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Saturday, June 23, 2012

LaRue Mizelle - Where are you?

Last week two ladies were walking through Miller Cemetery looking for the grave site of LaRue Mizelle. My history buddy, Steve Eichinger, happened to be in the cemetery, and they asked him if he knew where LaRue was buried. Seems they were working on a genealogy project for a friend with a family connection to LaRue.

LaRue Mizelle was a likable, easy going guy.

Steve was able to take the ladies to LaRue's wife Vola's grave in the West section of Miller Cemetery. Hers is the only gravestone on the four grave plot which caused the two ladies to ask, "Where is her husband, LaRue, buried?"

Not knowing the answer to their question, Steve called me from the cemetery and asked me to look up the location of LaRue's burial on my computer database of New Gretna burials. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that LaRue was not listed. 

There are no official burial records for Miller Cemetery. They either were not kept or were lost many years ago. The database we presently have was constructed by reading information on the existing grave stones, so if someone was buried in Miller Cemetery without a tombstone we would have no record of their burial.

So, the obvious questions concerning LaRue's where-a-abouts are "Is LaRue buried in Miller Cemetery without a stone or is he buried somewhere else?" and "If he is buried in Miller Cemetery without a stone, in what plot is he buried?" As Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying at the beginning of each case, "The game is a foot!"

The first place to begin our investigation into the life of LaRue Mizelle is on the internet. Here we find information from the Social Security deaths records that tell us that LaRue was born December 24, 1898 and died in February, 1970 while living in New Gretna. It's not a lot of information , but it's a start!

Census records give us additional information.

The June 9, 1900 census tells us that LaRue was one year old and living in Columbia County, Florida with his parents, William and Carrie.

LaRue's 1917 World War I draft registration card gives us more information. It confirms his birthdate listed in the Social Security records; tells us that he was living on Cleveland Street in Riverside, New Jersey in Burlington County; was employed as a jointer's helper at the Traylor Shipyard in Bucks County, Pa.;  and his middle name was Deleon. His closest relative is listed as his father, William, which indicates that he was not yet married.

I was unable to find 1910 census records on LaRue, so we pick up the Mizelle family in the 1920 census where they are living in Riverside Townhip, New Jersey. LaRue, now 21 years old, has two brothers, Ercel and Percy, and a sister, Coletta.

The 1930 census shows us that LaRue has moved out of his parents house, is married to Vola B., has a daughter, Lois, and is living with his father-in-law, William Loveland, on Greenbush Road in Bass River Township.

A young Vola Loveland before her marriage to LaRue

The 1940 census shows that LaRue and Vola are still living in Bass River Township but have moved out of the William Loveland house to a home on North Maple Avenue. They now have two daughters, Lois (age 13) and Fay (age 8). Tolbert Loveland, Vola's younger brother, is living with them. LaRue's occupation is listed as "Bayman". Note that Vola's name is mispelled as "Viola".

Fay (left) and Lois Mizelle

In 1940, the Mizelle family lived in an old house on North Maple Avenue which was across the street from the present Municipal Building. It was known as the "Owl's Roost" by the old timers. The house was torn down sometime in the late 1960's. The property is now a gravel parking lot.

The "Owl's Roost" just before being torn down

Location of the Owl's Roost
(Photo courtesy of Bing Maps)

LaRue, in addition to working the bay, also ran a charter fishing boat as evidenced by the following undated clipping from a local directory. The last boat he owned was called the Evelyn which he kept at Allen's Dock which is just a stone's throw from the Bass River Bridge..

(Right to left) LaRue, Tom Newell, and Lib Shutte.

We've been fleshing out LaRue's life but still haven't solved the problem of where he is buried. A review of records from the Woods Funeral Home narrows down this mystery with a notation that LaRue born December 24, 1898 in Jacksonville, Florida, died on February 17, 1970 and was buried in Miller Cemetery in New Gretna. This is not surprising, as his wife, Vola, is buried in the West section of Miller Cemetery with a headstone.  The funeral records also tell us that his daughter, Lois, married name is "Ready" and Fay's married name is "Venti".

There is no head stone for LaRue in Miller Cemetery, but one might assume that he is buried next to Vola without a stone. This assumption; however, would be incorrect. A probing of the three empty grave sites on the plot where Vola is buried shows that they are unoccupied. LaRue is not buried with his wife. So the mystery deepens!

