Personal Research

Briners in Vira Methodist Church Cemetery, Mifflin County, PA

Today’s GeneaBloggers Tribe topic selection is: “Tombstone Tuesday – exactly what it sounds like it is.”

Most of the family tombstones I’ve been able to find are pretty plain, which is a little disappointing. I keep hoping for a detailed inscription, or a fancy image, or a carving! But most of my ancestors who could afford gravestones tended towards the “modest” type, and the most they’ve got on them (that I’ve found so far), is their names and dates.

So instead, I thought I’d go a little off-script for this prompt! I’m going to write instead about one of the cemeteries that my ancestors are buried in. For this week’s post, I’ve picked the Vira Methodist Church Cemetery, in which a good chunk of my Briner-Vespa branch relatives are buried.

The Vira Methodist Church Cemetery is located in Vira, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. It’s less than 10 miles away from Lewistown and Burnham, two of the major Briner family hometowns. It’s so small, it didn’t even show up on Google maps until I checked Streetview. Here’s some screengrabs of that (click to enlarge):


Surprisingly, the church itself has a little subpage on the United Methodist Church main website. Their congregation count is currently at 32.

I have no idea (yet) whether my ancestors actually went to this church or not, but it’s totally possible. It might also have been that it was the closest Methodist cemetery to where they lived; the others that are nearby are of a different denomination.

According to Find-A-Grave, currently listed as buried in the Vira Methodist Church Cemetery are the following Briners:
John A. Briner and Eliza Jane Ayers Briner, my 2nd great grandparents.
Ira Dyson Briner and Jesse Grace Mitchell Briner, my great-grandparents.
Edith M. Briner Kline and Ross Kline, my 2nd great-aunt and 2nd great-uncle.
Dorothy C. Briner Mackneer and Henry Mackneer, my great-aunt and great-uncle.

A person who I’m reasonably sure is my relative, though I’m not entirely sure because she hasn’t shown up in any research I’ve done (so far), is:
Gussie Elvia Briner, who I think must be a 2nd great aunt. This is the one instance of an interesting headstone– it has her exact date of death, exact age at death, her gender and both of her parents!

I think I need to add contacting this church/cemetery onto my Research Plan for the next month or so. How great would it be if they had a complete record of who’s buried there, beyond what’s on Find-A-Grave!


Featured photo: Val Vesa on Unsplash
Google Maps screenshots: me

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