One of the amazing things about historical research is that it can get personal. That’s personal as in meeting people and not just learning facts and figures. Another amazing thing is how one bit of research can branch off and head in another totally unintended yet fulfilling direction.
Take the Root family of Hatton, Michigan. T hey were the subject of a blog post a couple of weeks ago that sought to connect the now dead Clare County town of Hatton and two Root children buried in the township cemetery. The two died several years apart before the turn of the 20th century during a time when Hatton itself was dying. The town died because the lumber industry that had sparked its birth and life was over and most of the town’s 200 residents had moved on, including Chancey and Charity Root, parents of the two deceased children.
I visited the kids’ graves earlier this year and became curious why the parents were not buried near their children in the family plot. A huge stone with the word “Root” carved on it seemed to indicate would be the final resting place of the entire Root family.
In the course of my research, I contacted Virginia Braun, my mother-in-law and a gifted genealogist to see if she could tell me what happened to the two elder Roots. She immediately wrote back recommending I visit “Find A Grave (findagrave.com). It was there she had found the Roots’ finally resting place in a cemetery in nearby Gladwin County. Even better, she found photos and a family contact.
So I emailed that contact who was also the source of the Root family material. The contact, Ken, wrote back immediately, providing death certificates for the two Root children along with additional photos of the parents, Chancey and Charity Root some of which are shown below. (It also appears Chancey was married before but not sure if that union resulted in children or how long it lasted.)
From a few of the photos I saw, Chancey looked happy or at least (as in the photo at left) had a gleam in his eye. None of the photos shows his wife smiling. Not sure why. For sure, a woman’s life had to be hard, especially she was generally tasked with all the housechores, and they had to be many given she was raising and cooking for what might have been a family of 12. Adding to her sadness was the fact that at least two of their children died at young ages.
During our emails back and forth, Ken did ask something of me: He wanted to know if I could find out any information on a Delbert Root and whether a tombstone in the Hatton cemetery inscribed with the letters DEL might be the gravestone of Delbert.
I again turned to my mother-in-law who found a Delbert on the 1910 census when he was 16 and still living at home, which was now in the northeast corner of Clare County, near Gladwin County. Virginia also told me about Rootsweb (www.rootsweb.ancestry.com), part of Ancestry.com, saying that was another wonderful free source. (The fact that both the family and the Website share the same name is a coincidence.)
She added that she did not find a Social Security death record for Delbert. “Looks like he didn’t marry and no one filed for his death benefit,” she wrote. So it’s possible he died young. Because the stone in the photo is not in the Root family plot, I doubt the grave belonged to Delbert Root, but until evidence is found elsewhere, it’s difficult to say where Delbert is and who DEL was.
As for Chancey and Charity, may they rest in peace. Delbert? The search continues. And who knows who might help me this time around and where that help may come from?