Friday, May 8, 2009

Meet: Chuck Courtwright, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Christian County, Illinois"

The twenty seventh in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


Thank You for asking me to tell a little about myself. I was born in Springfield, IL., graduated from Lanphier HS there. Served two years in the Army with time in Viet Nam. I worked as an engineering Technician most of my life with a hobby of photography. In between Engineering Tech jobs I worked as a professional photographer. (I might add that I Loved darkroom work!). Moved to Edinburg, IL about 30 years ago, where I reside now. I’m married and have my dog ‘JC’.

About 11 years ago, my mom died and along with my brother and sister (10-11 years older than I respectively) cleaning out mom’s house they kept giving me ‘things’ (old papers / photo’s, etc.) saying “take this home and see what it is”. Of course being curious I did as I was told, spent hours going thru all this and finding names and photo’s I’d never heard of nor ever seen. I thought ‘I’m going to have to really get into this and see what I can find out, especially for my nephews, nieces and cousins. Hence, this started my genealogy future.

I knew that my mother had been born near Morrisonville, Christian County, (btw - Edinburg is also in Christian County) and I thought my grandfather (James H. Strablow) was buried at Morrisonville. So, on a Saturday we took off for Morrisonville, found the cemetery and started walking – sure enough, we found grandpa’s gravestone and on the other side was his father and mother, whom I’d never heard of. Took some photo’s and came home. Got to reading some more and found the name Dow, and information they were in Morrisonville cemetery, so the same Saturday we went back and sure enough, right next to grandpa’s stone was the Dow clan. WOW, talk about a genealogy Happy Dance!!! I later found out that Peter Dow was my Great Grandfather. Needless to say I was ‘hooked’ on genealogy.

I had gotten into computers via my Engineering job and I got Family Tree Maker, signed up with Ancestry and started looking / learning / finding. Posted my tree on FTM and soon got a snail mail note asking about the ‘Strablow’ side of my family. Seems as though cousins of mine had seen my tree and also found a query I had posted and responded to it. I sent them information I had gotten from mom’s and they were able to tell me who the people were. The start of a great relationship with actually ‘living’ relatives.

About 3.5 years ago I decided to join the Christian County IL. Genealogical Society (CCGS). (I hadn’t wanted to join and just be a name, I wanted to DO something, for the Society, and for others.) I might add that the Board Members of the CCGS are the best group of people I have ever met and been a part of. Our meetings are fun, decisive, everyone speaks up, each member has their ‘thing’ to do and does it faithfully. They are a Great bunch!

I was getting ready to sign up for rootsweb and one Saturday a girl, (Joan Pearson Blood) I had met before came in our library to get some cemetery books. In talking with Joan she had started her genealogy and decided to photograph every gravestone in every cemetery in Christian County and make available on the web. I mentioned to her of joining our Society, which she did. At the first CCGS Board meeting Joan attended we were discussing our website and she mentioned she would like to be a part of it. I told her we’d let her know what she could do, and on the way home I said Chuck, you dummy, give the website to her, she’s younger than you, energetic . . . I got home, e-mailed the roots web info I had to her and said go for it! Now Joan is our CCGS WebMaster and cemetery guru. ( (So far she has photographed 14 complete cemeteries of the 80 known Christian County IL cemeteries.) Joan is posting the photo’s to ( which she has a link from our site.

I had always wanted to ‘blog’ and when they started the ‘GraveYard Rabbit’s’ blogs I signed up. Blogging was something I had wanted to do and here was my chance. I have had a hard time coming up with something to blog about, but am still learning and trying.

A young girl at the church I attended got me on FaceBook and now I’m addicted to that also. What a Great group of knowledgeable / helpful people the genealogists are. I’d like to publicly Thank them All for their friendships.

The CCGS Library is housed at the Christian County Historical Museum in Taylorville, IL. The young girl they had working during open hours quit and two years ago the Historical Society president asked me if I’d like to work for them. I accepted and have been working for them ever since.

It’s great to have a job such as this, meeting people that are interested in the history of Christian County and being able to help them with their genealogy. Plus working with our CCGS Board and getting photo’s, articles ready for our website. I also like reading others genealogy blogs and being a Graveyard Rabbit.

I have also started monthly classes on Sunday’s for ‘computer/genealogy information’. Anyone is welcome and they are free. With these classes I’ll be able help others use the computer and get into genealogy and ‘spread the word’ about the Graveyard Rabbits.

For now I believe this brief synopsis of one GYR – Please check back often to read about other Rabbits! - Chuck

1 comment:

Cheryle Hoover Davis said...

My Great-Aunt, Ada Belle Martin, was married to Arthur Otis Blood. The Martin family was from Christian Co., IL.

Arthur Otis Blood's family came from Maine.

I wonder if Joan Pearson Blood is of the same family?

The Martin family had come from Hawkins Co., TN before going to Christian Co., IL