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Guest Post: Pine Cone 2 — The Sequel

By: Anne (U.K.) - March 02, 2010

The numinous adventure of The Pine Cone Story continues …

After a paddle in the sea, and a picnic on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon, the weather suddenly turned. The sun was hidden by clouds, the heat became oppressive, the air humid. All seasoned campers will know the tell tale signs that a thunderstorm is on the way, and for us it led to a dilemma. We were planning to drive back to my mother’s house in London that night, after a visit to a second graveyard, but the thought of doing so with a damp tent was not appealing. After much pleading on my part, it was agreed to stop off at the second graveyard, in a place called Sturry, very close to Canterbury. By this point the offspring were tired, grumpy, and not nearly as co-operative as they had been earlier in the day. Not co-operative at all, in fact.

I was anxious to stop at the Churchyard in the hope of solving a second puzzle. I knew that George Jezzard, whose gravestone we had uncovered earlier that afternoon, had been born c.1735, but the whereabouts of his birth remained uncertain. Several others working on the line were convinced his father was one John Jezzard, born 1707 in Sturry, died 1777 in the same village. I had ordered a copy of John’s will, and John did indeed leave a large amount of money and land to a son George, in addition to bequeathing money and land to other named children. I had scoured the microfilm containing the Chislet Parish registers so often that it was on a permanent loan. I knew the names of some of John’s children, I knew the names of George’s children and they fit the naming patterns, but I couldn’t be sure.

I needed to find something which would convince me of the paternity of George Jezzard. I needed some sort of confirmation that John was ‘mine’; and for some reason, it felt as though the churchyard cemetery was the place to make the connection.

By the time we reached our destination, conditions were not good. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds which seemed to be lowering by the second. In contrast to our earlier visit, this churchyard was in a suburban area, but my heart sank upon realising that it was, in comparison, huge. Comparisons to needles in haystacks seemed wildly optimistic.

The offspring took one look, and wandered off, seeking shelter anywhere they could find it. My husband looked at the closest gravestone to hand, again covered in the same lichen and gunk as those in our earlier encounter in Chislet, and remarked ‘These are completely illegible. We can’t risk staying any length of time here.’ And off he wandered.

I walked along a couple of the paths of the cemetery, trying to read the stones, hoping to identify which area of the churchyard was oldest, but there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason to the layout of the graves. Although just past 5 pm, the gloom was deepening, but something said that the stone I was looking for was there, and it was up to me to fathom out how to find it. My heart sank still further as I spotted the rest of the family making their way back to the car.

Leaning against a tree trunk, closing my eyes, the only answer was to pray for help. This particular genealogical challenge was beyond me, and so the terms of the prayer were slightly assertive, along the lines of ‘If John was George’s father, help me find his stone within the next 10 minutes. Please. Thanks.’

Upon opening my eyes, the cemetery seemed darker still. I walked away from the tree and along a stone path which cut diagonally between two rows of stones, thus making attempts at reading inscriptions even more difficult as the gravestones were at an angle to the path. The path was uneven and worn with age, and stumbling slightly, I walked along blindly, frantically looking at gravestones as I passed, all illegible. Ready to admit defeat, unsure of exactly where I was in relation to the car, I looked ahead down the path, and from nowhere a ray of light broke through the clouds and, much further along the path ahead of me, illuminated four individual gravestones. Literally before my eyes, it became apparent that the unusual angle of the stones to the path, and the angle at which the sun shone on them, meant that it was possible to read the shadow of the inscriptions – exactly as described by blueagleranch in her response to the first pine cone story post (“ Photograph in raking sunlight when possible. You can use a mirror to focus light across the headstone”).

The largest stone was indeed that of John Jezzard. In addition to confirming his dates, it listed his wife (who had predeceased him) and numbered several of his children who had died in infancy. The adjoining stones were also family names.

Whilst scribbling down the inscriptions, the children appeared from nowhere with the camera, and I introduced them to their 7th x great grandfather. As soon as the inscriptions had been noted, the photos taken, and the formalities completed, the sun disappeared behind the clouds as suddenly as it had emerged, and the inscriptions on the relevant gravestones became as incomprehensible as they had been previously.

And before anyone asks, yes, we got the tent home bone dry. Truly a day of miracles!



19 Comments »

  1. A splendid account of a combination of hard work, faith, and inspiration!

    Comment by Alison — March 2, 2010 @ 8:09 am

  2. Thank you for this, Anne. Two things I think we too often forget: The Spirit of Elijah promise is a two-way one (the hearts of the fathers turn to the children, too — they want to be known as much as we want to know them, so if they can help us I believe they do), and, as Alison says, there is an element of hard work to go along with the faith. An experience like this wouldn’t happen if you weren’t out there looking for it.

