Monday, October 31, 2011

A coffin for Halloween

Some gravestone symbols are more subtle than others.

There is nothing subtle about coffins, like those on the gravestone for Susan Spitler (b. 1776, d. 1834).

Susan, wife of John spitler
sen, who was born January
24, 1776; and died June
5, 1834: Aged 58 years, 5
months, 11 days.

There are two epitaphs on the stone, perhaps meant to be read as one. The second verse, versions of which I have seen before, is adapted from an Isaac Watts hymn.

Go home dear friends, and do not weep.
I am not dead but here to sleep;
Though cold and silent is my bed,
My rest is sweet my sorrows fled.

I here will slumber under ground,
Untill the last, loud trump shall sound,
Then burst my tomb with sweet surprise,
And in my saviours image rise.

Brushing away the dirt at the base of the gravestone reveals a signature: John Strickler, whose work can be seen in graveyards throughout the county.

Baptist Corners Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Strictly geometric

At a recent gravestone restoration workshop here in Ohio, the instructor pointed out to us that stones leaning front-to-back or tilting side-to-side are more susceptible to damage than those that are straight. Makes sense: Snow and rain water could pool a bit more on a stone that is leaning.

Despite a significant tilt, the gravestone for Barbara Musselman (b. 1775, d. 1818) is in great shape.

And what about the decorative carving? Yes, the stone tilts, but you could stand it on its head and the unusual (for this area and this stone cutter) geometric design on the stone would still look the same!

BER 1818: AGED

Nearby gravestones carved from the same type of stone and in the same style (clearly by the same stone cutter) have death dates in the 1830s. Perhaps the “about” on Mrs. Musselman’s stone and its missing day of death alert us that this stone was carved long after her death. A cenotaph? A replacement stone?

The stone is signed J. ST., who most likely is John Strickler, who carved many beautiful gravestones throughout Fairfield County, Ohio. Although the rosette is not his typical motif, the deeply chiseled letters along with the epitaph phrasing and lettering, suggest that this is a Strickler stone.

I also suspect that Strickler’s style varied somewhat depending on the medium. This stone is not the gray-beige siltstone that he often used. I would need a geology consult here, but this stone looks like Black Hand sandstone, another siltstone available nearby.

Baptist Corners Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apologies, Mr. Strickler

The marker at the grave of John Spitler (d. 1837) is a siltstone beauty signed by the carver.

Sorry, I mean signed by the cutter. John Strickler, a local craftsman, signed his name and his job title. If he considered himself a stone cutter, who am I to demote/promote him to carver?

In memory of
who departed
this life April
18,th 1837; Aged
62 years, 6 month
and 16 days.

The epitaph is a version of the classic “Remember me as you pass by.”

Stop my friends and take a view,
Of the cold grave allotted you,
Remember well that you must die,
And turn to dust as well as I.

The willow looks more like a palm tree to me. Perhaps not one of Strickler’s best.

Baptist Corners Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fragments: America Bright

The broken marker at the grave of America Bright (b. 1855, d. 1856) was probably damaged by vandals, the fate of many older stones in Bright Cemetery.

Dec. 25, 1855,
June 25, 1856

Is the broken gravestone the only fragment here? It occurs to me that some family history tidbits are fragments as well, not necessarily part of a whole and satisfying story.

A FindAGrave contributor writes, “The story in my family was that this little girl fell into a well on the Bright Property and was drowned.”


By the way, on the way to Bright Cemetery, I stopped to snap a few photos of an old barn. Imagine my surprise when I saw the FindAGrave page for Bright Cemetery: Looks like I unknowingly snapped photos of the Bright barn!

Another fragment.

Is this the Bright barn today?

Bright Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Annette Doomy

The epitaph on the gravestone for Annette Doomy (b. 1838, d. 1842) makes reference to “lilies of the field.”

The stone carver must have thought it too matchy-matchy to carve a lily on the stone. Instead he carved a broken column, perhaps to symbolize a life cut short.

In memory
daghter of John and
Anna Doomy,
born June 8th 1838
died Septr 3th 1842,
aged 4 years,
2ms & 25 s.
The lilies of the field,
    That quickly fade away,
May well to us a lesson yield,
    For we are frail as they.
Look at the space in which the column is carved. There is plenty of room for a taller column. Did the carver mean for that negative space to emphasize the shortness of this child’s life?

Old Saint Peters Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

RestingSpot: Snap, mark, enrich

On a recent sunny afternoon, I revisited Oller Cemetery to mark the grave site of Archibald Butt (b. 1827, d. 1888) with RestingSpot. Finding this grave was the subject of my first-ever blog post, so it seemed fitting that I mark its location for keeps.

