Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Nelson Edmond Taylor

A small, trunk-shaped gravestone marks the grave of Nelson Edmond Taylor (b. 1893, d. 1896) in Blue Church Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio.

FEB. 23, 1893.
OCT. 4, 1896.

Suffer little children to
come unto me.

Blue Church Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A young girl’s mirror

Whenever I see an oval-shaped gravestone, I am reminded of a mirror. The oval-shaped gravestone for Elizabeth Jones (d. 1871) is a perfect example.

Dau. of
O. O. & E. JONES
Nov. 16, 1871
Aged 16 Y’s
11 mo. 1 d.
She’s gone – and many lone ones
In bitterness will weep.
That death o’er one so young and loved
Would spread its blighting sleep.

Elizabeth’s parents are Owen Jones (d. 1886) and Elizabeth Jones (d. 1893), who are buried next to her. A large, “modern” zinc monument marks their graves.

By the way, I have not been able to identify the source of young Elizabeth’s epitaph. Can you?

Fargo Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Monday, August 29, 2011

Death by winter

The marker at the grave of Alven Kempton (d. 1840) is small but grabbed my attention with its unusual shape.

The center circle on top of the marker is carved with a lovely rosette. Stone lobes, each with its own simplistic “punched” rosette design, flank the central rosette.

But what really stands out is not the shape of the gravestone, but the inscribed cause of death of young Mr. Kempton.

son of J. & H. Kempton
Was killed by an icesickle
Dec. 29 1840:
Aged 19 yrs 8 mo & 27

Sunbury Memorial Park, Delaware County, Ohio

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Epitaph: And oh i panted for the skies

The tall sandstone tablet marker at the grave of Martha Cook is mottled from age, making it difficult to read from a distance. Step closer and the inscription and epitaph are still clear and easy to read—and certainly worth a look.


wife of
Benajah S. Cook
died Aug. 19, 1829;
Aged 25 years 7 mo. & 18 da.

I viewed the change with sweet surprize,
And oh i panted for the skies,
Thanked heaven that e,er i drew my breath,
And triumphed in the thought of death.

The epitaph is taken from the poem “Death” by Nathaniel Cook (b. 1707, d. 1788), an English physician and poet. Here are the final lines of the long poem, including the Cook epitaph:

When the stern Monarch of the grave
With haughty strides approach’d—Amazed
I stood, and trembled as I gazed.
The Seraph calm’d each anxious fear,
And kindly wiped the falling tear;
Then hasten’d, with expanded wing,
To meet the pale terrific King.
      But now, what milder scene arise!
The tyrant drops his hostile guise.
He seems a youth divinely fair;
In graceful ringlets waves his hair:
His wings their whitening plumes display,
His burnish’d plumes reflect the day.
Light flows his shining azure vest,
And all the angel stands confess’d.
      I view’d the change with sweet surprise,
And oh! I panted for the skies;
Thank’d Heaven, that e’er I drew my breath,
And triumph’d in the thought of death!

“Benajah Cook” may sound familiar. Martha’s Benajah is the son of Benajah and Cassandra Cook, who are buried steps away.

Fancher Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Friday, August 26, 2011

Waiting for restoration?

A few days ago, I wrote about an epitaph from a partially covered gravestone in a pile at the back of Darby Township Cemetery.

Today I am feeling a bit guilty for cropping away the perfectly legible child’s marker that obscured the one I featured. To make amends, I offer the gravestone for William B.L. Darety (d. 1851).

It is a small, white marble tablet. Simple, with no epitaph and no decoration. Is there is a record of the location of young Darety’s grave? I hope so. I hope his gravestone is simply waiting its turn to be repaired and restored to its proper place.

Son of
July 13, 1851,
Aged 5 Y’s
1 mo. 5 d’s.

Darby Township Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Isaac Dewitt, “an old settler”

The gravestone for Isaac Dewitt (d. 1843) in Rivercliff Cemetery stands in the shade of a large maple tree. It features carvings of stars and a draped urn, the drapery neatly swagged on the urn.

In memory of
who died July 17,
1843; aged 49 yrs
4 mo & 11 ds.

Tis finished tis done the spirit is fled,
The prisner is gone the christian is dead:
The chistrian is living through Jesuss love,
And gladly receiving a kingdom above.

Text = Prepare to meet thy God.

