I have been fascinated with cemeteries for as long as I can remember. It feels a little morbid, but there is great history lurking among the grave markers! I’ve wandered through my fair share of cemeteries, too … sometimes just to imagine the lives of those buried in them.
As the family genealogy nut (one of them, anyway), I’ve often visited a specific cemetery to document family history. Such was the case when JD and I visited St. Peters Cemetery in St. Clair County, Illinois … just outside of Lenzburg. My Grandma Raines’ family settled this area many generations ago, and a great many ancestors are buried in the county’s various cemeteries.
St. Peters is somewhat small, and my ancestors take up a decent portion of it. It’s well maintained, to, so finding a grave marker is pretty easy.
My 3rd great grandparents, Philip Friedrich Schuster (1838-1912) and Friederika Sophia Arnold (1842-1920) are buried here.
Philip’s brother, Jacob (1833-1911), and his wife Anna Barbara Reinfrank (1838-1924) are also buried here.
All four, along with my Schuster 4th great grand parents, were born in Haßloch, Germany and routed their way to St. Clair County in the mid 19th century. Philip and Jacob married their wives in America. These families spoke only German for many generations – certainly in the home. My grandma’s dad spoke German more than English. My grandma, however, never spoke German … I’m not sure she knew the language well, if at all. That’s a another story for another time!
I’m fascinated by these gravestones because they are in German, which isn’t uncommon with older markers in this area. We’re heavy on German settlers. I’ve managed to translate (decipher?!) the ones that I’ve come across. Thankfully, they’ve only had basic birth and death information, along with names … only a few short sentiments on markers. I’ve learned a lot about the German language and culture, too … I suppose that’s all part of the journey we take in family history research.