a newcomer to genealogy. I’d heard my dad talk about various family and
ancestors for years. Despite my general fascination with history, I
never picked up on it. As the years have gone by, however, I have found
myself increasingly fascinated. A few years ago, Dad told me about his
linking up with the Dameron-Damron Family Association and having made
the connection between our family and the larger body of research done
by others. He was thrilled.
In 1996 Dad asked me to take him
to the Cabwaylingo
Reunion. He and Mom are retired now in Reno, Nevada, and he was
visiting Ohio and Kentucky. He had corresponded with several
Association members but had not met them in person. We had a great
time. In 1998, we joined the reunion again and had an even better time.
We knew people in the group, and the camaraderie was wonderful.
Dad has been unable to travel the
last couple of years
and I decided to return to the Dameron-Damron gathering on my own. I
still did not have a real grasp on how this genealogy stuff works.
This year I got it! It really
started with Dad’s last
trip to Kentucky. We went back to his hometown, Catlettsburg, in Boyd
County, Kentucky. He had wanted to find his grandfather’s grave. Dad
told me about his memories of his grandpa. He had last seen him in
1941, just before he went off to Washington, D.C., to seek adventure
and see the World. Dad had just graduated from college and he and his
grandpa were living at the Haywood Hotel in Catlettsburg. The hotel was
owned and operated by his aunt Mary.
He said that he remembered as a
child playing near the family cemetery along Cannonsburg Pike. We drove
up and down the road and even talked to several people looking for the
small cemetery. He remembered it being a short way up from the road but
as we drove around it was evident that the many years which had passed
had brought too many changes, old landmarks gone and new homes and
businesses where there had been none. He was disappointed, as if a man
in his eighties ought to remember the hills as they were in his
twenties and again find his way among the trees and rocks he left
behind so long ago.
I thought there ought to be a way
to find my great-grandfather’s grave on that hill.
I got lots of ideas about how to
go about finding Joshua Damron’s grave. My adventure began at the Boyd
County Library in Ashland. There, I looked through the microfilm record
of the Ashland Daily Independent. I found a front-page notice of his
death in the Wednesday Evening Edition of April 5, 1942: “ Death Claims
Rev. Damron Wednesday, Widely-Known Clergyman Succumbs At Catlettsburg.”
The news account told of the
funeral and burial plans, “Funeral services will be conducted from the
United Baptist Church, Hampton City, Catlettsburg, Thursday afternoon
at 2 o’clock with burial following in the Stevens cemetery on the
Cannonsburg Pike.” At the library, I looked at some topographical maps
of the area but these were not much help at all. I found that the
library had a spacious rooms devoted to genealogy and next, I looked
I found a number of books and
monographs on cemeteries. I was fortunate to find Boyd County,
Kentucky Cemeteries, Locator, Teresa Martin Klaiber, Marcella Rye,
and George Wolfford, March 1999. There I found a concise but useful
description: “STEVENS: Catlettsburg. Cannonsburg Rd. Near mouth of
Damron Branch, Johnson Fork. Latitude 38 24’25”N; Longitude
82 37’30”W.” (I also found that there are three Stevens Cemeteries
in Boyd County.) By this time the library was closing, so my research
would have to wait till the next day.
Having no GPS equipment, I decided
go to the Boyd County Library branch in Catlettsburg for information.
Again I asked for maps, hoping to find one with greater detail than the
others. The librarian offered that she might be able to help me find
the place more quickly than we could find it on the map. She called a
friend, working at the library where I had been the day before. Her
friend told her to call her parents who live on Cannonsburg Pike; they
might know the place. A moment later she had Eloise Robinnette on the
phone and handed the phone to me. She told me that there were several
cemeteries near by and that her husband knew how to get to at least two
behind their home. She volunteered Mason to show me the way.
June 3rd was a hot,
humid day. I had already changed from sandals to socks and sneakers
when I pulled up the drive to pick up Mason. I was a bit intimidated to
see him wearing heavy pants tucked into tall rubber boots. He explained
that the cemetery was pretty overgrown in weeds when he last went up
there. We drove only a few hundred yards and turned on Johnson Fork. We
turned again at a sign for Hampton Dr. It was steep and deeply rutted.
I thought for a moment that my 2WD Toyota might have trouble making the
steep grade. (And how flat my world is in Central Ohio!) A moment later
we were in a dirt driveway of a home with a broad neatly trimmed lawn.
Mason indicated that the cemetery was just beyond the fence below the
lawn. I stopped at the house and asked permission to park and cross the
yard to the cemetery.
Once over the fence there are grave markers of all sorts, both
scattered and, in places, in small groupings. The weeds had been cut
recently and most graves easily accessible. We found many family names
represented. Some markers were so worn as to be illegible. Some graves
were simply marked by a few rocks, placed deliberately. Of particular
interest to me were the following:
James Damron, 1888
Lucinda A. Damron,
Lee Damron, 1918 – 1919
Josh Damron, 1853 – 1942
As I took pictures and made notes, I thought of Dad and how we had
looked for this spot together. A bit of pleasant research and the
generous help of several people and I was finally at my great-grand
father’s grave. I was honored and humbled as I walked that ground. I
was filled with my own sentimental thoughts and memories of family. I got genealogy.
article appeared originally in The
Damron-Damron Family Newsletter, Volume 32, Spring 2001.