There were three stars in Dad‘s firmament and as we grew up we were bathed in the glow they cast: Vinita, OMA, Mercedes.  We heard about those places throughout our childhood and beyond.  There was a fourth place that I learned about shortly before my father died when I overheard a difficult discussion between he and my mother.  Dad was begging her to take him to Seneca. ” No,” she said.  “But that’s where all my people are,” dad said.  He didn’t get to Seneca.

“Seneca,” I mused, “where is that?”  I didn’t recall ever hearing about Seneca and decided to find out why dad wanted so desperately to go there.  In fact, that overheard dialogue is what ultimately sent me on this journey.  Who were the people dad spoke of and why had we never known them?

Seneca is a very small town; just one main street bisected by the Lost Creek.   The original settlers in the 1830’s came from Ohio down the rivers to Arkansas and west to settle on and around Lost Creek.

One of those men was Edward Sherer.  He and his bride, Elizabeth Buzzard, her parents and two other families are the founding families of Seneca.  The Sherers had 12 children; seven survived to adulthood.  Their fourth child, John Pinckney Sherer, is my great great grandfather.

I found the graves of JP Sherer and his wife, Mary J. Thompson Sherer adjacent to that of their son, my great grandfather, James L. Sherer and his daughter, Henri Alberta Sherer, my grandmother.  On either side of the big granite Sherer marker are two small stones–one says Papa and the other Berta.

An obelisk of white marble stands next to them.  It reads: Henry A. Jackson 1862-1887 and at the base: Our Brother.  Henri Alberta was named after her uncle who died at age 25.  I do not know the cause of his death.  He must have come with his newlywed sister, Alice, to Seneca in 1886 and died a year later.

After many hours of searching I found a small, badly carved and eroded stone which I could barely read.  I believe that it says Alice Sherer 1866-1937.  I do not know why the stone is so crude nor why Alice is not buried with her family.  I hope to get additional information from the cemetery caretakers and resolve this mystery.

So, yes, dad’s people are in Seneca.  We traveled back and forth from Missouri to California at least twice when we were kids.  We often went old Highway 66 which passes through Seneca.  Why did we never stop?

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