In researching Mr. Dewitt, I found a passage in an 1880 book, History of Morrow County and Ohio by W. H. Perrin and J. H. Battle, that describes some early deaths in Gilead Township, one of which is Isaac Dewitt’s:

In early times the health of the people was remarkably good in this township, though a few were broken down by the hardships of a new country. There were no deaths in the township for about eight years after its first settlement. The first death was that of Elizabeth Bryant, daughter of Mrs. H. Ustick by a former husband, September 9, 1825, about eight years old; then there were some deaths of young children, and, in August, 1832, Mrs. John McQuig died, probably the first married person who died in the township; the next was Mrs. Charles Webster, who died in January, 1833, a resident of the village. Some disasters occurred, which may be properly noticed. About 1830 or 1831, three sons, nearly grown up, of Mr. Smith, a blind man, perished in the well; something like a snake was seen in the water, and one of them went down to get it out and fell, then another went down and he met with the same fate, and then another; and all perished by what is called damps. A few years after, a man committed suicide by poison, and, in the year 1843, Isaac DeWitt, Esq., an old settler, was killed in his own house by lightning.

As for the epitaph, the spelling and punctuation are less than perfect, but the sentiment is recognizable as the first verse of “A Funeral Hymn” by Charles Wesley (b. 1707, d. 1788).

Rivercliff Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Eliza Ellen Marquiss

The gravestone for Eliza Ellen Marquiss (d. 1846) in Darby Township Cemetery is easy to read—or is it? Was her date of death 1846 or 1816?

Eliza Ellen
daughter of
John & Eleanor
died April 14
Æ. 5 days.

John Marquiss and Eleanor Croy were married May 30, 1816. Yes, if the gravestone says 1846 (and I think it does), then Eliza Ellen was born not long before her parents’ 30th wedding anniversary.

Click to enlarge

Darby Township Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Epitaph: Forgive, blest shade, the tributary tear

As in many older cemeteries, there is a tidy pile of broken and displaced gravestones at the back of Darby Township Cemetery. One of the stones in the pile, the name mostly obscured, has a particularly beautiful epitaph.

Forgive, blest shade, the tributary tear;
That mourns thy exit from a world like this,
Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here,
And stayed thy progress to the seats of bliss.

The epitaph is an adaptation of an elegy, “On the Death of Mr. Hervey,” by Anne Steele, published in 1780:

O Hervey, honoured name, forgive the tear,
That mourns thy exit from a world like this;
Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here,
Fond wish! have kept thee from the seats of bliss.

No more confin’d to these low scenes of night
Pent in a feeble tenement of clay:
Should we not rather hail thy glorious flight,
And trace thy journey to the realms of day.

Here is another adaptation, as inscribed on the gravestone of Mrs. Ann Berry (d. 1790), buried in Brading Churchyard on the Isle of Wight. For more than 60 years Mrs. Berry’s “celebrated epitaph” was incorrectly attributed to the Rev. John Gill, who nonetheless is most likely responsible for the adaptation of the Steele poem:

Forgive, blest shade, the tributary tear,
That mourns thy exit from a world like this:
Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here,
And stayed thy progress to tho realms of bliss.

No more confin’d to grovelling scenes of night,
No more a tenant pent in mortal clay;
We rather now should hail thy glorious flight,
And trace thy journey to the realms of day. 

As for our Ohio stone, here is what is visible today above the epitaph:
[Wi]fe of
[ ???] GRAHAM
[???] 16, 1850
[Aged] 30 Y’rs
[?? mo]s 4 D’s

This may be the gravestone for Sophronia Loofborrow, who married W.H.H. Graham in Madison County, Ohio in 1837.

Whoever she is, she has a beautifully poetic epitaph. 

Darby Township Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

“The Epigrammatists: a Selection from ...” Google Books. Web. 22 Aug. 2011. <>.
Brannon, George. “Sketches of Scenes in the Isle of ...” Google Books. Web. 22 Aug. 2011. <>.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Polly Strong’s restored gravestone

Sometime after 2005, when a FindAGrave contributor posted a photo, the gravestone for Polly Strong (d. 1823) was restored to like-new condition.

wife of
died Oct. 3d, 1823;
Æ. 37 years.

2 infant sons
in the same coffin.

Blessed are the dead
[Who die in the Lord]

The flaming urn, carved here in deep relief, represents the soul rising from the ashes of the dead.

Darby Township Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A crowned sphere

Most of the individual grave markers in the Paul family plot at Fancher Cemetery are simple, flat granite markers. One stands out.

The gravestone for young Freddie Paul (b. 1886, d. 1899) is a sphere crowned with a wreath of flowers. Look closely and you see that the wreath encircles the child’s name— just Freddie.

son of
Edwin & Jeannette
april 20, 1886.
march 27, 1899.

Gone from our home, but not from our hearts.

Fancher Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rachel’s heart

The gravestone for Rachel Griffith is only partly visible, the bottom half (or more) buried or broken. No date of death, “wife of,” or “daughter of” is visible.

