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Finding a Grave Site

by Vern Taylor

Before we left on vacation, we tried the Internet and USGenWeb in particular to see if we could find the grave site for Shawn Shoup, born Oct 1972- Apr 1973 in Eloy, Pinal, AZ. He only lived six months, but my wife Renda (half sister to Shawn) remembers him well. She really wanted to visit his grave site during this trip.

That Internet search didn't turn up anything so we called the FHC in Mesa and then went in person the day after we arrived at my parents house. Not finding anything there, we went by referral to the Mesa public library. They looked and then recommended us to Judy in reference at the Arizona state library in Phoenix. We called her and left her our information. We returned home and called her back after lunch and found she had not located anything in the obituaries or elsewhere. We also called the Mesa city cemetery and had them check their records to no avail.

We planed a trip south 45 miles to Eloy, the next day. We found Eloy to be a small city stretched out over about 10 miles of territory. We had to ask for directions three times to find the center of the city and locate the city court house. We talked to Mary Ridgell at the records office and she searched her card file for death records without finding anything either. I asked for her card, and then we returned home greatly dispirited.

Shawn was the second son of George E. Shoup and JoAnn Findling. A son born a year earlier, was named Brian. Her previous marriage with Floyd Dill resulted in 5 children: Jesse, Billy, Vicky, Terry, and Renda Dill. Why should it be so hard to find a child's grave, who is remembered by five half-siblings? We also wondered just what else we could do to find him.

Back at home (parent's house in Mesa) I tried Mary at the state library again. She called back just before 5:00 p.m. with three phone numbers. I called and left a message with a lady who researches cemeteries in the area, and then I called the Eloy funeral home.

At 5 minutes til 5:00 p.m. I talked with Elmer Fredley and he agreed to call me back if he found anything in his records. I figured 5:00 p.m. would be closing time and since the next day was Thanksgiving day holiday, that I wouldn't hear back from him until Friday.

At 5:40 pm. (still on Wednesday), Fred calls back and says he has found the record. As I take down the information he has over the phone, my wife, Renda, who was listening, is shouting "He's buried as a what?"

The information we received pointed up the fact that death records are the least accurate of any of the vital records. Shawn Shoup was buried as Shawn Dill. His mother was listed as JoAnn Dill instead of maiden name Findling. And his father's surname was misspelled as Shove even though he signed it Shoup.

We enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with our family and on Friday we took another trip to Eloy. Since the funeral home did not have the grave site location, we stopped at the city records office only to find it closed. From Fred's directions we found the Eloy cemetery and Renda remembered the approximate location for Shawn's grave, but it was unmarked.

We stopped at the funeral home and Fred gave us a copy of the death certificate. We also met the funeral director from 27 years ago who just happened to be there, the one who had performed Shawn's service. Some serendipity there. We stopped for a minute to see Renda's childhood home on the way out of town.

Upon our return home from vacation, we emailed Mary at the Eloy court house with our new information and she was also able to find the record under the Dill surname. She also gave us the section, row and lot numbers to locate the exact grave site.

Thanks to the many people who had helped us we now had the information we'd set out to find.


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