Monday, May 25, 2015

Around the Bend and Into the Past...

I know most of us believe in the term "Serendipity".

  1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
    "a fortunate stroke of serendipity"
    synonyms:(happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke
    luck, good luck, good fortune,fortuityprovidence
    happy coincidence
    "the consequence of serendipity is sometimes a brilliant discovery"

This little occurrence by chance wasn't by chance at all,
and it started for me about 23 years ago.

A few weekends ago, we were on a drive to the west, actually we'd been to Joplin to check out some campers (more on that later).  We were heading home on the Interstate when my husband felt a little spider on his arm. He went into contortions trying to get the little furry critter off of him and finally I said, "Pull off at this exit, before we have more problems than locating a little spider." So we took the next exit and found a gravel turnoff.

He jumped out of the car and searched high and low, but couldn't locate the big bad spider; it was nowhere to be found. When he pulled out of the gravel road he said, "Well, let's take the "scenic route" back and stay off the Interstate". No sooner than we got back onto the smaller 2 lane highway that was headed through some picturesque farmland, than something caught my eye and caused me to have that "deja vu" feeling. I let him drive a bit, but said. "You know, that spot back there reminds me of an old cemetery we visited quite awhile back. The girls were little, and I came with my mom and dad." So we turned around and headed back.

Now, I'm going to let you in on a little "joke". 
One of those "ha ha" jokes that has always annoyed me, 
and I'd say, "yea, yea. funny, funny".
My maiden name is "Tolliver" and my married name is "Oliver".
uh huh...
what a coincidence...

When I met my husband I knew we were destined to live with this silliness. I've always joked, "Oliver Tolliver from Bolivar". Bolivar is a small town to our NW, and no, I'm not from there.

But my mom and dad's family are both from Mount Vernon, Missouri, although they didn't live there at the same time. It's a rural small town between Springfield and Joplin. My dad's people had owned a large farm and property back before the Civil War, and after he (the owner) was killed in the war, the property was illegally seized by no gooders. "Carpet Baggers", they used to call them. Think "Gone With the Wind". Anyway, the farm property and home are long gone, but the family cemetery is still here. 

These kind of family cemeteries were usually on the property
 and were for family and extended family only.

The headstone below is one from the last 50 years, 
put there to replace an original, all the rest are before 1900.
The earliest date we could make out was 1818.

All of the headstones are from the Civil War Era, 
and some are so worn down by the elements they are unreadable.

But the little cemetery itself was kept up and mowed, and the most amazing Peony bushes had been planted near the markers. They were just ready to bloom, and I wish I'd been there just a few days later to see them in their glory.

We, like so many families in this area, had members die in the Civil War, and even a story of 2 brothers who fought on opposite sides. You've heard of the "Mason-Dixon Line", which in Missouri, was a cultural boundery between North and South. Missouri was one of the states that was divided. The southern counties fought with the Confederacy, and the northern with the Union. But many families had strong cultural and political ties that were not to be easily broken. 

This is my favorite pic of the afternoon. 
The sky is gray and brooding over the farmland,
 which I imagine was once part of my family's property.

My grandfather changed the spelling of our last name, adding another "L", making it easier to pronounce. "Tall"iver, instead of guessing at "Toe"-liver. There was a time when every TV western and movie had at least one bad guy or horse thief named "Toliver". so lovely.

If I would have been trying to find this I never would have. My mom didn't remember where it was located. Once the Interstate went through we didn't need to take that smaller highway any longer. So that's how a little spider and some serendipity gave me a really wonderful memory and blessing. I know it was not just a coincidence, because I prefer to think God was giving me that blessing, Himself. He's like that, you know.

Joining Here:

Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings


  1. Everything about this is just so amazingly good, thank you for sharing it! And now, you can either tell your daughters or take them there yourself so they will have the history too. Serendipitous, indeed.

  2. What a wonderful story. There is no doubt in my mind that God had a hand in this. Love your photos, Debra. Deb

  3. what an amazing story, just a little turn off to find the spider and there you were... thank you for sharing, a great story.. and family history is always so fascinating too..x

  4. I truly love this story. The whole thing amazes me. Right down to the fact that your husband actually turned around for you.

  5. How neat Debra! We like to visit old cemeteries especially where family members are. In fact, in my husband's family they seriously make it a habit to take care of the places.

    I don't think I told you that my oldest son who is 25 moved to Branson two months ago. We've been up to visit him twice. We sure love driving through Arkansas and Missouri. It just doesn't get any prettier than that!

  6. Great story, family history is so interesting isn't it?

  7. Oh wow, this is so amazing. What a Blessing for sure.

  8. Thank you for sharing this sweet "God" story!! Such a special gift on a Spring day to bring back memories and thoughts of long ago and the heritage that you have from the lives of others. I love this kind of thing. Love your blog and look every day. Thank you for sharing your adventures, Debra. Blessings, Linda

  9. Debra,
    A m a z i n g, indeed!!!
    What blessing God bestows upon us when we are attuned to his Spirit!!!
    Thank you for sharing your 'around the bend' adventure with us!!!

