Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grave images: Urn and willow

One of the most common gravestone images in the early to mid-1800s is the urn and willow. Its popularity is said to be associated with the rise of neoclassicism in Europe.

The urn, likely a reference to the ancient Grecian funerary urn, represents the soul. The willow, in addition to its strong visual suggestion of sorrow and mourning, may be a reference to the Greek goddess Persephone, queen of the underworld. Together the urn and willow would thus symbolize the passing of the soul to the afterlife.

Sounds reasonable, right? Sure, but consider this reasonable caution from The Association of Gravestone Studies:

“Professional scholars disagree sharply about the meaning of particular designs; they even debate the extent to which it is possible to determine their meaning and significance. This healthy diversity of opinion stimulates interest and further study.”

Rebecca Hyde, Cheshire Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Samuel Monroe, Ashley Union Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Rebecca Ranney, Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
James and Mary Ferson, Africa Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Wednesday’s child: Emely Closson

A gravestone need not have a fancy shape or intricate carvings to be memorable.

Sept. 14, 1845
daughter of
Luther, & Eliza
Closson Aged
14 years, 4 m. 1 D.

Who knows how soon our nature dies,
Blasted by every wind that flies,
Like grass we spring and die as soon,
Or morning flowers that fade at noon.

Cheshire Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Epitaph: Hark from the tomb

Earlier this year at Groveport Cemetery, I noticed an old stone with an epitaph I had not seen before. A bit of research revealed the epitaph to be a verse from a hymn by Isaac Watts:

Hark from the tomb a doleful sound
My ears amend the cry,
Ye living man come view the ground
Where you shall shortly lie.

(Just a few days ago I blogged another gravestone with an Isaac Watts epitaph: The last trumpet’s joyful sound.)

memory of
who departed this life
February 13th 1843,
aged 17 years,
8 months & 28 days.

Groveport Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Monday, December 20, 2010

Angel of Grief

Photo by Einar Einarsson Kvaran aka Carptrash 17:52, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps you have seen a weeping angel—sometimes a nearly life-sized sculpture—on an earthly gravestone. It is most likely based on the sculpture “Angel of Grief” by William Wetmore Story (b. 1819, d. 1895), an American sculptor and poet. The original marks the graves of Story and his wife Emelyn at the Protestant cemetery in Rome, Italy.

I was surprised to come upon a full-sized weeping angel while searching for another grave at small country cemetery in Union County, Ohio. This angel weeps at the grave of Nancy K. Faulk (b. 1946, d. 2002). Nancy’s angel still holds the rose that Story’s angel has dropped.


July-2-1946  May-2-2002
Loving Wife
Mother & Grandmother

Set into the ground to the left of the angel is a simple plaque with a familiar verse:


View more angels of grief on Flickr.

Jerome Township Cemetery, Union County, Ohio

Grave images: Arch

The arch on a gravestone, a visually strong image, is generally accepted to represent the passage to heaven. Think about it: When you see an arched grave marker, it’s not too far fetched to imagine stepping through as though it were a doorway.

Most arches I have seen are shared stones—husband, wife; mother, father—which makes me think that the two pillars supporting the arch are symbolic as well.

So far, the arches I have come upon are large arched memorials, but I am keeping an eye out for a simpler marker with an arch carving on its face.

Long, Groveport Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio
Benton, Oller Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Turner, Candler Cemetery, Hardin County, Ohio
Shuster, Candler Cemetery, Hardin County, Ohio

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Family time

Gravestoned is primarily a blog about the gravestones I photograph during my graveyard hopping, but now and then I write about my own family tree, graves and otherwise. Some of these more personal posts are, as you might imagine, among my favorites.

For any cousins, distant or otherwise, who might find their way to this blog, this summary of family posts is for you.

Gravin’ is for families. This is my daughter Katie at the gravesite of her 5g grandparents.

Grave images: Clasped hands

For a period of time in the 1800s, clasped hands were a popular image on gravestones, and I have seen a number of them in central and west central Ohio where I do my grave hopping.

Clasped hands on a gravestone are often meant to represent farewell to earthly life. Indeed, the first two photos below show FAREWELL written above the hands (although the first is barely visible, even when you click to enlarge the image).

