Archive for April, 2009

My headstone this week is not just one headstone, but a graveyard for headstones, of sorts!

As many of you know, I’ve been spending time photographing and recording all data from headstones that are readable and accessible in Woodward Hill Cemetery in the city of Lancaster.  It is in deplorable condition ~ except for the area immediately surrounding our 16th President, James Buchanan’s grave, and that is beautiful!


The above picture was taken last Saturday on our visit there to photograph another 100 or so headstones.  We were dirty, dusty and grimy after cleaning dirt and debris off of headstones at the bottom of the hill.  We pulled weeds and moved potato chip bags and empty cans just to read headstones.  Then we came across this!  


At the edge of the cemetery, overlooking Cheaspeake Street, is this little secret.  Soon it will be covered by growth and nobody will see it until the winter when the green dies away and all of those headstones are once again exposed!  It appears that they were all pushed over the side of the hill, doesn’t it?  Where are the caskets?  Why are they all in a pile?  And the Becks ~ are they actually buried there, or is their headstone pushed there, too?  Who is responsible for this?  Is this perpetual care?

Anybody looking for their ancestor’s missing headstone?  Might try climbing down this hill ~ it’s right at the edge of section F.

Linda’s Headstones of the Week; Week #28

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The Lancaster Daily Intelligencer,
Wednesday, March 28, 1892

Funeral Reform

The Philadelphia board of health has gravely (pun intended?)  advised that people should abandon the custom of doffing the hat at burials, and it would be well if there would be a general movement for funeral reform beginning with that custom.  Funeral customs are altogether too costly in both life and money.  People imperil their health by standing around open graves on damp ground, and many are even guilty of the unpardonable folly of holding or attending public funerals in cases of death from diptheria, scarlet fever and other contagious diseases.
The extravagance of burials has long called for reform, but we are all slaves of custom, and grief does not encourage people to meet those questions with the rational independence they exercise in other matters.  One can get married at almost any price and in many ways, but he can only get buried according to the established conventional usage and with considerable expense.  Even wholesome and cleanly cremation shocks the public sense of fitness.  Let us have funeral reform.

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I recently challenged myself to post 500 pictures on Find-a-grave by Memorial Day.  You can read my blog about this and see what I’m doing.  While transcribing them I came across this one and had never seen an expression like this on a headstone.  Most headstones have something else in this spot, Sister, Brother, Mother, Father, At Rest, or something of that nature.  This just jumped out at me and made me smile.  I immediately thought of a chicken being plucked and then I realized it  was probably referring to a flower.

Quite a few of my photos are just like this one ~ weathered and hard to read, if not totally impossible.  I can only read the name and above referenced expression on this one, but I do know the headstone matched the one next to her’s .  They were both daughters of John and Elizabeth Druckemiller and are buried next to their parents who have a newer, much easier to read headstone..

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #27

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I’ve got a goal and I’ve got a reason for that goal. I plan to photograph and record the dates of at least 500 headstones in Woodward Hill Cemetery by Memorial Day. That’s the goal and I started yesterday.

The reason: This cemetery has been neglected, vandalized and ignored for many years. If somebody doesn’t record what is there now, it may be gone for the ages!


Auxer Site, April 2009

Auxer Site, April 2009


Yesterday when I was there, I noticed there were only two headstones still standing in my Auxer plot.  I say MY with pride, although it’s not really mine.  The site belongs to my ancestor’s brother and his family.  There are at least four generations buried there, and the headstones have been broken, knocked over, covered by dirt and trash and generally neglected until I found it.

 This site is at the bottom of the hill in the cemetery.  James Buchanan’s site is at the top of the hill and, of course, well maintained!


Auxer Site, September 2004

Auxer Site, September 2004

In this picture there were four headstones still standing, and the rest leaning, covered by dirt and/or unmowed weeds.  The neglect of this part of the cemetery saddens me, as it does many, but there seems to be nothing a single person can do about it.  Or is there?  

There are literally thousands of headstones in this once beautiful Victorian cemetery and it would be an undaunting task to photograph and record each one of them.  I’ve added 75 to the database at Find-A-Grave so far, and I’ve got quite a few to upload. Today, I’ll head out and fill up my camera.

I hope I make my goal! I’m going to give it that


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“Gone to Happy Hunting Grounds”



This has to be the ultimate headstone!  We traveled to Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in York to see it one overcast, rainy day and were not disappointed with the trip!  As soon as we entered the cemetery, we knew right where it was!  It stood out in the middle of the cemetery.  I have no idea the story behind this headstone, but I would guess there is one.  


Close-up of Bear's face. . .

Close-up of Bear's face. . .



