Archive for July 1st, 2019

Looking for Lillie Rogers Packett and Finding a Bill for $14

July 1, 2019

I’ve arrived in my hometown in preparation for a family reunion. It’s time to head over to the cemetery to look for some answers.

The cemetery records are kept at the office of the Lee Heights Monument Company. I have no idea how the records came to be kept there. I’m sure there is a back story, but for now I don’t want to overload the system with too many questions.

A few days beforehand, I called the office to lay some groundwork. One of my goals for my trip home was to find where Lillie Rogers Packett was buried. She is the mother of my grandfather James Packett.

I had a faint memory of James’s wife Ruth, who is, of course, my grandmother, telling me that her husband had bought the cemetery plot when her mother Henrietta Collins Webb died. I had no proof that he actually had done this, and I questioned myself as to whether this was the truth, or had I fabricated a memory.

I spoke to a nice lady named Debbie who said that they have the burials in an excel program, and she found Lillie listed as unmarked. Then she said she had the original ledger book and would do a little research to see who owned the plot.

*****

I posed a question on Facebook to my cemetery nerd friends. I posted a photo from September 2017.

Doesn’t it look like there could be a space between the long marker at the left and the next marker?

We will learn later that I am wrong.

Mom and Dad are the long double marker, and Grandma Packett’s brother Charles Webb and her mother Henrietta Collins Webb are next.

Here I am at the cemetery the evening that I arrive in town. I would like to think that the sunbeam in the photo is showing us where Lillie is buried next to her son, but the universe is just playing a trick on us.

This side says “Packett”. Those two indentations are the individual markers for my grandfather James and my grandmother Ruth. Those seem to be the only burials on that side of the marker.

It hits me. If you bought a cemetery plot so that your mother-in-law would have a burial spot, wouldn’t you bury your own mother there? I think you would.

Friday morning, bright and early-ish, I heard back to the cemetery and the monument office to meet Debbie.

She has the original ledger book, and shows me the entry where James Packett does indeed own the plot. He purchased it on May 5, 1934. Henrietta died on May 3, 1934.

She and Glenn show me a form for the layout of a typical cemetery plot. There are 8 spaces total, 4 per side, and it was designed to be “man”, “woman”, “man”, “woman”. My family doesn’t conform.

Glenn walked down to the plot with me to see if he can determine if Lillie is buried there.

Once there, he walked the plot while I told him who everyone was. He straddled the approximate location of where Lillie could be buried and pointed out that there were no indentations over a casket which should be there. He pointed out nearby graves that had minimal indentations.

I asked if the ground could be probed. Glenn said in late June, it could not because the ground would be baked as hard as a rock, and most probably there would be nothing there.

We walked back to the office, and Debbie gave me a copy of the ledger sheet where James Packett purchased the plot.

After saying our goodbyes, I went back to the car to study the ledger sheet. There were entries for other people made on the same sheet, like the office was conserving paper since there had been a depression and a war going on.

I looked at the entries where James put down a 25% deposit of $12.50. He made other payments over the years when I realized that he couldn’t have made all those payments because he died in 1944, ten years after he purchased the lot. I suspect my grandmother Ruth made the remaining payments.

Then I notice there is a balance due of $14.

Technically, who owns the lot? And if I pay off the balance, is that in 1934 dollars or 2019 dollars?

And where the heck is Lillie?