I have been feeling like I haven’t been making any progress on my research lately. I feel like I’m looking at the same records for the same ancestors over and over again. I haven’t been able to find any new information on my ancestors and I was in somewhat of a research slump, to say the least. I decided that I needed to make the time to do some research. I wanted more than the few hours here and there that I could get in. I wanted to have some uninterrupted and guilt-free time to research. I needed a change of scenery from my laptop and my house. I had Columbus Day off, so I thought I could make a weekend out of it. Once I decided this is what I was going to do, next I had to figure out where would I be doing this uninterrupted research and what my focus would be?
I decided that my focus would be cemetery records. I have all of my great-grandparents’ death certificates, so I know where they are buried all but one, my great grandfather Oscar Wright. So I thought this would be a good chance to visit some cemeteries. Since I don’t know where Oscar is buried, I decided that I would do a little research on Woodruff County cemeteries during this research trip as well. Now that I knew what I was going to research, the next question is where would I do all of this research? I decided on my go to research center and collection, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock. I would be utilizing the James Logan Morgan Collection because the majority of this collection is from Jackson and Woodruff counties in Arkansas, and I knew it contained a large section on cemetery records.
I’ve been visiting the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies for a couple of years now always going through the James Logan Morgan Collection. This collection is special to me for many reasons, but mainly because I knew Mr. Morgan. He was a friend of our family for many years, and he attended the same church as my family in Newport. So when I first discovered his collection at the Butler Center I told everyone I knew about it and how large it is. Since I have been talking about this collection for two years now, trying to explain just how much information it has and all the records I have found for my own research, I thought this would be a good time to ask my mom to go with me and see the collection for herself. Not to mention that I needed someone to go to the cemeteries with me.
So we made the trip to the Butler Center on Saturday morning. We arrived just after 12pm, thinking back I should have let my mom look at the Morgan Collection finding aid before we left so she would be a little better prepared (note to self for our next visit). But she was able to find some records that she wanted to look at. And it was nice having a second set of eyes on what I was looking at as well. I was able to find during our time there that there are a few African American unnamed cemeteries in Howell, Arkansas, and Oscar’s name was listed as being there. I also found an obituary for my cousin who is researching her great-grandfather. We stayed at the Butler Center until a little after 4pm. After we left the Butler Center we went to visit my mom’s sister, and she and my mom reminisced about their youth, their father, their school days, and Newport. I was able to hear some stories and review some family history my Aunt Ninnie had compiled.
On Sunday we drove to Newport, and I often ask myself why I go places when it’s just my mom and I because we are both directionally challenged. But off we went on the hunt for cemeteries. But of course we weren’t able to find any of them on our own, but we really did try our hardest. We stopped by to see a family friend in town, and she was kind enough to drive us to Shoffner cemetery, Shiloh cemetery, and Odd Fellow cemetery. We walked all three cemeteries looking for our ancestors, and we found a few. On Monday morning my father and I went to Gum Grove cemetery and walked around and found some ancestors from his side of the family. And later that day we went to visit another family friend where I was able to listen to more stories about my mom’s youth and my grandmothers. I’m going to have to remember about taking pictures when I make trips like this again because I didn’t take one during this trip.
I’m getting better at asking people for help when it comes to this journey. This weekend is an example of that. I am learning that there are so many people that are willing to help me in whatever way they can whether it is taking me to cemeteries or joining me at a research center. My roots are in northeast Arkansas, and this journey is allowing me to spend more time there with family and friends. The more I share this journey with people, the more it feels like I’m not just researching for myself. My journey is now their journey as well. And this is why my journey continues….