The decorative carvings are visible—and somewhat unusual. Instead of a willow, we see upside-down torches; instead of an urn, a flaming heart.

  • An inverted torch is often understood to represent the end of life, although some draw a distinction between an extinguished torch (death) or one that still burns (life after death).
  • A five-pointed star represent the Star of Bethlehem or the life of Christ.
  • A flaming heart, sometimes thought to signify extreme ardor, more likely represents religious fervor.

Memory of
[Who departed this life]

Click to enlarge

I am not forgetting the carvings at the top of the marker. I am just not sure what to make of them. Florets and—what? Stylized inverted torches? Maybe just a pretty design?

Glendale Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An orphan’s angelic gravestone

The marker at the grave of Miranda Topping (d. 1827) leans a few degrees, but otherwise is in excellent shape. The gravestone has a carving of an angel with a banner that warns “Be Ye Also Ready” and a scroll that proclaims “Life—how short, Eternity—how long!”

daughter of
died January 9, 1827,
aged 18 years
& 15 days.

And thou, whose passing eye may rest
   A moment on this fleeting line;
Howe’er by fame or fortune blest
   Or allur’d,
this doom is thine.

Miranda was an orphan when she died. The following passages about Miranda from New Englanders on the Ohio Frontier, Migration and Settlement of Worthington, Ohio offer interesting details about her life—and death—in the 1820s:

Miranda Topping was an infant when her father died and was thirteen when she was orphaned, at which time she was entrusted to the guardianship of Worthington resident and Franklin County Associate Judge Recompense Stanbery. Miranda lived the last six years of her life in the Stanbery home, dying—probably of consumption—before she reached her twenty-first birthday.

Itemized expenses for Miranda’s benefit during these six years included regular clothing purchases, such as “morroco shoes for $2.25, lace for ruff 27½ cents, calico for bonnet 25 cents, three combs of Johnson 37½ cents, great coat $15.00, pair of woolen stockings $1.00, black lace ribbon 37½ cents, eleven yards red flannel $4.00, pair bone gloves 50 cents, handkerchief 37½ cents, parasol $2.00 frock of Chapman $1.72.” The total expenditure of $358.66 included her doctor’s bill and medicines, as well as the making of her coffin and the digging of the grave.

And the carving of an angelic gravestone.

There is lightning in the angel clouds. Click to enlarge
St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery, Worthington, Ohio

McCormick, Virginia E. and Robert W. McCormick. New Englanders on the Ohio Frontier, Migration and Settlement of Worthington, Ohio. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1998.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Jimmie Penn

The white marble marker at the grave of Jimmie S. Penn (d. 1885) has been carefully restored (as have others in Dublin Cemetery), its sleeping lamb now white as new.

The lamb represents purity, innocence, gentleness. It is perhaps the most popular symbol found on 19th-century children’s graves.

son of
J.P. & A.E. Penn
Mar. 11, 1885.
Aged 2M. & 5D.

Budded on earth to
Bloom in heaven.

Dublin Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Epitaph: cold and dead

The grave marker for Sarah Litle (d. 1833) has been skillfully restored. Even though it has lost its weathered character, its story is now preserved for many years, many generations to come.

memory of
Consort of
Andrew Litle
Departed this life with the hope of the gospel.
Oct. 22nd 1833,
Aged 28 years 1 month,
and 7 days.

Although Mrs. Litle was no child when she died, her epitaph is taken from the hymn “On the Death of a Child” by Anne Steele (b. 1716, d. 1778).

The once lov’d form, now cold and dead.
Each mournful thought employs:
And nature weeps her comforts fled,
And wither’d all her joys.

But wait the interposing gloom.
And lo! stern winter flies;
And, drest in beauty’s fairest bloom.
The flow’ry tribes arise.

Hope looks beyond the bounds of time,
When what we now deplore.
Shall rise in full, immortal prime.
And bloom to fade no more.

Then cease, fond nature, cease thy tears;
Religion points on high;
There everlasting spring appears.
And joys which cannot die. 

Dublin Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Monday, August 15, 2011


Philo P. Evarts (d. 1860) has two gravestones at Cheshire Cemetery, side by side. The first is a simple white tablet with flowery script, most likely the stone placed on Mr. Evarts’s grave in 1860.

The second is a pedestal monument topped with a sphere. There are two inscriptions on opposite faces, Philo P. Evarts and Phebe R. Evarts (d. 1897), his wife, suggesting that this stone was placed after the death of Mrs. Evarts, thirty-seven years after the death of her husband.

MAR. 21, 1860;
Aged 44 Yrs
&amp; 9 months.

