Monday, July 16, 2012

My Serendipity Moment

My friend Susan LeBlanc frequently writes about serendipity moments for her blog, Gopher Genealogy. I experienced a serendipity moment myself recently. In a previous post “Just One Thing” I wrote about how learning one last name led to an abundance of information about the family of Sally Maud Minton Beaman, a family I have been researching for years. I thought Maud’s mother, Susan Alice Farrington, must have died some time after the 1910 Rockingham County, North Carolina, census as I was unable to find any more references to her.
After learning the married name of Maud’s sister, Mary Elizabeth (Mamie) Ellington, I found that their mother moved to West Virginia and lived with her daughter Mamie, and then married a second time to Aaron Gordon. With those names I located death certificates for Aaron and Susan Alice Gordon and David Ellington, Mame’s husband. Aaron and Susan Gordon and David Ellington were all buried in Woodmere Cemetery, in Huntington, West Virginia.
I have been searching for information about Jack Scott (my husband’s family) for many years. The only information I had was the name Jack Scott, likely born in Kansas, his first wife’s name, and that he died in the 1970s. For years I got nowhere; too many Jack Scotts and with no birth date there was no way to narrow my search.
Recently I received some information about the family which included Jack’s middle name (Vernon) and the date of his death. With that I found census records, a marriage record and a listing in Find-a-Grave. Guess what? He is  buried in Woodmere Cemetery, Huntington, West Virginia! Two unrelated families (except for me), one from North Carolina, the other from Kansas and I found the family members I was looking for buried in the same cemetery Huntington, West Virginia. A true genealogy serendipity moment.
Last week, armed with a not so great map of a large cemetery and the temperature at 105°, I searched Woodmere cemetery for the graves of Aaron and Alice Gordon and Jack Vernon Scott. Certainly not the best time to walk a large cemetery but you can’t always choose your time. Here are the results:

The search for the Ellington family will continue on a cooler day.
A note about Woodmere cemetery; the office for both Ridgelawn and Woodmere are located at Ridgelawn Cemetery on Rt. 60 in Huntington. The staff there was patient and helpful when I ask for a map to find the graves. It took quite some time for them to copy the appropriate maps and mark the graves. As I was leaving I ask if there was an index and map of the cemetery online. If not I was going to volunteer to do so. I know some cemeteries are quite willing, while others don’t allow access to their information. Apparently, a local genealogy society has done an index in book form, which is available from them, but I found no complete listing online.  
Many West Virginia vital records can be found online at, but death certificates are withheld for 50 years, and births for 100 years. I tried to get a death certificate for Mary Elizabeth Ellington and Jack Vernon Scott from the Cabell County Courthouse but I was unable to get either one. I don’t know the year of Mary Elizabeth’s death and without it I couldn’t get a death certificate from the county. No death certificate was located for Jack Scott, even with the death date, so he might have died in another county. My next step will be the West Virginia Department of Vital Statistics in Charleston, West Virginia, and possibly a search of newspaper obituaries.


  1. I just saw found your website through Geneabloggers. Welcome to Geneabloggers.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  2. What a perfect story of serendipity. For some of us it might have occurred that we found the second family after the trip to the cemetery. Thank you for sharing, especially the pictures. I am posting a similar story on GopherGenealogy today. For us genealogists these things probably happen more than we even realize.