Here We Are

Since the pandemic hit, Forest Hill Cemetery has drawn crowds like a Black Friday sale. I’m used to seeing a rare car parked graveside and groundskeepers speeding about on their equipment, but now the leafy avenues are rarely without folks safe-distance walking. I’m never alone there anymore. In late spring, the cemetery was the safest place to return to the outside world and stretch our world’s newly defined parameters. I thought I would blog during this time but worked on other projects instead. This autumn, I have been re-inspired to continue and have found an interesting Madisonian to add here; … Continue reading Here We Are

Emma Gurnee Fess Schoelkopf

The Gurnee Family Emma Gurnee was a woman destined to marry two men whose interests lay in different centuries. Born in Kansas in 1871 while her father Sylvester Osburn Young (SOY) was working a claim on Shawnee land, Emma was the first child of SOY’s second marriage. SOY first came to Wisconsin from Skaneateles (skinny atlas), NY, with his parents in 1850 at the age of twenty. Like his father, he was a mason and a farmer who uprooted his family several times. He lived five years in Kansas and a few more in Texas before settling back in Cottage Grove, Fitchburg, … Continue reading Emma Gurnee Fess Schoelkopf

Jenny Samuels

Adult Singles A few times now, I have volunteered to find a grave with a plot given the lonely-sounding cemetery label of “Adult Single.” There are at least two rows of adult singles in Lot 10 of Forest Hill Cemetery, and that is where I saw Jenny Samuels’ stone. I found her name simultaneously sweet and strong and wanted to know how she ended up here mingling with strangers. What I do know is Jenny was cared for to the extent that her son bought the plot, her daughter is named on the paperwork, and the Hebrew message on the … Continue reading Jenny Samuels

Pioneer Families

A coincidence makes the researcher look for connections. The case I have been working on most recently is that of Richard Tipple and his wife, Martha Atwood. I rediscovered them over the holidays on a wintry walk and thought their surname Tipple was as appropriate as any with which to begin the New Year. However, it was Martha’s maiden name, Atwood that made me wonder if there was a connection between her and the prominent Madisonian, David Atwood (longtime editor and publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal). I had to look back to Martha’s father Rufus, who, like David Atwood, … Continue reading Pioneer Families

Above the Fray

Joseph Edwards was born in Milwaukee in 1880, lived most of his adult life in Madison, and died in Waupaca, WI. in 1947. He was sixty-seven years old. Edward’s burial records state he passed away from “general arteriolosclerosis and diabetes.” Mentioning both maladies indicates complications from both conditions likely led to Edwards’ death. What was not understandable without further digging was why Edwards was so far away from his home when he died.  In February 1898, when Edwards was 18 years old, the USS Maine was blown up while positioned at-the-ready in Havana Harbor. It was there to protect U.S. interests in … Continue reading Above the Fray

“A Drama of Simple Lives”

The Crummey family memorials are tastefully efficient. They demand attention precisely because the stones are so simple. I doubt their intent was anything other than humble acknowledgment of lives led, but with their dates of life framing either side of the names, they make you look. Then there is the unusual surname telling us they are the “Crummey” family. I snapped photos of Emma and David and noticed a Mabel Crummey Sharp (Sect 19, Lot 236) nearby and decided to find out who they were. David and Emma married in January 1900 and had two daughters, Mabel and Lolita. Mabel … Continue reading “A Drama of Simple Lives”

The Reverend Joslin

William Joslin and Sarah Bird married in this little church in Devonshire, England, in May of 1832. Seven of their eight children would survive, six would immigrate to the United States, and two would make it all the way to Wisconsin.  The Reverend George Adams Joslin (Lot 7, Sect 039) was born in England in 1844, the third from the youngest child of the family. He was named after an older brother who died at two years old. In such cases, I always wonder at the decision-making process parents must go through when striking a balance between honoring their lost child and … Continue reading The Reverend Joslin

The Hawkins Sisters

One name carved in stone always leads to another as a story unfolds.  In this case, the Hawkins monument (Lot 9, Sect 008) honoring the life of an English immigrant named Albert and his family led me to a prominent Irish immigrant named T.C. (Thomas) Richmond (Lot 34, Sect 046).  Though I was most intrigued by the stories of Albert Hawkins’s five daughters, it was the story of his eldest, Alice, that connected these two men born just six years apart an ocean away. When I began my research, I initially thought of this post as being about “The Widows … Continue reading The Hawkins Sisters

Young American

Bernard Mazursky’s memorial was not my mission the day I saw it, but it was the one I wanted to research. Half a century before Bernard Mazursky was killed at the age of twenty in Vietnam, his grandfather Louis emigrated from his hometown in Poland on the Belarus border. Louis Mazursky came to Madison in 1914 to plant new roots for his family. He worked as a second-hand dealer until 1920 when his family could finally join him. His wife Bella, daughter Cecilia, sons Oscar and David, daughter Yetta, her husband, and their newborn all arrived together bringing what had … Continue reading Young American