Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sabbatical almost over

Hard to believe, but tomorrow is the last day of my 4-week sabbatical. All in all, it’s been fun to be off. I’m not saying I want to go back to work,but I did accomplish nearly everything I wanted to do while I was away. I found my 3rd great grandfather’s grave and I took a vacation to the homeland of Nebraska. I still have some vacation days remaining so it’s not like I’m never going to have a day off. In some respects, it will be good to get back into the swing of things.

Lazy-U Motel

I found this old, abandoned motel while driving along Highway 26 in Broadwater, Nebraska.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lightning strike video

Here’s a video from Flickr of a lightning strike! It actually strikes the person while making the video. Apparently she’s okay. It does make you think twice about being outside during a storm!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Henry Profitt Cornelius

I had a fun day today. I fulfilled a long-held desire to take a short trip back in time and visit the gravesite of my third great grandfather. His name was Henry Profitt Cornelius

Henry was born on March 16, 1806 in Christian County, Kentucky and was the oldest of eight children. He was first married to Mary Ann Quisenberry in 1828. They had ten children together with the eighth child being my second great grandfather, Jess Profitt Cornelius. (“Profitt” was Henry’s mother’s maiden name and was used these two times as a middle name.) Mary Ann passed away in 1845 and is buried in the Hittle Grove Cemetery, Tazewell County, Illinois. Henry married Mary Ann’s cousin, Catherine Quisenberry, in 1847 and they had eight more children together. Thus, Henry fathered 18 children!

Henry passed away at the ripe old age of 89 on August 29, 1895. Catherine passed away in 1902. They are buried together in Mt. Hope Cemetery near Foosland, Illinois.

I became aware of Henry’s existence when I read about him in my Uncle Jay’s Roots and Shoots book. It became somewhat of an obsession for me to find Foosland and to find Henry’s grave. In fact, Dad and I talked a number of times about driving down to find the location, but his declining health made the trip unlikely.

I’m on a four-week sabbatical from work and I decided this morning to make the trip. I packed a cooler of water and energy drinks and made the trip to Foosland. Actually, it’s not a bad drive at all and certainly one we should have made years earlier. The town is “off the beaten path” and it took several turns before I found the county road leading to it. It took even more time to locate the cemetery. I had to ask some locals to point me in the right direction.

But I found it!

Foosland is located northwest of Champaign which is home to the University of Illinois. I thought my father’s hometown of Madrid was small, but I believe Foosland is even smaller. It’s accessible by county roads only.

The cemetery is very well maintained. It took me about an hour to find his tombstone. Since they both passed away over 100 years ago, I was fearful of not finding the grave at all or finding a tombstone that was weather-worn or in very poor condition. To my relief and surprise, their tombstone is in excellent condition.

Here are some photos that I took. I thought of Dad today as I was sitting at the tombstone.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Private Theodore Hirsch

Earlier I wrote about the restoration work I am doing at Jewish Graceland Cemetery and the grave of an Union soldier (Simon Bournstine) that I marked with an American flag. About thirty yards from Simon’s grave, is the final resting place of Theodore Hirsch. Theodore was a German Jew who immigrated to this country. In 1864, while in Louisiana, he enlisted in the Confederate army. A few months after enlistment, he was captured in battle and moved to the prison camp at Camp Douglas in the South Side of Chicago. This was a notorious prison camp where it has been estimated that over 6,000 Confederate prisoners died. About two months after arriving at the camp, Theodore became one of the casualties.

Most of the camp dead were either buried on the prison grounds or thrown into Lake Michigan! The local Jewish congregation found out about Theodore and arranged for his burial in the Jewish cemetery…and then forgotten! Private Hirsch’s grave is not marked. When I began assisting with the restoration, I learned about his grave and we were able to determine from the records the exact location of his grave. It has no headstone nor any military marker. His grave is right next to the outer wall almost like it was an afterthought.

With assistance from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, I was able to secure a proper Confederate flag (the “First National Flag”) and marked his grave to show the proper respect for a young soldier who died many, many miles from home. I am hoping to obtain a proper headstone from the Veterans Administration.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My sabbatical…at last!

I’m officially on my 4-week sabbatical. My employer (MB Financial Bank) offers a sabbatical to employees who complete seven full years of employment. I actually qualified for my sabbatical last year, but asked to defer it until this year because of the move to our house last year.

I’m planning a couple of day trips to Champaign and Springfield and then plan to take Kevin and my mom out to Nebraska for a week to see our relatives.

I return to work on August 4th.