Saturday, February 25, 2017

Searching For Elizabeth Jane Christison's Grave

April 15, 1898 Salida Mail  Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection

Ah, the Christison family and the sites of the eternal rest of their earthly bodies.
If ever a family wanted to throw their descendants into a fruitless search for gravesites, it is the Christisons. Apparently, stone monuments were not a necessity to the Christisons. Even Judge Wilburn Christison, whom we know died in Fairplay, does not have a marker in the Fairplay Cemetery.

Elizabeth Jane Lewis Christison's grave is also a mystery. To make matters worse, if you search for Elizabeth Jane on Ancestry, you will find that about half of the family trees say she died in Howard, Colorado and another half say she died in Blue Springs, Missouri. What? So far, I have not seen documentation for the Blue Springs death and burial. I have no idea where this idea originated.

I have 2 theories on where Elizabeth Jane Lewis Christison is buried. The first logical place would be for her to be buried beside her husband, Wilburn Christison, in the Fairplay Cemetery. But this is impossible to prove because there are no markers, nor are there any cemetery records.

The second theory, the one I believe to be the most likely, is that she is buried in the Howard Cemetery in Howard, Colorado.

First, let's look at her death. The newspaper clipping at the top is from the April 15, 1898 Salida Mail in the "Pleasant Valley Notes, Howard, Colorado" saying: "Mrs. Christison is very ill and serious doubts are entertained of her recovery."

I know Elizabeth Jane lived in Howard at the time of her son, Charlie's, death in 1892. I also have a family record stating "Mother" (Elizabeth Jane) died May 10, 1898 in Howard. I received this handwritten copy from Betty Regnier, Ernest Christison's granddaughter. At the top is a note, "The original of this was handed down through the family." I am guessing the printing was done by Betty's mother, Helen, and the cursive writing are Betty's notes.

Christison Family Record, Betty Regnier
Click Photo To Enlarge
So, I believe these two documents, the newspaper clipping, and the family record prove that Elizabeth Jane Lewis Christison died in Howard, Colorado on May 10, 1898.

Where is she buried? I believe in Howard Cemetery. 

There are two lots marked on the 1923 map of the Howard Cemetery that I think are Christisons. 
Howard Cemetery Map located at the Royal  Gorge Regional Museum
And History Center, Canon City, Colorado

 The first is faint and there is a tear in the map that runs through the name. To some it reads "Dan Christisen." Someone else suggested "Dau." possibly for an infant that died. 

At some point (perhaps a WPA project?), someone put a marker up, reading "Dan Christinsen." Notice the "n" added on the marker is not in the name on the map.

One day, I got to thinking about the graves in Howard and recalled an experience I had as a librarian at the Elbert Library. A name was transcribed wrongly from a map to a cemetery record and I helped figure it out. Here's that Unknown Grave story.

What if "Dan Christisen" was really "Jane Christison?" I could see where the lower part of a cursive "J" could be faint and the letter look like a "D." And the "e" at the end could simply look like a line ending the name.

The Royal Gorge Museum and History Center has the original linen 1823 map. But this map must have been transcribed from other records; perhaps another map, perhaps a list of names and burials; or perhaps it was a survey of markers. What if there was a wooden marker that said "Jane" but was so weathered that the best guess was "Dan?"

The "Dan Christisen" grave is next to Julia Ann Taylor and her husband, John Wesley Taylor, who happen to be the in-laws of Elizabeth Jane's son, Virgil Ernest Christison, who died in 1905 and 1906. Perhaps Ernest  bought the lot, buried his mother there and 7 years later, buried his mother-in-law beside her?

My family has always called her "Elizabeth." But this is a family where many of the children went by their middle name. It seems logical that she went by "Jane."

I have searched for a "Dan Christinsen" or "Christensen" or "Christisen" and I haven't located any in the area.

The other grave is in the next row over, marked "Christinson" on the map. I believe this is Charlie Christison who died on April 29, 1892 at the age of 25 from an illness. His obituary states he was buried in the Howard Cemetery.

I know there is no way to prove with certainty that Elizabeth Jane Lewis Christison is buried in the grave marked "Dan Christinsen," but to me, it seems the most believable. 

Additional Blog Posts Relating To Elizabeth Jane Christison:

Elizabeth Jane Christison - A Colorado Pioneer
The Death of Judge Christison

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