Ancestral Cemetery Visit

June 26, 2009

Genealogy

Today I feel like I’m actually a part of a piece of history.  I visited the ancestral family cemetery plot in Berks County today.  It was a humbling experience, an exhilarating experience and a wonderful family time to boot!  Let me explain how all this came to pass…

I am a descendant of a family named Kutz…who coincidentally founded Kutztown in Berks County.  My Kutz family did not live in Berks County however, we lived in neighboring Lehigh County.  It was always rumored that we were related to the Kutz’s of Kutztown but nobody who was left could really say how.  Two weeks ago I figured it out…I found the obituary of my great-great grandfather in the newspaper archives and it helped me to confirm the suspected relationships and define the line back to Johann Nicolaus Kutz, my 7th great grandfather who immigrated here from Switzerland or Germany and died here in 1749.  His son, Johann Nicolaus Kutz II who was a Revolutionary War soldier, his son Johann Nicolaus III and his son Samuel Scharadin Kutz are all buried with their wives on this plot.  If you would like to see a photo of the tombstone of  Johann Nicolaus III, the footstones and large part of his wife’s footstone we unearthed please visit my photos on flickr by clicking in the flickr window on the right. 

I found the plot through the folks in an organization called Berks County Association for Graveyard Preservation   The good people of that organization had spent a great deal of time and money cutting down trees and fixing the fence…and were planning to weed whack and right the stone.  But with limited funding and little family interest it was a lower priority.   What a wonderful group of folks!   My everlasting thanks to them.

During my research of this family I was taken back in time to an era I learned of in history, of course, but could not really conceive of.  I’ve now read stories of my ancestors who purchased their land from Thomas Penn (think William Penn here), who paid for that land in British pounds and shillings because the Revolutionary War had not yet been fought and they were subjects of the King of England,  who hid with their families in caves in the 1700’s to hide during Indian attacks and who worked the land, who were pioneers Berks County and now that history has become more real.  Nothing, however, prepared me for how real it became when we dug out small footstones we discovered when we removed weeds and then were able to immediately identify who one of them belonged to, or how it felt to restore my ancestor’s tombstone to an upright position…or to find what one might ordinarily think of as field stones and learn that they are typical of grave markers in the 18th century and that this very one might be the grave marker for my 7th great grandfather who died 260 years ago.   Amazing!

I visited the site with my cousin Vicki…another descendant…my husband and our grandsons.  The whole family got into the spirit of the day and my grandson Cameron worked tirelessly (in the hot 90 degree sun!) to weed whack, syckle, help my husband to right the stone.  What an amazing history lesson for those two boys!  PHEW!   What a day it’s been!  I am so thankful to have had this experience…

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