Monday, September 7, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Philippe and Mary Therese Laurent nee Francar

I spent a little over a week in Wisconsin this summer. Not enough time to get to the historical society or the county library to do some record pulling. It was just too beautiful for that. Sunny and warm...but not too my boys and I relaxed and played with my in-laws. I did take two afternoons to head to St. Martin's Cemetery in Tonet and St. Joseph's Cemetery in Champion. I photographed every grave that had a semi-legible tombstone for BillionGraves. Then at night I spent time making sure that there was a FindAGrave memorial and/or photo for each as well. It was more time consuming than I expected, but well worth it.

Both of these cemeteries (and their respective churches...although St. Martin's is closed now) are only a few miles apart, down the same stretch of road. In between them on that same stretch of road is the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. Another Catholic Church although this one has quite the interesting history. I've blogged about it before. It's the only Church-acknowledged Marian Shrine in the U.S. (although some will argue that point).

Philippe's tombstone is too difficult for me to make out
much...even in person!
I digress though. I was just struck by how close they all were. In a city it's not so unexpected, but in farm country I would have expected them to be a bit more spread out. Either way, they all play a part in my husband's family's history so I visit them when I can. With all of the worn and lichen-covered gravestones in St. Joseph's I wasn't hopeful finding the tombstones of Philippe and Mary, but I had to look. While I was there methodically taking pictures with the caretaker riding along mowing the grass, I was approached by a gentleman asking if I was looking for anyone in particular. I told him I was, but that I was also canvassing the cemetery. He was kind enough to tip me off to the fact that there is a website online that will tell you exactly where in the cemetery everyone in St. Joseph's was buried. (I imagine this is the website he was talking about) I thanked him and continued on my mission.

I'm always struck by how things play out. You think of someone that you haven't thought of in years and you get news of them, or perhaps a Facebook friend request soon after. The gentleman asks who I'm looking for and they turn up a couple tombstones down from where I was. It's just coincidence, but it's a lovely one.

The tombstones are difficult to read. I must go back there in the winter when the leaves are off the trees and bring a mirror to reflect light. I haven't actually attempted using a mirror before, but I've heard it recommended several times. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Seeing a ceramic photo on Mary Therese's tombstone was
absolutely thrilling!
So the tombstone of Mary Therese Laurent nee Francar was legible, but barely. The bigger surprise was the ceramic photo attached to the tombstone. I didn't expect one, but was delighted to discover one. I immediately shared it on Facebook and tagged my husband in the post so he could see his great-great grandmother. I rarely get much interest from my husband regarding genealogy, but this did earn a "that's cool!" response from him. Cool indeed. Cooler because of how unexpected it was especially considering the state of the tombstone.

"M. Therese Francar
wife of Philip Laurent
born Aug. 16 1850
died June 21 1916"

Philip's tombstone wasn't really possible for me to read even in person. I was able to make out whose tombstone it was, but not too much more. Maybe that mirror will (ahem) bring to light what my tired eyes could not see. As of right now all I know of Philip was that he was born around 1838 in Belgium and died between the 1905 Wisconsin state census and the 1910 Federal one. I may have to contact St. Joseph's in the meantime. I may burst not knowing and don't know if I can wait until December.

Mary Therese's tombstone is much easier to read
than her husband's
I was even more disappointed after finding the ceramic photo of M. Therese to see that there had been one for Philip that was now gone from his tombstone. The empty circle at the top made that particular loss felt. Perhaps someday, someone coming across this blog with a photo of Philip will be able to share it with me. It's got to be out there somewhere.

I was able to upload photos of M. Therese and Philip's tombstones to memorials already created on FindAGrave. I was even more thrilled when contributor, Lori Lyon, transferred both of their memorials to me!

So until December when I can revisit St. Joseph's and get a better picture (or just stubbornly get my face up close enough to figure out what Philip's says) I'll end here. Rest in peace, Philip and M. Therese!