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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eating Humble Pie: The Resolution of the Franklin West Tombstone Mystery!

“Eating humble pie!”  That’s what I’m eating.  Well, I was wrong!  And, I admit that I was wrong and am, indeed, eating my humble pie.  Previously, I mentioned the “mystery” of the two tombstones belonging to Franklin West, each in separate cemeteries.  Now I must inform you that he has ONLY one tombstone which is in the cemetery called Triplett-Mt. Zion Cemetery just a few miles from the cemetery at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in the Ferguson-Stony Fork communities of Wilkes County.
Last September (2010), I made my first visit to the Stony Fork area of Wilkes County where my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th great grandparents had lived.  During this fast-paced, whirl-wind trip with three of my cousins, we drove around the countryside and, as well as I could recall, had stopped at only two cemeteries, one of which was the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery.  The other one, which we thought was the private West Family Cemetery, I recently discovered was the private Land Family Cemetery.  I photographed my 2nd great grand uncle’s grave, Franklin West’s, at what I thought was Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  In order to document the location, with a separate photograph, I photographed the church. 
Recently, fourth cousin, JJL, visited the cemeteries and photographed her 3rd great grandfather’s (Franklin’s) grave at Triplett-Mt. Zion Cemetery.  When we compared the photographs in our e-mails, we realized that they looked exactly the same with the same cracks and discolorations even though they were supposedly taken at different cemeteries. 
Of course, I was convinced that I had photographed that tombstone at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery, and I even had a photograph of the church to go with it. Also, I was convinced that we had not visited another public cemetery that day.  My husband, Doug, who accompanied me on the trip, remembers visiting only one public or church cemetery.  The fact that Franklin West is listed in the Internet website, Find-a-Grave, as being buried in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery provided additional credence to my beliefs.
Throughout all of the confusion, which seemed to be a science fiction encounter, I never doubted JJL’s photograph or her findings. And, bless her heart, she never appeared to doubt mine.  I was ready to return to Stony Fork to try to solve this mystery.  JJL and I agreed to meet there and work on the solution together. 
Finally, we decided to make the trip to Stony Fork which was a 2 hour drive for her and a 2.5 hour drive for me.  Since we had become good Internet friends over the past couple of months, I was extremely excited to meet JJL, my 4th cousin, and spend time we her.  Yesterday, we met at McDonald’s in Wilkesboro and then drove to the Beaver Creek community and the Stony Fork area.
Charlotte and JJL at Franklin's Tombstone
Triplett-Mt. Zion Cemetery
First, we visited the Walker Family Cemetery and then drove farther down the road to the Triplett-Mt. Zion Cemetery where we did, indeed, find the graves and tombstones of Franklin West and his wife, Cynthia Holder West.  JJL and I purposely had our photographs taken together at Franklin’s tombstone since, of course, I was convinced that we would find another one for Franklin a short distance down the road at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery where I thought we could again be photographed together at his second tombstone for documentation purposes.  
Our next stop was Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery, where, to my dismay and chagrin, we did not find another tombstone for Franklin.  As I looked throughout this cemetery, searching for it, I became suddenly aware that it was not there.  How embarrassed I was, certainly, with “egg on my face.”
As I looked at the perimeter and terrain of the cemetery and the newer stones in it, and as I recalled the photographs that I had taken last year, I came to realize that I had visited the Triplett-Mt. Zion Cemetery on that day a year ago and had taken the photograph of Franklin’s tombstone at that location.
Thanks to those of you with whom I have shared this confusion and who were tolerant of my point of view.  For me, the mystery surrounding the possibility of two tombstones for Franklin was like a plot in a science fiction novel.  I was only confused and, as much as I dislike admitting, forgetful.
Yesterday, however, Doug and I had a wonderful day meeting two of my 4th cousins, JJL and JP who are descendants of Franklin West and Mary Ann “Polly” Swanson West and their son, Thomas Clingman West, and his wife, Bethania Triplett.  Touring the country side with them and JJL’s husband and learning more about our common ancestors were productive and enjoyable experiences.  Our delightful day ended with barbeque and gourmet ice cream at a locally-owned barbeque restaurant in Wilkesboro.  I was able to top off my “humble pie” with two scoops of delicious cherry ice cream, my favorite!  Thanks, JJL, BL, and JP.

Finally, I learned much more regarding the Thomas Land Family Cemetery about which I will share in another post. 

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