Archive for May, 2009

Searching for State Trooper Ben F. McEvoy’s headstone has become a mission and I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge!

On Friday, Trooper Kelly came into the Historical Society and Marianne had a stack of information for her.  We had located the obituaries for his family, including his two children, the newspaper article about his accident and various census records.  We kept looking for various things when she was there and decided we’d go the the cemetery the next day.  Kelly wasn’t able to, but Marianne was game.

On Saturday we went back to the Cemetery, sans Trooper Kelly, to look for that elusive headstone.  Jim had his slim iron bar and he and Marianne probed a foot apart for the entire site.  Three different times we thought we had found something and started shoveling.  They were all false alarms. 


With the second dig we encountered pieces of what appeared to be a broken headstone and a rusty metal hinge of some sort, and at one point we actually dug down about 3 feet, but were afraid to go further because we just weren’t sure exactly what we’d find. . . . .  The picture shows Jim, shovel in hand, Marianne next to the prober and replacing the dirt, making sure the clumps of sod are covering our dig.  We left the site exactly as we found it ~ well, maybe a little better!  The model A is in the background.  

Why go in the Model A?  Well, it is the same era of the one that hit Cpl. McEvoy and Jim thought it would be cool to drive it!  Evidently others thought the same thing, since we got a lot of honks, waves and thumbs up!  

Final results of Saturday’s venture?  Zip!  No flat headstone, nothing that would even suggest another headstone was in the site.  

Back to the drawing board!

Read Full Post »



Each year on Memorial Day the Pennsylvania State Troopers place 2 flags on the graves of all their fallen brethren.  For at least the past 20 years, and perhaps longer, one grave has been missed.  The final resting place of Corporal Ben F. McEvoy has never been located.  There was paperwork indicating that they probably knew where it was, but nothing to indicate that they had ever found the exact site.

The story begins in 1923 with the death of Ben F. McEvoy, a Pennsylvania State Trooper who died in the line of duty.  He was the first Trooper who died from a vehicular accident and was from Lancaster.  According to the information in the State Trooper Archives, he had a wife, Mrs. Ben F. McEvoy, and a son, no names, nothing else.

Fast forward to Thursday, 21 May 2009, when the Community Services Officer from the Lancaster Barracks went to the Historical Society to try to find where exactly Cpl. McEvoy is buried.  The biography said Woodward Cemetery, and she rightfully assumed Woodward Hills Cemetery, but where?  It is a HUGE cemetery, after all!  Marianne looked it up on the database, but the Trooper is not listed.  There was another McEvoy, Margaret to be exact, buried in Section N, lot 74, however.  Perhaps Margaret was his wife and he was buried with her.  Armed with the information and a map of the cemetery, Trooper Kelly left.

Friday is my volunteer day and when I arrived, Marianne gave me the information, knowing Woodward Hill Cemetery was my second home.  I told her I’d be delighted to try to find the headstone for Trooper Kelly.

Cemetery kit, map and information in hand, Jim and I took off for the Cemetery on Saturday to see what we could find.  As we entered the cemetery we saw a mother and daughter, flags in hand walking on one of the lanes.  We stopped and I asked if I could help them find something.  She explained she was looking for a site in Section N and couldn’t find the headstone.  I asked for the name and she said “Mc Evoy!”  I had just met Trooper Kelly . . . and she knew that my name was Linda!  The four of us took off on our mission to find Corporal Mc Evoy’s final resting spot.  We walked up and down the area where Margaret Mc Evoy is supposed to be buried.  No Mc Evoy was there or even close.  No headstone for a Mc Evoy is in that cemetery period!!

Disappointed that we did not find a thing, we talked over our options and decided we needed to find out who was buried in the surrounding area.  I knew we also needed an obituary to verify that the burial was in the Woodward Hill Cemetery.  I told Trooper Kelly I would go to the Historical Society and see what I could find, after all, I’ve never been opposed to doing a little research!  


  • I pulled up the database for Woodward Hill Cemetery and Kevin showed me how to organize it by Section Number.  Finding Section “N”, we went down to #74 and saw that it was registered to “Benjamin F. Kiehl” with completely different dates than “Ben F. Mc Evoy” but it had the notation PA State Trooper.  Confusing to say the least.
  • Kevin suggested that I look at marriage license information to see if Mc Evoy married a Kiehl.  I took that film out of the drawer.
  • I wanted to look at the obituary first, since I was sure there would be a good one ~ after all he had died in the line of duty.
  • Bingo!  There was a picture, a long obituary, the names of his family and even their address.  It was a gold mine of information.  
  • I then went to the Classified section where it lists funeral information.  There was the information we were looking for.  Burial in Woodward Hill, mother was MARGARET MC EVOY and funeral would take place from the home of his grandmother, MARY KIEHL.  He was buried in his grandparents plot!  I did not have to look at marriage licenses!




