My Mother and the Haunted Tombstone

This is the last in a series of posts on my journey through my mother’s family. There have been twists and there were surprises, but I have saved the best for last.

During our holiday break I spent a whole day locked in my father’s study using his scanner. My mother and my mother-in-law were there handing me pictures and documents to scan. We were very productive, and I am still cataloguing all we did. I decided that this was the perfect time to tell my mother about my discoveries.

“Mom, I found a Revolutionary War soldier in your mother’s line.”

“Oh, really?.”

“Yes, and it is a fascinating story,” at which time I proceeded to tell her about my discoveries, even showing her the online pension record. She was impressed. Then I dropped “the bomb” on her.

“His grand-daughter, Berthena, is buried at Truelove, Mom.”

“Well, a lot of the family is.”

“No Mom, it is that really big…”

“Cast iron, hollow tomb?”


“The one they used to lock the cats in?”


“Yeah, the one that the boys would lock cats in at Halloween. It isn’t solid, so boys would go out there in the middle of the night, unscrew a plaque on it, throw the cat in, and seal it back up. Then they would spread the word that Truelove was haunted to scare everyone, and when a cat is yowling in a hollow cast iron structure it is a very frightening sound. The poor care taker would have to go out there in the middle of the night and let it out.”

I sat there in a stunned sort of silence… then laughed my head off. Really, I didn’t know what else to do. Once again I looked back at the computer screen of the Find A Grave site and realized that on the bottom of her name plaque there is a screw missing, which made me giggle more. I sat there wondering for the rest of the visit if there are still yowling cats on Halloween.

There you have it, my adventure as it played out. No answer yet on Edward Darnell Arvin, but many answers on the Cannons. Lesson learned: ask Mom and Dad more questions, no matter how small. I promise, the first clue I get I will make sure to share with all of you.

Photo from the Library of Congress

Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.

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2 thoughts on “My Mother and the Haunted Tombstone

  1. Thanks so much for that…I needed a good laugh today! That sounds like something my dad or his brothers might have done when they were kids (ok, actually that sounds like something my dad still might do) lol. :D

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