Realizing that I likely would find no documentation as to where in Miller Cemetery LaRue is buried, I turned to another source - oral testimony. Howard Ware, now 91 years old, remembers LaRue's death and burial next to Orville Hickman in the West section of Miller Cemetery, not far from Vola's grave site.

LaRue spent the last few years of his life with Lib Schutte in the old Hickman house on Hickman's Hill on North Maple Avenue, then called Allentown Road. Lib's brother was Orville Hickman who is buried in the Hickman plot in the West section of Miller Cemetery. LaRue was buried in an unmarked grave next to Orville. This information supports Howard's recollection.

Well, as Sherlock Holmes would say at the end of a successful case . . . "Case solved, my dear Watson!" And so it is with the where-a-abouts of LaRue Mizelle. May he rest in peace!

Pete S


  1. Pete: Great detective work. Some stories are best untold. Who were the ladies asking the question?

    Clif Brown

  2. Clif,

    Yes, some stories are left untold. Even Sherlock Holmes didn't tell Watson everything.

    I don't know who the two ladies were.

    Pete S

  3. Pete:

    Nice sleuthing! While it may be a trifling matter, if you look closely at LaRue's First World War draft form, you will find that his employer was Traylor, not Taylor. The Traylor Engineering Company, located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, obtained a contract from the United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation, to construct Ferris-type 3500-ton wooden cargo ships for carrying war materiel to Europe. Traylor acquired riverfront property in the Echo Beach section of Cornwell Heights, Pennsylvania and established a wooden shipyard with eight construction ways. Traylor fabricated the boilers and other machinery and equipment at Allentown and then shipped the finished items by rail to the shipyard. When the war ended, two ships remained on the ways not yet launched, but virtually completed. The U.S. government ordered the ships dynamited at a loss of $800,000 to the taxpayers. For more information on Theodore E. Ferris and his ship design, please see this website:

    Best regards,

    1. Pete: Right on.This story high lites a problem regarding unmarked graves.If New Gretna cementaries under the NGOHS have this problem, why not establish a fund to furnish markers to all those sites. It would be a worth while project supported by members and others interested in remembering those buried.

      Clif Brown

    2. Paul,

      Thanks for the "Traylor" correction. I made the correct in the Blog post.


      Pete S

    3. Pete: You identified a residence as the "Owl's Roost. All my years living in New Gretna I never heard it called that. Frank Grey and his wife lived in it for a period of time. Was that name something new or old. Who told you that???

      Regards - Clif Brown

    4. Clif,

      I believe it must be an old name. I don't know its origin, but I was told by a few old timers that the house was called the Owl's Roost or the Owl's Nest. It was the house that Kathleen Gray lived in right after she married Frank Gray. I believe that the Mulligan family was the last family to live there.

      Pete S

  4. Hi Pete: Looks like practically every Loveland in NG is a cousin of mine, but I cannot find Vola. Who were her parents if you have the info. Thanks
    Beverly Mathis Robinson

  5. I believe Larue was my husband's grandfather's brother, Ercel. Ercel died young but had a daughter that never knew of her relatives. I still would like to find out from exactly where the Mizelle came from. So far, I have their father Willie Delin Mizelle from Fl, whose father was from NC and mother from GA. I cannot find a grave of them either.

  6. Vola Loveland Mizelle and LaRue Mizelle are my grandparents! My mom was Mildred faye, who passed in 2006. My Aunt Lois passed away also. I remember going to New Gretna to the "rustic tavern" as a child, which my grandmother worked in (or possibly owned part of).

    1. Please, could you contact me at, I would like to find out more about the Mizelle family in NJ. Thank you!

  7. Would there be pictures about Larue and his brother, Ercel?

  8. My post from 11/13/13 identifies me as the one of the grandchildren of Vola and Larue Mizelle. Unfortunately both my mother Faye and Aunt Lois have passed away. I am one of 5 grandchildren - 2 in PA, 2 in FL, and 1 still in NJ and not far from New Gretna. As of last year Frieda (Rustic Inn) is still alive, somewhere in the LBI area.
    I really don't have much information about the Mizelle family at all but do have slight lineage information about my maternal lineage.