    Wonderful writing, too. I didn’t even have to be in a graveyard or read this after dark to feel the storm clouds thickening!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 2, 2010 @ 8:46 am

  3. As kids my sisters and I used to call those rays of light shining through the clouds “the windows of heaven,” due to the imagery of the movie about Lorenzo Snow. It sounds like you really had a beautiful (and literal) “windows of heaven” experience.

    Comment by Researcher — March 2, 2010 @ 8:46 am

  4. Wow. Now I want to go explore graveyards.

    Comment by kew — March 2, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  5. Thanks for taking the time to record this second part of your story, Anne. Fantastic!

    Comment by Hunter — March 2, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  6. Two miracles, one day. This is amazing. Thanks for sharing, and the pictures are great, too. I have serious doubts, though, that in 300 years or more, our chapels will look anywhere near as cool as the couple you’ve shown in these stories. Plus the lack of adjacent graveyards is a loss, as well.

    Comment by kevinf — March 2, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  7. i am not much of a genealogist. In fact I often say, “I never touch the stuff”. I come from one of those families where “it has all been done.” And besides my impression of genealogy has always been “it is one big family row.” However, I was excitied when I realized that I had ancestors in the Palmyra, New York area predating the Smiths. I was In Palmyra with a 3rd cousin (long, odd story how our paths crossed.) We were just there for an afternoon “claiming” all the old family lands from a map provided for me by my dear friend, Don E., perhaps THE Palmyra expert in the Church. On a lark we decided to check out the East Palmyra cemetary for family graves. By the time we got to the cemetary the sky was getting dark. My cousin, who was from the Midwest, also pointed out a greenish tint to the sky, which she thought was quite ominous. Even with that it didn’t register with me that maybe we shouldn’t be out in a cemetery with so many tall trees on the cusp of a storm. But since we were there, and might never be there again, we decided to just take a look for a few minutes. Although neither of us had ever been here before we walked straight back into the cemetery from the car and came face to face with the graves of Joshua and Elizabeth Terry, our common ancestors. We quickly took pictures and ran back to the car, just as large drops of rain were starting to fall. Before we had the car doors completely shut and our seatbelts on we were in the midst of a drenching downpour and howling winds. Finding those graves so fast seemed quite providential. I have been back there since and even with the pictures and “all the time in the world” I couldn’t find those graves again.

    Comment by Marjorie Conder — March 2, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  8. And even that didn’t convert you to genealogy, Marjorie? :)

    Henry Z. Jones wrote a couple of books 10 or 20 years ago called Psychic Roots and More Psychic Roots simply stuffed with stories like this sent to him. He didn’t really think those events were “psychic” in the usual sense of the term, but he couldn’t find an English word that really captured the experience. I can’t either — I use “numinous” because I don’t like “ghostly” or “eerie” or “spooky,” and I believe they are far more than coincidence or serendipity.

    You’re lucky to have tasted that, Marjorie, if you haven’t spent much time in cemeteries.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 2, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  9. Actually I’ve spent a lot of time in cemeteries. I am amrried to a throughgoing genealogist and I do try to be supportive. At the present time, between the two of us we have 19 direct ancestors in two cemeteries in neighboring towns. We decorate all those graves virtually every year. For quite a few years we have taken grandchildren with us along with portrait pedigree charts with the people in each cemetary highlighted. We point out who they are and how they fit in with our grandkids. We also tell short relevant stories. Two of the walls in our family room are covered with photos. I call them “roots and branches”. In the pictures on the one wall there is at least one direct ancestor of our children in each picture. On the other wall are our descendents. Even though I just don’t do traditional genealogy, I do think connections to the past are important and we try to pass that on.

    Comment by Marjorie Conder — March 2, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  10. Oh, okay — thanks for the correction. Surely it’s just as important to “translate” genealogy from the raw sources to something that has meaning for family members.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 2, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  11. Thanks for telling us your second story, Anne. I love this!

    Comment by ellen — March 2, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  12. I have done a lot of cemetery prowling and have a knack for easily finding the gravestones I am looking for. For that reason, I love Anne’s stories and also Marjorie’s account.

    My favorite story is about the family of Maria Streeper and her husband John Culp. I was searching the records of St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Barren Hill, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania for some of my Streeper relatives when I found John and Maria’s family. For some reason, this family on a collateral line spoke to me. Later that afternoon I was looking in a census record (this was in the days before digital census records) again for my ancesters, and found the family of John and Maria. The census showed several more children in the family than the church record had shown. I got all emotional and had to wipe away some tears. About fifteen minutes later I leaned over to my sister Leslie to tell her what had happened to me, and started choking up again. The same thing happened to me when I got home and told my husband.

