Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marker for a Great-Grandmother: Mary Jane Coppedge Harrison 1840 - 1923

Copyright 2013, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

Mary Jane Coppedge Harrison 1840 - 1923 
We don't know if my paternal great-grandmother ever had a marker for her gravesite, or if she may have originally had some sort of wooden or stone marker that has long since deteriorated into oblivion.  But, at long last, this ancestor in my tree has a legible headstone to mark her final resting place next to her husband, John Milton Harrison, Civil War Veteran.  They were my paternal great-grandparents, long passed before I was born.
Mary Jane Coppedge Harrison (1840 - 1923) and John Milton Harrison (1836 - 1899) are both buried at Dillon Cemetery in Phelps County, Missouri. Mary Jane also has a memorial page on ,  Find A Grave Memorial# 53272446 . She was the daughter of George Helm Coppedge and Margaret "Peggy" Kitchen Thornton Coppedge. She was the granddaughter of Travis Coppedge and Elizabeth Helm Coppedge, and Thomas Thornton III and Nancy Kitchen Thornton. Her great-grandparents were Moses Aaron Coppedge and Mary Jane Catlett Coppedge, George Helm and Mary Frances Calmes Helm, Thomas Thornton II and Lucinda Waters Thornton, and (possibly) William Harrison Kitchen and Nancy Anne Harrison Kitchen. Among her great-great-grandparents were Charles Coppedge and Lucy Sarah Lunsford Coppedge, John Catlett and Mary Ann Grayson Coppedge, Captain Leonard Helm (Revolutionary War) and Elizabeth Calmes Helm, Thomas Thornton I and Lettice Peyton Thornton, and Thomas Harrison V and Mary Ann Butler Harrison.  It appears, thus, that Mary Jane was a Harrison descendant herself as well as marrying a Harrison, her distant cousin several generations removed. I doubt that she even realized there was a chance that they were distant cousins.
The cemetery where May Jane and John Milton Harrison are buried is on private property in Phelps County, Missouri. It is a small country cemetery that is well-maintained by the current owner of the property. For generations, John Milton Harrison had an original Civil War Veteran's headstone that was gradually deteriorating from age and exposure to the elements, but there was no visible marker for his wife who was laid to rest beside him.  At the time of Mary Jane's passing, her husband had already been gone for a few years. Mary Jane died as a resident of the Soldiers Home hospital-nursing home in St. James, Missouri.   She had been placed there for long-term care after being found incapacitated by a local court. This appears to have transpired when her senility became too much for her caretaker daughter, Georgia Ann Harrison Finn, to deal with. We may surmise that she may have been afflicted with something akin to Alzheimers disease as we know it today. As a tragic side note, George Ann Harrison Finn died of a heat stroke or heart attack while walking to visit her mother in the Soldier's Home on one hot summer day. Mary Jane passed away shortly thereafter.   We can only guess that financial constraints may have been a reason that no individual permanent marker was placed on Mary Jane's grave. The death certificate confirms that she is buried at Dillon Cemetery.
In 2012, with the assistance of my 4th-cousin on the Harrison side of my tree who lives in Phelps County, Missouri; we were able to get a new headstone placed for John Milton Harrison (see above photo).   His original headstone had deteriorated beyond repair and was no longer legible due to being covered with algae, mold, and fungus.    Recently, in 2013 we were able to set a new marker in place for his wife, Mary Jane, as well.   Their markers now stand side by side, as their souls rest for all eternity.