Ridley Cemetery, Another Mystic Coincidence
Here is another Digging in a Family Cemetery Adventure. My mother's mother was Frances Viola Ridley (1885-1968). She married William Elijah Joseph Petty (1875-1935). Frances' parents are Thomas Jefferson Ridley (1859-1938) and Maryetta Ludarden Pullen (1856-1913).
When I got interested in family research I wanted to look at every relative's tombstone, or marker, that I could: I might learn something.
Family cemeteries off the beaten path, on private land, sometimes were a challenge.
I knew there is a Ridley Cemetery in the Crandall Community of Murray County, Georgia. But, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, literally.
I heard my Grandma Petty (F. Viola Ridley) speak of it and my mother remembered it but had no idea where it was at.
I decided to drive up to the Crandall Community and look for the cemetery.
I drove up the Hwy 225 that goes from the I-75, through Gordon County, and crosses Hwy 52 at the historic Van House. On Hwy 22 near the Van House was an independent hotdog and hamburger joint. I am drawn to down-to-earth non-franchised greasy spoons like this (and independent barbecue joints). I pulled in the parking lot an went up to the outside order window and ordered something to eat. On the way to the order window I passed an orange Ga. D.O.T. truck. The man behind the wheel was looking down.
On the way back to the car with my food the driver of the D.O.T. truck was still looking down.
"What the hell." I said to myself and rapped on the edge of his window.
He looked up.
I introduced myself and started my spill, "Pardon me sir, but I am from Marietta and I came up here looking for my ancestors' graves. They are in the Ridley Family Cemetery in Crandall and I have no idea how to find it."
His looked at me surprised. I wasn't sure how to carry on the conversation.
He said, "What is the family cemetery you are looking for again?"
He said, "Look!"
He held up a topical map without looking at what he was doing. He pushed the map up to my face and removed his hand. A little clump of graphs and the words RIDLEY CEMETERY beamed up at me.
What are the odds? Coincidence or a mystic chess game?
He told me that on his lunch hour he liked to go to family cemeteries in the area and look at them.
I didn't tell him because he might think I'm a nut that I do the same thing, more or less.
He told me he was making his plans on visiting the Ridley Cemetery the next day.
He wrote me down directions on how to find it.
Interesting it is on Jim Petty Road. Jim Petty is my mother's uncle.
By his directions less than 20 minutes later I was at the Ridley Cemetery taking notes.
It is on the edge of a ravine and by metal rail guard rail from Jim Petty Road.
As I was taking notes I saw in my peripheral vision movement.
I immediately looked up to see an elderly man bent over in crouch advancing towards me with a shotgun aimed at my face.
"Hi!" I said.
The old man with the shotgun kept it aimed at my face asked me what did I want.
I told him I had Ridley kin-folks and ancestors buried there and I wanted to see their graves.
He asked me how was I related to the Ridleys.
I said my grandmother, my mother's mother Viola Ridley married a Petty....and.... he interupted me. (that was OK, he could interrupt me all he wanted.
"You Ola's grandson?"
He lowered his gun.
He talked about Viola and other Ridleys and wanted to know more where Viola moved to. He told me next time I visit drop by his house (pointing) and tell him so I wouldn't scare him. "Likewise", I thought.
Two or three years later I returned to the Ridley Cemetery with my sons Rocky and Adam.
We parked on the side of Jim Petty Road and we looked at the markers and I was telling the boys about the history and genealogy of some of them.
For instance our ancestors Henry Ridley, Sr (1833-1901) and wife Nellie Melinda Killian Dyson (1824-1898). Notice that Nellie is about nine years older than Henry. Henry and Nellie used to live next door to each other in Union County, Georgia. Henry lived with his parents William Ridley and Mary Polly Giles. Nellie Melinda lived with her husband Solomon Dyson and their four childen. Need I say more? Get the idea?
Interesting three young siblings, children of Henry and Nellie Melinda, are buried in the same grave, all dying in 1868. Probably a epidemic, like smallpox.
On this second trip a group of young bikers on dirt-bikes started riding in the field near us, jumping over the ravine. They were riding around and around us, getting closer each time. They were acting wild. I thought it best to leave.
Years later when I got a good camera Anna and I returned for a third trip but could not find it.
I found the two pictures on findagrave.com. They were taken by Brian Ozement.