It was well worth the trip to see it and is why it is

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #26

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Sticking with one of my favorite cemeteries, Lancaster Cemetery, in the heart of the city, I found this beautiful monument in a prominent place, close to the front of the cemetery.

img_0175This monument reads:

JULY 27, 1806
MARCH 2, 1841.

Before Lancaster’s Franklin and Marshall College was Franklin and Marshall, there was Marshall College, and Rev. Dr. Frederick Augustus Rauch was it’s first President.  Although he did not live, nor did he die in Lancaster, his remains are here.  Besides from the obvious carvings, the thing that makes this monument most interesting is that Rev. Dr. Frederick Augustus Rauch’s remains and his monument are not in the spots they were originally placed. .  

According to “A Biographical History of Lancaster County,”

“His remains, after resting in Mercersburg for eighteen years, were brought to Lancaster in 1859, and now lie in front of Franklin and Marshall college edifice.”

There is a much more detailed description of his original burial at Franklin College in Mercersburg, transfer of his remains to Franklin and Marshall College Campus in Lancaster and final transfer to Lancaster Cemetery in “A Century of Education in Mercersburg, 1836-1936.”   This book contradicts the above referenced “A Biographical History of Lancaster County,” in stating:

“The Board of Trustees of Franklin and Marshall College, at its meeting in July, 1856, instructed the executive to purchase a lot of ground in the Lancaster Cemetery and have the remains of Dr. Rauch removed and interred there. . . Eighteen years after his death the body of Dr. Rauch was brought to Lancaster for reinterment.”

"A Christian Philosopher"

"A Christian Philosopher"



The confusion probably lies in the fact that a monument was erected in honor of Dr. Rauch on the Franklin and Marshall campus and according to the Mercersburg book:

Twelve years after this occasion another event took place in Lancaster – – –  the unveiling of the Rauch monument on the Franklin and Marshall College campus.  It occupied a prominent place there until the erection of the DePeyster Library when it was transferred to the spot where Dr. Rauch lies buried in the Lancaster Cemetery.

Three different entities, Alumni of the former Marshall College, alumni of Franklin and Marshall College and The Synod of the Reformed Church were responsible for commissioning Davoust Kern of Lancaster to sculpture this monument.  It was referred to as “A Christian Philosopher” and was a portrayal of Dr. Rauch’s Study.

This monument is what is today ~

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #25



  • Harris, Alexander,. A biographical history of Lancaster County : being a history of early settlers and eminent men of the county, as also much other unpublished historical information, chiefly of a local character. Lancaster, Pa.: Elias Barr & Co., 1872, pages 389, 390.
  • Klein, H.M.J., A Century of Education at Mercersburg, 1836-1936.Lancaster, Pa.: Lancaster Press, Inc., 1936, pages 111, 112.

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On the above referenced date, two people died in the city of Lancaster.  . . and on the 12th of July both were buried in Lancaster Cemetery.  One was Jacob M. Long and the other was Susan Ward Axer Cole.  I’ve written about Susan, but I’ve never written about Jacob ~ never had a reason to, he’s not part of my family.  


I had seen Jacob’s headstone while in Lancaster Cemetery several weeks ago and thought it unusual and beautiful.  Since I wanted to do a blog on it some day, I looked for his obituary to find out something about him.  Well, I found it, and directly under his, was Susan’s.  

Besides the obvious gender difference, the first difference I noticed was the length of the obituaries ~ Jacob’s was 9″ long, Susan’s a mere 1″.  Jacob was a merchant, businessman, Trustee of Lancaster Cemetery and on the Board of Trustees for Franklin and Marshall College.  He never married.

Susan, on the other hand, married twice.  Her first marriage was to a linen weaver and her second marriage to a tanner curer.  She was a wife and a mother.

Susan was a teenager when Jacob was born.  Very little is known about her before her marriage to Jacob Axer.  Jacob M. Long, on the other hand, was born into a well established family.  He had a good education and entered into business with his father.  He inherited the business when his father died.  

Jacob lived in the family home,  “a handsome residence” at 14 No. Orange Street, in the heart of the city; Susan lived with her daughter and son-in-law in the city in a nice area, however the home was not her’s.

Although Jacob’s obituary was much longer than Susan’s, and appeared before her’s, Susan’s funeral was first.  Her funeral was 2:00  and his was at 3:00 in the afternoon.  They are buried almost directly across the road from each other in Lancaster Cemetery.  


Jacob left an estate of between 70 and 100K.  Susan’s was no where close to that.  Her estate mainly consisted of clothing and household goods.  Susan’s is a simple stone, next to her second husband, Abraham Cole.  I’ve written about the placement of the stone on the above referenced blog about  Susan.  

