Thursday, August 20, 2015

Finding Margaret

Isaac's notation regarding his mother
On June 7, 1890, Isaac B. Werner wrote on the flyleaf of his journal "Mother was born Dec. 12th 1812 and yet living June 7th 1890.  I. B. Werner."  The love of a son for his mother, whom he had not seen in many years, seems apparent.

Margaretha Beckley was born in Lebanon County, PA on the 11th of September, 1812.  At the age of thirty she married William Werner, who was slightly more than ten years older.  They made their home in Heidelberg, Berks County, PA, and fifteen months later twin sons, Isaac and Henry were born.  Both boys were given their mother's maiden name as their middle names.

Two years later daughter Emma Rebecca was born, and two years after that daughter Elmira, who lived only briefly.  Their last child was Henrietta, born three years later.

Approaching grave
Margaretha, also known as Rebecca, was widowed in 1865, and for a time she and her two surviving daughters remained in the family home before moving into nearby Reading.  Emma married first, wedding Wm E. Good, and in 1877 Henrietta married Rev. Samuel Palmer.  When Rev. Palmer was called to pastor a Lutheran church in Abilene, KS, Margaretha went with them.  She died on the 22nd of February, 1893 and was buried in Abilene.  The Palmer family moved to Lawrence, KS after her death and are buried there.

It seemed sad to me that Margaretha, spelled Margaret later in her life, had been buried far from any other family member, especially far from her husband William, who was buried in the old Hain's Church burial grounds in Wernersville, surrounded by the graves of many generations of Werners.  (See Isaac's Birth & Childhood," 11-4-2011 in the Blog Archives.)

Margaret Werner's Grave
With the assistance of Twila Jackson at the Heritage Center in Abilene, I learned that Margaret Werner was buried on Lot 12, Block 29 in the Abilene Cemetery, District One.  Four years after my correspondence with Ms. Jackson, my husband and I finally visited Margaret's grave.

The Abilene Cemetery is a lovely shaded cemetery, and Margaret's grave is in the first Block as you enter, to the far left side under an ancient tree.  The cemetery entrance is off of a busy street, and opposite the entrance is a school; however, within the cemetery grounds the trees and gently rolling terrain provide a peaceful setting.

A small visitors' building with a touch screen computer and printer made locating Margaret's grave simple and provided us with a print out map.  We quickly found the stone, and although it was quite weathered, we could make out the inscription:  "MARGARET R./ wife of/ Wm WERNER/ DIED/ Feb 22, 1893/ AGED/ 80 yrs  5 mos  11da/ Resting till the resurrection morning"
Read inscription in above text

By the time of Isaac's death in 1895 he was no longer writing in his journal, so I do not know his reaction to the death of his mother.  As described in the blog, "Finding Isaac's Grave," 1-13-2012 in the Blog Archives, he is buried in Neeland's Cemetery in Stafford County, KS.  By 1900 the Palmer family had left Abilene and were living in Lawrence, where Margaret's daughter was buried in 1931.  Margaret's husband and the infant Elmira were buried in Wernersville, as was Isaac's twin brother Henry, who died in 1913.  Her oldest daughter, Emma, predeceased her mother and was buried in Reading following her death on Dec.  21, 1890. 

Ironically, although Margaret was buried far from her husband, she was buried in the same state as two of her children, Isaac and Henrietta, and William was buried in PA where their other three children are buried.

Margaret's grave looking east
As America was settled and generations moved westward across the continent, it was not uncommon for family graves to be separated by great distances.  Nor was it uncommon for a single family member to be buried with no other family graves nearby, as the family moved away from that location.  (See "Cemetery on the Hill," 2-7-2013 in the Blog Archives.)

Having spent so much time in Isaac's company, reading his journal and his published writings, I almost felt like a friend, visiting his mother's grave on his behalf.

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