I'm a winner in the Excellence in Writing Contest by the ISFHWE (International Society of Family History Writers and Editors) in the category research articles published in 2014. My article, "The Search for Grandma Almeda Ewing Carr," was published in Root Cellar Preserves magazine in June 2014.

I'm a winner in the Excellence in Writing Contest by the ISFHWE (International Society of Family History Writers and Editors). My article, "The Search for Grandma Almeda Ewing Carr," was published in Root Cellar Preserves magazine in June 2014.

The Search for Grandma Almeda Elizabeth Ewing Carr

by Vi Parsons


My identical twin sister and I grew up in Chowchilla, Madera County, California. We were the youngest of nine children.  Several of our siblings were much older. They were married and had children.  Most of them lived nearby and visited often.   I noticed that our neighborhood playmates had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozens.  We didn't.  I asked my father about our relatives.  He opened his Bible to the records pages and said, “There they are.  That’s all I know!” 

The “Births” Page in his family Bible listed our parents and their nine living children.The “Deaths” page identified their child who died at birth, our maternal grandfather Joseph Dragoo, and my paternal grandparents Austin and Almeda Elizabeth Carr. We met Grandpa when we were about four years old.  His second wife Lena was called Granny.

What happened to Grandma Almeda?  My father didn’t know or wouldn’t say.  I plotted scenarios from a serious illness to “Grandma got run over by a reindeer!”

For more than thirty years, my immediate family and several cousins searched diligently for information.  Almeda Elizabeth Ewing was born November 19, 1865 in Three Forks, Gallatin County, Montana, the only child of Anderson Shaffer Ewing and Exile Liberty  “Libby” Parker.

Anderson Shaffer Ewing was the son of Samuel Ewing and Esther Shaffer, from Little Britain Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The Ewing family migrated through Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1847. Esther Ewing died on the journey near Laramie, Wyoming.  By 1849, Samuel was in Provo, Utah.

Exile Liberty Parker’s parents, Thomas Bryant Parker and Martha Ann Nelson were from Marion County, Missouri.  In 1847, they were endowed in the Mormon Church at Nauvoo and immediately prepared to journey to the great Salt Valley in Utah.  Before Thomas died in July, 1850, in Kanesville, Iowa, he exacted a promise from Martha that she would continue on their journey. She arrived in 1852 and received a patriarchal blessing.  She married polygamist Melvin Ross in 1856,   Their only child, Orpha Elvira Ross, was born February 14, 1857.

Anderson Shaffer Ewing and Exile Liberty Parker married in Utah about 1865.  Shortly afterward, they traveled to Gallatin County, Montana.   Martha Parker-Ross and her daughter Orpha joined them. Mysterious unproven stories circulated about their move to Montana, although Martha’s son, Alma Mormon Parker and his family lived in Willow Creek. Almeda Elizabeth Ewing was born in Three Forks on November 19, 1865. Her mother died there when she was almost three months old.  Anderson Ewing, widowed with a baby girl and concerned for his mother-in-law and his wife’s half-sister, moved to Barry County Missouri.    

Almeda Ewing married James A. Carr in Washburn, Barry County, Missouri on December 5, 1884. They had six children, but only three lived: Rosey Exile, John Ewing, and Nellie Artimishie. Bible records of her son John provided Almeda’s death date of April 16, 1902. 

Decades of my life passed by. I graduated from high school, married and became a grandmother.  By 1980, I was seriously involved in family history.  In 1981, I corresponded with a daughter of Nellie (Carr) Brandon.  She replied that her mother said Almeda was buried in or near Muskogee, Oklahoma. The cemetery was later moved “because they drilled for oil.”  Nellie did not know the cemetery location.  She mentioned that she thought her mother was part Indian.

In 1990, my twin and I drove to Arkansas and Oklahoma on a family history tour. Based on our family stories and research, our Carr families lived in Delaware, Mayes and Pittsburg counties in Oklahoma and in Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas.  Our first stop in Oklahoma was as the Welcome Center. A brochure about the Pittsburg Historical Society seemingly leaped off the rack on the wall into my hands.


