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Archive for January, 2009

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I found this headstone in the Mt Joy Cemetery atop a hill in Lancaster County.  The headstone isn’t nearly as interesting as the Joshua Leader’s story!  

Joshua was the youngest step-brother of my 4th great-grandfather, Samuel Leader.  He was a Pharmacist in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, when he was killed trying to stop a run away horse in town.  Joshua was only 43 years old at the time and trying to do a good deed.  Buried with him are his wife and daughter.  

I don’t think this is the original headstone.

Linda’s headstone of the week; Week #15

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Union Meeting House, Marietta, Pennsylvania

Union Meeting House, Marietta, Pennsylvania

 One of my favorite towns!  Marietta, Pennsylvania!  and a beautiful old Meeting House, surrounded by an old cemetery, and I have ancestors buried here!  I know for a fact that my 5th great grandfather, Lewis Leader, is buried here ~ around the back with his 2nd wife, Sarah and son, Lewis.  and I’d almost bet my 4th great grandfather, Samuel Leader is buried here.

Pile of Stones at Union Meeting House, Marietta, Pennsylvania

Pile of Stones at Union Meeting House, Marietta, Pennsylvania

Now let me explain the picture of the pile of stones above!  I believe the above mentioned Samuel Leader’s headstone may be in several pieces in this pile and the reasons for that are:

  • 1820 Census shows Samuel Leader in Marietta with one male 45 and over
  • 1830 Census shows Samuel Leader in Marietta with one male 40 -50.  Probably Samuel because he had to age more than 5 years in a 10 year period, right?
  • When the Cemetery was transcribed in the 1950’s there was a broken stone transcribed right after Lewis and Sarah Leader.  It showed a  person aged 63 yrs, d. 4 ? 1839.  
  • Newspaper article found in “Marietta Scrapbook” at Lancaster County Historical Society, lists Samuel as eldest son of Lewis. 
  • Bible in my possession belonging to Samuel’s widow, Susannah has a date of April 15, 1839.  Susannah was illiterate and had no reason for a Bible. (my theory is it was given to Susannah at Samuel’s funeral.)
  • 1839 is the first tax year Samuel does NOT appear on the tax list for Marietta Borough.  (falls right into line with the above Bible and headstone date)
  • Susannah purchases a home in a neighboring town taking possession in her name only in 1840.

The broken headstone is no longer by Lewis’ headstone ~ after all, it’s been 50 years!  My husband told me “No Way!  No! Never!” would he move each headstone in this pile looking for Samuel’s headstone.  Now, he’s usually pretty accomodating about my requests, but for some reason, he refused this one.  Now, I’ll never know for absolutely certain if indeed, Samuel’s headstone is in this pile of rock located in Marietta, Pennsylvania. . . .

What do you think??  Think it’s Samuel’s Stone??

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My headstone of the week could hardly be called a headstone! It is a crypt, and not just any crypt, but one located in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. I thought it fitting this inaugural week to have one from that awesome place.

The Sarcophagus belongs to Frederick Ward Denys and was created by the famous James Earle Fraser. Fraser is the artist who is credited with the famous “Trails End” and the buffalo on the Buffalo nickel. It was created out of two different types of marble, the Sarcophagus in a yellow brown sienna and the recumbent figure of F.W. Denys in cream colored Seravessa marble.
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The inscription reads:
FREDERICK WARD DENYS
MDCCCLIV PRESBYTER MCMXLI
BENEFACTOR OF WASHINGTON CATHEDRAL
HIS FARSIGHTED GENEROSITY BVILT AND
ENDOWED ITS BAPTISTRY AND DEANERY

Of all the crypts in the National Cathedral, I find this one the be the most fascinating, although they are all beautiful. The detail of the folds in his vestments are incredible, and he appears to be simply sleeping. Fraser was a gifted artist.
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We visited the National Cathedral last year at Cherry Blossom time. It was an wonderful experience and the perfect time to go. My final picture is one I took of the Cathedral. If you are ever in the District of Columbia area, you MUST, and I emphasize MUST, visit this incredible structure, and if you are able, attend a service, after all this Cathedral belongs to all of us!
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The Denys Crypt is just one of the beautiful Crypts in the National Cathedral and the reason why it is

. . . Linda’s Headstone of the Week, Week #14

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A Memorial. . . of sorts

 

Walking on the beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, last summer I came across this memorial. Now, it may look trivial to some, but to the creator(s) it was important, and probably washed away with the evening tide.

In Memory of Bubbles

In Memory of Bubbles

The inscription read:

In Memory
of our turtle
and friend
Bubbles

My blog will memorialize Bubbles for those who grieved.

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This beautiful old monument was found on our most recent visit to Philadelphia in September. It belongs to Tench Francis who was born in 1730 and died 1 May 1800. He is buried in Christ Church Burial Ground about a block away from the Church.

This is a beautiful old graveyard and has the remains of Benjamin Franklin interred in it. I paid to enter this graveyard and photographed as many as I could. I did not buy the map to the graveyard, however, as I felt that should have been included in the admission charge. I won’t digress since I did a blog on Philly when we got home from our day trip and you can read my feelings on it on that on my blog Let Free dom Ring, Our Day in Philly.

This is a beautiful, substantial headstone and the reason it is

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #13

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Pennsylvania doesn’t treasure it’s cemeteries. Pennsylvanians do; but the laws haven’t.

Cemeteries have been bulldozed under, sold with land for development and plowed to plant more crops. Country roads have encroached in cemeteries and it is not unusual to travel down a country road and see a small cemetery right up next to the pavement. An example of one is pictured below.  

