The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) decided that a main road here in Sanford needs to be widened. Before the widening can get started, though, a large portion of the graves in the Shallow Well Church cemetery have to be relocated.
NCDOT wants the next-of-kin to decide where the graves go…to the new church cemetery or some other cemetery. But the church doesn’t have next-of-kin information for over 70 of the graves.
Enter the Shallow Well Cemetery Project
Another genealogist in the county, T., took it upon herself to find next-of-kin for these people. I heard and offered to help. I love puzzles.
T. asked me to take on the W’s: Sandy M. Watson, Carra I. Watson, Lessie Wolfe, Mary Wolfe, and Theodore Wolfe. All I had to start with was birth and death dates.
The research begins
First, I went to FindAGrave.com and Ancestry.com. I also did Google searches. I looked at census records, death certificates, other people’s family trees, obituaries, address listings, city directories, wedding licenses, property records, an actual phone book, and more.
Sandy Watson’s first name is actually Alexander. He and his wife, Carra, had two daughters. One of them had a child who passed. The other daughter had three children: Frederick, Samuel, and Carolyn. All three of them have passed, but they collectively had seven children. My goal was to find one of them, and I did! That’s two of the five on my list done.
Theodore Wolfe was married twice, first to Lessie Coe. He and Lessie had children together. Lessie died of diphtheria when she as about 35. Theodore’s second wife was Mary Bryant Crissman. Mary had children with her first husband, but she and Theodore had no children together.
It took some time, but I found people on Ancestry who could possibly help me find a next-of-kin for Theodore and Lessie, and for Mary. I sent messages via Ancestry, and fortunately one of them was able to put me in touch with Lessie and Theodore’s daughter. We had a pleasant chat on the phone. That makes four of the five complete.
Lessie and Theodore’s daughter gave me some leads for finding Mary’s next-of-kin. That’s my goal for the next few days. I got six more names from T today. I’ll start in on them later this week.
I always enjoy a genealogical mystery, and I’m glad I heard about this opportunity to help T. with this project. Have you had an opportunity to help someone else with genealogy research? I’d love to hear about it.
Copyright © 2019 Nancy H. Vest All Rights Reserved
Ruth E Showalter says
Nancy this is fabulous! Such a project! Another thing we have in common enjoying solving a genealogical puzzle!
I just read this aloud to Mom who happens to be working on a jigsaw puzzle in the same room!
Blessings on your work!
Nancy H. Vest says
Thanks, Ruth! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I love jigsaw puzzles, too.
Hi there is there any news on the development of this project? I have ancestors buried there and desperate to know what has potentially happened to them. Thank you for any help.
Nancy H. Vest says
I don’t go over that way often, so I don’t know how much work has been done. The plan was to move the graves in the way of the road widening project to land on the other side of the road, behind the Shallow Well Church itself. Have you looked for your ancestors on findagrave.com? Here is a link to the cemetery on findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/657281/shallow-well-cemetery
Perhaps your ancestors’ listings on Find a Grave have been updated to show they’ve been moved. You could also call Shallow Well Church and ask them about how the grave moving project is going. Their number is (919) 776-1121. I hope one of these resources helps you find out about your ancestors’ graves.