Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ledger stones on the hill

During my quick visit to Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, home to many of my ancestors and an easy detour as we drove home from my husband’s Army reunion, I found the graves of my great-great-great grandparents among five ledger stones set shoulder to shoulder on a hillside in Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery.

The center stone marks the grave of M. Isabella Wilson (d. 1839); the topmost stone, the grave of her husband, George Wilson (d. 1837).

consort of
who died
Oct. 31 [st] A.D. 1839
Aged [69?] years.

In Memory of
Who departed this life
[the 17th day of] Feb. 1837
[Aged 76 years]

George and Isabella raised their children on the family farm in Perrysville (now Port Royal). According to family stories, George built the farm’s original covered bridge across Licking Creek, now re-built and known as Lehman’s bridge.

The farm was in the family for six generations, starting with George’s father Thomas, before being sold in 2002.

Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, Juniata County, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Mary and Ruth Parker

The Parker plot at Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery includes the small double gravestone for sisters Mary Parker (b. 1865, d. 1866) and Ruth Parker (b. 1879, d. 1882).

BORN NOV. 23, 1865
DIED AUG. 4, 1866

BORN MAR. 4, 1879
DIED DEC. 8, 1882


The Parker stone that first caught my eye was their father’s, E. Southard Parker. Mr. Parker was my great grandmother’s brother-in-law. She must have admired him because she named my grandfather for him: Southard Parker Mayer.

Somehow I failed to get a close-up of Mary and Ruth’s small foot stones. See them in the plot photo? It is a six-hour trip back to this cemetery, but these foot stones are on my to-do list.

Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, Juniata County, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“Also her infant son”

I was surprised to discover that few of the older gravestones in Springville Cemetery in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania have decorative carvings. Most are simple and to the point. The marker at the grave of Charlotte Cromlich (d. 1866) with its open book—a Bible no doubt—is one exception.

The open Bible may catch your eye, but the last words on the gravestone catch your heart.

Wm. Cromlich,
and daughter of Geo. & S.
Died Jan. 30, 1866,
Aged 26 yrs & 11 days.

Her infant son
sleeps by her side

The verse on the Bible pages is Philippians 1:21.

For me to live is Christ
And to die is gain.

In July 1860, when the census taker in Carlisle, Pennsylvania came knocking, Charlotte and William were not yet married. She was a domestic in the home of the William Breckbill family. He was living in a rooming house operated by William Noaker. His occupation is listed as master wheelwright.

Springville Cemetery, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

Monday, June 27, 2011

Who is buried in the Machpelah mausoleum?

The private mausoleum is built into the side of a small hill at Oak Hill Cemetery. At the base of the chimney (chimney!?) is the date 1886. There is a wooden portico with a tin roof built onto the front.

Above the double doors, carved in wood and highlighted with silver paint, is one word: Machpelah.

Machepelah is most likely not a surname, but rather a reference to the Cave of Machpelah, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs. Believed to be the burial place of Abraham and Sarah, the Cave of the Patriarchs is considered holy by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.


There is a hunk of concrete to the right of the doors on which someone has scratched the name Nell Andrix. Is this a hint about who is buried in the mausoleum? There are a number of Andrix graves nearby. Most likely, just an unrelated scrap.

Who is buried in the Machpelah mausoleum?

Oak Hill Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Zinc urn, zinc flames

A storm was approaching, but I was nearby on other business, so I ducked into Oak Hill Cemetery for a quick visit. The Willis monument stood out: a large zinc monument topped with a flaming urn.

Urns are popular gravestone symbols, often seen with willows and other symbols. An urn with flames rising from the top represents the soul rising from the ashes of death.


BORN JULY 20, 1808,
FEB. 22, 1874
“I am the resurrection
and the life.”

BORN Nov. 22, 1808,
DEC. 10, 1878.
my GOD to thee.”

The 1870 United States Federal Census for London, Ohio in Madison County shows three persons in the Willis household: Frank (age 62), Tryphena (61), and Julia (24). Frank’s occupation is listed as retired farmer; Tryphena is keeping house. (A woman’s work is never done.)

Click image to enlarge

Oak Hill Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Friday, June 24, 2011

Epitaph: But this is not our place

In Memory of
ANN consort of
Michael BUGH
Who died June 14th,
1830 ages 46 years
9 months & 14 days

For here have we no contin-
uing city but we seek one
to come. Hebrews ch. XIII.14

Our time swiftly passas [sic] away
While here on earth we stay
But this is not our place
The Lord has provided by grac[e].

Click image to enlarge
New Reading Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hazel Carpenter, loved by all

AUGUST 22 1939
PASSED AWAY July 29, 1976

1939 — 1976

New Reading Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Maria and Emily Babb

Born together, five-year-old sisters Maria Babb (d. 1832) and Emily Babb (d. 1832) died together as well. Their double gravestone with its twin inscriptions is decorated with matching rose carvings.

In Memory
twin daughter of
Jonathan & Mary
Deceased Nov. 14
Aged 5 years 8
Months & 2 days

In Memory
twin daughter of
Jonathan & Mary
Deceased Nov. 14
Aged 5 years 8
Months & 2 days

Somerset Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A tidy gravestone

The day I photographed the gravestone for Wm. Bugh (d. 1854) in New Reading Cemetery, I had already seen several stones on which the stone carver ran out of stone before he ran out of letters.


Imagine how orderly this gravestone looked to me. It neatly shows this stone carver’s skill in spatial planning with its tidy, justified text.

77 Ys.
7 MS & 17

Are The
Die in
The Lord.

