TSGS Cruiser Blog

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"The Burning of a Cemetery"

Before I tell you about the burning cemetery, I want to tell you about Glenda Trapp working as a Judge of the 4-H Family Tree Projects at the Vanderburgh County 4-H Fair. I have served as the County Superintendent of this project since it began and the second year Carol Lantaff became my Assistant (later, it would be Mary Deutsch). That year Glenda was roped into being a Judge of the 4-H Fair Notebook Exhibits. She was assigned the Clover Division (the youngest age group), these kids were the beginners and Glenda soon set the way these projects would be done and how they would be judged by the judges of the other two divisions. No one ever questioned her leadership in this matter, simply because it made everyone's job a little easier and more consistent year after year. Glenda entertained all of us involved with the judging of these projects with her keen sense of humor and wit as she discovered again and again the funny side of what a kid did or said in the exhibit. She never belittled them, she just saw humor anywhere she looked for it. She was a Judge for at least eight years. No one will ever be able to judge these projects with the intense serious level that she maintained and still point out tons of humor to us all. There is a reason for telling this story before telling the story of the burning cemetery, so now I can go back to it.

Several of us that were working on the Cemetery Committee found ourselves in Union Township again and Glenda was passing out axes, tree trimmers and chain saws to clear out an overgrown cemetery, so we could read the monuments that were hidden in the underbrush and thicket of small trees, briars and ivy. We worked and worked trying to clear all this mess when the farmer who owned the land suggested that we just burn it out. There would be no safety hazard to be concerned with since the cemetery was surrounded by a large concrete wall to protect it from flooding from the Ohio River. So, I was assigned the job to spread the gasoline around and light it to start a blazing fire to burn away the underbrush. Glenda was good at delegating such duties. The fire took off very rapidly, and me and my jug of gasoline quickly retreated to the wall of which I had a little difficulty negotiating my freedom, but as the fire shot up the 20 foot trees and I began to feel the heat of the fire I easily climbed over the wall. There was no doubt about it we were going to always go the extra mile to transcribe the information on these stones. We would probe for buried markers, dig them up, turn them over, chop down brush to get to them and even burn the cemetery down to copy its hidden information. Glenda took hundreds of photos of us doing all these odd tasks of "unearthing" or "burning" out a cemetery's secrets.

One Christmas, the Tri-State Genealogical Society asked Glenda to make a presentation concerning the Cemetery Committee's work. Out came the slide projector and some very interesting slides on what it takes to really do a thorough job of getting this very useful genealogical resource available in book form. For years as the TSGS 4-H Coordinator for the 4-H Family Tree Project TSGS Awards Program, I would invite the Champion 4-H exhibitors and their notebooks to the Christmas meeting. Glenda was aware that these kids and most of their parents all knew me, so she pointed me out in the slides from time to time, showing how involved I was in doing genealogy work. As she concluded her presentation, she wanted to show just one more slide. It was of me with the most outlandish look on my face fleeing from that fire as I was struggling to climb over that wall. That was at least 25 years ago and 4-H'ers and TSGS members are still talking about that slide and they are still laughing about it!!!

- Reported by Indiana Bones

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