Elbert County, Colorado History and Genealogy

Monday, April 11, 2011

Unknown Grave Made Known!

Part of my job for the Elbert County Library District is to process local history requests. Last year, I received a request from Susan Hathaway who was looking for her great-grandfather's grave. Susan knew Moses Hathaway died February 19, 1904 and was buried February 24, 1904. She believed Moses was living with his son, William Oscar Hathaway, at the time of his death and thought that William lived in Elbert County, but she wasn't sure where.

According to a family story told to Susan by Virginia, the widow of her second cousin, Moses' body was pulled up the hill to the cemetery in a wagon and William's wife was too pregnant to walk up the hill for the burial. Her baby was born ten days after Moses' death. This story had also helped Susan and Virginia pinpoint the date of Moses' death, which family information had given as 1903. But knowing the baby was born in 1904, Susan believed Moses had actually died in 1904.

The first thing I did was pull out the Elbert County Cemetery Records book. I found a W.C. Hathway (note spelling) who owned a lot in the Elbert Cemetery with an unknown, occupied grave. This seemed very likely to be Moses' grave and fit well with the story of the cemetery being on a hill. W.C. or W.O.? Hathway or Hathaway? Too close to not be the W.O. I was looking for, but without original documentation, I couldn't prove it one way or the other.

Recently, I visited Kathy, the secretary for the cemetery association, to look at the actual cemetery book. Kathy, Ruben (a friend who went with me), and I looked through the book and found (with disappointment) the entry - W.C. Hathway. But we still had one more possibility to check--the original 1887 cemetery map. The three of us searched the old maps eagerly and after a few minutes Ruben said, "I found it!" And there, clear as day, was W.O. Hathaway. (See below)


I e-mailed Susan Hathaway and she was thrilled to know what we had found. I did a little further investigation in the newspapers to make sure W.O. Hathaway lived in the Elbert area and found he'd bought land east of Elbert in 1902 and was appointed to the Fondis school board in 1904. Susan and I discovered some other connections, so we knew without a doubt this was her Hathaway family.

Last week I went to the Elbert Cemetery and took a picture of the lot owned by W.O. Hathaway. The picture below shows the lot where a black monument stands for a husband and wife. Moses is presumably buried in this lot, too. The photo is taken from the west side of the lot, looking east.

Note: This story was told with Susan Hathaway's permission.