers blew her into atoms, killing twenty persons and wounding many others.
Probably a more heart-rending scene has never occurred on the Pacific coast. As soon as the smoke cleared away a little, hundreds of citizens, who were ready to assist the dying, gathered on the wreck, and the work of aid commenced.
 The newspaper article went on to name the dead, and describe the gore of both the dead and the  injured. It indicated that CRAWFORD M. DOBBINS lost a leg and ultimately died.  

His family was from Illinois, but he was on a boat in Oregon.  Since he is not a member of my family, I have not researched him, but I can tell you that he has a large tombstone in the Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, and from what is written on it, he died four days after the explosion. 

In 40 years of genealogical research, I have never found that any of my Dobbinses were in Oregon. But now after finding Crawford Dobbins for a second time, I don't want him to be lost again.  And for researchers, he also appears in Findagrave. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016


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A building boom has hit hard in the rural area south of the city of Ontario and in the north-western part of Riverside County.  What used to be farm and dairy land is now turning into wall-to-wall housing.  But along a street named Belgrave, there is a long stretch that has been waiting for its turn at the building boom.  It is a fairly isolated street, not very well lit and is one of those streets where kids like to drag race.

Late one night in August of 2006 four young men lost their lives when their speeding car hit a semi-truck hauling grapefruit.  The details aren't important here except to say their car ended up wedged under the the truck.  Two boys were killed outright, two died later at a hospital. 

The young men were Kevin Limbaugh, David Barros,William Barefield, and Jonathan Hopson; all were either 19 or 20 years old. 

The north side of Belgrave in the area of the accident is lined by a white wooden fence that surrounded the property of a former ranch, now vacant and waiting for its turn with the bulldozer.  More houses would be built on that land.  But after the accident, the part of that white fence nearest the crash became a shrine dedicated to those young men.  For days, then weeks, then years, wreaths of fresh flowers, home-made crosses and posters with the boys' names were placed on that fence.  The details of the accident were immaterial; what mattered was that their family and friends – and the drivers who used Belgrave in their regular travels – were always reminded of the tragedy that happened that night, when four boys out having fun, were lost forever. 

Now eight years after the accident, the land is being readied for houses.  As I often use Belgrave, I have seen the fence come down, where the remnants of the shrine could still be seen if I looked hard.  I thought it would be nice instead of having a house on that site, a couple of acres could be turned into a park as a remembrance of those four kids.  But no, I can see it is not going to happen.  And I wonder, who will remember?  And will the people who buy that house know what happened so long ago on their very property?  Time passes, and people forget.

So for the families of these kids I say that the best I can do is to name them as ImmortalNobodies.  Mothers and fathers know that it could have been one of our children.