    A few years later, Leslie and I had been doing research around Philadelphia and Montgomery County towns where our ancestors came from. The last morning, we left Philadelphia to drive to Pittsburg where her daughter lived, hoping to have some time to play with the grandkids that night. I told Leslie that we had to stop at St Peter’s church at Barren Hill so that I could find John and Maria’s graves. Maria’s great grandfather, brother to my 5th great grandfather, had donated the land for the cemetery and church, and most of the people in the huge cemetery were Streeper related people.

    We pulled up to the parking lot across the street from the church. It was Sunday morning and there was singing coming from the old church. There were gravestones everywhere from each side of the church, going around the back and down a hill. As much as Leslie enjoyed the hunt of research, she wanted to go play with her grandkids, so she was reluctant to wander all over the cemetery. I dug in my feet and told her I wasn’t leaving until I had located the graves of John and Maria. I decided to start on the left side of the church, then wend my way around the back, down the hill, then up on the right side. I crossed the street from the parking lot, stepped over the curb, and the first two gravestones next to the curb were John Culp and Maria Streeper.

    Since then I have wondered why it was so important for me to research this family, but I still have a real personal connection to them.

    Comment by Maurine — March 2, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  13. Thank you all for your comments, and also for sharing other graveyard experiences- I love to read them! Given that our ancestors are so long gone, and in many cases the places in which they lived entirely redeveloped, I’d suggest that the most likely place to get closer to them is probably where they were laid to rest. In many cases this will also be in the grounds of the churches where they were christened and married, and their children were likewise. Factor in the feeling of reverence one always feels within the confines of any sacred area, and such combination opens up conduits for inspiration and guidance we may not feel elsewhere.

    Ardis, I haven’t heard of the books to which you refer- must look them out.

    I once stayed as a guest of a Scandinavian family who have pioneer ancestors going back to the early days of the Church. My base for my visit was the room in which the grandchildren usually stayed, and on one wall was painted the most wonderful tree, with roots and branches and portraits of family members attached to the appropriate root or branch. Fascinating to ponder as I drifted off to the land of Nod!

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — March 3, 2010 @ 4:28 am

  14. Anne, part 2 was as good as part 1. Thanks.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 3, 2010 @ 7:03 am

  15. The Holy Ghost is like unto a GPS. He can lead you right where you need to go. Cornelious was directed to Peter. Peter was given a heads-up to expect the messengers from Cornelius. Alma told to go back to Ammonihah. Amulek was given a heads up to be on the look-out for him. Phillip, in Acts 8:26+ was directed to the Ethiopian in the chariot who was a golden investigator ready for baptism.

    How often does the Lord (through His Spirit) try to give us directions of where to go (or what to do) in order to accomplish His purposes, but we either A) aren’t listening, B) aren’t making efforts to accomplish His purposes, or C) dismiss the guidance thinking “Oh, that must be my imagination. The Lord would never tell me something like that.”

    “… and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide,…” D&C 45:57.

    “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6.

    “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. ” Isaiah 42:16.

    I think that in regards to us mortals, the 3 major purposes of the Lord are the 3 major purposes of the church: redeem the dead (genealogy/temple work), perfect the saints (families, home/visiting teaching, youth programs), proclaim the gospel (missionary work).

    Anne illustrated an important sequence of keys to unlocking the revelation/inspiration faucet: a) prepare first, then b) go out and do, and be engaged in the purpose that the Lord wants to accomplish, c) believe in revelation/guidance, d) listen for the revelation/guidance, e) then act on it.

    Comment by Bookslinger — March 4, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  16. Very nice analysis and conclusion, Bookslinger. Thanks. You’ve had a great deal of experience trying to discern and follow that GPS with your Book of Mormon project, I think.

    (Most readers are probably familiar with Books’s “Flooding the Earth” work, but if you aren’t, do yourself a favor: Click on his link — his name at the bottom of his comment — and explore his blog.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 5, 2010 @ 4:40 am

  17. Hi Anne

    Wonderful story there! I am a direct descendent of those you mention also (only just found out) via the Jezard line marrying the Finch line, then the Finch line marrying the Cleaver’s who all come from the Chislet/Reculver/Herne areas. I dont have this but on my tree yet but have down from Ann Jezard who married Edward Finch.

    Would love to know any further information you have. My website is listed above and the password is whitecliffs

    Many thanks – look forward to hearing from you

    Terry

    Comment by Terry — March 29, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

  18. I am tracing the same Jezard family as you! I am descended from Ann sister of George Jezard of Chislet. I’d love to share my research with you so please drop me an email. I’ve spent today pursuing earlier generations of Jezards in the Sturry poor rates.

    Comment by Virginia — October 23, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  19. Hello There,
    Have read 2010 articles with great interest. My husband is descended form David Jezard son of John and Ann. Have yet to discover any earlier ancestors of his.
    As we now live in the area, could search memorials for Jezards.
    Regards Everyone

    Comment by ELIZABETH JEZARD — August 30, 2011 @ 5:19 am

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