 The found information necessitated a return trip to the cemetery to verify the information.  I drove right to the site, and indeed the monument there was the KIEHL monument.  The only stone there was for Benjamin F. Kiehl, and I’m assuming this is Ben F. McEvoy’s namesake.  Since I had Trooper Kelly’s card, I gave her a call to let her know what I had found.  She was as excited as I was and asked me if I could wait and she would head right over.  I wasn’t going to miss this, so of course, I waited!!  


When they pulled up, I had my paperwork ready and handed it to Trooper Kelly.  She was thrilled to see a picture of this Trooper and explained that the State Trooper Archives didn’t even have a picture of him!  I told her those were her’s for their files and asked if I could take pictures of them placing their flags at the Kiehl monument and do a blog on this . . . 




 CORPORAL BEN F. MC EVOY is honored as one of the State Police’s fallen.

It is our honor, Corporal Ben F. McEvoy, to honor YOU this Memorial Day!  Thank you for your service to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!


Read Full Post »


The Vaugh Stack, as I call it, caught my eye in the Harrisburg Cemetery during my recent visit. The simplicity of it in an area that had crypts, ornate and ostentatious headstones, either made a statement or was especially designed to be unique.

  • The largest stone of the bottom is for Robert Vaugh, who I’m assuming was the head of the family. He was born in 1824 and died 1908.
  • Above his is his wife’s stone. Mary Mastin Vaugh was born in 1827 and died in 1897.
  • The next stone up would be Catharine who I think was born in 1884 (it’s hard to read) and died in 1912, 
  • and the top stone simply lists, John, Maggie and Walt.

Unique? I think so, and that is why it’s. . .

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #32

Read Full Post »

On April 18th I posted a blog, 500 by Memorial Day, with my challenge to myself. I was going to photograph and post 500 memorials and pictures from headstones at Woodward Hill Cemetery to Find a Grave by Memorial Day.  Did I succeed?  

Yes I did!!!

I posted 605 memorials and a total of 850 pictures to Find-A-Grave since April 20th, the day I wrote down the count!  Since I can’t find the count I began with on April 18th, I’m using the April 20th date and I accomplished my goal plus!  I’m not stopping now I’m on a roll!

This is not only helping Find-a-Grave, but it is helping Lancaster’s Historical Society as well, because I’ve taken one extra step.  As I post the headstone, I compare the information on it against the database at the Historical Society to make sure everything agrees.  When it does not, the database is changed to reflect the correction. This is a time consuming task, but in the long run everybody benefits.

Now I’m challenging YOU! What are you doing towards preserving our past for the future generations??

Read Full Post »

Nothing makes Memorial Day more meaningful than spending it in a cemetery.  And no cemetery is as awesome as Harrisburg Cemetery on Memorial Day . . . in our humble opinion!

We started our 2009 Memorial Day Rounds in Marietta Cemetery paying homage to the my Leader ancestors and headed north to Harrisburg.  We never made it to another cemetery since we spent a good portion of the day in this cemetery, slowly driving (Jim) and photographing (Linda).  We had brought our lunch and even had our picnic in the cemetery!


The Caretaker’s Cottage is the first site that greets you as you enter the Cemetery.  It was the office when we first started visiting the Cemetery, but is now a residence again.  It has unique architectural elements and if you look closely at the eaves you’ll see some of them.

HBGGARI have written about the Civil War Veterans site in another blog, but I still can’t help being impressed with the fact that those who fought each other at one time are now resting together in eternity.  Brothers in death.

BeidlemanThe colors of green and gray  make an awesome backdrop for our American red, white and blue flag.  I love the simplicity of the Beidleman site.

IMG_0200This is perhaps, my favorite picture of the day.  It was peaceful, serene and interrupted only by the chirping of birds and the leaves rustling under my feet.  I turned around and took the next picture, with the same peaceful, serene feel.


The next picture is one that just captured my interest.  The cross must have sat atop the base at one time, but is now prone.  It is beautiful just the way it is, in my opinion and I had to capture it for my collection.


Hidden away on the western edge of Cemetery, I found this quiet, reflective spot.  It once overlooked the city of Harrisburg, but now trees hide the neighboring area from view.  I never knew this site existed until Sunday, and wish my ancestors had done something like this!

BoydIf you look closely at the wall, you’ll see memorials for each member of the Boyd family, daughter and son-in-law’s included.  Each one has their full name, the full name of their parents, dates of birth and death.  Most of them tell where they were born!  How’s that for a complete genealogy?


John Boyd was only 21 and this memorial tells where he was wounded and lists exactly where he was buried at sea.  Each of the memorials have the exact same script and are the same size.  It is a beautiful site (and sight!)

IMG_0239John White Geary, forever memorialized in this bronze statue erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  There is a bronze plaque on each side chronicling his achievements in life, First mayor of San Francisco, Governor of Kansas, Governor of Pennsylvania and Lt. Colonel in the Mexican War and promoted to Major General in the Civil War.  This is also hidden away.  