  10. What a lovely story. God can use anything to move us to where He wants to bless us. He can even use a spider! What a treasure to discover!

  11. Love this story. It definitely had God's hand in it, didn't it? So interesting to visit old cemeteries - especially those family ones. What a great trip and story!

    Happy Memorial Day to you!


  12. I so enjoy stories like this--and I have a great fondness for old cemeteries and the stories they tell. Happy Memorial Weekend!

  13. I love to take my camera and stroll through old cemeteries. I haven't done that in a long time. Happy Memorial Day weekend.

  14. Wow! Now that is quite the coincidence! What a story and how neat you found it again! You live close to my area although I live is Kansas. It was fun hearing about the history from around the area! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Oh dear Debra... yes, God gave you a blessing... and you have given me a blessing sharing your tale... I love to hear about these kinds of incidences... no, not coincidence... it was truly meant to be for you to come upon this very special, sacred spot... you look beautiful there!... I can sense your deja vu... what a beautiful post... I love you, xoxo... Julie Marie

  16. Ah, I think that was meant to be. We sometimes call those spiders 'money spiders' but it brought you some 'other' luck instead I think. Lovely pics

  17. I believe that God wanted you to stop there - therefore the spider. What a beautiful story Debra. thank you so much for sharing it with us. I also love old cemetery's and always go looking for my family when I go to Virginia.
    Beautiful pictures and you also look terrific.

    1. thanks Mary, it really was such a wonderful moment!

  18. That was a wonderful story Debra. I know you will always be so grateful for that visit and that spider tapping on your husband's shoulder.

  19. Wow, that's something! God did want you there, to see you history again. It must of been a wonderful experience and yet a little eerie. Loved finding out about your family history. There's a real old cemetery about 6 miles a way in the woods, never knew it was there, but I'm always beckoned to go there. I really enjoyed this post and thanks for sharing. Hope your weekend is a good one.

  20. Our God is JUST like that!

  21. Now that is amazing! God is so good, what a great find for you!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

  22. I love this story! Thank you for sharing it. You were right where you were suppose to be and God brought it all together. Hugs,

  23. Thanks for sharing. I would love to visit your little cemetery. My family is from Missouri and I would so love to return and check out the old cemeteries around that area. My family lived in many areas around Monet, Joplin, Springfield and many other places. I'm glad you had a bit of serendipity in your day. Bless You!

    1. Hi Carol, glad to visit with another Missourian, I'd love to hear more about it!

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  25. loved the rich history you shared about your family and the area! My hubby and I found a pioneer cemetery very close to our home literally out in the middle of farmland at the top of a hill here in Oregon. It was like going back in time as many of the headstones had a story to tell.

  26. I think you are right Debra! What a lovely story! Love the picture of you. I've been working on a little geneology of my mother's family, and am finding where some of them were killed in the civil war, too. It's interesting to learn about our past. I'm so glad you got to go there again.

    1. thanks Kathy, I hate having my pic taken, but I'm on a quest to be more "real"!!

  27. GOD moves in mysterious ways! Happy for you locating it again!

  28. I love the story! I live in one of those small towns just off the 4 lane...and I love the two lane we live on. Our small development of abt 15 houses were built on a previous family farm. The small family cemetery plot is still there, and one of our neighbors takes it upon himself to keep it mowed, weeded, and the white plank fence sections in good repair. Warms my heart. I walked into the old cemetery plot one day and most of the dates are mid to late 1800s. last names similar to mine! I understand the whole carpetbagger history and how the south has struggled ever since what is called "northern aggression." Love your story today. Sheila

  29. Wow! I truly believe that happened on purpose somehow. What were the odds of that happening?! That is such a great find. I'm sure your other family members will want to visit it now.

  30. Deb, this is an amazing story. Just wow. Indeed, serendipity....and the irony is no spider was to be found.

    Yep, God works like that sometimes to be sure. Thanks for sharing this special family history.

    It is fascinating!

  31. How cool is that, Debra! I just love how God sneaks in these wonderful blessings for His children, right when He knows we would love a surprise!! Just precious!

    Hugs to you sweetie!!
    Have a wonderful week!

  32. I enjoyed your story of this cemetery. It's wonderful how God used a little spider to make this story happen. Have a nice week!

  33. What a fantastic story, Debra. God is good.

  34. What a wonderful story! Oh yes you were getting a Blessing !! :)

  35. Sweet Debra, I was reading the comments and your replies before I started forming my comment and I just want to start off by saying you are one of the real-est women out there. That said, you know how I feel about coinkydinks...ain't no such thing. God definitely placed "Charlotte" in your car for a purpose and a message. Maybe it's we have to revisit the past to make out our future. Maybe it's just as simple as letting you know the well traveled road may be quicker, but it doesn't come with the view. And perhaps, it's a reminder to us all, relayed through you, that life comes with detours...some good, some not so good. But to get to where we're going we have to take them. I'd do a ride along with you any day, any where.

  36. I love family history. Mine and other folks too. What an awesome story!


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