The tablet marker features the carving of an open book showing the words “There is rest for the weary.” An open book is often a reference to the Bible. Could the carved statement refer to Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”?

The there-is-rest statement takes on special meaning when we learn from the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules that Mr. Evarts’s cause of death was “Suicide insane.”

U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1860, Berlin Township, Delaware County, Ohio

Philo Evarts was his wife’s second husband. Phebe George’s first husband, Elijah Sackett, died shortly after their marriage in 1838. Phebe Sackett married Philo Evarts in 1840.

MAY 1, 1897
78 Y’S 10 D.

Sackett-George, 1838, Delaware County, Ohio
Evarts-Sackett, 1840, Delaware County, Ohio

Cheshire Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A tent in the graveyard

The carvings on the marker at the grave of Lewis Oppenheimer (d. 1871) identify Mr. Oppenheimer as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Feb. 5, 1871
Aged 42 y’s
6 Mo 25 d’s

The three-link chain, often with the letters F L T (as on this gravestone), is represents the organization’s core values and interconnectivity: Friendship, Love, Truth.

The tent and shephard’s hooks (normally crossed) are symbols for the Odd Fellows Encampment, a higher branch within the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The Sovereign Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows,

Glendale Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cassandra Cook, pioneer wife

The broken gravestone of Cassandra Cook (d. 1855) is held together by a custom-made metal brace. The brace is rusty but evidently a relatively recent addition: A 2009 photo on shows the gravestone in two pieces.

The rusty brace catches your eye immediately, but let’s not fail to admire a gravestone that was surely quite beautiful when it was unweathered and unbroken.

Wife of
Feb. 2, 1855.
79 Y’s 3 mo. 16 d.

Benajah and Cassandra Fanning Cook, with their children, were the first permanent white settlers in Harlem Township, Delaware County, Ohio. An anecdote published in History of Delaware County and Ohio (Perrin, 1880) tells the story of a shrewd Mr. Cook buying his Delaware County land at auction:

Among the New England families, who emigrated to Ohio in 1805-01, was Mr. Cook. In 1805, he, with family, moved to Granville, from the State of Connecticut, and while living there, he ascertained that this tract of land was to be sold to the highest bidder by the Sheriff. He immediately prepared himself with the necessary amount of funds, as he supposed, to make the purchase. The terms of sale were cash in hand. He was compelled to keep this money upon his person, to be ready to make the purchase, in case he became the lucky bidder; and then again, he was to go among strangers and he was liable to be robbed. He dressed himself, for his own protection, in old clothes covered with patches and rags, permitted his beard to grow long, and put on a dirtier shirt than usual; in short, he presented a picture of wretchedness and poverty. Beneath his rags and patches he concealed his treasure. No one suspected that he had any money or was any other than a beggar, and when he commenced to bid, the rival bidders ceased their competition. They supposed his bidding was a farce, and that he could not pay for the land if it were struck off to him. In this shrewd transaction, he illustrated the true Yankee character, to the amusement of those he had outwitted. He paid the Sheriff the purchase money and obtained his deed, and immediately, by way of Berkshire, moved on to his new purchase. ... He was the first settler in this township, and when he moved upon his claim, there was not even a cabin upon it, and his family, until one could be built, were compelled to occupy an Indian shanty.

The purchase price? 4,000 acres at 42 cents an acre.

Fancher Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dr. Weatherby, the good man

From a distance, the gravestone appears to be a simple pedestal topped with an urn, a popular design in the 19th century. But looking more closely, we realize that the urn is not an urn at all—it is a mortar and pestle.

The marker stands at the grave of a medical doctor, Dr. A. S. Weatherby (d. 1870). There is a square and compass above the inscription, a symbol that identifies Weatherby as a Freemason.

Nov. 23, 1870,
Aged 33 Yrs
7 Mo, 8 d’s.

In 1871, “The Cincinnati Lancet and Observer” printed this obituary:

Dr. A. S. Weatherby.—Died of consumption at Cardington, Ohio, November 23,1870, Dr. A. S. Weatherby, aged 33 years and 6 months. He was born near Chesterville, O., April 15th, 1837. Commenced the study of medicine under Dr. N. E. Haekedorn, of Galion, O., October 22, 1858, and graduated in the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery, February 14, 1862. In March following he commenced the practice of medicine in Cardington, O., where he continued until his death. He was a man of great force of character and unbending integrity; an earnest Christian gentleman, ready for every great work. He was unusually ardent and laborious in his profession, and reached a degree of practical knowledge and success rarely attained by one of his age. He held honorable places of office among his medical associates, and his death is mourned by all who knew him. His end was that of the good man.

Glendale Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio
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