Here are my quick-and-easy RestingSpot steps. Well, quick and easy so far as “fitting” with my particular graveyard habits.

At the graveyard: Snap it, mark it

  1. Photograph the gravestone. — The original photo of the Archibald Butt marker was not my best. This time, with the leaves mostly off the trees, I can do better.
  2. Fire up RestingSpot and tap Add RestingSpot. — I leave the app running while I am in the graveyard. Car charger for my iPhone is always ready, just in case.
  3. Type in the first name, middle or maiden name, last name. — At this point, standing at the grave, I must look as though I am praying: Head bowed, hands together in front of me. Seems appropriate.
  4. Check that you can read remaining details from photo. — Yes, I can read birth and death on my new Archibald photo. If your photo is iffy, enter the dates now. Okay, maybe I should go ahead and enter the dates now, but I am already being distracted by that interesting gravestone over in the next row.
  5. Tap Add RestingSpot.
How simple is that? Done. Marked. The location of the Archibald Butt marker is “on the map,” GPS-wise.


At home: Enrich it

This part is easy too, but may take a bit longer, depending on how picky you are about cropping and adjusting your cemetery photos.

(Note that you can add the photo on the spot with the app after you add the RestingSpot. I prefer to get on with my gravin’ and leave the photo work for later.)

  1. Edit the graveyard photographs. Crop, straighten, and so on.
  2. Browse to
  3. Find (by name) the RestingSpot you marked.
  4. Edit it to add the inscription dates.
  5. Add the photographs. 
Is this a relative? A friend? A local celebrity? Record a biography—a family story, an obituary, whatever you want to share. You are enriching the RestingSpot for today—and for tomorrow.

The RestingSpot app is free for your iPhone or Android. Take it with you next time you visit Great-Granddad’s grave. Your grandchildren will thank you someday.

Oller Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Monday, October 24, 2011

RestingSpot: “Put your loved ones on the map”

Hey there, iPhone and Android owners. Are you using RestingSpot when you visit cemeteries?

Why the heck not?

On the RestingSpot blog, Brett Atlas, a RestingSpot founder, describes the motivation for the app:

It was last year when I was getting dizzy in the backseat of my father’s car in Westlawn Cemetery in Chicago. I had been to my grandfather’s grave. I had a map. I had waited in the car twice while my Dad talked with the Westlawn staff. And yet, we were still 45 minutes late to visit my grandfather. I texted my friend Scott Kroeger and said, “There should be an app for that.”

I’m with you there, Brett. Two years ago my husband and I spent over an hour in a not-that-large cemetery searching for my great grandfather’s grave—and I had been there before with my dad. How would my children’s children ever find the spot?

Technology is the answer: Mark the spot with GPS.

But that’s only half the solution, isn’t it? You must keep the information where others can find it, today and tomorrow.

That’s where RestingSpot fills the gap. Not just a simple tool for marking the spot, it is a growing database of resting spots everywhere.

Brett says it best:

That’s how it began. Nine months later, welcome to the RestingSpot platform. Scott and I have created a service for you to literally put your loved ones on the map. With a simple push of a button, you can mark a RestingSpot for eternity. Think about that: Your great-grandchildren will be able to visit the same spot you marked.

Tomorrow — Tag along as I return to Oller Cemetery to mark the grave site of Archibald Butt, the subject of my first-ever blog post.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Signed by T. Griffith

Yesterday’s post featured a gravestone with an urn festooned with a tulip chain. Today’s gravestone takes the same motif and dials it up a notch.

The marker at the grave of John James (d. 1838) has elaborate carvings of a large urn, chains of tulips, and plenty of decorate flourishes.

And what’s that? Yes! The stone carver made his mark at the bottom.

the Memory
died July, 14.
Aged 50

The epitaph tells us that Mr. James left a widow behind. No children are mentioned; only “relations,” but perhaps he left children as well.

Farewell wife and
   relations dear:
From all afflictions
I lie here; In peace
I lived in hope I died.
I craved for life but
   death denied.

The stone is signed T. Griffith, or is there more hiding under the lichen?

Radnor Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Friday, October 21, 2011

Epitaph: Be ye also ready

Marking the gravesite of Mary Penry (d. 1851) in Radnor Cemetery is a classic sandstone tablet with an urn motif. The urn is festooned with a simple chain of tulips—and an approaching growth of lichens.

the Memory
Consort of Wm Penry
who died Sept. 19,
in the 51st Year
of her Age.

We see the words “Be Ye Also Ready” now and then on gravestones from the 1800s, often on a banner carried by an angel. The epitaph on Mary Penry’s gravestone shows the entire verse, Matthew 24.44.

Therefore be ye also ready
for in such an hour as
you think not the Son of
man cometh.

