Receiving loads of old papers and photos has been a godsend for me as a family historian, but sometimes they come in like a tsunami and I don’t have time to properly pore over everything before I must turn my attention back to work and the rest of my life. So it was with me and a couple of boxes of family-history-related items I brought back with me from my grandmother’s house after talking with her for several hours about family history. Normally I would have taken months to go through every last tidbit I brought back, but before I had a chance to do that I travelled to my grandmother’s home town (Wadena, Minnesota) for 10 days and I came back with enough data and scans to occupy me for a couple of years.
Among the items I brought back from my visit with Harriet were a number of photos and written notes that Harriet herself had inherited from her aunt Eva (Scott) Martes, who died on November 22, 2006. Eva was the younger sister of my great-grandmother Gertrude (Scott) Askew (1897–1980). I had time to scan a few hundred photos and sheets of notes before I had to set the project aside to prepare for my Wadena visit.
I try to make time each year to go back over some of the family history projects I had to set aside so that I can eventually give every piece of evidence the attention it deserves. This year, that time started last night. I took another look at the scans I made of the material that Harriet gave me nearly 10 years ago. Among the items I took a second look at were three sketches of the family burial plot in Fairview Cemetery in Deer Creek, Minnesota.
To my eye, the handwriting is different on all three sketches (note the differences in ‘2’, ‘7’, ‘3’, ‘M’, and ‘E’, among others). So who were the creators of these sketches?
In sketch #1, Caroline E. (Woodruff) Scott Peck is referred to as “mother.” There is only a small group of people who would (or might) have called Caroline mother:
- Mary Elizabeth “Mate” (Scott) Peck (1867–1943), her daughter
- Frank Scott (1869–1937), her son
- Elizabeth “Lily” Peck (ca. 1876–___), her stepdaughter
- Alfred “Fred” D. Peck (1862–1935), her stepson and son-in-law
- Margret “Maggie” Elizabeth (McAllister) Scott (1870–1910), her daughter-in-law
- Lois “Loie” (McKay) LaMudge Scott (1870–1933), her daughter-in-law
The date on the note (March 22, 1959) postdates the death of Mate, Frank, Fred (“A.D. Peck”), Maggie, and Loie. In fact, the graves and death dates of all five of these people are listed on the sketch, so none of them could have made this sketch. That leaves only Lily Peck, of whom I currently know next to nothing (leading me to believe that she may have died when she was still young). In any case, I find it odd that she’d refer to her stepmother as “mother”, but then refer to her biological father as just “N. A. Peck” and not “father.” Perhaps this is a red herring and the creator of this sketch was just relating the title “mother” as found on the headstone or in the burial records?
When I was in Deerfield in November 2012, I had an opportunity to see and photograph her memorial. Below is a detail of the inscription:
No mention of “mother” on this large memorial stone, but otherwise the same wording as on sketch #1. This large memorial isn’t her headstone, though. It’s erected in the center of the Scott/Peck plot as a memorial. The headstone over her own grave is this simple stone:
“Mother”—bingo. So the use of “mother” just reflected what was on the memorial and the headstone; it can’t be used to identify the creator of the sketch.
Another possibility is that the “information Mrs. Milt McCray” indicates that it was written by Dollie E. (Peck) McCrea. This seems unlikely, as she probably wouldn’t have misspelled her own last name. I think this is just another transcription from the burial records.
The creator(s) of the second and third sketch are easier to figure out. They refer to Frank Scott (1869–1937) as “dad” and “our father,” respectively. They both refer to Maggie McAllister Scott as “mother.” Similar references to the other people buried in the plot mean this the creator(s) of the sketches must be one of the four Scott sisters:
- Gertrude (Scott) Askew (1897–1980)
- Mabel (Scott) Armstrong (1899–1935)
- Cassie May (Scott) Cook (1904–1973)
- Eva (Scott) Martes (1907–2006)
Because Mabel died before some of the listed death dates, she could not have created either of these two sketches, so they were done by Gert, Cassie, or Eva. The third sketch notes Dollie’s 1985 death, which means only Eva could have written the two circled updates about Dollie. Given the similarity in handwriting between the two circled updates and the rest of the sketch, I presume Eva created the whole of sketch #3.
Sketches #2 and #3 note that “our baby brother” is buried in grave #9. Sketch #1 notes that grave #9’s occupant is “Frank Scott baby”.
Now that I knew of Frank and Maggie’s previously unknown (to me) son Frank Junior, I looked over all other relevant evidence to see if there were any clues to Frank Junior’s existence.
