Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Wagner Family headstones and more

On October 16, I got to take a very cool family trip. I drove up with my wife, kids, parents, and grandparents up to Monroe, Washington, where my great-grandparents Rosie and Charles Wagner lived for many years. It wasn't that far of a drive, and I was pretty stoked to go. Our first stop was the IOOF Cemetery in Monroe. It was my first time seeing the gravesite of Grandma Rosie, who passed away when I was five. We (my family and my folks) arrived before my grandparents, and dad couldn't quite remember where Grandma Rosie was buried, so we got to explore the cemetery for a bit trying to find her headstone. My son sure appreciated the chance to get out of the car after 90 minutes of driving and being able to run around. It was interesting to see the different styles of markers, some flat, some traditional, some so old and worn you couldn't see who they marked any more. I tried to find the cemetery office to ask if they could help us find the stone we wanted. While I was on my way over to the office, my grandparents pulled up, and pointed us right to the stone, which, as it turned out, was not 20 feet from where we parked. Isn't that always how it works? Next time I go to a cemetery, I'm searching the immediate vicinity before asking any questions. :)

I wasn't expecting to find any more than one headstone, but it turns out, there's a whole family plot there. In the plot, there's Grandma Rosie, Grandpa Charlie, Donald "Bill" Wagner and Mary Wagner (Bill was Charlie's brother, and Mary was Rosie's sister, so both families were in-laws of each other), Charles Wagner III (Rosie and Charlie's youngest son, who died at the age of 10), and Eldora (Shute) (Wagner) Greenfield, Charlie and Bill's mom. I was in headstone heaven! Ok, that sounds really lame. But I was really excited to see all of these graves, when I was only expecting one. I'd seen pictures of all of them (especially after going through those 800+ photos of Grandma Blossom's beige album). So I really felt connected to all of them.

After leaving the cemetery, we drove by the spot where the Wagner Brothers Mill had been. In its place is a HUGE brick mansion. It was actually just a couple minutes from the cemetery. I didn't know what it was until after we'd passed it, so I didn't get a picture of it unfortunately. Maybe I'll try pulling it up on Zillow.com or something. If I can get a photo of it, I'll post in here later.

Down the street from the mansion is the house that Charlie built for his family, probably sometime in the 1950s. It's still there, and looks great. We snapped a few pictures of the outside. Then my dad, who's a lot more adventurous than I am (must come from years of motorcycle racing, military service, and raising three kids who put him through heck), went up and knocked on the door. A guy came out and dad started talking to him, telling him about who we were, and why we're in the neighborhood. He just opened up, and invited us in to take a look, let us take pictures and video of the house, which he had actually just purchased three weeks previous. As it turned out, my grandparents sold the house to Bill, Charlie's brother, and moved to Twisp (they later moved back but to a different house). Bill and Mary sold it to a guy named Granden, or something like that, who lived in it till he died. His son then got the house, and he was the one who sold it to the current owner. He seemed really interested in the history of the house, and asked that we send him copies of the pictures I have of my great-grandpa building it. He also said his wife was coming home from the hospital that day, and once she's had some time to recover, he'd like us all to come back up for a barbecue or something, which sounded great!

For me, though, the real treat was when we went back and got my grandparents (they'd stayed in their car, as they have trouble walking over long distances, and the driveway up to this house was pretty long). They drove up the driveway and came into the house, and my grandma just looked to be flooded with memories. She started talking about her dad building the house, and especially the cabinets and fireplace. I managed to record a lot of what she said, as I'd remembered to bring my camera with me, and had hoped for her to tell stories about the house that I could record. It was just amazing to see something put together by my great-grandpa and his brothers, that looked so well kept and new.

All in all, it was a very rewarding afternoon. And I look forward to repeating the experience in the near future when we have that bbq.

PS I don't have the pictures available at the moment, but I'll put some up as soon as I get them.
UPDATE: Pictures are now posted!


Kathy Gibson said...

I love how you are able to capture the event with your stories. It was a wonderful day and so emotional for your grandmother. She said she didn't think she would ever see the inside of that house again - and yet she did. Thanks to a grandson who loves dead people as much as us living people! You are a treasure on this Tuesday.

ironhide781 said...

Thanks mom. :) It was a treat for me to go up there. You don't get experiences like that very often.