Radnor Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crown of life

The gravestone for John Griffith (d. 1860) leaves no doubt about the interpretation of its crown:


REV 2:10

The Bible verse is carved on a decorative medallion that rests on a Bible.

The crown is draped casually with what may represent the shroud left behind when the Mr. Griffiths’s soul left his body.

1860, AGED 52 Yyr. 8 Mo. & 21 Dys.


Radnor Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Johann Renner

One of the restored gravestones (so white!) in Saint James Lutheran Church Cemetery marks the gravesite of Johann Renner (b. 1866, d. 1868).

The small white marker is crowned with flowers—roses and lilies—quite likely symbolizing beauty, youth, virtue.

Sohn von
Geb. July 4, 1866,
Gest. Feb. 17, 1868.
Johannis 4. 50 V:
Jesus spricht zu ihm: Gehe
hin, dein Sohn lebt. Der
Mensch glaubte dem Wort,
das Jesus zu ihm sagte,
und ging hin.
~ ~ ~

Son of
Born July 4, 1866,
Died Feb. 17, 1868.
John 4:50 Verse:
Jesus saith unto him: Go,
your son lives. The
Man believed the word
Jesus said to him,
and went.
Saint James Lutheran Church Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One stone, four Joneses

The weathered sandstone marker at the grave of Richard Jones (d. 1822) is so close to the monument in front of it, I had to take photos at an angle in order to get the entire stone.

At first I was drawn to the elaborate carvings. Then I read the stone—as much as I could anyway—and realized that there are four Jones family deaths inscribed on it.

Memory of
Richard Jones,
who died
1822 Aged 30 Years.
three Children of the
said [Ri]chard Jones by
Elizabeth his Wife; Viz.
their Son died
[16?] 1822, Aged 7 Months.
Elizabeth, their Daughter
died 16,th 18[2?] [Ag]ed
6 Years. Eleanor,

[their Daughter died]

According to a list of burials posted by the Delaware County Historical Society, the deaths of the three Jones children are

Elizabeth, October 16, 1823
Richard, October 16, 1822
Eleanor, October 2, 1827

Maybe so, but just maybe the cemetery records are inaccurate (has the stone has been difficult to read for quite some time?) and all four Jonses died within days of each other in October 1822.

Radnor Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Monday, October 17, 2011

Radnor lych gate

“A lychgate, also spelled lichgate, lycugate, or as two separate words lych gate, (from Old English lic, corpse) is a gateway covered with a roof found at the entrance to a traditional English or English-style churchyard.” (Wikipedia.)

An Ohio historical maker stands beside the stone lych gate at the entrance to Radnor Cemetery in Delaware County, Ohio:

“Built in 1910, this lych gate was designed by local architect William Robert Powell to commemorate early settlers of Radnor who emigrated from Wales. Traditional in England and Wales, lych gates are covered gateways used to shelter coffins until clergymen arrive for burial. The Radnor lych gate has two openings: a larger one designed for horse-drawn hearse and a smaller one for mourners. Powell added the tower to resemble a church steeple for a more ecclesiastical style. Constructed of stone from the local Meredith quarry, the gate features raised joints and oak gates to close the entrance.”

Yes, I found some interesting old gravestones once I passed through the gate. Some will surely find their way to Gravestoned soon.

Radnor Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Saint James Lutheran Church Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Geboren, gestorben

Like most of the old gravestones in Saint James Lutheran Church Cemetery, the inscription on the marker for Philipp Schwilk (b. 1801, d. 1856) is written in German.

The Schwilk gravestone, a white marble that appears to have been recently restored, features a willow tree above which are inscribed the words Hier ruht in Gottes Frieden (Here rests in God’s Peace).

Geboren d.1.Dec.
Gestorben d.12.Aug.
Nur seleig! Ps. 71, 20.

Obviously, Geboren is Born, Gestorben is Died. Nur seleig (selig?), according to Google Translate, is Only blessed.

The referenced Bible verse is “Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”

According to the church website,

The St. James Lutheran congregation was formed in 1847 by nine German settler families and was originally named St. Jakobus Gemeinde (“St. Jacob’s parish”). … Originally all services were in German but English was adopted in the early 1900s and eventually replaced German as the standard language of worship at St. James Lutheran.

Saint James Lutheran Church Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Friday, October 14, 2011


The Latin word Aetatis means “aged.” It is often abbreviated on early gravestones as Æ.

The gravestone for Vivian Viets Griswold (d. 1833) uses the abbreviation aet.

Son of
March 1st, 1833,
aet. 18 mos. & 10

A spirit too pure for Earth

His parents are Ezra and Philecta Griswold, as stated on the nearby gravestones of his sisters Fredonia Elvira Griswold (d. 1825) and Lemora Fredonia Griswold (d. 1826).

