Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another tombstone tale ...

… and then I’ll get off this “Find A Grave” kick. These tales are related, remember, to tombstone photos I found last week while revisiting the Find A Grave Web site.

The water is going down in Iowa this week, leaving an awful and costly mess behind in places like Cedar Rapids that went under. The Mississippi was expected to crest today at Keokuk --- and that’s as far south as Iowa goes.

I’ve been looking at reports this morning from Sam and Frank Fiorella, whose Pendemonium is high and dry on Fort Madison’s main street, although Riverside Park has been (and probably still is) under water. You can find that coverage, if interested, by going to the Pendemonium Web site here.

Anyhow, back to the tombstones. Justin Hayes, M.D., is one of those interesting characters who turn up in obscure corners of family trees. I’ve always had trouble sticking to my own kind of boring direct lines when someone like Justin turns up --- and finally decided that’s just fine. I’m not out to prove anything with my genealogical pursuits, just having a little (lots) of fun.

Justin is a member of my vast Miller clan. His mother, Abigail (Miller) Hayes/Bell/Beebe, was a sister of my great-great-great-grandfather, William Miller II. Two of the Miller siblings of that generation, William II and George, spent some of the best years of their lives trekking around the countryside with Joseph Smith and his first Mormons, finally getting chased out Missouri with the Saints in the late 1830s. William and his wife, Miriam (Trescott) Miller, and their family landed first in Van Buren County, Iowa, then in 1843 jumped the Des Moines River and settled in Monroe County, out in the hills east of Albia, when it was opened for settlement. They were joined there first by the widow and children of William’s brother, Stephen, who had only a minimal relationship with the Mormons; then by George; and finally by Abigail, who acquired her third husband, Ira Beebe, in Monroe County before heading on west into Kansas with another of her sons, Horace Hayes. Justin’s and Horace’s father was Abigail’s first husband, Cephas Hayes.

Justin remained behind in Ohio, where he became a physician; and then moved on to Chicago where he became quite a medical celebrity. For better or worse, he was a pioneer in the use of electricity to treat “nervous” disorders. OK, think shock treatments. His treatment center in Chicago was called the Medical and Electrical Institute for the Treatment of Nervous and Chronic Diseases (now that’s a mouthful) and his best known scholarly publication, entitled, "Electro-Thermal Bath, with History of Cases," was published in 1877.

He and his wife, Julia (Haven) Hayes, also named a son Plymmon Sanford Hayes --- one of my favorite names in the whole wide world. Lord only knows why they did that, but I’m glad they did.

Justin (26 October 1823-6 March 1892) died at Western Springs, Illinois, and was buried here in what is now known as Bronswood Cemetery, Oak Brook, near Chicago --- although the cemetery has had various names as the years have passed.

Julia and a daughter, Grace Justina, also are buried here, but from the looks of things their graves are unmarked. Death was kind of hard on the family as the century turned. Son Plymmon (buried elsewhere), also a physician, died 14 May 1894; daughter Grace, on 24 October 1902; and Julia, on 23 October 1903.

Although the big tombstone is quite nice, apparently the remaining family members couldn’t be bothered to place inscriptions for Julia and Grace on it.

In one of those odd genealogical twists, the Plymmon Hayes family Bible and some other related documents turned up in the attic of a Chicago-area house under renovation a couple of years ago --- and I was lucky enough to end up with copies. So I know much more about this branch of the family than I ever thought I would.

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