As most of you know, I visit a sweet elderly lady in a nursing home and have been for more than four years. She was 89 when we met and I, and my friends, helped her usher in her 90th year soon after that. Her birthday is September 11, 1924. I have celebrated with her every year since and soon we will be celebrating 94!!
As I’ve visited with her and asked her about her family and her life, she seemed to come alive as she spoke of her parents and brothers. She was the youngest of 4 children, all were boys but her. One day she told me her parents were buried in the Augusta/Richmond City Cemetery, West View. After church last Sunday, I asked Doyle if we could find this cemetery and, so, we did. It was overwhelming when we went through the gates. It is an enormous cemetery. We drove around and then walked around, but realized it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
When we got home, Doyle did some research through Find a Grave–a site connected to Ancestry.com. He found a photo of Miss Thelma’s mom’s grave. He also found census records from 1920, 1930 and 1940 which listed the family. So today, we were in Harrisburg at a ribbon cutting for one of the Turn Back the Block homes and decided to go back and try again. We stopped by the office and the lady wrote down the section, row and lot for both parents and she told us it was between 5th and 6th streets. We spent well over an hour in the humid heat looking for these graves. We found Miss Thelma’s grandparents graves (her mom’s parents). But Mama Jones was no where to be found. As we were leaving we saw a worker and stopped to ask if he could help us. He took us straight to her mom’s grave and next to it was one of her brother’s graves; it was nowhere near 5th and 6th Streets. Her mother died in 1974 at the age of 86, and her dad died in 1957 at 80 years old and those lots were not marked as well. We never found his.
As we walked around this city cemetery and pulled weeds off stones to try and read them, I couldn’t help but think, these people are just forgotten. No one keeps these graves or lots up and even though the grass is cut, the weeds around the head stones are so thick and high, that a number of them are totally obscured. What a shame!! As I was thinking how terrible those people are, I suddenly thought–that is me!!
My parents and many of Doyle’s family are buried in the same cemetery in rural south Macon. Even though Doyle and I used to spend Sunday afternoons, when we were dating, perusing the old cemeteries in Macon I don’t really enjoy going to the cemetery. It seems pointless–my family is not really there!! But today gave me a jolt. My dear sister, Linda Kull Fountain, is faithful to keep flowers, not only on our parent’s graves but our grandparents as well, changing them out every season. I suppose if it were left up to me, sadly, their graves would look just like the ones we observed today. The only difference is that our parents are buried in a Memorial Garden and there are no head stones, just bronze plates flat on the ground with the names and dates, but they get somewhat overgrown and dirty, too. In fact, the last time I was at Mama’s and Daddy’s graves, I saw where someone, perhaps the cemetery workers, had driven over their graves so much that there was a two tire path. I fully intended to call back over there and ask that they find another route to drive through, but I never did.
In 2014, Linda and her husband, Jimmy, Doyle and I went to Switzerland in hopes of finding some of our ancestors. Our great grandfather, Fredrich Karl Kull and his brother Julian came to America from Lensburg, Switzerland, when they were only 18 or 19 years old. They landed first in Chicago, but when the Homesteading Act in Alabama came about, they traveled south and claimed some land as their own in Ardmore, Alabama near the Tennessee border. My grandfather Louis Christian Kull was born in Chicago, but grew up in Alabama and there is where he met our grandmother, Mattie Lee Hames. They married when my grandmother was 15 and he was 19.
We had been told that a bakery in Lenzburg that our family ran was still there and even had our great-great grandfather’s name on the wall inside the building. So after touring Switzerland for 8 days, we rented a car and drove to Lenzburg on the German speaking side of Switzerland and spent 2 full days there. We did indeed find the building which is now a restaurant. It was closed, but we were blessed to find the proprietors inside cleaning. They allowed us to come in and see the list of names of the people who had owned/operated the building over the centuries. We got some great pictures, including those with the name of Friedrich Kull-1869-1892-and Erbschaft Kull-1892-1927. Then we set out to find Kull folks in the surrounding cemeteries. Doyle said we found 300 dead Kulls and one alive. We quickly discovered that there are no really old graves in Switzerland. It’s rare to find one over 20 years old. It seems they remove the stones and bury other people there. Doyle has always teased me about being a ‘Kull’ (cull), but I was delighted to learn that in Switzerland they pronounce it ‘Kool’ (cool).
This brings me to the decision Doyle and I have made to be cremated instead of interred. So, I suppose no one will ever be able to ‘find a grave’ with Janet Kull Stewart or Doyle Thomas Stewart on it. Just as well, I can’t imagine our grandchildren taking time to travel to Macon (where we have burial plots) to tend or view our graves. Doyle has decided to build a double bird house which will contain our ashes. Merrigail said she would keep the ashes of whoever goes first and then either scatter or bury us together. I love that idea!! Afterwards, our final home will become a home for some of God’s little children-a name Doyle has given to all the birds that frequent the feeders at our house.
Until next time….