Friday, July 26, 2013

Grave Hunting: Cozean Style

The Cozean family has been in Southeast Missouri since around the 1830’s.  Five years ago, my dad and aunt took us to the cemetery in Madison Co. where most of the Cozeans are buried.  Snowdenville Holler Cemetery is in the town of Cornwall.  Elias Milburn Cozean and his wife Martha Ellen Stephens Cozean were my great-grandparents.  I was astonished to see the graves of my ancestors and relatives and caught the genealogy bug.  I joined the team of family researchers headed up by Virginia Cozean Holter and my dad Jack Cozean.

Elva Rinke and Rolla Cozean graves
Elias Milburn and Martha Ellen Cozean at Snowdenville
The earliest Cozean discovered by Virginia was George Washington Cozean, who appeared in northern Arkansas.  He married Eliza Jane White and had four children.  A contact of Virginia’s led her to the discovery of George’s father Milburn Cozean who had married into the Tucker family of Nashville, Tennessee.    Some of those Tuckers took George to Arkansas and also migrated to Missouri.
We recently traveled to Missouri to visit relatives and meet up with my dad and sister.  I thought it might be interesting to try to find the graves of some of the Tucker relatives.  My dad decided to join me.  Now in Missouri, many cemeteries are affiliated with churches.  Others however, were family burial sites on family land.  These small old cemeteries were the ones that looked promising.
One afternoon we went in search of the Hahn Family Cemetery.  It was pretty close to Farmington where we were staying.  From reading the different lists of internments online, I hoped to find graves for some children of William Riggs Tucker, who was George Washington Cozean’s uncle.  It would be even sweeter to find where William Riggs Tucker was buried. We drove down highway OO to T in St. Francois County.  Down the road, we noticed a small cemetery next to an old church on the right hand side.  That wasn’t the one we were looking for.  We kept driving until we came to a newer church where two cars with people inside were parked.  We asked them about the cemetery, but these people did not live in the area.  We turned around to go back to the first cemetery we had seen just to check it out.  There was a house next to it where a man and woman were leaving to get into a car.  My dad hopped out and introduced himself.  This was a Mr. Barron.  We are also related to the Barron Family.  He knew of the Cozean family through my cousin Jon who runs the Cozean Funeral Home.  Mr. Barron did not know how to tell us to get to the cemetery we were looking for, but he knew someone who could help us.  He went into the house and returned with a name and phone number.  There was a Mrs. Clifton who lived down the road who had done lots of recording of area cemeteries.  He told us to call her or just go by her house.  I had no cellular signal, so we thought she would be expecting us to call or come by.  We drove down the road a bit and found her house.  Mrs. Clifton came out to greet us carrying a large binder full of handwritten records.  She invited us in to have a look at what she had.  I was floored at the amount of work this lady had done.  She had visited about 40 cemeteries in the area and written down all of the names of people buried there.  She had taken a few photos as well.  She became interested in connecting the names with families she found.  Local residents would tell her information which she would record in her binder.  Others would contact her for help with their family trees.
Mrs. Clifton gave us the phone number of the property owner to call to help us find the Hahn Cemetery.  It was on private property, and she didn’t know what condition it was in since there had been a huge storm a few years back.  My dad and I left our contact information with Mrs. Clifton and headed back to Farmington since it would be dark soon.  She asked me to let her know if I found birth and death dates for a certain Tucker she had in her book, in case someone else needed that information.
That evening, I called the Brooks family.  Mrs. Brooks told us that the cemetery was covered in thick brush and that there might be snakes.  I didn’t think it was a good place for my dad and me to be wandering through.  The snakes were definitely a deterrent to me.  Mrs. Brooks did say that she had photographed most of the headstones and that she would email photos to me of the people I was interested in and their relations.  A little while later, some wonderful pictures appeared in my inbox.  Although we did not get to see the cemetery in person, thanks to Mrs. Brooks, we now have photos from there.
Cousin of George Washington Cozean
I was in awe of these local Missouri residents who were so kind and helpful.  My dad and I were total strangers to them, yet they treated us like one of their own.
The next day, Dad and I set out to find the Barron-Gordon Cemetery which seemed pretty simple to find.  There was an area called the Crossroads, where the town of Libertyville was located.  We found a cemetery with an old church and stopped to check it out.  There were no Barrons here, but there was one Tucker.  I don’t believe he was one of ours.
Dad and I drove down a different road and found another cemetery.  There were no names here that were familiar.  It was a Methodist cemetery.
Looking for family names

At this point, I was getting discouraged.  Sunday we decided to give it one more try.  In the neighboring county of Madison, was the Stephens Cemetery.  My GPS seemed to recognize its name and could navigate us there.  So we headed out toward the town of Marquand, MO.  It was about a 45 minute drive from Farmington.

We were getting close.  The GPS told me to turn right into a wooded area.  There was no right except for a driveway.  We turned around in a church parking lot and drove back and down the unpaved driveway slowly.   There were lots of warning signs posted.  I hoped that the rental car could handle the off-roading we were doing.  We drove further and further into the woods.  The road ended at someone’s house.  There was a metal bar door on the building like you would see in a rough neighborhood in the city.  My dad commented that at any moment someone might come out of that house with a shotgun.  We turned around and drove back to the main road. 

Lost in the woods

The GPS recalibrated at the church parking lot and said to continue down the main road for one mile then turn onto a state highway.  We found the small state highway and started down.  There was a house not far off the road.  My dad got out to ask if the owners knew of the cemetery.  They did and told us to go down the road and take a left.  We went left, but then found a fork.  We ended up at another house, but no one appeared to be home.  We went back up the road and turned into another driveway.  There were people outside, so once again my dad got out of the car and introduced himself.  The wood carved name on the house read Stephens.  There was an older man sitting on the porch.  He told us we had missed the cemetery by one driveway.  He apparently had been watching us.  We chatted with him just a bit and realized he was probably related to us.
Back down the driveway we went and up the one before it.  At the end of that drive was a cemetery!!!  We had at last found success!  We were 1 for 3 finding cemeteries. We looked around and found plenty of Stephens’ that we were related to.
Stephens Cemetery Marquand MO

We knew from cemetery records that there was a Cozean who married into the Stephens family buried there.  Sarah Matilda Cozean Stephens was the daughter of George Washington Cozean.  Then we found someone totally unexpected; the wife of George, Eliza Jane White Cozean!  She was not listed on any of the records of that cemetery.  Eliza Jane had remarried after George died.  Her second husband, an Underwood, was an abusive drunk.  She divorced him; a brave move for a woman back in that day.  We think that Eliza Jane must have lived her remaining years with her daughter Sarah.  Dad and I were ecstatic at our discovery.  Finding the grave of Eliza Jane White Cozean made up for all of the driving around through the deep woods, and being unsuccessful the previous days.  This woman was my dad’s great-grandmother and my great-great-grandmother.

Dad with Eliza Jane White Cozean

Eliza Jane White Cozean

Sarah Matilda Cozean Stephens

I plan to return to Missouri and look for the graves of our ancestors.  I would love to find where George Washington Cozean is buried, as well as other Tuckers that relocated from Tennessee to Missouri and Arkansas.  Next time, we will be better prepared to find these well-hidden cemeteries.  I realized that I cannot rely on the GPS on my phone.  We will need to know coordinates ahead of time, use a real GPS and get exact directions to the locations.  We may need to get permission from property owners too.  And some heavy duty high boots and bug spray wouldn’t hurt either. 

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