The Association for Gravestone Studies adds that they could also represent “the clasped hands of a couple to be reunited in death as they were in life, their devotion to each other not destroyed by death.”

Jane Temple, Sandy Corners Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
George Thompson, Flint Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio
Mariah Harris, Africa Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Claudious Aubert, Groveport Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Friday, December 17, 2010

The last trumpet’s joyful sound

The shadows were long and the light was fading fast when I stopped to snap photos of a gravestone bearing the image of a trumpeter. It was the gravestone of a young woman, Anna Howard (d. 1837).

In Memory of
consort of H. Howard
Dau. of Abraham & Betsy
Smith died March 4
1837. Aged 18 years
__ mo & 17 days

The meaning of Anna’s trumpeter becomes clear when you read the epitaph, taken from an Isaac Watts hymn.

My flesh shall slumber in the ground
Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise
And in my Saviour’s image rise

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday’s child: William Linsey Finley

Before it got cold and snowy here in central Ohio, I spent an afternoon at Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio, the largest cemetery in the county—and surely one of the most beautiful.

One marker I photographed that day is the toppled marker for a toddler, William Linsey Finley (d. 1837). The marker features a strikingly stylized willow and lamb, both popular images for the time period. The limbs of the willow are cut, except those that provide shelter for the lamb.

son of
Samuel & Nancy
died Feb. 7, 1837:
aged 1 yr. 7 mo.

Jesus said suffer little children
and forbid them not to come
unto me for of such is the kingdom
of heaven   Mat 19, 14.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The boulder and the cross

A cross bearing the name Filler leans against a boulder in Oak Grove Cemetery. It appears that the cross may have been mounted on a larger marker at one time, but perhaps the boulder is itself the grave marker. No markers are nearby.

Who is Filler? Find A Grave lists plenty of Fillers in Ohio, but none in Delaware County. Delaware County Burials lists two Filler burials at Oak Grove:

Hester Ann Filler
February 26, 1846–January 21, 1940

William Simmons Filler
1845–June 15, 1899 reveals that William and Hester Ann were, as you might expect, husband and wife. A William S. Filler from Ohio was a sergeant during the Civil War. The 1870 census lists his name as Will and shows they had two children, both girls, at the time. The 1880 census lists Will’s occupation as railroad conductor and shows three children. Hester, long widowed, died in Livington, Texas at the age of 93.

Other than those small facts quickly discovered on, what do we know? I don’t know exactly, but I expect that Will and Hester are someone’s ancestors. Not mine, but perhaps yours?

Checking it twice

Well I’ll be darned. I checked the list twice, and it is really there: Gravestoned is nominated for the Family Tree 40! Cemetery category, of course.

Have you seen the list? This is more than a list of nominees, it is a list of must-read blogs. Whether your interest is cemeteries, technology, or just everything genealogy, you are sure to find inspiration from the nominated blogs.

Voting is open until 11:59PM Monday, December 20, so check out the nominees and vote for all your favorites—and consider checking the box for Gravestoned while you are there.

“You like me, you really like me!”
Sally Field, 1985

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wednesday’s child: Arthur M. Lindsey

The tablet marker is plain, with a touching epitaph for Arthur M. Lindsey (d. 1849). Someday I will return to get a better photo—in the morning, when the sun will be shining on the face of his gravestone.

Son of Wm. &
Hannah Lindsey
died Apr. 17,
Aged 3 yrs. 6m.
& 27ds.

I take these little lamb
said he, And lay
them in my breast.
Protection they shall
find in me.
In me be ever blest.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mausoleum in the hill

The mausoleum is built into the side of a hill in Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio. Beside its rusty door is a plaque, placed well after the construction of the mausoleum.

BORN 1745 CT. DIED 1831 OH.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Friday, November 26, 2010

Side by side

Side by side we lie and slumber
Where the weary are at rest,
But when time his years shall number
With our Saviour we’ll be blest.

wife of
William P. Davies
dies Sept. 29, 1845 in her 44 year.

Also on the right
of Wm. P. & Margaret Davies
dies Sept. 6, 1845
in her 16 year.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday’s child: Elizabeth Vanbremer

Her marker is toppled over, perhaps by vandals, but someone who cares left silk flowers on her grave.

daughter of
Abraham & Mary
died Dec. 18, 1825
aged 9 years

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Centenarian: Pompey King

One of the toppled markers in the Old Graveyard section of Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio proclaims that Pompey King (d. 1844) was 100 years old at his death.

