Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Let him step to the music which he hears ...."

Had circumstances been different yesterday (like that foot of snow and impassable roads), I'd have driven out to Waynick Cemetery southwest of town to look up Jefferson Waynick. These photos were taken on Memorial Day a few years ago. Since then, the old graveyard has been taken in hand by the Pioneer Cemetery Commission and tidied up.

Not that I'd have been able to find a tombstone --- Jefferson doesn't have one --- but most likely he's buried near the marked graves of his parents, Solomon D. and Levisa (Wilson) Waynick, and sister, Ermina, so I'd have been able to come close. His brother, William, probably is buried here, too.

Jefferson, although almost entirely forgotten, seems to have been one of those guys who marched to the beat of a different drummer --- a familiar way of expressing Thoreau's well-known "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away."

And Jefferson did that, even to the extent of retreating, like Thoreau, to a one-room cabin in the woods late in life --- where he died. We know he was born in Putnam County, Indiana, on Dec. 20, 1851, and came to Lucas County with his parents and older brothers, William and Henry, when he was a year old. Younger siblings Ermina and Dow came along later.

He died alone in that cabin some time during late August of 1926, but since his remains were not discovered for several days it's impossible to say exactly when. There was no suggestions of foul play --- all indications were that he just died --- in his 75th year.

I'll spare you the full obituary, which appeared in The Herald-Patriot of Sept. 2, 1926, in large part because newspaper writers of that era amused themselves by going into great detail about the condition of mortal remains when discovered in unusual circumstances. Sufficient to say, Jefferson was interred hurriedly in Waynick on the evening of the day his body was found.

But newspaper writers also went to the trouble, back in the old days, of exploring the characters of their deceased neighbors --- so we actually know a few things about Jefferson. Some of that comes out in the four-deck headline that introduced the story concerning his death and burial:

Jefferson Waynick Passed Away Alone in His Secluded Home in the Country
He Had Long Secluded Himself from Public and Found Pleasure in Playing Violin and Reading

Jefferson had worked on the family farm throughout his life and until several months before his death had shared the home there, five miles southwest of Chariton, with his maiden sister, Ermina, and bachelor brother, William.

But several months before his death, according to the Herald-Patriot report, "he had asked permission of Mr. Rex Bonnett to erect a cabin in the woods on the Bonnett farm, and there his last days were spent."

"During his lifetime," the report goes on, Jefferson "was something of a student and a great reader, especially of history and current events, and also a writer of no mean ability, and in his younger days was a contributor to various magazines and periodicals, and if he had a hobby above anything else it was to trace out quaint historic events and portray them on parchment. On such things as these and statistics he was an authority. He also loved to court the Muses and was gifted in music so far as his opportunities would permit, and was a composer, leaving many songs written and placed upon the scale as his personal work."

So far as I know, nothing that Jefferson Waynick created survived. I'm grateful that the newspaper editor of that time invested the time and trouble required to leave this faint record of him.


When I opened the cemetery book this morning to check Waynick burials, this article from The Chariton Herald of June 26, 1902, fell out. So here's a little history of the cemetery itself:


The old and well known Waynick cemetery, located about four miles southwest of town, is to be kept in first class shape in the future, as a company known as the Waynick Cemetery Association has been formed to take charge of it and keep it in proper condition. This old burying ground is one of the land marks of the county. It was laid out in 1854, by Peter Waynick and his son-in-law, Samuel Francis. It consists of two acres in Section One, Warren township, and until 1889 it was owned by the gentlemen named. In that year it was trasferred to J.T. Crozier, A.E. Dent and H.G. Curtis, who now deed their title and interest to the association just formed. Mr. J.T. Crozier is president of the Association, Miss May B. Waynick is secretary and H.G. Curtis is treasurer. By-laws and rules governing the cemetery have been drawn up, and everything will be done to keep the spot sacred and in good order.

Waynick also is the burial place of my Quaker great-great-grandmother, Eliza Jane (Brown) Dent/Chynoweth; her second husband, Joseph Turner Chynoweth; their daughter, Mary (Chynoweth) Collins; J.T. Chynoweth's parets, William and Bridget "Biddy" (Turner) Chynoweth, and a variety of other Chynoweth descendants.

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