Archive for November, 2011

Headstones have been crafted from various elements over the years. Bronze, wood, marble, granite, slate, sandstone and even cement ones with sea shells imbedded in them. If it comes from the heart and fits the person it is honoring, it is good.  Those of wealth, fame or distinction were often entombed in elaborate crypts, usually made from marble, in order to keep their memory alive. Slate was popular in Early America and many are still as beautiful today as the day they were carved. Wooden markers were often the only thing available to suggest an unexpected death, and a simple pile of stones could mark somebody’s final resting place. Granite has become a favorite for over 100 years due to it’s beauty and longevity. It is naturally a hard stone that can polish beautifully and will last eternally. but for centuries, one of the favorite ways to mark a grave has always been marble!  On a recent trip to Vermont we happened to drive through East Dorset and saw a historical marker along the road and decided to stop ~ Thus this blog!  Since it was time to stretch our legs we took a walk to see what this was all about and found this rock with a beautiful depiction of what the quarry was like in it’s heyday. The workers at the bottom of the quarry were using various wenches and other devises to lift the marble out of what is now, a lake bed. It looks like they climbed up and down that long ladder each day to work. All to mine that marble for headstones, monuments, sidewalks (yes, sidewalks!) building blocks, window sills, door sills . . .  you get the picture.Taking a walk on a narrow path that skirts the lake, I found this piece of cable that must have been about 3″ around. To get an idea of how big the cable was that was used to hoist the marble out of the bottom of the quarry, I photographed a piece that is still intact. On the opposite of the “lake” was a little waterfall that was so peaceful sounding. You can see it in this picture if you look straight across, to the left of the ladder, at what appears to be a grey step with white at the top. It looks like a blue ribbon coming down against the grey. People throughout the centuries have always felt the need to let others know they have been there, and this was no exception. The only exception was they did not deface it with spray paint or pen, but rather they carved their names and date into the marble for time and eternity! We know we were there, because we always take a picture of one or the other of us to document our visit. It was Jim’s turn. Is this the quintessential Vermont picture? Fall colors, marble slabs and the red farm house in the back ground?Although the quarry is no longer in use today, it is enjoyed by tourist and residents alike. The tourist enjoy it with their camera around their neck (who else, but me?) and the residents as a summer lake! In fact we found evidence of picnicing, since people are people, no matter where they are. Men will drink beer and leave the beer can and women will throw kleenex rather than put it in their pocket.

The next time I visit an old cemetery and see those marble headstones and monuments, I will think of what work it must have been to get it from the bottom of a pit, up to the stone carver, and out to fulfill an order. It makes you appreciate the beauty of the headstones even more.

One of our regrets on this trip? That I didn’t do my homework and find this postcard in my collection before we left! This is the Rock of Ages Granite Quarry! They have tours! Since we have agreed to go back to Vermont . . . within a year or two . . . this will be on the “must do” list for that trip!

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Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-at?   Yes, I attended an ongoing Funeral on Friday evening in the heart of Lancaster! There was a Hearse (one of those old fancy ones!) with a casket in it . . . that makes it a funeral, doesn’t it? Of course, I don’t know who (or what) was in that casket . . .I think this was just a small “Family Cemetery” since I couldn’t find a name anywhere and I did check Find A Grave, to no avail!. . . and right in the middle of the preparations, a train went whizzing by. Stopped those gravediggers and their backhoe momentarily, but the people didn’t seem to mind. It was as though they were just standing there in shock.

I bet I didn’t fool you, though! I bet you figured me out!

Last Friday night was “First Friday” in Lancaster. Amanda and I went out to see a couple of sights and have a bite to eat and were going to finish up the evening at LancasterHistory.Org for their first appearance “on the circuit,” so to speak. We, however, got side-tracked by a Model Railroad exhibit on the 2nd floor of the Citizens Bank building, right next door to the Historical Society, and we weren’t disappointed! Neither were a lot of little children, who just couldn’t move and stood there with their mouths wide open! It was wonderful – the display and the reaction of the children!

I know it’s been there several years and find it surprising that there is very little mention of it on the internet. It is free to the public and operates on donations. I was delighted to have a chance to donate so children (and adults like me!) can enjoy what these men and women seem to enjoy sharing with the community!

If you happen to be in the Penn Square area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, be sure to stop by and see it! It is truly a work of art . . . and love!

But I still don’t know if there is anybody or anything in that casket!

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In 2002 we have the pleasure of watching Minnie Esther Carvell celebrate her 90th birthday with a hall full of friends and family. We were looking forward to her 100th and had about six months to go.

The celebration was not to be. The date can now be filled in on that headstone since it has been waiting at least since her brother had died. Minnie wasn’t ready. She had life to live and joy to bring into the lives of others. I was one of those “others.”

I had been doing my research long distance, letter writing and yearly trips to the East Coast to visit Archives and Historical Societies in Pennsylvania. This was the way I operated before information was readily available on the internet. I would copy all the information that was applicable to my family lines and then study and digest it when I got home. The next step was writing letters, following up on any lead I could find.

That’s where I met Minnie. She was the “common denominator” in many obituaries, so a letter was sent with an answer received ~ but not from Minnie. She had passed it on to her nephew’s daughter who was putting the family line together. I’m skipping over a lot of detail, but suffice it to say we all met, and then met again and again. We went to Minnie’s place and heard her play her organ and sing her favorite hymns. By this time we had moved to Pennsylvania. We listened to stories (including one about my great-great grandfather) and she gave me several pictures of family including one of him, as well.

These two pictures were taken the first time we all met. That’s Minnie between Julene on the right and me on the left. Minnie spent her final few years in a Senior Care Facility as the quality of her life slowly deteriorated.

As certain as I am that she never forgot her favorite hymns is as certain as I am that we will never forget Minnie!

Rest in Peace, Minnie Esther Carvell. You were truly Unforgettable!

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