Tuesday, August 4, 2009
While I mulled over my genealogy "to-do" list in my head as the kids and I drove to Galveston Island, Texas last Friday, I had to mentally "stop" and be realistic about what we'd actually get accomplished. After all, we were going to be on a beach for goodness sakes. Also, the best way that I've found to get my kids to behave is to promise to do something "fun", but hold-off on the "fun" until I'm done with everything else. Apparently, hanging out in a cemetery does not compare to frolicking in the surf. [Duh.] As soon as we drove up to Lakeview Cemetery, my kids were already asking, "So, when are we going to the beach?" Although, who could blame them? The beach is about a block from the cemetery, and you can hear the waves breaking from there. I knew I wasn't going to get much done.
The first time that we ever went to Lakeview Cemetery was March 2008, about 6 months before hurricane Ike hit Galveston Island. I was extremely confident that day about finding my Marschall family's tombstones. After all, I had the section and lot numbers, and Lakeview Cemetery is not that big of a cemetery. However, my hopes were soon dashed when I realized how much Lakeview was neglected. Additionally, the older tombstones [like the ones I was looking for], were either broken, unreadable, and/or just plain missing. To add to my difficulties, some well-meaning person(s) had planted groundcover, I guess, to help beautify the cemetery. Unfortunately, I suspected that possibly underneath the now dense groundcover were probably my [and other's] family members' tombstones. I went away that day more than a little disappointed.
Due to all the flooding that occured from Hurricane Ike, most, if not all, cemeteries are in horrid condition. Just after the storm, there were many coffins that had been unearthed. The photos here [click link and scroll down to photo #23 and photo #24] depict the conditions at the time. After seeing the photos, I thought what a shame, and what a big and tedious chore it was going to be to fix all the cemeteries. While that's true, I also thought that possibly in the long run, this might help some of the cemeteries, which there are so many of in Galveston. Galveston Island is known as the "cemetery with a beach" because there are so many of them. Unfortunately, though, the older ones are extremely neglected. My thought was that possibly the flooding would have unearthed and/or loosened the groundcover, revealing old tombstones. [Hey, a girl can dream...]
The one aspect of the landscape on Galveston Island that I was not expecting was the effects of all the salt water on the grass and trees. The prolonged exposure to the salt water flooding killed most of the live oak trees on Galveston Island, leaving mostly just the palm trees. This, too, affected the look of Lakeview Cemetery as well as all the cemeteries leaving them all to look completely barren [if not ugly]. However, the clearing of the trees and bushes in Lakeview Cemetery did reveal some old tombstones. In looking at the back of the cemetery in the section that my family should be in and where most of the older tombstones are, I did find more tombstones located there, that I don't remember seeing before. Also, along the back wall [that is about 1 foot high] are older tombstones [some of which are broken] leaning up against the wall that were not there before. Likewise, the groundcover is loosened, if not gone, in some places. A cursory look in the section did not reveal where my grandparents, John and Emma (Schleicher) Marschall, their toddler son Robert, their son Rolland, their daughter Mary, and Mary's husband Harry Esperson rest, but according to all records that I have found, they are there.
Just as the sirens' song was powerful for Odysseus and his men, so were the melodic sounds of the waves hitting the beach for me and my children. However we did not have the same protective benefits as Odysseus and his men. Our ears were not plugged with beeswax nor were we bound by ropes to the mast of our "ship," and we gladly followed the sounds of the nearby beach. The same beach where our ancestors once walked, and now near where they rest. My search for their exact resting place is not done, but I'll be back.