I’m sure there must have been common friends, since Susan’s son in law was a merchant in the City.  If  in fact there were common friends, how did they attend both funerals?  Did Susan and Jacob go to the same Church?  If so how did the clergy handle the arrangements?  Did the funerals cross paths at one point?  Was Susan’s family leaving when Jacob’s funeral was arriving?  Don’t you wonder about such things?

. . . and now that Jacob Long and Susan Ward Axer Cole are neighbors for eternity, are the playing grounds leveled?

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A blue headstone!  I found a blue headstone!  We were driving through the cemetery and I saw something blue in the distance and I had to see what it was, and lo and behold it was a headstone!  An old headstone at that.


Another overcast, rainy day in mid-state Pennsylvania and Jim and Linda were in a cemetery!  If you compare the headstones in the background with our blue headstone, you can see a distinct difference. The little line of print at the bottom of the headstone stone says this is bronze!  I had no idea bronze turned blue!  Did you?


Due to the fact that it was an overcast day, I could not get the color right.  It is closer to the color of these two close-ups that the grey it appears in the full headstone pictures above.

This headstone has certainly stood the test of time, hasn’t it?


This was found at Mt. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in York, Pennsylvania.  While visiting this cemetery I found another interesting one that will be my headstone of the week in the future.  Stay tuned for a real winner!!  

Linda’s headstone of the week; week #24

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51gawhxyb2l_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_Last month I read an entertaining book on Cemeteries and thought I would recommend it to my fellow GYRabbits.  I took it with me on my trip to California and it is one of those books you can read, put down and then pick up again.  You can even skip around in the book depending on what you are in the mood to read!  I enjoyed it so much, I thought I’d tell you a little about it, but first the formalities:

“Cemetery Stories; Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse After Death” was written by Katherine Rasland, published by HarperCollins Books and copyright in 2001. The book is in paperback. 

Be aware though, this book is not an in depth book on Morticians, Funeral Directors or Embalmers.  The author has taken the stories that have interested her and put them in the book.  She scratches the surface of each subject and does not dig deep as many would expect.  The book is entertainment, not a text book, although I did learn a lot from it.

With that said, the book over 200 pages and is divided into three chapters with each chapter broken down into different stories.  I’ll give a breakdown of each chapter to pique your interest and perhaps entice you into getting your own copy.

Chapter 1: Workers of the Dead  ~ you can pretty well figure out what this chapter is about, can’t you?

Burials, Funeral Homes, Autopsy, Preparing the Corpse, Embalming secrets Funeral Directors, Monuments, Mortuary Schools, Conventions for Funeral Directors and stories that accompany each of those headings ~ they’re all in chapter one.  The story about woman who wanted to be buried in the pet cemetery next to her cat rather than next to any of her two or three deceased husbands was an interesting one. . . and she got her wish!   There was no regulation against it!

The author actually attended the convention, talked to the proprietor of the school and various gravediggers, funeral directors and councilors.  She attended an embalming and autopsy just to see what actually goes on and describes them, not in a morbid manner, but in a way that holds your interest.  She tells the stores that others have told her about the strange and unusual events.  I laughed at some and couldn’t believe others!

Chapter 2:  Cemeteries, Tombs and Traditions ~ Of interest to my fellow Graveyard Rabbits . . 

This chapter covers cemeteries and all that is of interest to us blogging Graveyard Rabbits.  From mass burials (think Gettysburg) to mass transfers of bodies (think Colma, California) this chapter covers it.  It covers Ghost Towns, Famous Graves, Monuments, Epitaphs, International Graves and Ceremonies.  She tries to explain the fascination and allure cemeteries hold for people (like us!) and even tells us our name ~ Taphophile!  We have a name!  We are Taphophiles!  This chapter explains the term, for those of you unfamiliar with it, as I was.

Chapter 3: Whispers and Shadows in the Night ~

This chapter did not hold my interest as much as the other two chapters did due to the subject matter involved.  I am not personally interested in such as Corpse Abuse, Necrophilia, Ghouls and Rituals with the Dead, so I skipped over those particular subjects. I can honestly say, I did not read this entire chapter.  I did read the sections on spirits and Ghosts, since I have felt the presence of spirits myself in a cemetery or two.  Read the story about Cemitério Municipal de Canindé and see what you think!  I was also surprised to learn that there are Museums dedicated to death.  In Hollywood, California the doors to it are right by Bela Lugosi’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Overall I found the author a good storyteller, and the stories in the book are interesting and do give an insight behind the scenes, so to speak.  She does give the background of a lot of traditions and practices and writes in a manner that the layman can understand.  

It is also lightweight and fits into a purse easily~

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