Thursday, May 31, 2012

A cairn-like monument

cairn n. a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark
Next to a large maple tree in the back corner of Woodhill Cemetery stands a monument made to look like a pile of stones with a flaming urn on top.

It is not a cairn, but that is what I see when I look at it.

Whatever you see, the monument is an impressive memorial to the family of John N. C. Schenck (b. 1778, d. 1867), the first postmaster of Franklin, Ohio.

JAN. 24, 1778;
OCT. 26, 1867

AUG. 21, 1787;
JAN. 28, 1842.

Sharing the monument with John and Sarah are several of their children, their inscriptions carved into several of the monument’s “stones.”


According to The Historical Marker Database,,

John Noble Cumming Schenck, older brother of one of the founders of Franklin, William C. Schenck, established a store here in 1802. In 1805 President Thomas Jefferson appointed John Schenck postmaster of Franklin, a position he held until 1829. Schenck’s store is considered Franklin’s first post office and was one of the first four in Warren County.

Woodhill Cemetery, Warren County, Ohio

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Semper fidelis

Walking through my hometown’s cemetery on Memorial Day, I spied this monument—a cenotaph—for Thomas John Van Dyke (b. 1890, d. 1918), a young Marine who lost his life in France during World War I.


From the American Battle Monument Commission,

Within the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, which covers 130.5 acres, rest the largest number of our military dead in Europe, a total of 14,246. Most of those buried here lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. The immense array of headstones rises in long regular rows upward beyond a wide central pool to the chapel that crowns the ridge.

Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial
Photo courtesy of American Battle Monument Commission

The ABMC database lists Thomas J. Van Dyke as follows:

Thomas J. VAN Dyke
Private, U.S. Marine Corps
5th USMC Regiment, 2nd Division

Entered the Service from: Washington
Died: November 1, 1918
Buried at: Plot E Row 19 Grave 27
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery
Romagne, France

Woodhill Cemetery, Warren County, Ohio

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Willow and coffin

The old sandstone marker for Nathaniel Coleman (b. 1787, d. 1836) is the first gravestone on which I have seen emigrate used to describe movement from one state (New Jersey) to another (Ohio).

The marker also has an interesting carving: A coffin or box tomb rests beneath a willow tree.

To the memory of
Who was born in N
Jersey May 7, 1787
And Emigrated to
This Town In 1829
And departed this life
Dec. 3 1836 Aged 49
Years 6 mo. & 26 days

Woodhill Cemetery, Warren County, Ohio

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ohio Flags of Honor

From Memorial Day 2011, the Ohio Flags of Honor displayed on the Village Green, Powell, Ohio.

Never forget our fallen or their families.

Friday, May 25, 2012


My visit to Iberia Cemetery was what I call an “opportunistic stop.” One of those heck-so-long-as-we’re-in-the-neighborhood type of stop.

Not to be confused with hey-I-see-a-cemetery-over-there! type of stop.

The monument that marks the grave of Lizzie S. Hunter (d. 1872) is a handsome classic: A draped pedestal supporting a large urn. The inscription face features a nice carving of a single lily.

wife of
J. S. Hunter

Jan. 11, 1872;
36 Ys. & 6 d.

By the way, are you taking the opportunity to visit family graves this Memorial Day weekend?

Iberia Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seeing things

Sometimes I see things.

Are the old sandstone grave markers for Joseph Scott (d. 1839) and R. M. Scott (d. 1839) in Iberia Cemetery for a young father and his child? Or maybe Joseph was R. M.’s older sibling. Or uncle.

But I look at the stones and see more. I see an adult and child leaning towards each other in affection and support.

Do you see it too? Because maybe I have been standing too long in the midday sun.

In Memory of
Who departed this life
Sept. 1. AD. 1839:
Aged 27 years 11 Mo.
& 26 days.

Died Sept. 1839:
Aged 2 years.

Iberia Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another misplaced military marker

A bright white marble stone marks the grave of John Robison (d. 1849) in Armstrong Cemetery.

But what is this? A Civil War marker next to it? Not if John Robison died in 1849!

Perhaps somewhere in Ohio there is another John Robison who should have this GAR marker.

In Memory of
a native of Scotland
Perth-shire Killin;
who died Decr 28th 1849
Aged 56 years.

A UK website promoting tourism describes Killin today:

Killin is a delightful highland village at the west end of Loch Tay in west Perthshire. It is situated beside the river Dochart close to its junction with the River Lochay and just a few hundred yards from the point at which it enters loch Tay and loses its identity to the Tay, Scotlands longest river.

Killin is the largest and oldest of the many settlements in Breadalbane—‘Braghaid Albainn’—the High Country of Scotland. The name of the village comes from its association with the legendary Celtic Hero Fingal who, it is thought was buried here—‘Cill Fhinn’ meaning the burial place of Fingal.

