Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Research Trip - Where Is Nancy Jane Buried?

That question still hasn't been completely answered. One thing on the To Do List for this research trip was to locate the grave site of our great-grandmother, Nancy Jane Bennett Lanier. Nancy Jane died in Atlanta, Georgia on 12 Oct 1926 and her death certificate lists her place of burial as LaGrange but doesn't specify a cemetery. LaGrange is in Troup County, Georgia and she had ties to that area. She was probably born in neighboring Heard County but could have been born in Troup. Her Bennett grandparents definitely lived in Troup County and her father had lived there with them after the family moved from South Carolina when he was a child. Nancy Jane and her husband, Joseph Smith Lanier, had lived in neighboring Chambers and Randolph Counties in Alabama but from all indications, she hadn't lived in this area since before 1900.

Nancy Jane's obituary from the Oct 14th LaGrange Reporter says her funeral was "held at Hilview cemetery this morning at 11 o'clock with Dr. John S. Jenkins, pastor of the First Methodist Church officiating."
14 Oct 1926, LaGrange Reporter

The obituary lists Hunter-Owen Funeral directors in charge of arrangements and the Troup County Archives has their old records. Nancy Jane's record shows her funeral was held on Oct. 13th and that her son, J. D. Lanier [James], paid $12 for her funeral expenses. Part of the cemetery name on the form is a black blob but the last part of the word is "view" and, of course, the section of the form where the details about her plot should be is blank.

We knew all of that before the trip but felt sure we'd be able to find the actual plot because the Troup County Archives has the Sexton records for Hillview Cemetery. Their records show the plot number, name of person buried, date buried and the owner of the plot. You guessed it - Nancy Jane isn't listed.

Hillview Cemetery is big. Not the kind of cemetery where you can just wander around and find graves very easily. Plus we are reasonably sure that Nancy Jane has no headstone (she's not listed in the cemetery transcription either). Her death certificate lists an Atlanta funeral director so maybe we can find their records - although it's unlikely they would have done a better job of documenting her grave site than the funeral home responsible for the actual burial. For now, we'll have to be satisfied believing our great-grandmother is buried there somewhere.

Aerial View of Hillview and Shadowlawn Cemeteries from GoogleMaps.
The section labeled Shadowlawn is actually the Hillview Annex
 and the large section to the left is Shadowlawn.
If you had ancestors in Troup County, Georgia, the Troup County Archives website is a great resource. They have cemetery transciptions, marriage records and deeds available online. If you visit the archives, Historian Forrest Clark Johnson III is most helpful.

Series of posts about a research trip to Alabama and Georgia, June 9-12, 2010:
Research Trip - Where Is Nancy Jane Buried?

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