Thursday, October 15, 2015

A visit to Comps Church and Cemetery and the Troutmans

One of the reasons that I've ignored this blog is that I post stuff to Facebook instead. Of course, they are two different vehicles. And I've really got to break the habit of just posting to Facebook because some of my cousins aren't on Facebook! So here we go on the Great Troutman Adventure of 2015!

It was a nice warm day there in Western Maryland near the old Mason Dixon Line. Sunny, after a night of rain and the trees turning to fall colors. Mom and I were off for an adventure after breakfast at the Princess Restaurant on Main Street in Frostburg. We sat in the Truman booth where President Truman had lunch years ago. We do love that booth! Then we were off for a genealogy adventure, the kind that we are both lucky to get, Mom being 97 and both of us DAR members. We were going to see the graves of one of my DAR Patriots!!

Our goal was to find Comps Church, about 12 miles from Mom's house, as the crow flies. But us not being crows, it took some driving and chatting with the locals to figure out. Fifty miles later, we arrived. 

Maybe you've done this? Maybe you've set out on your genea-adventure with maps and plans and things written down? Along the way at some point you come to the shocking realization that you're missing some of the pieces. Ever done that? We just did!

What was missing? I thought Mom remembered how to get to Comps Church! After about 45 minutes of driving all around and up and down and stopping at some really picturesque country churches with no one home on a Friday afternoon, I slowly realized that Mom didn't remember, and was a bit shy about saying so. At 97, she is sharp as ever but the memory has it's moments, which is probably true of me too;)

Here's an example. We kept on driving past this road called Terra Alta. We're in Southampton Township, in Somerset County, PA in case you want to know, or maybe you have ancestors there...? So we drove past Terra Alta Road a couple of times. On the first pass Mom says, oh that's a pretty name. And on the second pass I chime in with, doesn't that sound familiar? On the third pass she said, why yes it does. So that time we stopped where a local man in overalls was selling cord wood for winter fires in wood burners. Did he by chance know where Comps Church was? Why yes he did. Turn right on Terra Alta Road. Oh. We had to laugh at ourselves!!!

I could have printed out a map, a couple of maps, a bushel of maps. Would have been the reasonable and safe thing to do. But noooo!! Silly me.

It was some miles more and about half-way to the turn on to Comps Church Road when we stopped to ask directions from a group of five men standing around a yard filled with cars in various states of repair. At first I hoped I hadn't made a mistake and stopped at the wrong sort of establishment. 

"Good morning gentlemen. We're trying to find Comps Church. We have people buried up there." They couldn't come over to help fast enough! They were awfully helpful. One even insisted that we follow him to the turn off. The grandfather was ready for a good long conversation with us, so I took an extra moment to talk with him. Have a very soft spot for the elders, even if their conversation rambles. Especially if their conversation rambles. We're looking for Troutman I told him. Oh, yes, they are still living all over these hills, he said. Well please tell them their cousin came to visit the old graves.

Comps Church and it's cemetery sit on a hill high above the rolling Allegany Mountains. That land over there, it was a bounty land grant given to my DAR ancestor, Peter Troutman. He's resting here in the Comps Church Cemetery, next to his brother, William Troutman, also a DAR patriot. They fought in the same company. Side by side. 

Peter had a rather long military history for a farmer and militia man. He ended up serving four tours of duty and one was as a substitute. His letter requesting a pension for his service outlines what he did and where and I'll have to write about that another time because it deserves a post of it's own.

Maybe you've been fortunate enough to read the pension file for one of your ancestors? If so, it's a thing to behold because it gives you a window into what it meant to serve in the Revolutionary War. Then with a little more effort you can find out what the battles were about, and who the commanding offices were. It helps to fill out the picture in a personal way.

I left stones atop their grave markers as is the custom. But this time I left a quarter too because I recently read about the military custom of leaving coins on stones and the meaning of each denomination. Wasn't there when he died, which is the true significance of the quarter, but because it is the highest honor so I dug for quarters. William, Peter's brother, got one too. 

Peter's son and my ancestor, Benjamin Franklin Troutman, is there too. I left a stone on his grave marker as well. And their wives are there, some listed with no maiden name, just X, and they received stones to honor their history.

I talked to them all a while. Some might think it silly but no one was around to cast a critical look.
Mom had been here years ago and taken pictures, long before I got interested in the ancestors and their stories. She sat in the car watching as I walked the rows and claimed the graves one more time.

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