Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Grave Assignment

My husband, Ray, and I like to take pictures.  Pictures are what we bring back as souvenirs when we travel.  Ray makes albums and puts the photos on Flickr.  I don't know much about Flickr, but I am able to use the links to see our pictures.  We take pictures for pleasure, but we have also gotten involved in  Find A Grave .  This site has links to cemeteries all over the world and information about where to find graves of famous people.  We both love when traveling we try to visit some of these graves...if there is time.  What I like most about this site is that people can request for someone to take a picture of a gravesite of a family member of friend. 

Saint Mary Cemetery: Assumption, Ohio

We have taken a number of pictures of graves and posted them on Find A Grave for their loved ones to see.  Usually, the photos are for people doing  family genealogy and live too far to travel to get a picture.  We have not been able to take  pictures of graves for some time...but recently Ray got a message on his Flickr page from someone living in France.  This person had seen Ray's pictures of some cemeteries and noticed that he lived in Ohio.  She asked if Ray could take a picture of one of her ancestors. We decided that would be a fun adventure...the little town, Assumption, was not too far.

The names were: Victor L. DeLafontaine, born Jan.1, 1889- died October 18, 1945 and Julia DeLafontaine born 1898-died 1936  They were buried in row 26 section B.

Last week, on a sunny day, when the snow was melting fast we drove the country roads to Assumption and found the Saint Mary Cemetery.  We knew where it was because our friends Megan and Jason Brunner were married at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish a couple of years ago.  The cemetery was across the street.  It was small.  That was good, because most of the snow had not melted there.  We could not find any markers of where Section B might we guessed.  We counted down 26 rows and began to search.  It reminds me of Easter Egg hunting.  Sometimes we can not find the gravesites, which is disappointing.  We were determined to find Victor and Julia....but realized we must have figured wrong on where Section B was. 

It's a small we split up and began our own searches. 

"I found it!"  I shouted...but Ray was too far away to I called him on his cell.  Of course, he had to ask what name was etched on the stone.  "Clarence and Thelma Lafontaine"  was my reply.  Of course,  I realized that it was not the right name...close, but not the right one.  So...the search continued.  The snow was mushy...the grass was slick and swampy...but we were determined.  We walked from the front to the back and there... about four fifths of the way...right about in the middle...I saw them...two with Victor L. DeLafontaine and the one next to it was Julia DeLafontaine. 

Ray took some pictures (I had left my camera on the kitchen table.)  I was directing.  "Get the statue and windmill in this shot to show what a beautiful setting this is." I said.  Ray  stooped low and took a few shots...the snow was icy there...Ray slipped...Ray's back slipped as he caught himself.  He slowly stood up to see what damage had been done (this has happened before).

This is the shot with the statue and windmill...the one Ray was taking when he slipped.

"It's okay,"  he said, "Not too bad, but I am going to the van."  He handed me the camera and I spent the next half hour taking a number of shots.  Here are some.  I know the person will be happy to get pictures of her ancestor's graves.  Now...Ray's back needs to mend a bit and we will be on another adventure to a cemetery.

NEWS FLASH!!!!  We just got an email from the woman who asked if Ray could take the picture.  Here it glad we were able to do this...and we learned part of the story of Victor and Julia.

Dear Ray,
Thank you SO MUCH !!!

I asked the school just next St Mary cemetery to put some flowers for my aunt and uncle, so they did last October :)
I'm glad they have visitors !! Frustrated being in France, can't visit them.

Julia was born in East France, and came to USA at 15's. Victor and her moved to France, early 20s so as to marry, and came back to Ohio. They were naturalized and became American.

My grandma used to talk to me about her American auntie, and we never believed her ! :-D
Some genealogy searches permitted me find their graves.
Don't know why I wanted to find them, but it was very strange...and I finally found their graves on October, month of Victor's death anniversary...very. very strange !!!

I don't know how it works in USA, concerning the graves. Do you think someone is taking care of Julia and Victor's graves ? I've never found if they had children...

Thank you again, you made us very happy !!


  1. Wow! What a great story. The internet has really made it a small world. It is amazing that this woman found Ray's photos and then contacted him. Then for you and Ray to actually find the graves is truly something.

    I would say that you and Ray made that lady's day.

    1. Thanks...we were happy it worked out that way...and she sounded really thrilled.

  2. The connections. They are layered in your story. As you wrote I wondered if the first graves you found had a connection to the couple you were looking for. I always wonder about the back stories.

    How is your husband?

    1. I wondered that, too...but when I checked the pictures...the name was different...not DeLaFontaine...but just LaFontaine. But we are going to send the pictures to the woman just in case the name was changed. That would be cool.

  3. This post was so intriguing. You had me from the title. What a fun and helpful way to spend the day. Like a treasure hunt to put a smile on a stranger's face. I have not heard of Find A Grave, but I think it's a fantastic idea and will be checking it out. Great photos...I hope Ray's back feels better soon.

    1. Ray's back is fine now...he had it go out really bad a number of years ago...and so when he feels a twinge, he is very careful for the next few days. You will find Find A Grave interesting. I just took two more pictures for two different people....and it is like a treasure hunt.

  4. This is so interesting--you are historians. I love how stories rise up alongside your interest. Years ago, students of mine made gravestone rubbings. We visited a cemetery from colonial days and used paper and charcoal pencils to make the rubbings and then studied them back in the classroom to see what symbols were used. I also photograph cemeteries, but not for historical value--rather for aesthetic purposes. This is a link to some of those images.

    1. Thanks, Mary Ann. I will check out the link.

  5. Somehow I missed this day. What a great thing you did for the lady in France! Also glad to read that Ray's back is better. You have such interesting pursuits!