Cemetery Sunday – A Visit to Arlington National Cemetery

My uncle Tom Witt was in Washington, D.C. for work and wanted to make a point to visit Arlington National Cemetery. As I had not been there in some time, I felt it would make a great time to catch up with him and visit America’s most hallowed ground.

Arlington National Cemetery sits on 624 acres and is the final resting place of 400,000 war casualties and veterans. Included in the latter group is my great uncle, Francis Witt Jr. Francis was an Air Force officer who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I’ve previously written about his evasion and escape after being shot down in 1944 here.

My uncle, and later joined by my wife, son and mother-in-law, spent three hours walking around the cemetery, pausing at interesting or well-known individuals and honoring the unknown Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen with a stop at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Headstone of my great uncle Francis Witt’s grave.
The back of the headstone records the birth and death of his wife Mary Lou, buried with him.

My uncle Tom is here digging for a stone to leave on the top of Francis’s grave.

Francis had a brother Fred who served in the Marines during World War II, but this isn’t him. Ironically, this unrelated Fred is buried just a few rows away from Francis in the same section.

The date of death of Lt. McKamey was striking: June 6, 1944 is D-Day. A Google search revealed that his B-26 Marauder was shot down while on a bombing run to weaken the German forces in the area of Utah Beach. The entire crew was killed.

This entire section contains unknown soldiers from the Civil War.
General Ostermann was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in the 1915 invasion of Haiti. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 1943, in part because he was not given a combat command during World War II.

America’s most decorated soldier. Ever.
The American flag flies inside the Memorial Amphitheater, located behind the Tomb of the Unknown. I have been to Arlington National Cemetery numerous times but had never seen the wonderful exhibit inside the Amphitheater. 
The Tomb of the Unknown
The memorial of the seven astronauts lost when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry in 2003.
This panoramic shot captures the memorials to the Space Shuttle Challenger, the loss of American airmen in Operation Eagle Claw in 1980, and the Space Shuttle Columbia.
The grave of Commander Dick Scobee, who was lost in the Challenger disaster.
The mast of the U.S.S. Maine. The ‘Maine’ exploded in Havana harbor in 1898 and led in part to the Spanish-American War.
“Ask not what your country can do for you…” Part of the memorial wall around JFK’s grave.

The gang after a hot morning walking around Arlington.

Travel Tuesday – Calvary Cemetery, Leetonia, Ohio

May 25, 2012 was a beautiful spring day. I was in Ohio to attend the wedding of my cousin Michelle and decided to spent a few hours on the road in Columbiana County, Ohio. Thanks to my iPhone, doubling as my camera and GPS, I was quick to locate Calvary Cemetery in Leetonia. Calvary is the final resting place of any number of paternal ancestors, namely Lottmans, Lowrys, and Pepperneys. I was able to locate these graves after 20 minutes of wandering, followed by several questions of a groundskeeper, and then just one minute of walking. This old grizzled cemetery veteran knew the location of their graves down to the row number.
An unknown Lowry family stone. There are no flat markers around it and no other names on the stone. Because of this, it’s hard to confirm who is buried here. There is no records office for this cemetery. I believe either or perhaps both Michael Lowry (1868 – 1949) and his father Michael (1830? – 1928) and their wives are buried here.
This is the grave of Anastasia Lowry McSweeney. She was a daughter of Michael Lowry Jr. and Anna Lottman Lowry. At the age of 24, she died of sarcoma of the hip. She left behind a 1-year-old son Joseph and an estranged husband.

Martin and Margaret Lottman are my 3rd great grandparents. They are buried just feet from the Lowry marker and their granddaughter Anastasia McSweeney. 

The only markers for individuals known to those still living (in this case, a few aunts and uncles) are the next three. My great great grandfather George Peter Pepperney died on Christmas day 1962.

Eleanor J. Pepperney and her sister Katherine E. are buried next to each and next to their parents. Neither married. My aunts and uncles have many memories of aunt Katherine.

All of these graves are in a single area very close to one another just inside the cemetery entrance. The yellow dot is the approximate location as I can best remember two years after visiting the cemetery.

Tombstone Tuesday – Ralph Lowry (1889 – 1973)

In the far northeast corner of the El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove, California is an older columbarium that contains the remains of Ralph Lowry and his wife Gladys.
Ralph is my first cousin, 3x removed; this makes him my great grandfather Charles’ first cousin. It’s doubtful that Ralph and Charles ever met. Ralph spent his entire life living on the West Coast, and after his father moved West through Missouri, Colorado, and Washington in the late 1870’s, he never went back (that I can determine).
During a recent vacation, we were staying just a few miles away from El Carmelo, and figuring it would be years before I got back, Eileen and I detoured. Even on vacation, genealogy isn’t far from my mind. 

Eileen insisted I pose for a picture. I agree that this is sort of weird.

You can see the headstone of Ralph’s mother previously featured here.