Last Friday we spent the afternoon doing something completely out of character: traipsing around a cemetery.
Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville, IL is the eternal resting place of many of Belleville’s original families, including the Hilgards. Theodore and Emma Hilgard were Elise’s parents– you’ll remember Elise as the matriarch of the family who originally lived in our home. She even named her first two children after her parents and used Hilgard as a middle name for most of her 8 children.
The Romeisers themselves are mostly interred at a mausoleum in St. Louis, save for some of the adult children who died later in life. Except for one.
Baby Julia Romeiser was laid to rest alongside her grandparents at Walnut Hill. She died the same day she was born, June 10, 1892. We aren’t certain which room it was where she was born but we do know it was here at the house. She lived for only 30 minutes. On Friday we set out to find her resting spot, and we believe we found it.
The cemetery records are fairly thorough yet quite honest– plots are listed on a grid with any and all relevant indicators like names and dates. It also states that some child graves are unmarked. Given the Romeiser’s financial status, I fully believe they would have provided Baby Julia with a headstone.
At the Hilgard plot, you see a tall obelisk dedicated to Theodore and Emma. It is surrounded by headstones where the names are too eroded to read. Going off of the plot grid and information online, we were able to determine which headstones belong to who. In the place where Baby Julia could lie, there’s an ineligible marker. The website lists her name on this plot and says that she was laid to rest next to her Grandparents’ marker– the obelisk. This headstone is next to the obelisk and we believe it’s for Julia.
Regardless, she’s in this general area.
We aren’t normally ones to explore cemeteries or graveyards but something about this family drives me to do things out of the ordinary, like speak in public or clean. 😉
Because there’s no one really left to tell these stories, we felt that Baby Julia deserves this, someone who knows about her, who knows about her light that shone all too briefly. It’s just another sad piece in the puzzle that is the Romeisers.