“The Devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ I whispered back, ‘At least I didn’t lose my golden fiddle to some hillbilly in Georgia.” ~ Unknown
The University gave me the day off for the national election, so I gathered the parental unit and off we went for a daytime adventure. We had no plans beyond lunch. We just wanted out of the house and we were lucky to have a gorgeous day to do it. We ended up calling cousin Lori Grayson Sanford to find out where our people are buried in Bourbon County. Thanks to her patience and guidance (more patience than guidance I’m afraid), we found them. For those of you keeping a genealogy scorecard, all of my maternal grandfather Adams’ brothers and sisters migrated out of Malone, Morgan County, Eastern Kentucky. Nearly half of them landed in Paris, Bourbon County. Three of seven Adams siblings are buried in the Jacksonville Cemetery off Russell Cave Road in northern Bourbon County; Edna Leggett (Lori’s great-grandmother), Mildred “Mid” Buchanan, and Eugene Adams. My great grandfather Douglas Adams is also buried in this cemetery. The remaining four Adams siblings are scattered across Kentucky – Malone (Orville “Bodine”), Mt. Sterling (Wick), Nicholasville (Randolph “Randy”) – with one sister, Opal, buried in Georgia.
I’m told that Eugene and my grandfather not only favored each other in looks, but were very close as friends, so it was especially devastating to my grandfather when Eugene died in a house fire at only 31 years old. The story goes that Eugene, his wife Katherine – eight months pregnant with their son Gary – and their seven year old daughter Wanda were planning a visit the following weekend to my grandparents’ house in Morgan County. A few days before, being a cold January night, Eugene awoke to find the stove fire out. Instead of just putting more wood in the stove, he also used kerosene to accelerate the burn. It exploded when it hit the still-red-hot embers, of course, setting he and the house on fire. Katherine and Wanda were forced to jump from the second story window, but not before they were both badly burned. It was 1953 and mom was just shy of 11 years old. She remembers the news, and Eugene, very well. It was cathartic for her to finally find his grave as an adult and pay her respects. Eugene’s wife and daughter survived, the unborn son Gary was born without issue. Based on Katherine’s headstone, she remarried, but we know nothing of her or my mother’s cousins beyond that. Lori is the family genealogist so I’m betting she knows more of the story. It must seem strange to some to find a graveyard and call it an adventure, but I derive insight and spiritual comfort from my ancestors. Who couldn’t use more of that these days?