 

Roadside Cemetery; Brubaker Cemetery, Elizabeth Twp., Lancaster County

Brubaker Cemetery, Elizabeth Twp., Lancaster County

In one case, a large cemetery was turned into a parking lot after the “occupants” were removed and put in a mass grave! Headstones have been used for sidewalks and some have turned up in unusual places, such as the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Many of  the 18th century immigrants, Mennonites and other Pieitists, who settled in the County were farmers and as they established their farms, usually set aside a section for the family burial ground.  As more came and cities grew out to meet the farms, many became part of those cities they once surrounded, and the family farms slowly disappeared.  With the farms, the burial sites disappeared as well. 

Such is the case of The Nissly Farm.  It was located in what is now the heart of Lancaster.  The land was patented in 1747, and following the usual custom, a piece of ground was set aside for a burial site.  The original farm passed through several generations before it left the family.  It was deeded first to Sebastian Graff from the grandson of the original owner and from Graff to George Ross and his wife.  

According to an article by Byrnes published in Lancaster County Historical Society Journal, in 1930, the piece of land that George Ross and wife deeded to Jacob Long (Book QQ page 492 dated 12 March 1794) “Its exact location is fairly well determined by the description . . . the distance from Cherry Street to the West side of the alley leading to the Grave Yard, was 130 feet; and the distance from Lime Street to the East side of the alley was 165 feet.  The width of the alley was not given.  From Chestnut Street to the point of the South corner of the Grave Yard, along the east side of the alley, was 82 feet, 6 inches; and to a point on the Southwest line of the Grave Yard, along the West side of the alley, was 99 feet.”  It would be in the area outlined in Green on the map below.  The area outlined in Red is the Railroad Station and the Blue line is the railroad itself.  The block at Aqua at the entrance of Lancaster Cemetery marks the corner of the Nissly land.

Lancaster City, 1864

Lancaster City, 1864

The deed from the Rosses to Long is the last time the burial spot is mentioned.  Exactly where on the land this was, is unknown today.  It is somewhere in vicinity of the blue line that cuts through the green area.  That area is now covered with a building that was the Lancaster Police Station until several years ago.    

Buried on the land, in addition to the early Nisslys, were the Conestoga Indians that were massacred at the Lancaster County Prison by the Paxtang Boys in 1763.  The burial site, for that reason, was referred to in several documents as the “Indian Burial Ground.”  Another name it was known by was the “Mennonist Burial Ground,” which is how it was described in the deed from the Rosses to Long.

The Railroad Station was at the SW corner of the property in the mid 1800’s.  In 1836-37, when the Pennsylvania Railroad went through what was the Nissly parcel the land was excavated for the tracks.  It is believed that the excavation by the Railroad obliterated what was the Nissly Graveyard.  Many have researched this and none have found evidence of removal and/or relocation of the “occupants” of this particular burial ground.  Whether they remain or have been relocated is unknown.  The disposition of the remains of this burial site is unknown to this day.

The Lancaster Cemetery is a short block and a half away.  It looks like it would have been an easy move, doesn’t it?  Probably, if it had been there in the 1830’s.  It was not even laid out until 1846, however.  

. . . and the speculation continues.  Where are those Indians and Nisslys?


  • John Thomas Scharf, Thompson Westcott. History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884: L.H. Everts and co., Publishers, 1884, page 2359.
  • Thomas H. Keels. Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries: Arcadia Publishing, 2003, page 115.
  • Jacob Hill Byrne, Esq.,  The Old Graveyard Between Walnut, Chestnut, Lime and Cherry Streets, Lancaster:  Lancaster County Historical Society Journal, Vol XXXIV, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1930, pages 25-30.
  • William Frederic Worner, Grave Inscriptions of Lancaster County, Vol. 7: Lancaster County Historical Society, 1935, page 249.
  • A. Hunter Rineer, Jr., Churches and Cemeteries of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, A Complete Guide: Lancaster County Historical Society, 1993, page 238. 
  • H.F. Bridgen, Bridgen’s 1864 Atlas of Lancaster Co, Penna: D.S. Bare, Lancaster, Pa, 1864, Reprinted by Elizabethtown Historical Society, Elizabethtown, PA, 2000, page 4.

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My g-g-g-g-grandfather had a brother, John.  I knew a lot about John since he was Justice of the Peace in Marietta, Pennsylvania,Town Treasurer and generally well known.  Census data, City Directory data, newspaper articles abounded.  I did not know when he died or where he was buried.  I had assumed he had died in Marietta . . .  rightfully so.

In the fall of 2005, on a walk through Marietta Cemetery, my husband and I found his wife and two of his children.  Next to them was a headstone, face down in the dirt and once again, we assumed it was John . . . and once again, rightfully so.

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Jane’s headstone was broken in half and the top half was leaning against the bottom half.  We went home and my husband got a heavy duty digging bar to lift the headstone and I got a bucket and rags to clean it.  We had our work cut out for us.  The next picture is what the headstone looked like right after it was put back on it’s pedestal.  That’s my shadow and Jim’s arm.

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The next picture shows the headstone as it is beginning to dry and how easy it was to read it when the mud was still damp.
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. . . . and this shows the headstone before it’s bath. It is now standding tall and waiting to be read by the next person looking for John Auxer!
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And then we put Jane’s together so we could take a picture of it. Notice how the headstone has aged in two different ways. The bottom of it must have been covered for quite awhile.
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We must go visit the Auxer site again. I think the spring may yield some awesome colors, just as that fall day did back in 2005!

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