The carved archway that frames the inscription represents the passage to heaven. The simple epitaph (Revelation 14:13) is carved onto pages of an open Bible.

New Reading Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Monday, June 20, 2011

July Ann Corderman

IN Memory,
of July Ann
Gorge & Eve Corderman;
Consot of Samuel

The gravestone for July Ann Corderman (Julianna?) is, like her father’s gravestone in the same cemetery, carved with scallops, vines, and sunbursts. Hers also features two chalice-like urns with rosette toppers.

What about the relationships on the gravestone? We learn that July Ann was the daughter of George and Eve Corderman and consort of Samuel Corderman. What was his relation to July Ann before marriage?

There are quite a few Cotterman burials in Perry County, including a number in this cemetery. Cotterman is an alternate spelling of Corderman; both are alternates for Katterman.

New Reading Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Sunday, June 19, 2011

George Corderman’s scalloped stone

The stone carver clearly did not sketch out the lettering first, but the casual corrections and misspellings on the gravestone for George Corderman (d. 1828) seem almost charming.

The stone has an unusual scalloped top, quarter sunbursts, and delicate vine-y carvings. Look closely and you notice the I that is carved to be a column.

IN Memory of
George Corderman
Consort of eve Corderman
& Born April 2th A.D. 1772
& DC July 12th 1828 & Aged
56 years & 3 monts
& 9 Days.

New Reading Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Martin O’Donnell, London attorney

At his death, Martin O’Donnell (b. 1853, d. 1889) was a popular attorney in London, Ohio. His gravestone in Oak Hill Cemetery features a statue of a praying woman, draped cross, and open Bible.

MAY 7, 1853.
NOVEMBER 30, 1889.

The History of Madison County, published by W.H. Beers & Co. (Chicago) in 1883, includes a short biography of Mr. O’Donnell, excerpted below.
He possesses the largest and best law library in the city, and his practice is fully in proportion. His jovial manner, free and ready “mother wit,” combined with steadiness of purpose, have won for him hundreds of friends in this and adjoining counties, and have placed him in the front rank among the prominent young attorneys of Central Ohio. He is recognized as a sound judge of law, determined and aggressive in argument, and noted for his quick perception of the legal points involved in a case. Of fine personal appearance, a fluent speaker, and possessing strong common sense, he is sure to discover the weak points in an adversary’s plea, and is, therefore, looked upon as a dangerous foe in a legal conflict. He is politically Democratic, and in 1880 was appointed by Judge Courtright (then on the bench) as Prosecuting Attorney of Madison County.
An earlier passage from The History of Madison County reveals that Martin O’Donnell is the son of Manus and Onour O’Donnell, who emigrated from Ireland about 1851 and settled in nearby Greene County.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Friday, June 17, 2011

Winged face

Last Sunday I packed a lunch and set out for New Reading Cemetery in Perry County, Ohio in search of a gravestone symbol that is rare in Ohio: A winged soul effigy, also known as a winged face.

Along the way I stopped by two other old cemeteries, took a couple of wrong turns, and made a lemonade pit stop.

Eventually I reached New Reading. After a few minutes of searching I spied the winged face on the gravestone of Maria Eva Obermeier (b. 1763, d. 1823). The surprise? Or rather, surprises? First of all, this winged face is tiny. Two or three inches worth of tiny.

Second of all, the gravestone inscription is in German—a bit of a challenge for me. Google Translate has helped, but if anyone can translate the inscription more fully or correctly, I welcome your assistance.

Geweihet zum
Andenken von
Maria Eva Ge-
malin von
Peter Oberm[meier] und
[tochter von]
Christoph n [??] Dennig
geboren [??] A.D. 1763,
starb [16 trn?] Marz, A.D. 1823.
[Alter?] 59 Jahr 6 Monat [4?] Tage

Consecrated to
Memory of
Maria Eva Con-
sort of
Peter Oberm[meier] and
[daughter of]
Christoph & [??] Dennig
born [??] A.D. 1763,
died [16th?] March, A.D. 1823.
[Aged?] 59 Year 6 Month & [4?] Days

New Reading Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Epitaph: To Heaven a cherub born

There are a handful of zinc monuments in Somerset Cemetery. The zinc marker at the grave of Katie L. McCarty (d. 1882) stands out for its statue of a praying child, but the sweet epitaph deserves attention as well.


daughter of
F. E. & S. F. McCARTY
died aug. 26, 1882
13YRS, 4MOS, 19DYS.


The epitaph is taken from the final verse of a poem by J. H. Warland, “The Mother to Her Child.” I found it published in The Mourner’s Chaplet, a collection of American poems published in 1844. Here is the final verse in full:

Hark! Thy last breath and sighs
   Upon thy mother’s bosom! thou dost but sleep
And shall awake again in Paradise.
   Then who, oh! who would weep?
Sleep on, my sweet one! Sleep! So early gone;
   To earth a child is lost—to Heaven a cherub born!

Somerset Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Charlie B. Ream

The first thing you notice as you approach the grave marker for Charlie B. Ream (d. 1871) is the wreath of flowers.

Walk closer and look at the top of the gravestone to see something unusual: There is a carved hand holding a lily on the top of the stone—and it clearly is a child’s hand.

There are (among other flowers) tulips and roses in the wreath, often understood to represent love and beauty. But it is the lily, given added emphasis because it is the flower that the hand holds, that may be the primary symbol here. It symbolizes purity. Perfect for a child’s gravestone.

son of W. M. & M. C.
died Dec. 23, 1871,
AGE 10 Y. 9 M.

Somerset Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio
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