Friday, October 25, 2013

Elizabeth (Martin) Martin

A Memorable Visit to a Cemetery

For the latest Red Room blogging topic, I am going to share this poem, which I wrote long ago based on a true experience when I still had time to research and ponder family history.  I had searched years before for this grave and had decided Elizabeth was probably buried in an unmarked grave on a farm somewhere, but I was searching in the wrong county.  I also had been in communication with one of Elizabeth’s brother’s descendants who moved to Kansas, and I had posted in Kansas asking for information, but no one seemed to have  the records I’d heard about. 

Then Sue Wilson’s husband inherited the Kansas records, and she shared the name of the cemetery where Elizabeth was buried, and I also found out that my great grandfather, who signed his named William F. Martin in Johnson County, was called Felix in his youth.  I went to the Jefferson County historical website and found that two women had very recently walked and recorded the graves in Pleasant Grove Cemetery off Route 37 south of Mount Vernon.  Gerald and I had a difficult time finding this  cemetery because only a very small sign on Route 37 was there for the current congregation meeting in the former Pleasant Grove Methodist Church building.  

Here is a poem I wrote in response to my emotional visit to Elizabeth’s grave.:

Elizabeth (Martin) Martin
Wife of William Felix Grundy Martin
5-1-1827 to 10-6-1857

Elizabeth came from Tennessee
To marry her cousin
In Illinois country.
An only daughter
With six brothers,
Her sister Margaret had died at three.

She helped out at home down there,
Content with others’ lives.
Then Felix’s dreams became her own
Which they must realize.
Though sad to leave her parents,
William Felix was a prize.

A preacher like her daddy,
Felix filled her heart with love.
Baby Margaret came along,
A second blessing from above.

Glorious sunshiny summer
Must end as all things do.
A horse threw off its rider
And troubles began to brew.

Her uncle, Felix’s father,
Was killed by that hard fall.
She comforted her young husband
Who cried but still stood tall.

Her death not three weeks later
Brought him to the ground.
For such excess bereavement
No comfort could be found.

Baby Margaret without her mother
Could not survive here long.
A third time family gathered
And sang a sadder song.

Beloved bride.  Beloved babe.
He must ride to Tennessee
To tell her parents what they’d lost
Here in Illinois country.

Time passed and much to his surprise
William Felix loved once more
And the sun began to rise.

The Civil War called him from home,
And all three brothers too.
For it seemed right that men must fight
When things were all askew.

Elizabeth had three brothers
Who’d moved up from Tennessee
And like the other cousins, they marched
Back home with Lincoln’s grand army.

Nine Martin cousins
Volunteered to join the fray.
Five came back and three died young
Their hair to never gray.

The war was finally over.
William returned to Louisa Jane.
He smiled to see son Will so big
And horse and farm again.

A three-room house they built with pride
Joys and sorrows came their way.
But he had learned when Elizabeth died,
That neither come to stay.

It was Elizabeth’s father’s turn to die,
Her mother Nancy was alone.
A younger son brought their mother up
To make an Illinois home.

Nancy saw the graves from long ago
Of the daughter still so dear
Of the babe she had yet to rock
And she shed another tear.

Nancy too returned to dust
A long way from Tennessee,
She was glad to join Elizabeth
Here in Illinois country.

I place blooms on these three graves
Where William Felix sobbed in grief,
Their early deaths gave me my life,
My great-grandmother was his second wife.

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