Armstrong Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Monday, May 21, 2012


Armstrong Cemetery in Morrow County, Ohio is not the smallest graveyard I have visited, but it is tiny. Fewer than a dozen gravestones stand there today.

I nearly drove past it.

The sandstone marker at the grave of Araminta Conger (d. 1842) tilts to the left and has a few nicks here and there, but the large willow carving remains strikingly well defined. The inscription is still easy to read—especially in mid-afternoon sunlight.

In Memory
of Araminta
Wife of William
Dennis Conger
Who died June
1st 1842 Aged
22 ys 5 Mo
& 22 ds.

I pulled a few weeds growing at the base of the stone to read what at first glance appeared to be an epitaph. Then I realized that Araminta’s gravestone identified not only her husband, but also her parents:

Daughter of Arc-
hibald & Sarah

When a wife dies at such a young age, I am always curious about whether (when? if?) the husband remarried. So it was a search for William Conger in the 1850 Federal Census for Morrow County that yielded this interesting record for the Archibald Bishop household:

Is Dennis Conger, eight years old in 1850, the son of William Dennis Conger and Araminta Bishop Conger?

I’m thinking yes, which makes me wonder whether Araminta died in childbirth, or from complications afterwards. Possible.

Of course, I would not want to draw conclusions without more research (well, I might want to, but I won’t). I will leave that research to others.

After all, there are so many more cemeteries to explore.

Armstrong Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tip: Record the cemetery name on your camera roll

If you are like me and take loads and loads of photos, often at several (sometimes many) cemeteries on one day, it could be easy to mis-identify a gravestone’s location. 

So what I do—and this may be what you do too—is take a photo of the cemetery sign as soon as I arrive, which places a visual cue on my digital camera roll: Here begins ABC Cemetery.

This simple technique works great...most of the time.

Today I arrived at Armstrong Cemetery to discover that this tiny cemetery in rural Morrow County has no sign.

Hmm. How do I record the cemetery’s name before I start snapping gravestone photos?

Smart phone and Google Maps to the rescue!

I pulled up Google Maps, which had guided me to Armstrong to begin with, and touched the red pin that marked the cemetery to display the place name. Then I simply saved an image of the screen to the camera roll.

Here begins Armstrong Cemetery.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday’s child: Emma

On her gravestone, her name is Emma Aedt (d. 1873). A record of her death, which also names her parents, lists her last name (spelled Aydt), no first name, and gender, unknown.

Dau. of
J. & C. AEDT
Aug. 1, 1873

"Ohio, Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 May 2012), Aydt, 1873.

Waldo Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Epitaph: Thus end all earthly joys

The small sandstone tablet at the grave of Otho H. Thurstin (d. 1843) features a single pinwheel design.

The design on this stone reminds me of modern cemeteries, where colorful pinwheels are a common gravesite decoration—especially at the graves of children.

son of
R. H. & M. B.
Thurstin died
Dec. 20, 1843:
Aged 1 yr & 23 ds.

The epitaph is the first verse of a poem by Caroline Matilda Thayer, “Reflections of an unfortunate mother over the grave of her only son.”

How are my hopes, my lambent visions fled!
How disappointment racks my grief-torn heart!
My sole delight, my darling infant’s death:
Thus end all earthly joys, thus dear connexions part.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Friday, May 11, 2012

Old willow

Around here, a gravestone from the early 1800s is old— and one that is in nearly pristine condition is suspect: Is it a replacement? Was it placed long after the death?

The simple willow tablet at the grave of Nehemiah Sabin (d. 1814) may well be as old as its inscription implies. This stone appears to be cut from siltstone, which stands up beautifully to our Ohio weather.

Died Dec. 20,
in his 44 year.

Think this gravestone stands in a weedy, poorly kept cemetery? Look at the weeds!

Think again.

This gravestone stands in Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, where rare Ohio grasses and wildflowers are welcome to grow freely.

Bigelow Cemetery Prairie State Nature Preserve

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What’s wrong with this picture?

This gravestone in Canaan Cemetery caught my eye immediately. Or rather, the military marker beside the gravestone did.

There are no dates on the stone, but I doubt that Marion Harris, buried beneath a Civil War-style gravestone, was a Vietnam vet.


According to American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line via] compiled by Historical Data Systems, Marion Harris enlisted on September 23, 1861 at the age of 17. He received a disability discharge on April 29, 1862 at Camp Dennison, Ohio.

Certainly not a Vietnam vet.