The 1900 census shows Frank and Maggie and their eldest two daughters Gert and Mabel. The census enumerator recorded that Maggie had given birth to two children, both of whom were still living. So perhaps Frank Junior was born after the enumeration of the 1900 census?
The 1910 census shows Frank and Maggie and their four daughters and the census enumerator recorded that Maggie had given birth to four children, all of whom were still living. The 1910 census was enumerated on April 23, 1910, less than seven weeks before Maggie died. So either Maggie gave birth to Frank Junior in the weeks before she died or one or both of the census enumerators missed recording that Maggie had given birth to a son who was no longer living.
Maggie’s obituary (printed on June 16, 1910, in the Deer Creek Daily Free Press) was explicit about Maggie haven given birth to a fifth child (note that this is a transcription from an original obituary (or pair of obituaries) that I have not yet seen for myself):
Her funeral was held Sunday Morning at the German Church, Rev Nauman officiating. Buried in the Cemetery North of Town. Fairview Cemetery in Peck lot. [Fergus Falls June 15, 1910 Pg 2] June 11 at 6am Mrs Maggie Scott age 38 -6 months-10 days. Miss Maggie McAllister was born in Canada and came when a young girl with her parents to the United States and was married to Frank Scott in 1896. Five children were born to them 4 of whom are living. Mrs Scott, who died of peritonitis was ill only 7 days and her death came as a terrible shock to the bereft husband and children. Several sisters and brothers beside a large circle of relatives mourn with the sorrowing husband and children. Interment in the village cemetery to which place the remains were followed by a large procession of sympathizing friends.
So that’s all I know at the moment. Frank and Maggie Scott had a fifth child, a son called Frank Scott. Since Eva Scott, the youngest of the four Scott sisters, called Frank Scott Jr. “our baby brother,” he may have been born after all of the sisters (so born ca. 1907–1910).
Here are the full names and dates of those buried in the Scott/Peck plot:
In sketch #3, Eva wrote “Large headstone separates lots. The first ones coming into cemetery are Scotts, other side Pecks.” Neither of these statements seems to add up. Whether you divide the plot into right and left halves or upper and lower halves, the Scotts and Pecks are intermingled. As far as the first people buried being Scotts, Maggie (McAllister) Scott is indeed in grave #1, but she was the fourth person in the plot to die among the people buried in the plot. This discordance leads me to two possibilities (there may well be others that I haven’t yet considered):
- The grave lots were arbitrarily numbered, and Maggie was indeed the fourth person buried in the plot. She just happened to have been laid to rest in a grave that was numbered grave #1 in cemetery records.
- Maggie was indeed the first person buried in the plot, consistent with Eva’s statement and with being laid to rest in grave #1. Her grieving husband Frank laid her prematurely to rest, and then Frank’s stepfather Nathaniel A. Peck died the day of Maggie’s funeral. So Frank Scott purchased (or made arrangements to claim) a plot of 12 graves for his family. After Maggie, he buried his stepfather N.A. Peck (curiously, in grave #4), and then had the remains of his son Frank Scott (who had died probably 1–3 years earlier) and his young niece Winnie Peck (who had died 21 years earlier) moved to grave #9 and grave #3, respectively. These four graves define the four corners of the Scott/Peck plot. Frank then had a central large memorial erected to the memory of his mother Caroline (Woodruff) Scott Peck as matriarch of the family in Minnesota (Frank’s birth father Horace L. Scott died in Illinois when Frank was only 10 months old, so Caroline really was the elder member of the family who migrated to Minnesota and united the Scott and Peck families). Frank then had his mother’s body relocated to grave #5 to lie beside her husband (or perhaps she was already there).
Scenario 2 involves a lot of supposition and a lot of reinterment, but reinterments were much more common between the end of the Civil War and the first couple of decades of the 20th century than they have been over the past 100 years. If I can locate the burial records for Fairview Cemetery, I may be able to confirm these suppositions and reinterments.
Finally, here are a couple of views of the Scott/Peck plot in the Fairview Cemetery in Deer Creek, Minnesota:
Frank Scott Jr.’s grave appears to be unmarked, but I didn’t even know he existed when I visited the cemetery, so I didn’t know to look closely for a grave marker for him. Given the ornate headstones and memorials for the other people first laid to rest in the Scott/Peck plot, the absence of any marker seems anomalous. Even 1-year-old Winnie had a beautifully carved and information-rich headstone. So where is Frank Scott Jr.’s marker? Hopefully more research will shed more light on Frank Scott Jr.’s short life and missing grave marker.
If you have any information at all that might be relevant to anything I’ve written about, please let me know in the comments below.