Monday, March 14, 2011

Wheel of (gravestone) fortune

An unplanned stop at Liberty Church Cemetery found me with an empty role of aluminum foil (my gravestone enhancer of choice). So reading the old stones was left to my aging eyes only.

One small stone—most likely a child—caught my eye with its strong symbolism: wilted flowers. This particular carving is unique among those I have seen in Delaware County.

But I could not read the name. Was it VOGL?

When I got home, I tried adjusting the exposure and shadows with iPhoto, but that did not help. So I enlarged the photo and stared at it, playing a graveyard version of Wheel of Fortune:

infant son of __emi__h__
Laura Gill__w____

Knowing that this cemetery is well documented on, I headed there first to search for last names beginning with Gill.

Bingo! Make that infant son of Jeremiah (Gillis). But there is no Laura listed. Nor is there an infant son with a name that fits.

Next stop, Delaware County Genealogical Society. The DCGS online cemetery records never let me down. There I found James Hoge Gilles, son of Jeremiah Gilles. (Date of death consistent with style and apparent age of gravestone.) But again, no Laura.

from Delaware County Genealogical Society online cemetery records

Census images from showed Jeremiah married to an Emeline in 1850. Emeline Gillis, buried in Liberty Church Cemetery, died in 1854.

Laura, where are you?

Eventually I found a probable Laura in Families of Ancient New Haven via She was born Laura Thompson and married Jeremiah Gillis in 1830. She died in 1831. I have not yet learned where she is buried.

from Families of Ancient New Haven, via

Rock solid evidence? Of course not, but at least it all fits the puzzle of the hard-to-read partial inscription on the wilted flowers marker. That is good enough for now.

Memory of
infant son of Jeremiah &
Laura Gillis who died_______
Liberty Church Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

1 comment:

  1. I just love a good mystery. Sometimes we find the answer and sometimes we get more questions. Keep up the great work!


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