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fragments: Lewis Dulin

Who knows how long the gravestone for Lewis Dulin (d. 1851) has been broken? There are rusty bolts that hint at an old attempt to reassemble the marker.

What caught my eye is the image on the stone, still evident when the afternoon sun hits it just so: Under a willow, a mourner kneels before a gravestone.

Strong imagery despite the stone being covered in algae.

Earlier photos of the stone, though broken, show the full name and inscription.

(I do not move broken stones, even though I am sometimes tempted. With my luck, I surely would break something—a stone, a toe.)

Feb. 4, 1851;
Aged 59 Y[rs]
5 M. 5 D.

Wesley Chapel Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday’s child: Aloysius Muter

son of j & m
died june 9 1835
aged 1 year
& 4 mons

Like many gravestones in this and other old Catholic cemeteries, the stone for Aloysius Muter (d. 1835) bears a cross and the monogram IHS.

There are several interpretations of the monogram, one of which is that IHS represents the first three letters (in the Greek alphabet) of Jesus: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.

Saint Joseph Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The gravestone of Ann Elisabeth Zahm is one of several old stones in Saint Joseph Cemetery that bear the those words commonly understood to belong on gravestone: “rest in peace.”

In memory of
consort of peter
died jan 29 1847
aged 17 years 11 mos & 20 ds
may she rest in peace

Several markers in this cemetery appear to have been carved by the same stonecarver, who favored lowercase letters. None show the carver’s signature.

Saint Joseph Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Monday, October 10, 2011

“Her leys remains”

The dark gray color and inscription style of this gravestone (not slate of course, around here) reminds me of old New England stones.

The gravestone for Mary McKenney McDonel shows quite a lot of information about her—her father’s name, her place of birth, her husband’s name, her age when she died.

But there are no dates. No dates at all.

Click image to enlarge
Her leys remains of
Mary mckeney the;
of john Mckenney,
Born in the Parish of
LaughGeel, Consort
of Mical Mcdonel,& from
The County of Antrim,
& Aged 45,

“LaughGeel” is creative spelling for Loughgeel (or Loughgiel).

Several online family researchers claim Mary was born about 1775, died about 1820. Michael McDonald’s marker (same cemetery) lists his year of death as 1833.

This is an old Catholic cemetery, and so the cross is not unexpected. The sunburst likely represents the soul rising to heaven.

Saint Joseph Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An everlasting nosegay

The small sandstone marker is blackened with algae and difficult to read, but you can’t miss the sweet nosegay meant to forever grace the grave of Mary Sophia Miller (d. 1848).

Mary Sophia, the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Miller, died before her first birthday.

In Memory of
Mary Sophia,
Daughter of
Charles &
Elizabeth Miller
who died Jan 12,
Aged 11 months
& 20 ds.

How beautiful will Mary be
When God shall ___________

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Friday, October 7, 2011

Plain Jane

Sometimes it’s the little things.

Take, for example, the marker at the grave of Jane Walker (d. 1846) in Oak Grove Cemetery. No symbolic carvings, no poetic epitaph. The gravestone isn’t even an interesting shape—plain old rectangular tablet.

On closer inspection, we see (1) the carver has taken the time to add a lovely, feathery background around JANE and (2) no one knew Jane’s real age. Both details make this plain Jane stone not so plain after all.

DEC. 1, 1846:
Aged about 3[9?]

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Epitaph: She died to sin

The gravestone for Rosannah Weill (d. 1835) is a tall sandstone tablet with two willows and a large (-ish) urn.

In Memory of
wife of
Abraham Weill
who died Sept. 20,
Aged 23 years & 8 mo.

She died to sin. She died to care.
But for a moment felt the rod;
Then springing on the viewless air,
Spread her light wings and soard to God.

I confess: I had to read the epitaph more than once before I could understand it correctly.

At first I thought it was unusual that the epitaph used the word sin. Eventually I realized that what is most unusual is that this epitaph, written on an adult’s gravestone, is from a hymn named “Death of an Infant.”

I found several versions of the hymn, but none named the author. One attributed the words to Anonymous.

Death of an Infant
As the sweet flower that scents the morn,
But withers in the rising day,
Thus lovely was this infant’s dawn,
Thus swiftly fled its life away.

It died ere its expanding soul
Had ever burnt with wrong desires,
Had ever spurned at Heaven’s control,
Or ever quenched its sacred fires.

Yet the sad hour that took the boy
Perhaps has spared a heavier doom. —
Snatched him from scenes of guilty joy,
Or from the pangs of ills to come.

He died to sin; he died to care;
But for a moment felt the rod;
Then, rising on the viewless air,
Spread his light wings, and soared to God.

Click to enlarge. Look out for Daddy Long Legs!
Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

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