Canaan Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday’s child: Laura Bell Gorton

Marion Cemetery in Marion, Ohio is a large cemetery, making it easy to miss a small gem like this marker at the grave of Laura Bell Gorton (b. 1867, d. 1868).

But is it Gorton? The last couple letters of the surname show damage and are tough to read.

Gorton is a good guess—the letters fit and there are Gorton burials in Marion Cemetery—but without more research, we cannot be sure.

Dau. of
J.W & M.A. Gort[on]
Aug. 1, 1868
Æ 1 y. 2 m.
& 11 d.
We loved our little Laura Bell
We would have wished her stay
But let our Fathers will be done
She shines in endless day.

Marion Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio

Monday, May 7, 2012

A widower remarries

As the spring breezes blew through the branches of the tall cedar trees in Foster Chapel Cemetery, the obelisk at the grave of Mary Quinney (d. 1879) was in and out of the sun.

Eventually I caught it mostly in the sun.

wife of

May 9, 1879;
Aged 61 Yrs.

According to the 1870 Federal Census, Mary and John Quinney both were born in England. Like their Ohio neighbors, John was a farmer. Mary’s sister Sarah was living in the household as well.

A quick check of the 1880 Federal Census shows John and Sarah still living on the farm (with the same neighbors, the Timmons family), but now Sarah is listed as—you guessed it—his wife.

Sure enough, has an image of their marriage record. John Quinney married Miss Sarah Parish on June 27, 1879.

Foster Chapel Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wordle mocks my error

Remember Wordle? Here is a recently generated Wordle for Gravestoned in a nice, gray-is-for-gravestones palette.

And there it is, big as life: Catharine. Just the name I have been trying to forget.


Because it should be Catherine, not Catharine.

In the post for Catherine Ullmer, “Mystery of the missing death date,” I mispelled Mrs. Ullmer’s given name not once, not twice, but nine times!

Do I get points for consistency?

Ullmer Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio

Saturday, May 5, 2012

S. Minter, London marble dealer

The David Runyan monument—the one with the nifty tornado-like decorative swirl— has another interesting bit: The identity of the stonecutter.

S. Minter
London, O.

Samuel Minter is listed in the 1860 Federal Census for London, Ohio. He was 40 years old in 1860, the year before his death. Note that a Jacob March (marble worker apprentice) and a Mark Hutchison (marble worker) are lodgers in the Minter household.

From The History of Madison County, Ohio (Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1883):
The London Marble and Granite Works were established in London in the neighborhood of 1853 by Samuel Minter. Mr. Minter died in 1861, and the business was carried on for about one year by the present proprietor, Jacob March. The works were then purchased by Messrs. Hutchinson & Reitzell, who conducted the business together for a period when Mr. Hutchinson became sole proprietor. In June, 1866, Jacob March purchased a half-interest of Mr. Hutchinson, and the tow gentlemen operated together for about six months, when Levi March bought out Mr. Hutchinson’s interest, and the firm name became the March Brothers. Six months later, Mr. Jacob March became sole proprietor and carried on the business until 1872, when he sold to James Self. About this time, another marble shop was started in town by Aaron Bentezell. Mr. March became associated in the business as a partner with Mr. Bentezell. These gentlemen after about one year together dissolved, Mr. March purchasing. About the year 1875 Mr. March purchased the shop of Mr. Self and consolidated the two. The works were destroyed by the fire of 1874, but immediately thereafter rebuilt where now located on West High street, where can be found anything in the marble and granite line, for monuments or tombstones, and a full supply of limestone and freestone for door or window sills, doorsteps, etc.
Nation Chapel Cemetery, Clark County, Ohio

Friday, May 4, 2012

David Runyan

The squared column monument for David Runyan (d. 1859), repaired at least once, tips slightly to the right. Its cap is a bit askew.

Look closely: What an interesting, tornado-like twirly design under the name!

Dec. 9, 1859
53 Y. 8 M. 29 d.

But go thou thy way till
the end be for thou shall
rest, and stand in thy lot
at the end of the day
                 Dan. 12 V. 13

My dearest friends that
dwell above
I now have gone to see
And all my friends in
Christ below
Will soon come after me

David Runyan was among the earliest permanent settlers in the eastern part of Harmony Township, Clark County, Ohio. Other early settlers rest steps away from Runyan.

Nation Chapel Cemetery, Clark County, Ohio

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

1940 Census: Another snippet of occupations

A sampling of 1940 occupations from two Toledo, Ohio wards, recorded by different enumerators—

grocery clerk
mill wright
beauty operator
beauty operator
railroad engineer
paper salesman
jewelry repairs, salesman
railroad engineer
apprentice tool maker
~ ~ ~

Shipping Foreman
Sales clerk
Truck Driver
package sorter
Sales clerk
Pipe fitter
umbrella worker

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