Exactly four houses south of my own home lies the resting place of members of the Conn family, dating back as far as 1799, the eldest member being John Conn Sr. 1799-1886. This peaceful cemetery can’t be seen from the road, for it’s nestled within the tall Red Junipers and large oak trees, hiding it from the rest of the world. I guess it’s not unusual to have a family cemetery within a neighborhood, but every time I stop and visit, I don’t feel as if I’m imposing, I feel almost welcome. It’s a quiet and reverent place, completely cloaked in the shade of the massive trees and quartered off by a wooden fence. I like it there.
Years ago, when my granddaughter was about four, I took her to visit this secret place. I can still remember her eyes, wide with curiosity, almost like she’d entered a magical world. She called it her secret garden. And when she came to visit, more times than most, we would visit her secret garden, and quietly walk among the headstones. I explained to her what a cemetery was. She was never afraid, just fascinated to know more about the people who had once lived on this land.
Just last week, our family took a walk with my niece, her husband, my three year old great nephew, and his baby sister. My little nephew had already visited the cemetery with me and now calls it the secret forest. He wanted to show his Mom and Dad the secret forest near “Coco’s” house so he got on his tricycle and we all followed him down the sidewalk. Once there, he proudly lead everyone through the trees to the secret place where we all took time to look at each headstone, being respectful and enjoying the beauty of the space. When we left, we decided to look a little more into the Conn family history. I had known they were farmers on the land, but not much else.
The next day after our walk, I received a message from the niece’s husband with a 1900 and 1910 US Census, showing members of the family at that time and their ages. He even found and original map of this area and who owned which plot of land. We are just beginning to learn more. It warms my heart to know that families still care about families, history is important, discovery and learning is exciting. I’ll keep you posted the more we learn. Until then, enjoy your family and stay safe everybody!