Case of the Missing Baby, Part 2

(Read Part 1 here!)

To recap: My grandparents, who lived in Oklahoma in the 1920s, had a baby named Samuel, who died in infancy. I’ve been unable to find any trace of him, but this is the cemetery where I suspect Baby Samuel is buried.

sperry oklahoma cemetery gates

Although the gate says 1923, the town clerk I spoke to said the cemetery actually predates that. It was originally privately owned by a fraternal organization, which turned it over to the town. During the oil boom of the early 1920s, Sperry was quite the little metropolis. The town was crowded with oil field workers and oil-related businesses, and housing was scarce. According to the clerk, it wasn’t unusual during those years for the cemetery caretaker to arrive in the morning to find a fresh grave with no sign of who was buried there.

sperry oklahoma cemetery gravestones

At some point someone tried to mark those graves—you can see little concrete crosses like these dotted all over the older parts of the cemetery. I hate to think that’s what happened to little Samuel, but I can also understand why a poor family with no money for a funeral or headstone would do it, especially if the deceased was an infant. But wherever Samuel lies, it must have been tremendously hard a few years later for my grandmother to move away from that little grave.  All the more reason for me to find it.

—Nancy


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

2 thoughts on “Case of the Missing Baby, Part 2

  1. Hi Nancy:

    Be sure to check the local newspaper of the time. It’s amazing what you will find in them. Sometimes a birth or a death is just given a few words in a community column–unfortunately, I don’t see a pertinent paper digitized at the Chronicling America and Library of Congress project at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/ so you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. On microfilm.

    I have a story of an infant death in my family about the same time. Supposedly my great-grandfather built the casket, lined it with my great-grandmother’s wedding dress, and they buried their baby daughter in a fence row because they knew it wouldn’t be disturbed. yikes.

    Good luck–

  2. Thanks for the tip Debra. A fence row? Wow. But really, if you’ve ever seen a cemetery that cattle have gotten into it makes some sense. Most of Sperry is in Tulsa County so I should probably look in the Tulsa World newspaper microfilm. Longshot but stranger things have happened.

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