Recalculating!  We were on our way to McAlester. We barely glanced at the brick structure as we bounded up the steps at the historical society. A volunteer greeted us.  She tapped the computer keys and excitedly informed us they had information for the Carr family. When she opened the file drawer, there was a single file folder with two pieces of paper; typed copies of the death and burial data for Grandpa Austin Carr and his second wife, Lena Josie Ann Rivers Fowler. The original Humphrey Burial Association records were in the possession of the Mills Funeral Home just blocks away. We rushed over there.  The clerk would not allow photocopies of the old records books.  We quickly scribbled the details in our notebooks, jumped back in the car and drove twenty miles to the cemetery in the small town of Blanco, Oklahoma.  Lena had a grave marker that read: “Wife of J. A. Carr.”  Grandpa Carr had no grave stone.  (I ordered one as soon as I arrived home. While we were at the graves, a  cemetery volunteer walked up.   He saw us from the kitchen window of his home.  It’s a really small town!  He knew about most of the burials and was sure that Grandma Almeda Ewing Carr was not buried there.

What if Grandma was Indian? From Blanco, our next stop was the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma. We read every name in all the cemetery books.  We drove into town and walked through every major cemetery.  There was no Almeda Ewing Carr.  Next we visited the Cherokee Nation offices in Tahlequah.  There were no records for any of our direct family lines.  Disappointed, we continued our journey to Mount Herman Cemetery in Jay, Delaware County, Oklahoma, where some of our mother’s relatives are buried.  Almeda was not there. 

I revisited Muskogee again in 1991, walked all the cemeteries again and stopped at every overgrown grave marker visible along the Interstate. When my vacation time was over, I returned home and reviewed my research.  On the 1900 census, Austin Carr, his wife Almeda, and their three children all registered as “White” on the federal population census records in Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas. Two weeks later they were enumerated in Sallisaw, Indian Territory, not far from Muskogee, Oklahoma.That was the last record for Grandma Almeda Carr. 

In January 2007, while randomly surfing the Internet, I entered “moved cemeteries in Oklahoma.”  The link to the City of Muskogee website popped up.  Graves from an old cemetery existing from 1890 to 1902 were moved to Greenhill Cemetery!  I grabbed the phone, called the cemetery office, and spoke with the newly-appointed Superintendent.   He was very informative.  City history indicated that the original cemetery was just a big open area where people were buried.  It later became known as the Muskogee Burial Association, which is now defunct and no records can be found.  History of that cemetery indicated the city needed that land for development. Beginning in 1903, all of the 269 bodies from the original cemetery were moved to Greenhill Cemetery.  Only forty of them were identified.  Thirty four of those have markers, and only 32 are readable. Greenhill is the only cemetery in or around the town of Muskogee which received a mass of bodies for re-interment from another cemetery.

There is no indication that Almeda is buried elsewhere. Based on a review of the evidence and my telephone conversation with the Superintendent, the conclusion was that Almeda Ewing Carr was one of the 235 unidentified people re-interred in Greenhill Cemetery in Block 50.  I contacted a monument company near the cemetery and quickly determined the cost was not within my budget at that time.

In August 2013, I confirmed that Almeda’s great grandfather William Ewing was a Revolutionary War patriot.  In preparation to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), I completed my application, connected all the generations, and copied a very impressive stack of documents.  I was informed that only one item was missing—Almeda Ewing Carr’s place of burial.

I emailed Greenhill Cemetery for a copy of her burial record.  To my dismay, there was no record of her burial or of my 2007 conversation with the Superintendent.   ThankfulIy, I documented the conversation, entered it in my Research Log, and placed a printed copy in my files. The Superintendent of the cemetery remembered the conversation, but needed more time to research and collaborate with local historians.  Within two weeks, he concurred with the 2007 findings and recorded her information.  I immediately ordered a memorial marker!

On December 23, 2013, it was placed in Greenhill Cemetery, Block 50, Lot 1, Space 1, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. As I entered the information and photo on the Find A Grave website, I whispered, “Sorry it took so long to find you Grandma.  Now your resting place is finally set in stone.”

Greenhill Cemetery

1500 No. York Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma 74403

Block 50, Lot 1, Space1

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