Apr. 8. 1844
100 years

Before both were toppled over, Pompey’s marker stood next to the marker for Sarah King (d. 1837). Husband and wife, perhaps?

Memory of
Sarah M. King.
died Feb. 13,
in the 82 year of
her age.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Notes. A quick search revealed that Pompey King is listed in Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots. I also found another blogger who found evidence (not cited) that he was a former slave.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Obituary: John Voller

Former Councilman Passes to His Reward

John Voller, for many years active in financial and industrial circles of Franklin, died at his home on Second street, last Friday morning, at the age of 78 years.

Mr. Voller for many years was superintendent of the Harding Paper company, and was always interested in the betterment of conditions in Franklin. For 22 years he served on the village council and was one of the founders of the Miami Valley Building and Loan Association and the Warren National Bank.

John Voller was born in Haselmere, Surrey county, England, and came to the United states when he was 23 years of age.

In 1881 he was united in marriage to Miss Fannie Harlow, of Covington [sic], Massachusetts. Mrs. Voller preceded him in death about 21 years ago.

Surviving him are three daughters, Mrs. S.P. Mayer, Miss Charlotte Voller, both of Franklin, and Mrs. G.W. Brubaker, of Atlanta, Georgia; three sons, Harry, of Franklin, G.H., of Skull Valley, Ariz, J.W. of Ft. William, Ontario; one sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Morley, and one brother, Henry, both of Haselmere, England.

Funeral services were held at the residence Tuesday afternoon, conducted by Rev. Willis S. Webb, of the First Baptist church. Burial was made in Woodhill cemetery.

—From The Franklin Chronicle, Franklin, Ohio.

John Voller died December 31, 1926.

John and Fannie are interred in the
mausoleum at Woodhill Cemetery, Franklin, Ohio

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rising sun, setting sun

As recently as 2007, the gravestone of Abraham Call (d. 1847) stood upright at Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio. I found it toppled over, perhaps a target of vandals. (Quite a few nearby markers were on the ground as well, as if vandals had ripped down several rows, pushing over markers as they went.)

Abraham Call
Aug. 22. 1847
Aged 61yrs 7mo &
15 dys.

It is a simple tablet marker with a stylized sun. But is the sun setting or rising? Think about the symbolism—does this sun represent a beginning or an ending?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday’s child: Stamper babies

Their graves are side by side, Wanda E. Stamper (b. 1932, d. 1932) and Robert T. Stamper (b. 1934, d. 1934). Perhaps brother and sister. No other Stampers are buried nearby. In fact, I have found no cemetery records for other Stampers in the entire county.

MAR 24 1932
SEPT 11 1932

AUG 31 1934
OCT 9 1934

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fannie’s fraudulent treatment

Fannie Voller’s obituary refers to her long illness and to the “strong hopes” with which she was taken to Binghampton, New York, for treatment. Letters written by Fannie and by her husband, John Voller, reveal that Fannie was a patient in New York of Dr. S. Andral Kilmer, remembered today as the inventor of the patent medicine Swamp Root.

John took Fannie to New York for treatment in early July, 1905, leaving her in the care of Dr. Kilmer. Later that month, home with the children, John wrote to Dr. Kilmer to ask after Fannie:

Dear Sir:—
     I regret to trouble you with correspondence, but I am very anxious to hear from you relative to my wife’s condition. It is not a matter of impatience with me, or time, or money. No sacrifice within my power would be too great to make, that will assist in her recovery, but I should be very glad to hear from you definitely and frankly as to her present condition, and the progress of the cure. I know you will appreciate my position in this matter. It is not from a lack of confidence in your ability; in fact, I feel that I have every reason to be thankful that my wife is under your care, but a word from you as to what I may hope for in the future will be very much appreciated.
          Yours very truly,

John’s confidence in Dr. Kilmer was misplaced.

