For Sarah

Click here to see the original handwritten manuscript of “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lloyd Tennyson:  Original manuscript “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennison

“Sarah” is one of our many unknowns.  If you can provide any clues, please contact this blog.  In the meantime, I will keep researching.

Of all the SARAHs that died in Williamson, Travis, and Burnet County TX, 1903-1965 inclusive, none were buried in Pond Springs Cemetery (or “Jollyville”, “Rutledge”, “Leander”, “Cedar Park”), except for Sarah Walden GLENN.  After searching through a total of 589 death certificates for “Sarah” in Williamson, Travis, and Burnet County (1903-1965), here’s what I have:

1  Fact:  The starting point is 1889, when “Crossing the Bar” was written by Alfred, Lord Tennison.

2  Assumption, at least for now:  Since those interred here died in either Williamson, Travis, or Burnet County, odds are good that she died in one of these three counties, after 1889.

3  Fact:  The 1890 Federal census is missing.

4  Fact:  If she died 1889 to 1903, when the first death certificates became a requirement, there would be no official record.

5  Fact:  Death certificates became a requirement in Travis and Burnet Counties in 1903, and in Williamson County in 1904.

6  Opinion:  It appears that these counties did not take seriously the requirement to obtain death certificates, until around 1910.

7  Fact:  If she died 1904 to 1910, records have not been found.  Records are spotty at best.

8  Fact:  No death certificate has been found after 1910.

10  Conclusion:  Due to the lack of other evidence, IF she died in one of these three counties, it strongly appears that she died 1889 to 1903, although hers COULD have been a “missing” death certificate 1904-1910.  From this, I conclude that Sarah died 1889 to 1910, IF her first name was “Sarah”, and IF she died in one of these three counties.

11  Assumption:  “Sarah” was her first name, not her middle name.

12  Possibility:  “Sarah” is not buried there; it’s her husband or sweetheart, and the poem is a “message epitaph” that is meant for Sarah to read after his death.

13  Opinion:  If it is a lady named Sarah buried there, she was literate.  Perhaps a school teacher?


Since the 1890 census is missing, I had no choice but to start with the 1900 census.

Since I concluded that she had died by 1910, I compared the 1900 census with the 1910 census.


There were 246 Sarahs in Williamson County Texas in 1900; there were 136 in 1910.  By comparing each and every Sarah enumerated in the 1900 census against the 1910 census, I’ve arrived at 94 possibilities, just for Williamson County alone.



This is going to have to be placed on the back burner for a while, and perhaps revisited later.  Unless a descendant suddenly appears.


Since she is roughly in line with the McClures, who had a Sarah, I have researched this Sarah McClure currently to no avail.  May or may not be Sarah McClure.  UPDATE, OCTOBER 2016:  Sarah McCLURE was born December 1846.  She married James Alexander CHAFFIN 17 Aug 1867 in Christian County, Missouri.  She died 20 August 1927 in Christian County, Missouri, and is buried in Chaffin Cemetery there.

As always, if you are a descendant of “Sarah”, or know who she might be, please contact this blog.

– Suzanne

Crossing the Bar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Crossing the Bar” is an 1889 poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson that is traditionally the last poem in collections of his work. It is thought that Tennyson wrote it as his own elegy, as the poem has a tone of finality about it. The narrator uses an extended metaphor to compare death to crossing the “sandbar” between the harbour of life and the ocean of death.

Tennyson wrote the poem after a serious illness while at sea, crossing the Solent from Aldworth to Farringford on the Isle of Wight. It has also been suggested he wrote it while on a yacht anchored in Salcombe. The words, he said, “came in a moment”[1] Shortly before he died, Tennyson told his son Hallam to “put ‘Crossing the Bar’ at the end of all editions of my poems”.[1]

The poem contains four stanzas that generally alternate between long and short lines. Tennyson employs a traditional ABAB rhyme scheme. Scholars have noted that the form of the poem follows the content: the wavelike quality of the long-then-short lines parallels the narrative thread of the poem.

The poem uses many metaphors as it compares life and death to being on the sea. The extended metaphor of “crossing of bar” represents travelling from life to death. The Pilot is a metaphor for God; the speaker hopes that he will be able to reside in heaven with his creator. Tennyson explained, “The Pilot has been on board all the while, but in the dark I have not seen him…[He is] that Divine and Unseen Who is always guiding us.”[1]

A choral version of the poem was premiered by the American composer Charles Ives in prototype form on May 24, 1890 at the Baptist Church in Danbury, Connecticut, and published in its current form (arranged for accompanied chorus) in 1894. The poem was also set to music by the English composer Hubert Parry in 1903. More recent choral settings include those by M. Flora Todd (1949), the Australian composer Graeme Morton (1998), Valerie Showers Crescenz (2005), Gwyneth Walker (2005), and David Conte (2010).

– Suzanne

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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