Tombstone photos show up regularly in my posts. For some people, it’s the only image representing them!
Early on I blogged about the Schweiger family plot in Sacred Heart Cemetery, in Northbrook, Illinois. Sacred Heart Parish (and its associated cemetery, five miles away) was a daughter parish to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wilmette. Sacred Heart was created in 1897, three miles north of St. Joseph, as the Catholic population grew in that area, and St. Joseph had become more crowded.
Ignatz and Dorothea Schweiger were among the founding families of Sacred Heart, but would have originally been members of St. Joseph. My grandmother, Victoria, was baptized there in 1894. Nevertheless, I don’t associate their family with this parish, probably because the more important, and more recent, events didn’t occur there.
We visited my parents in late October, 1996, piled them and our kids into our van, and trekked to the northern suburbs, cemetery-stomping. Our first stop was St. Joseph Cemetery, at Ridge Road & Forest Avenue. It was a “new” cemetery for me, a half block from the church, adjacent to the school property. The parish started in 1845, so it’s an old cemetery. We fanned out, looking for names we recognized, not knowing exactly who we might find. We found Aunt Rose Rau (Victoria’s sister), and her husband, Joe:
I didn’t realize it at the time, but a recent search at Find-A-Grave confirmed my suspicion that Uncle Joe’s sister, Mary, was also interred there with her husband. We had found their parents, Henry (16 January 1845-21 August 1920) and Elizabeth Rau (20 March 1844-1 April 1918), while we were there in 1996, sharing a headstone. A Joseph Rau (2 October 1837-12 November 1914) with wife, Marie (15 February 1844-23 December 1923), were also nearby. Based on his birth year, I suspect that Joseph Rau was an older brother to Henry. In other words, he was my Uncle Joe’s uncle.
The tombstone that really caught my eye, though, was this one for Joseph Levernier. I didn’t know who he was, but Victoria’s oldest sister, Elizabeth (Lizzy), had married Urban Levernier. We figured Joseph was related in some way, but didn’t know how.
A precious one from us has gone
A voice we loved is stilled
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filledJoseph Levernier headstone; St. Joseph’s Cemetery; Wilmette, Illinois
It’s an impressive stone, and someone obviously missed him! Other Leverniers were nearby:
- William A. Leverier 1877-1961 OSSW Katherine ? Levernier 1884-1973
- Honore J. Levernier 1911-1961
My granduncle, Urban, was buried in Sacred Heart, so who were these guys? I looked for Honore, and found him in the 1920 census:¹
- Wm. Levernier (42)
- Katherine Levernier (35)
- Katherine B. Levernier (10)
- Florence A. Levernier (9)
- Honorius J. Levernier (8)
- Leo E. Levernier (6)
- Mary E. Levernier (5)
- Rose A. Levernier (2 4/12)
- Genevieve A. Levernier (1 2/12)
This William and Katherine seemed to be the couple sharing the tombstone, above, and Honore on the other tombstone was probably their son, age 8 in 1920 (bolded). Urban was born in 1887, and his parents were Honorius and Barbara. William is most likely Urban’s older brother, though more research is needed to prove that. I still hadn’t found Joseph, though. I checked Find-A-Grave to examine the information there, and look at those photos and memorials.
I believe two memorials have been created for Joseph, each with a different death year. One (with a photo matching mine) says the death year is 1858. That would place his birth around 1818. The other (with no photo) says the death year is 1899, placing his birth at 1859. The stone had a great deal of weathering, and with only a death date, one can’t use the age to double check against the non-existant birth year. The memorial without a photo has a spouse, parents, siblings, and children attached, but with no photo I can’t be certain it’s the same tombstone, or that those connections are correct.
The notes I wrote when I took my photo have 1899, matching the no-photo memorial. I cannot find any other records for Joseph—not even an entry in the Illinois Death Indexes. In addition, this family’s surname was misspelled (or mis-indexed) all sorts of ways in census records:
- Levenier (1900)
- Lervernas (1880)
- Lovener (1870)
- and the topper: Gusta (1860)! Yes, it’s really the right family . . . just spelled entirely wrong,
No doubt other records have the same spelling issues, making it hard to confirm that difficult-to-read year. The trees I found him in online do not have documentation for that date, so they don’t help. Fortunately, when I visit the office of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Catholic Cemeteries in July, to finalize my mom’s burial, I should be able to ask to see Joseph’s burial card and confirm 1899 is correct. I need to write a note to myself to remember to do that!
Why have I bothered researching this family? My Granduncle Urban, is the only Levernier related to me. Was this a BSO distracting me from other research? A rabbit-hole I dove down? Not really. Leverniers were an extensive family living near my Schweiger ancestors. They show up on the same (or adjacent) census pages as my great-grandparents. They belonged to the same parish. Eventually, a marriage linked the two families. Understanding more about the Leverniers might help me understand more about the Schweigers.
Besides, it was was cool tombstone . . .
¹1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 118; sheet 1B; dwelling number 13; family number 13; line 66; Wm. LEVERNIER household; accessed 24 May 2020. Honorius J. LEVERNIER, age 8; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 361; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).