PierceContinuing on our western perimeter route, this bench was at the s/w corner of the cemetery.  According to the inscription:

Underneath are the Everlasting Arms

Edward R. Pierce, 1860-1926

Isabel C. Pierce, 1866-1917

Ralph H. Pierce, 1892-1911


Directly across from the Pierce bench is this crypt for the William Rife family.  I caught a glimpse of some color through the door and had to go over to see what it was.  I was not disappointed!  

IMG_0256The interior is completely marble with the stained glass window being the only color.  There appear to be four burial vaults in this crypt.  It is beautiful and impressive.


The reason we went to the cemetery was to honor Ephraim H. Niess, my great-great-grandfather.  He served in CO. E, 122nd RGT, Pa VOL.  Each year when we go I photograph the flag placed at his grave.  This year he was skipped.  I was so disappointed.  I did let him know we did not forget, however.  I appreciate what each and every one of my ancestors did so I can have the life I have today.  I honor them all!

I have many more pictures, but decided to keep some of them for a later date.  This has always been our favorite cemetery and Sunday just cemented the fact!

Honor a hero in your life for Memorial Day 2009!



Read Full Post »

My headstone of the week is one of my ancestors, and probably an ancestor of half of Lancaster County! It seems like everybody in Lancaster County descends from either Hans Herr or Hans Graf/Graff/Groff! I descend from the latter.  The above headstone helps to establish my family in Pennsylvania before 1700.  

The picture was taken over 10 years ago before we had moved to Pennsylvania, whether it looks the same today is unknown.  Behind this stone is what I believe to be his original grave marker. 


I have letters written about this family and is one reason I started my genealogy quest many years ago.  My great-great-grandmother’s sister was relating stories passed down from her grandmother about Hans Groff to my great-grandmother.  I am fortunate my family saved books, letters and photos and that I am now the caretaker of most of them!  

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #31


Read Full Post »


I found the most beautiful, intricate monument/gravestone on my last visit to California. It is located at Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside, California. The elaborate design and carvings set this apart from other headstones in it’s area and the reason it is

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #30

Read Full Post »

We loaded up our “Cemetery Kit” and headed to Woodward Hill Cemetery this morning.  We were on a mission.  Our mission?  Clean up the Auxer site and look for Dorothy Auxer’s stone that is supposed to be in this site.  Who’s Dorothy Auxer?  That’s what we want to know!


Digging bar in hand, we started stabbing around looking for a buried headstone, hoping to find Dorothy.  We found what we thought was a stone, and Jim started shoveling.  It turned out to be the base of Cecelia Faesig’s headstone.  Making sure that was what it was, we shoveled the dirt off of the one next to it, and sure enough, it was the right size for a base for Frank Faesig’s headstone.

Dig#3Not finding Dorothy’s stone  . . . yet, Jim decided we would replace Mary Auxer’s headstone.  It had been pushed off of it’s base sometime in the last year and when we decided to clean up this site, it included trying to replace the stones in their original place.  Mary’s stone is seen next to the shovel in the above picture, the base next to the head of the shovel and the stone itself behind it.

Mary's Stone #1The above  picture shows Jim “casing out” the job before us.  It was not as easy as it appeared, due to the weight of the stone and the age of the participants in this effort!  All we had to do was upright the stone and set it on the base.  

Mary's Stone #2With the digging bar in hand holding up the headstone, Jim takes a break.  At this point I went looking for some stones and bricks to prop up the headstone as he lifted with the digging bar.

Mary's Stone #3With Mary’s stone sitting on it’s base, the bricks and stones we used to help prop it up are visible in the space it vacated.  As Jim lifted a little more, I stuck another brick under the stone, on top of another brick.  It was a hard job for Linda and a much harder job for Jim!  However at this point our job was almost complete!

Mary's Stone #4With Mary’s stone in it’s rightful place, we have started with our mission!  It’s one step towards straightening up Section E, site 7 at Woodward Hill Cemetery, and I’ll keep blogging about our progress as we continue on our journey.

Mary has been put back in her place.

Read Full Post »

I’m sorry, but these remind me of Flying Saucers!   I found these in my “Cemetery of the Hour,” Woodward Hill in Lancaster.  I’ve been concentrating on this cemetery recently and have found some very interesting things ~ these among them!

The Peiper family all seem to like the Flying Saucer Shape.  On the top of each of these saucers are their names and dates.  The smallest one is unreadable.  I have highlighted the one on the left since it is the easiest to read.  
PeiperElizForry The saucer, oops grave marker, reads:

Elizabeth A. Forry Peiper
Born May 2, 1836
Died October 24, 1914.

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #29

(The Flying Saucers!)

Read Full Post »

Kevin Brennan Funeral Home in Topeka, Kansas offers the ultimate final ride. 


image003Does your area offer a creative funeral option?  If so, why don’t you share it with us? 


Want this ride?  

Gotta head to Topeka. . . 

Read Full Post »