Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jumping to Conclusions

I came across some photos of gravestones in the Swanburg Cemetery in Timothy Township, Minnesota on the Find A Grave website. One photo in particular caught my attention because it was the gravestone of my great aunt and great uncle.

On the opposite side of the marker are the names of others supposedly buried at the site.

SandiMH created the entry at Find A Grave. He/she assumed that the people on the other side of the monument were the children of Edward and Eleanor Houston Stoutenburg because of the text on their side of the monument. It reads STOUTENBURG; Mother Eleanor D and Father Edward B II.

Only two of their children are named on the opposite side of the marker. Leola J. is their daughter. She predeceased each of her husbands. Edward B. III is obviously their son but June A. is their daughter-in-law.

Lace K. is their nephew. He is Lace Kendall Stoutenburg. Carole J. is his wife.

SandiMH made the mistake of assuming. It is important not to assume something on face value without looking at all of the evidence.

There is a companion marker at a cemetery in San Luis Obispo, California with my father and his sister's names. At the same site are the markers for their parents and another sister. This sister shares a companion marker with her husband. At first glance one might assume that my father and his other sister did not marry.


My father and my aunt both did marry. Neither are buried at the site. My father's cremains are in a columbarium at the National Cemetery in Riverside and my aunt's ashes were scattered in her garden in Coloma, California. The marker is called a cenotaph marker.

At the time that we decided to create the cenotaph marker, my cousin wanted some place that would mark her mother's existence. We didn't know if our sister would give up our dad's ashes for burial with those of our mother, so we decided to create a cenotaph marker with his sister at the site of their parents' gravesite.

A lawsuit later, we were able to place our dad's ashes along with those of our mother's in a vault at the national cemetery in Riverside.

So the moral of the story is don't accept everything that you see on face value. Look beyond.

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