Q. I do a lot of genealogy work, and I have many, many relatives buried at Mount Hope. How might I access those records?
-- Jay Davis, of Waterloo
A. As soon as I mentioned Mount Hope, Dana Prusacki shot me one of her best you-must-be-joking looks.
If there's anyone as frustrated as you, it might be Prusacki, the Belleville Public Library archivist who helps family tree climbers on a daily basis. When it comes to Mount Hope, she knows it's usually more like Mount Hopeless.
As you probably well know, both Mount Hope in Belleville and Valley View in Edwardsville have led checkered lives for years. Previous owners have been accused of misappropriating money for prepaid services. Since Sept. 2, 2009, the cemeteries have been under the "temporary" receivership of James Carlson, of Midlothian, which is up Chicago-way.
It has left people like you and Prusacki out in the cold. All the records you seek are on old ledgers and index cards in the cemetery office, which currently is never opened to the public. Gravely concerned genealogists fear a fire could destroy decades of history.
Fortunately, I do have a few rays of hope for you, thanks to Dale Kurrus of Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville. His funeral home still conducts burials at Mount Hope, so he has made it a point to learn as much about the cemetery as he can. He offers the following tips:
There is one woman who does have access to the cemetery office, Kurrus said. Working for the receiver, she gathers records for upcoming burials and makes sure the proper grave sites are marked.
"That is the only thing she does," Kurrus said. "Now if she goes in there and happens to have requests for genealogical information from people, she may look that up out of the graciousness of her heart. But that's the only way to get that information until the state of Illinois basically gets control of the cemetery."
I can't print her name for fear of her being flooded with requests, but Kurrus says if you'll call him (235-2100), he could relay your request. Currently, he's trying to acquire her email address to make communication easier. But remember, an answer will take time and your request should be limited because her cemetery work is strictly part time.
But that may not be your only recourse.
"If we buried them, I might have the record," Kurrus said. "If not, and if they know what funeral home buried them, sometimes I can go back and find out. If the funeral home has a grave description, I can direct them to that grave.
"I have maps of the whole cemetery. I drew them on the computer myself years and years ago. Sometimes my records are better than the cemetery's, which is sad to say."
So, call Kurrus or, if it's still in business, perhaps the place that handled your ancestor's funeral. I just hope poor Dale isn't suddenly buried in requests or it might be my own funeral.
Q. I acquired three bottles marked Fred Husemann Bottling Works, Red Bud, Illinois. All three are different shapes and one is marked Sundrop. Can you give me any information on this company and whether they are collectible?
-- D.R., of Belleville
A. Everybody seems to collect something, so, yes, they may worth some bucks. I found one Husemann Whistle bottle purchased at $17 on eBay and several of his Red Bud-brand soda bottle labels going for $7-$10.
Husemann bought his bottling works on Oak Street in 1917 from a man named Neuhaus, who, in turn, had purchased it from the Lohrberg brothers. Husemann then earned a patent for Red Bud Soda in 1924, according to Jane Lucht.
The final chapter came in 1946 when Husemann sold his business to Olan Miller, who ran it until 1969. Now, you'll find some of Husemann's work at the Red Bud Museum in a display that Lucht was able to expand after a daughter died earlier this year, leading to a donation of family memorabilia.
To find out whether anyone might want yours, you might want to attend Kevin Kious' Eastside Spectacular No. 6, a combined breweriana and antique bottle and jar show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville.
What role was James Dean going to play next before dying in an auto accident?
Answer to Saturday's trivia: The King is dead. Long live Lil Wayne. That's what the Billboard folks were saying last week when rapper Lil Wayne overtook Elvis Presley for having the most hits on Billboard's Hot 100 charts. When his latest release, "Celebration," debuted at No. 82, Lil Wayne had notched his 109th song to make the list, breaking Elvis' old mark of 108. But Presley fans shouldn't despair too much. Many of Elvis' biggest hits came before the chart came into being on Aug. 4, 1958 -- and Presley still tops Lil Wayne for most Top 10 smashes, 25-17. Besides, the cast of "Glee" beats both of them handily with 204 entries in the Hot 100 since 2009.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org