Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 4 Sept 2016.
It was the dawning of my last day of my research trip to Pennsylvania and was hoping for a miracle to find the burial location with a date for my husband’s 3 x’s great grandfather. I also wanted to confirm church records of where another of his 3 x’s great grandfather’s was buried in a second cemetery. The cemetery had no record of that burial but it was listed in church records.
After a quick breakfast and checking out of the hotel I was on to Antietam Cemetery. I drove the rental car as close to the family plots as possible. I hadn’t mixed the bleach in the water to clean the stones as per the Reverend’s instructions as I was afraid I’d spill it in the car and wreck the carpeting. The Walmart in Waynesboro carries bleach tablets. We don’t have those in my Walmart! They were perfect as I only had to pop one in the spray bottle and then add water. No worries about spilling a bottle of bleach.
Since it wasn’t yet 8 AM the dew was still covering the ground. My sneakers were soaked quickly but I trudged on, located the graves and sprayed away. Once I had sprayed the entire family’s stones I went back to the first grave and gently rubbed the lichen off with the scrub brush. MAGIC! I resprayed bleach solution and moved down to the next stone. After the second brushing I poured clean water over the stone. I was now wet, hot and filthy but happy – I could finally read all the stones. Well, the parts that were above ground level. As the Reverend had mentioned yesterday, the area was prone to sinking and one stone in particular had really gone down quite a lot. I suspect the Revered was correct that if there were stones for my husband’s missing great grandparents they had sunk. I believe there had been stones as the family has a notorious bread crumb trail of stones going back to the 1600’s in what is now Germany. I would find it odd that this was the only couple that did not have stones, especially since the stone for their son was quite large.
I rephotographed the stones and then, on a whim, decided to look for the apple trees that the Reverend mentioned. Why? I am obsessed with apple trees, probably because my great uncle was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed. Sure enough, their were apple trees on the other side of the cemetery fence amidst lots of weeds and shrubs. I walked over and picked up two apples off the ground. Who knows, maybe they were Johnny’s at one time as he was known to have had a farm not far from this location once. I couldn’t resist in taking them home:
Back in the car I drove to Green Hill Cemetery. I marched to the stone I had found the previous day and sprayed away. Even after speaking with the cemetery’s director the area still had not been cleaned. I also sprayed the stones on either side to see if maybe one did belong to the great grandfather as church records stated.
Removing the dirt layer certainly helped the readability but the stone to the right was completely worn. Interestingly, it was of the same type of marble as the family member’s stone and none others surrounding were. The stone was smaller and I am now thinking it must be the stone for the infant that had died. Perhaps both children had died at the same time and the older sibling got the bigger stone. It didn’t make sense that the grandfather would have a tiny stone and the grandson a larger one. On the smooth stone I placed typing paper that the sweet girl in the hotel had given me and rubbed with a black kindergarten crayon to see if anything would be revealed – nothing. My mind wanted to see an outline of a lamb in the middle of the stone but I wasn’t sure if this was reality or not. It was no clearer on the rubbing than in a photo.
Taking the scrub brush I decided to continue to search for the missing grandfather’s stone. I located it in the same row but on the left side of the middle. I quickly sprayed, scrubbed and washed. No doubt about it – this was the stone of the man mentioned in the church records that was not included on the cemetery’s derivative list.
I’m not sure why the stone was located where it was. Church records show that the stone was originally next to the grandson but that’s not the case. Either the stones were mixed when they were relocated from Old Union or the church records are wrong. Some mysteries just won’t be solved.
I was so glad to have returned and searched again with better tools. I could leave the area with more knowledge than I had which was a good thing!
I was headed to Virginia to spend the evening with my sister-in-law and decided to take the scenic route through Harbaugh Valley. I’ve seen the pictures online and read about the area for nearly 40 years so this was especially important to me.
The GPS directions made me laugh – I was headed back to the hotel where I had stayed. Ironically, I was staying just a short distance from the Reverend Henry Harbaugh’s old homestead. We have a copy of his poetry book that had been handed down for generations. I have also chuckled at his family history, of which we also have a copy. Written in 1856 his was the first of several family genealogies written. Now I’m not criticizing here as I think he did a wonderful job given the time it was published. He couldn’t email, phone or just fly into an area like I had just done to do his research. What I find humorous in a dark sense is that he often ended a biography with “He’s dead.” No, you think? The sermons he left weren’t so succinct so I’m not sure why he used such brevity often in his book.
I located Harbaugh Road quickly and parked in the Harbaugh church lot. The cemetery behind the church is still used but it wasn’t as well maintained as I had envisioned. Many of the older stones were totally unreadable. There was no point in using the bleach – these stones were out in the middle of a corn field and not subjected to the lichen that covered the stones in the cemeteries on the other side of town.
The church was locked so I could not go in. I was disappointed not to find the stone for the missing grandmother. A marker outside of the church reminded me of the Reverend Henry’s brevity; it mentioned that a marker for the family home was nearby but didn’t give directions. I brought up my family tree on my phone to see if I had any coordinates. Nope.
I drove down Harbaugh Road and came to it’s end. There was a subdivision now and not farmland. I turned around and went back the way I had come, passing the church and turning left at the end of the road. A sign that denoted the Maryland state line was displayed. I crossed the line and stopped at a vegetable market. None of the employees or customers had ever heard of Reverend Harbaugh but they did know there was a church up the street. Ironically, one of the employees was related to the Harbaughs but he didn’t know it until I informed him. He didn’t care much, either.
I drove back into Pennsylvania and stopped at an antique store located up the road. The owner said she had never heard of the Reverend Harbaugh, either, but she knew there was a road and church and whenever an event was held at the church she got lots of business as people stopped to use her restroom. She was somewhat interested in history so I enlightened her on the land that was across from her property. She told me that the building where the store was located was once the train station for the area. This must have been the place where the Reverend Harbaugh boarded for his trip to Ohio. He had to learn English as the family spoke German at home and he learned while traveling. His parents missed him terribly and when he returned and after he became a minister, built the church to keep him in the area. As a parent of adult children, I so relate to that!
This same station was possibly where my husband’s family had left the area when they relocated to northern Indiana. From the diary of their maternal aunt I knew the day and time the family had arrived in 1869 but I didn’t know the departure schedule. It would be interesting to research further but it was now afternoon and I had to be on my way. It was a fitting way to end the trip, leaving the area, from the same location they likely had.
Next time I’ll write about my adventures in Washington, DC.