When I first wrote Our Boller Story back in 2006, I challenged us as a family to accomplish two dreams by October 2016.
Dream #1 – to come together as a family in October of 2016 – the 200th year of the Bollers in America – to celebrate this special anniversary. More on how we accomplished this dream here.
Dream #2 – to replace the nearly non-existent gravestone of George F. Boller – the first Boller in our immediate family to set foot in America in October 1816.
Allow me, here, to tell you the amazing story of my ggg grandfather, George F. Boller‘s grave site in Goshen, Indiana, and how we came to the decision to replace his gravestone in 2016.
After my dad, George E. Boller, passed away in 1994, I found a small collection of his family ancestral records, tracing our Boller family tree. He loved to keep lists on little index cards and on one of those cards (see above), he had written down a few facts about the parents of his great grandfather, Jacob B. Boller, and Jacob’s wife, Catharine, who lived near Kalona, Iowa.
As you can see, all my dad knew was that Jacob’s father was named George Boller, and for a few years after my discovery of these index cards, all my research had failed to uncover much more.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, in the early 2000’s, I stumbled across a website that listed a ‘George Boller‘ who was buried in a small Mennonite cemetery – Clinton Union Cemetery – located on the eastern edge of Goshen, Indiana. Interestingly, the land of Goshen has played a significant part in my wife’s family, with Sandy’s parents, Jack & LaVonne Unrue, living in or around Goshen for a good portion of their adult lives! Below is Sandy pictured in front of a home on 8th Street where she and her family lived while growing up in Goshen!
Curious to find out more, I dropped an email to the contact person listed on the website – Wanda Kauffman Hoffman – who lives in Goshen, asking for more information. At this point in time, I had so few facts about George Boller, it seemed like a shot in the dark. But fortunately, that one shot hit the bulls-eye, because over the next few weeks, with the wonderful help of Wanda and her research, we did confirm that this nearly-overlooked grave site at Clinton Union Cemetery was indeed the resting place of my ggg grandfather, George F. Boller, who moved to Indiana in the latter part of his life (after 1860), and then was buried (1877) next to his daughter and son-in-law, Anna C. (Christiana) and Benjamin Stutzman! Read more here.
On our next trip to visit Sandy’s family (July 2002), we finally paid our first visit to George’s grave site, and over the years, we’ve made numerous visits – which, amazingly, is located only a couple of miles east of LaVonne Unrue’s home in Goshen! So, allow me, here, to share my notes from these past visits and tell you more about our 2016 goal of replacing George’s old gravestone…
The tombstone has fallen over and is not in very good condition. While George’s name is not readable on the stone (the stone is cracked in two and the area where his name would appear is long gone), the cemetery records are very clear that this burial site belongs to him.
The stone is not very readable, but I took some wonderful crayon etchings and while the results are a bit sketchy, it does look like “Dec 8” is George’s date of death. Since the tombstone clearly shows that George reached a ripe old age of 83 years, 10 months, and 20 days, we can say with fairly good certainty that George was born on January 18, 1794* and died on December 8, 1877.*
I picked up two small stones near the tombstone on the hot July day I was there and I keep them as a wonderful reminder of my German/American fore-father who went before me. As best I know, I was the first ‘son’ of George F. Boller to return to his Goshen, Indiana burial site to pay my respects to this very important man in our family line. I encourage you to visit there someday yourself!
I visited the grave site again this summer and found George’s gravestone in even worse condition than I found it four years earlier. One part of the stone had been dug up and was laying scattered near the other. I tried to re-arrange the stone to its original position, but the old sandstone is getting very fragile. It won’t be long before the site might be totally overlooked by cemetery lawn keepers.
Maybe in the future, the Boller family can purchase a new gravestone and place it at the site as a remembrance to George & Elizabeth.
The dream we shared back in 2006 was to replace the worn-out, broken gravestone of George F. Boller. So, as part of our celebration of our 200th year in America, we purchased and setup a beautiful replacement headstone for George, replacing the original marker which was quickly wasting away in Clinton Union Cemetery outside Goshen, Indiana. Below are pictures of that new stone placed in 2016!
In March 2016, Sandy & I visited the George F. Boller grave site and was pleasantly surprised to see that cemetery groundskeepers had picked up the two large broken pieces of George’s headstone and refitted them into the grave site! We took some pics (above) and we began conversations with LaGrange Monument Works in Goshen, working to place a new grave marker at George’s original tombstone in time for our 200th celebration of Bollers in America-October 2016.
Sandy, on a visit to see her mother, visited the grave site in June 2016 and took a pic of the newly-completed gravestone!
Sandy & I visited the site once again in September of 2019. What a blessing to see this new celebration of George’s life.
In December of 2021 – We paid yet another visit to my ggg grandfather, George F. Boller in Goshen, Indiana. Godspeed!
*As we were working on this extensive re-write of Our Boller Story in January 2022, we were able to recover on-line, via Ancestry.com, 52 documents that we’ve never seen before in our 25+ years of research on George F. Boller. One of the amazing pieces we found (above) was the order and paid receipt ($20) for George’s original gravestone from C.V. Inks Marble Works of Ligonier, Indiana. This paperwork offers us some valuable information that no one had ever been able to recover – until now. For all the details – click here!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.