From The Great American Fraud, Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quacks, by Samuel Hopkins Adams:

Another quack family with a cancer branch is the Kilmer family of Binghamton, N. Y. Kilmer’s Swamp Root, one of the most blatant of the “patent-medicine ” swindles, was devised by Dr. S. Andral Kilmer, who sold out years ago (although Swamp Root dupes are still urged to write him), and is now proprietor of a “CanCertorium,” and an itinerant charlatan. “Cancer’s First Conqueror” is his modest description of himself. He “itinerates” through the large towns and small cities of New York State, advertising like Barnum’s circus. Free consultation, remedies at $3 a week, and treatment at $2 a week, constitute his traveling plan. At his CanCertorium at Binghamton, N. Y., the charges are higher. A campus caretaker at Hamilton College, afflicted with facial cancer, went to Dr. Kilmer’s Cancertorium on a fund raised for him among the undergraduates, who did not know of the nature of the institution. He was provided with all the liquor he could drink, evidently with a view to keeping him drugged, until Kilmer had extracted $800 from him, when the progress of his disease was so marked that he became frightened and left, going to a reputable surgeon, who at once operated. He is now back at work. This man kept track of seven of the CanCertorium patients whom he came to know well, of whom, so he tells me, five died and the other two are apparently going the same way. Dr. S. Andral Kilmer represents an old, picturesque and fast-disappearing tribe of bunco-artists, and when his side-whiskers disappear from the pages of the small city dailies, those publications will be the less amusing, though the more respectable for the loss.

The passage above appeared originally in an article in Collier’s Weekly printed in July, 1906—five months after Fannie’s death.

It saddens me even now—more than a century later—that my great grandmother spent precious months separated from her family during her illness. She visited home at least once during her stay at the Cancertorium. In early January, 1906, she returned home for the last time. Fannie died quietly at home on February 9, 1906, her family at her side.

By the way, you can still buy Swamp Root, at least some modern version of it, today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Obituary: Fannie Voller

Closed Beautifully When Fanny J. Voller Passed Away.

Noble Woman. Fanny Julia [H]arlow was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, December 18, 1856. She died at Franklin, Friday evening, February 9, 1906. In 1881 she was married to John Voller. He and the six children, Harry, Elizabeth, Harlow, John, Charlotte and Marion, survive her. How well she fulfilled her duties as a wife and mother the husband and the children know. Their loss is beyond estimate.

Loved By All. As a neighbor Mrs. Voller was much loved and respected. It is unlikely that any one of her numerous friends and neighbors ever heard an unfriendly criticism of her. Her cordial relation with her neighbors is illustrated by an incident at the funeral. A lady said:

“I am going to this funeral. I loved this woman. I have lived neighbor to her for two years. Whenever my path seemed crossed with shadows, or I experienced any discontent it was my wont to go to this aged lady and talk with her. I found comfort.”

Courage in Affliction. When it became known that Mrs. Voller was afflicted with an incurable disease, she did not murmur, but met her strong enemy with her usual courage. With the spirit of absolute resignation, she was willing to avail herself of any means that would promise to lengthen her days. No expense or care was spared. With strong hopes she was taken to Binghampton, New York, for treatment. She passed her time there with cheerfulness and patience, although she must have felt in her heart the hopelessness of her condition. She came back to Franklin a few weeks ago with a full knowledge that the end could not be very far away. She said: “I will be brave,” as she certainly had been brave for many months before.

Strong Faith. One who is qualified to speak of this noble woman says: “Her faith was strong and abiding. She believed in God as her father and in Christ as her Savior. When she was about to leave the hospital for home, one of the nurses asked whether or not she was afraid to undertake as long a journey along. She replied that she was not going alone. When the nurse asked who was going with her, she replied, ‘Jesus Christ.’ And on her death bed she gave most beautiful testimony of a Christian’s trust and a Christian’s submission. She passed to her death peacefully and quietly. She was resigned to her fate and went to enjoy the blessedness which remains for those who die in the Lord. She was afforded the happiness to bestow her last look upon all of her loved ones who were gathered at her bedside.”

“Beautiful toiler, thy work all done:
Beautiful soul, into glory gone;
Beautiful life with its crown now won,
God giveth thee rest.”

Related post, 1880: When John Met Fannie.
Tomorrow, what about Fannie’s treatment in New York?

The Lebanon Press, Lebanon, Ohio, February 15, 1906

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