Our time in Ohio wasn't the only relaxed portion of this recent journey; we took some extra time getting there too. It included an overnight stay plus half the following day in Louisville, Kentucky.
When my family history research turns up a book I'm interested in, I print out details on the book from WorldCat and tuck it away in a folder for future travel. WorldCat, if you're not familiar with it, is a cool way to find the nearest library that has the books I'm looking for or to see if any of the books are located in cities we'll be visiting. And, fortunately for me, several were available in Louisville. My morning plans were set.
It didn't take Wayne long to figure out what he'd be doing; he'd cache and he set out to gather an inventory of interesting caches to find in a new city. It wasn't long before he came looking for me. He'd located a cache in Cave Hill Cemetery and he thought I might be interested in going with him as not only was it designed as a garden-style cemetery with winding paths, lakes and beautiful architecture but it's also on the National Register of Historic Places. Interested? Heck, yes...because not only did it sound beautiful but I knew he had relatives buried there.
Well, at least Find-a-Grave said he did. Find-a-Grave...there's another handy website. It's an online database for cemeteries all over the country. Volunteers canvas individual cemeteries recording information off of the headstones then uploading it to the website. Often other information is added, such as names of related family members and even links to their Find-a-Grave entries. Find-a-Grave said Wayne's ancestor was buried at Cave Hill Cemetery but the cemetery's searchable database did not have him listed. Wayne emailed the individual who prepared the Find-a-Grave entry and got the section and lot where Nickolaus Herchenroeder, his great-great grandfather, was supposed to be buried.
To say there are winding paths would be an understatement. First of all, the cemetery is huge! It's more than 120,000 graves spread over 296 acres and they are still actively burying people there. To complicate matters more, it's not laid out in straight rows either. Above is the map so you can see all the curvy, loopy roads which, for the most part, circle around small hills, statues and landscaped areas. The graves all follow those same curves. If you could see it from the air, it must look like a giant, swirly flower
And it is beautiful. I've never seen so many large personal mausoleums, some the size of small houses. And there were elaborate personal monuments too, some stretching nearly two stories high. Everywhere we looked there were intricately carved headstones, each one more unique than the last. More than 5,500 soldiers killed in the Civil War, both Union and Confederate, are buried there and a famous colonel of another kind, Colonel Harlan Sanders, is among the famous Kentuckians buried there too. I could have wandered through there for hours but we had Nickolaus and a cache to find.
The former proved much tougher than the latter.
Here's a map of Section A with a red X marking the lot where Nickolaus was supposedly buried. Section A is at the very bottom on the right in the overall map above, giving you some idea of the scale of this place. You can also see how the plots all bend and curve with the streets. There are anywhere from four to eight headstones in each plot, depending on the size of the memorials and stones. We found Section A easily but it took us a while to figure out the system and locate Lot 94. When we did, it was obvious Nickolaus wasn't resting where we thought he was.
Back we went to the security guard at the front gate. Yes, there's an entire security force for this cemetery. Some of them may be needed to rescue visitors lost in the maze of roads. He tried searching the onsite database and could only find the son Nicholaus Herchenroeder, who died six years after his father. He suggested we visit the office to see if the actual paper records would reveal the answer.
A very nice man at the administrative office looked in his computer, checked several filing cabinets of records and then announced quite assuredly that Nickolaus Herchenroeder, the father, was not buried there. His theory was the one grave they had under that name was the father who'd died in 1888 but was buried elsewhere then reburied in 1894, thus producing the entry in the computer. We were skeptical but he seemed so sure. Then he suggested we follow him out to where the 1894 grave was located and we'd see what was on the stone. It sounded like a plan.
I couldn't tell you the route we took because we made so many twists and turns but about half-way there, another car pulled up to the administrative man we were following. They talked for a few minutes but I didn't think much about it, figuring it was other cemetery business. Then the car pulled off and the administrative guy followed him. With us in the rear we had our own mini-procession.
When we all stopped, we were surprised to see the security guard we had talked at the entrance jump out of the lead car and bolt over to a small stone, pointing at it with an enormous grin on his face. He'd found our Nickolaus Herchenroeder. Acting on a hunch, he went to the very back corner of Section A in what is called Range A then walked up and down the rows until he located the grave.
This will give you an idea of how far away we ended up from the place where we started looking. The location of Nickolaus Herchenroeder's grave is marked with a blue X.
The security guard was obviously proud of his discovery and rightfully so. It would have been easy for him to stay at the front entrance and figure it was someone else's job to solve our mystery but he didn't, and for that we are grateful as we'd have never found it on our own. And the administrative guy was unusually quiet, obviously a little taken aback that his records were lacking although I suspect the information is in there in some other form. The name Herchenroeder has been spelled a dozen different ways in what I've been able to find on the family. The grave we were heading for was just across that little road and down a stone or two and it is definitely Nicholaus, the son. It was close but not close enough we'd have likely found the father without the efforts of the security guard.
It didn't take Wayne more than a couple of minutes to locate the cache he was seeking in another part of the cemetery...he had the GPS coordinates for it. Neither of us minded that it took us a good bit more time to work our way out of the cemetery as there was something unusual and intriguing at every turn.
For two people who have no intentions of being buried, we sure spend a lot of time in cemeteries but you never know what adventures lie between the tombstones.