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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

A Rock by Any Other Name

In Wright/Gaddey cemetery is a large rock with what appears to be a name etched into the stone. The letters M and O can barely be read but perhaps with some cleaning, more information will appear. This rock is located near the gravestones of John and Elizabeth Montgomery.

John and Elizabeth Montgomery, along with their seven other family members, are buried in this cemetery. John was born in North Carolina and Elizabeth was born in Wilson County, Tennessee. They came with their families to the areas of Richland, Wabash, and Lawrence Counties.

John and Elizabeth settled in the Lancaster area of Wabash County on land that was inherited by Elizabeth upon the death of her father, Elijah Gaddy. John was a farmer. He and Elizabeth had eleven children together. They were apparently quite poor and in debt.

Elizabeth died just 7 months before John. John died in December 1858. At the time of John’s death, the couple’s son, James took guardianship of the two minor girls, Mary Ann and Martha.

According to the Wabash County, Illinois probate records, an estate sale was held on March 4, 1859. The records stated that the land had been sold, all worth $1000. There were many claims against the estate, many outstanding bills. One bill was for Elizabeth’s coffin and another was for the coffin of John. There was a bill from a store in West Salem, mostly for liquor.

The records state that James Montgomery received $97.86 as guardian for the two minor children and another $65.24. The daughter, Lucinda, received $72.62.

Now, back to the rock. A theory: since John and Elizabeth had so little money at the time of their deaths, was the rock their grave marker? Could the current tombstones, that are there now, have been purchased and placed on their graves, by the family at a later time?

Just another mystery the cemetery volunteers have found during their cleaning, scrubbing, and spraying tombstones. Thanks to Marilyn Wagner for the story and the photograph.

Don’t forget the program April 24, 7:00 pm at the History Center.


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