Visiting the Ancestors

This story started last summer.  I was contacted by a gentleman in Linn County, Iowa and he wanted to know if I was related to a John Kirkpatrick.  imageHe had seen my family tree online.  My first thought was he would be a distant relative.  The Kirkpatricks I knew were either William or Andrew.  I looked through the family history and sure enough he was my great-great-great-great grandfather.  I replied that yes I was a direct descendant and would be happy to scan and email the information.  A few weeks later I received an email with a link to an article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  The article mentioned me and how I had provided the information on this war veteran (War of 1812).


People thought he was traveling through on a wagon train, had passed away and buried there.  imageIn fact John Kirkpatrick and his wife Anna were buried in a pasture on their farm.  The original headstones have fallen over and broken.  The pieces remain at the gravesite.  A new headstone has been put in place as John Kirkpatrick is a war veteran.


While searching for fall color yesterday I decided to stop at the gravesite. Although I didn’t have an address, I did have directions. As I was driving through the subdivision and looking at my GPS unit, it was telling me to go down the street with a cul-de-sac. At the same time my husband and I were on the phone and I said “this is weird, the GPS unit is taking me right to the gravesite”. He said it would if I put in the address. I replied I didn’t know the address and didn’t type anything in.

I saw a couple of gentlemen outside talking and stopped to ask about the gravesite. Sure enough this was the street! I explained that I was a descendant and wanted to see the gravesite. They were excited to meet me. Driving further down the street I parked across from the gravesite and walked up the hill image. There is a park bench beneath a very tall cherry tree. I sat for a few minutes looking around at the nearby countryside, wondering what the farm would have looked like. Was the house a log cabin? Did John Kirkpatrick plant crops or have livestock or maybe both?

Another gentlemen pulled into a driveway across from the gravesite. We both said hello and I stated I was a descendant of John Kirkpatrick. He was very excited to meet me and said several of the neighbors would be interested in meeting me. He was curious about the Kirkpatrick family. I told him they were originally from Scotland and several of my ancestors were war veterans. He asked about how to get in touch with me and I told him my business cards were in my car and that I am an outdoor photographer. I handed him a few cards and we said good-bye.

I plan on visiting the gravesite again while here in the Midwest. Who knows, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to meet the neighbors!


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