I find myself humming “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,” as I walk through a rural cemetery on an early Sunday morning.
I am looking for graves of Civil War veterans near my hometown on the edge of Michigan’s Thumb.
This visit is part of some volunteer research that I and others are doing for a book the Mayville History and Genealogical Museum wants to publish. It will include short biographies of more than 200 Civil War veterans buried in several cemeteries around the village. I have come to take pictures of gravestones and the cemetery to help illustrate the book.
Spring is alive in this old graveyard a week before Father’s Day – long a pensive and wistful day for me. My time with my father, George Traynor Anderson, was short. He died on a Sunday morning of a massive heart attack in 1956 when I was 7 and he 35.
I am thinking of my grandfather, Bill Anderson, as I wander through this garden for the departed.
It is he who instilled in me a love for local and family history through the stories he told when I was a child. He played an important role in my life after my father died. He became a grand father figure.
A sweet scent of lilacs hovers in the morning air. Peony and spirea bushes bloom. Bird song spills from every corner of this small, hilly graveyard where generations of farm families, Civil War soldiers and veterans from other American wars are interred.
My grandfather was one of 11 children born to a Scottish father and an Irish mother, both immigrants, in the late 1800s. He came to my hometown in 1908 at age 17 to clerk in the local mercantile. He and two business partners bought the business in 1919.