Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Today Carissa and I awoke to a beautiful warm, breezy day in Algonac, Michigan. We had two tasks to complete: 1) visit the library to research Algonac, and 2) find my family's graves. 

The first task was easy. But first we ate an early lunch at Algonac Flaming Grill where we had the most delicious deep fried mushrooms ever! We loved all the food actually: roast beef dip and corned beef sandwiches, fries, and chicken dumpling soup. The best part was meeting Valerie, our waitress. Turns out she is from Huntington Beach, CA! She's lived here in Algonac for seven years and says the winters are dreadfully cold.

After lunch, Carissa and I headed for the library. I called ahead, and the very nice librarians there had already set aside a stack of books about the history of Algonac and Clay County for us. We thumbed through them, noted which ones to purchase once we got home, and then watched a video about Algonac's history. The photos from the 1930s are what really caught my attention. Also, there had been many resorts built here over the decades, and most of them burned down! We couldn't help but laugh every time the narrator said, "Such-and-such resort was built in 19--. It burned down in 19--." We lost count how many were destroyed that way.

We went back to the motel and while Carissa took a little nap, I got online to find the Algonac Cemetery. That turned out to be quite a challenge. Seems cemeteries here don't have detailed websites or even staff on hand to answer phones. I couldn't even find an Algonac Cemetery online. I knew
there was one because not only did my Aunt Larry tell me two of her children were buried there, but the owner of the motel mentioned it as well. So I knew it existed, but how would I find it?

Finally, after an hour of calling several wrong numbers (to wrong cemeteries and other cities), I was directed to the Clay County Township offices where I spoke to a lovely woman named Anita in the Treasury department. She looked up my family name, Reid, on the cemetery index and located their plots for me. When I asked where it was, she gave me directions. I asked if there was anyone on site to help me locate the graves. No, but she would give me a highlighted map of the cemetery, which was extremely helpful, as it turned out.

We stopped by the office, picked up our map, and headed to the cemetery. I think its official name is Oaklawn, though it doesn't seem to exist anywhere online, as I mentioned. I also hunted for the graves on Findagrave.com and could only locate Ross Reid. James H. Reid and Margaret Ann Reid (either of them, there are two) seemed also to not exist.

Carissa and I hunted in that cemetery for half an hour. We knew we were in the right place but we could not find any Reids. I called the office again and verified that yes, we were looking in the right place. Finally, Carissa spotted Ross Reid's headstone. Ross is my dear Aunt Larry's little boy who died in 1955 at only a year old. But to our dismay, there were no headstones for his sister, Margaret Ann Reid, or my great-great grandparents, James H. & Margaret Jane Reid. From the map, we determined that little Margaret Ann was buried to the right of her brother, and grandpa Reid was buried three plots to his left. There are three additional empty plots also owned by the family but that were never used.

Grandma Margaret Jane Reid, as it turns out, isn't buried there at all. She died in Eloise, MI, about an hour from here. So tomorrow's task will be to see if I can locate which cemetery she's buried in, and where that cemetery and her plot are located. 

As Carissa and I stood beside Ross Reid's grave and paid our respects, we couldn't help but feel a sense of incompleteness and even sadness at finding two family graves with no markers. We suspect that at the time of their deaths, perhaps their families couldn't afford the headstones. So it's understandable. But I so much wanted to see names there, I suppose for a sense of closure, and also to stand as a monument to those lives. Also, I was disappointed to realize that my great-great grandmother had not been buried beside her husband even though she had obviously purchased an entire section of plots for her family, including herself. The photo to the right is of the Reid family: on the bottom row are my great-grandpa James H. Reid and Margaret Jane Somerville Reid. My great-grandfather, Bertram Wallace Reid, is on the top row on the right end.

As this second day came to a close, Carissa and I had dinner at a nice Italian place nearby and then sat by the river to watch the sunset. We will now watch TV until we fall asleep.