Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy Jones

   When I started looking up information about my genealogy I thought I might be able to learn more about the relatives who were just names on a page.  Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy is an ancestor that until last Summer, I never knew even existed.  I was able to "discover" this great great great grandmother through the extremely satisfying process of good old fashioned on the ground sleuthing.  In a word; it was just fun.

   In what began as a quest to discover more about my paternal great grandfather, whose roots were unknown to our family, my husband and I ended up taking a lovely day trip to the quiet farming town of Fairbury, Illinois.  Patience and the microfilm machine unlocked many secrets that day.  When there was less than a half an hour left before closing time I decided to keep trolling through just a little bit more microfilm, hoping I could find my great great grandmother's mother listed in the newspaper. I had very nearly missed it due to terrible transcription of names, but the 1920 census showed that my great great grandmother had moved back home to live with her mother after the death of my great great grandfather. That alone was an amazing discovery!  I was so surprised to find that her mother could still be alive.  Sitting at the microfilm machine, I thought I would just look a little longer and give myself just enough time to reel in the microfilm before the library closed; I just knew that somewhere on those rolls was the information that I wanted to find.  But where?  When I had just about given up; there was her name!  Mrs. Theodore B. Jones!  Suddenly she came to life before my eyes and I knew her name.  My 3rd great grandmother was Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy Jones! 

I frantically made a copy of her obituary and reeled in the microfilm as quickly as I could, replaced the cover and paid my quarters to the very kind librarians.  The copy I made that day would not scan well, as microfilm copies never seem to be very readable even in person.  Here is a transcription of Elizabeth Rachel's obituary, appearing July 9, 1920.

Mrs. Theodore B. Jones
Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy was born at Avoca March 4, 1838, and passed away Wednesday, July 7, at the age of 82 years, 4 months and 3 days.
She grew to young womanhood in Avoca township, and on September 12, 1856, was united in marriage to Theodore B. Jones. To this union five children were born, two of whom died in infancy. One son, Edwin T. Jones died in 1906. The surviving children are H.T. Jones of Peoria, and Mrs. J.W. Thomas, of this city, who mourn the loss of a kind and loving mother. Four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren also survive.
The funeral services were held at the late home Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock, Rev. C.S. Davies officiating. Interment was in Graceland cemetery.
Those attending from out of town were Mr. And Mrs. Walter J. Thomas, of Anderson, Ind.; Mr. and Mrs. Bert L. Cottrell and Mrs. O.D. Woodruff, of Peoria; also other relatives from the vicinity of Cropsey.
(Reading this obituary also told me that my own great grandmother that I did know very well, attended this funeral with her husband Walter Thomas, about whom we knew very little at that point, so it was another clue.)

At the unmarked grave of
Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy Jones
We looked in vain for a grave for Elizabeth Rachel and her husband Theodore and left feeling that we just hadn't looked closely enough, it being a hot afternoon. I was determined to return to find them.  We returned to Fairbury in December on a conversely cold day, but this time with information from the cemetery sexton.  For some reason that I have yet to understand, Elizabeth Rachel and Theodore B. Jones don't have a marker at their grave site. The cemetery sexton was able to give me verbal directions to their grave though and we visited and paid our respects, wondering if the family intended to mark the grave but wasn't able to, or if the grave stone has simply not withstood the test of time for some reason? I hope I can unravel this mystery at some point.  But for this day I was glad to discover their final resting place.  I have yet to find an obituary for Theodore either so there is much more to learn about the Jones family of Fairbury, Illinois. 

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