Random Acts of Cemetery Kindness – Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts

by Don Taylor

During my recent trip to Detroit, one of my newly-met half-sisters, Beverly, and I had the opportunity to visit the Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock, MI.  Our common grandmother Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts is buried there. Also, two of Essie’s children (an aunt and an uncle to us) are buried nearby.

I had done my homework before arriving. I downloaded an overall map of the cemetery and then contacted the cemetery for locations of the specific individuals.  They were most helpful. I received the specific plot numbers for the people and I received a detailed map of the plots from the cemetery staff.

Marker – Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts
Beloved Mother – 1903-1982
Photo by Don Taylor

When we arrived at the cemetery, we were able to park very close to where the plots were. It was Memorial Day 2016, and the cemetery had many people. When we found the marker a nice man, whose family member was buried a few yards away, offered to help us clean up the site and make it look better as it was quite overgrown. He then came over with a trimmer, blower, water bottle and paper towels and made quick work of cleaning up the marker. The difference was amazing. No longer did the grass encroach upon the bronze plaque, but was cleanly off the encircling cement as well. It just looked so clean, so fresh. We thanked our new friend for his work.

Marker – Aunt Pansy (Roberts) Romer
1922-1987
Photo by Don Taylor

As Murphy would have it, when we reversed the flower cup to add flowers direct from Beverly’s garden mud and goop came out and dropped onto the bronze plaque. So we had to wipe the marker down again. We added the flowers and said our respects.

Next to Pansy’s marker is the marker of her daughter, our aunt, Pansy Marie and her husband, Edward Harold Romer.  Our anonymous friend had also trimmed up their marker. We thanked him profusely for his efforts once again. We paid our respects there and moved on to Uncle John’s marker.

Marker – John H Roberts
(photo shot from top and inverted)
Photo by Don Taylor

Uncle John, and his wife Isabel, Roberts’ marker was the least encroached upon of the markers before we arrived. Our friend didn’t clean that one up. He asked if we wanted him to do so, but it really didn’t need it like the other ones did. Again, we paid respects to Uncle John and his wife.
Then we returned to Essie’s marker. It was really moving for me to introduce myself to a grandmother I had never known and who never knew that I existed. But from everything my cousins and siblings say, she would have embraced me and loved me completely and totally had she known of me. I miss never having had the chance to know “Gran” first-hand.

Marker: Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts with flowers
Photo by Don Taylor

Future Actions:
Collect stories and memories from the siblings and cousins regarding Essie so that I may get to know her.

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Find a Grave & the Cobb County Cemetery Book.

Find a Grave & the Cobb County Cemetery Book.

I regularly volunteer to fulfill requests with Find A Grave. I love them and what they are doing. They are a great resource for unofficial death records.  They provide a great place to remember people who have past, and, most importantly, they are a source for photos of the markers of your ancestors.  If there is not a photo there, you can request one and a volunteer, like me, will go to the cemetery, take a photo of the marker, and upload it to the website. 
Some time ago I volunteered to photograph a marker.  I walked the entire cemetery and couldn’t find it.  I put it back into the queue figuring someone else would find it. Another person tried and marked the memorial that he couldn’t find it either.  Every time I went onto the Find A Grave site looking for markers that people want photos of there it was, staring at me.  Then I had an idea….
The Smyrna Historical and Genelogical Society has a small research library filled with books of genealogical interest.  Among the many books and magazines I found a book on Cobb County Cemeteries. Back in the 1980s, surveys were taken of the various cemeteries in Cobb County. This individual died in 1922 so she should have been listed.  She was listed as being in plot 12.  I also found that the other people in plot 12 were N.C. Meadows and Mattie Meadows.  Also in the plot were Catherine Loveless and Lula West. It is not a huge cemetery, but it isn’t that small either.  I wondered where plot 1 was so I could find plot 12 easily. 
From the book I wrote down…

1 – Pinson
2 – Byers
3 – Hanson
6 – Rakestraw
9 – Brown
12 – Meadows

I figured that with that information, I could find any of them and figure out the numbering scheme. 
I went up to the cemetery, drove slowly through the cemetery and didn’t see any of the names. I figured that meant that the numbering didn’t go horizontally across but rather from one corner away from the road. I parked the car near one of the corners and started to head to the corner. On the way I saw the Rakestraw marker and made a beeline to it. Yup. It looked about six plots away from the road. Three more markers up the hill was a Brown plot, I was getting close.  There they were, N.C. Meadows, Mattie Meadows, and a small unreadable marker.  Getting close to it I could just make out “AT REST”.  It was knocked partially over (down to about 30 degrees). I gently reached behind it and could feel lettering.  I carefully lifted the marker upright and could see it was the marker I was looking for.  I photographed it and set the marker back to vertical. It still faces out of the cemetery.  I figure that is what the family originally wanted. So, little infant Pauline remains “at rest” but a photo of her marker is now on Find A Grave.
Smyrna Museum
The Cobb County Cemeteries Book at the Smyrna Museum is one of many books that that can be of great assistance to your genealogical and volunteer activities.  Stop by during normal hours of operations and someone can assist you in the reference room. Stop by on a Tuesday morning (when I volunteer) and I’ll give you a brief tour.