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My headstone of the week this week belongs to “The Perfect Son-in Law,” Philip Kleiss Auxer. Philip is one of my 3rd great grandfathers, and one that I have a lot of respect for. Philip Kleiss Auxer was born in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County to Michael Auxer, Jr. and his wife, Catharine Kleiss Auxer on 6 April 1810. He was named after Catharine’s father who had died 10 years previously.  Philip died in Harrisburg, Dauphin County 75 years later on 27 January 1886 and is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.

It’s the life between the dates that’s important, and Philip was important to a lot of people, mainly his wife, daughters, and mother in law. Mother in law?? Yup! and of course you’re going to find out why!

Before Philip had reached his 7th birthday, his mother was a widow with 5 children under 10 years of age. His father’s friend (and I use the term loosely) Philip Albert, was appointed guardian for the children and before the year had passed he had married his “friend’s” widow.

Michael had few specific wishes in his will. One of them in particular was mentioned in his obituary that appeared in The Church Advocate, a publication of the Church of God.

From Michael Auxer’s Will: Item, it is my will that my beloved wife, Catharine, shall keep my four children in her care, viz: Amelia Auxer, Philip Kleis Auxer, William Auxer and Adam Auxer, and provide for them, until each of them may have received education sufficient for them, and then direct my three sons to such trades as they may choose to learn . . . “

From “The Church Advocate”: . . . Losing his father at an early day, he was placed among strangers where he was trained to a life of honesty and industry. . .”

Philip Albert went on to to sell the various properties left by Michael to his widow to care for her children and it is unknown where the money went. What is known is the fact that the two youngest sons, William and Adam, were schooled as “Poor Children” and the County took the responsibility of paying for their education since their mother was no longer able to.

Philip was established as a wagonmaker by 1840, married with a young family in the Stackstown area of Lancaster County. By 1850 the family had sold their property and moved to Harrisburg with his wife, 2 daughters, a son and a granddaughter. Within 10 years his mother-in-law, Susannah Bischof Leader Kaylor, joined the family.

Susannah had married after the death of her first husband Samuel Leader. The marriage to George Kaylor did not work out and Susannah (the Woman’s Libber of her time!) had a prenup in place and sued George for divorce. Philip was her representative as her “Next Best Friend,” in the divorce, a common practice in 1854. With her monthly alimony and her sole and separate property firmly in place, she joined the Auxer family in Harrisburg. The house on Boas Street was full.

In 1873 the couples only son, Abraham, died and Mary followed him to the grave 4 years later. The two girls had left and taken the grand daughter with them. This left just two people living in that big house on Boas Street, Philip and his mother-in law, Susannah . . .Susannah who would live to the ripe old age of 94 years old.   And, just exactly who do you think took care of her in the waning years of her life?

Bingo! her son in law, Philip! This man had to be a candidate for Sainthood! Since I can’t even imagine my husband  in a million years taking care of my mother for 7 years after I leave this earth, I must pick Philip’s headstone in Harrisburg Cemetery as

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #10!

Rev. Jeremiah Mark Carvell, Ph.D., the name alone impresses. At least it does me, but then it should. You see, he was my great-great grandfather.

He was born on the 3rd of March in 1843 near McKees Half Falls, Pennsylvania, not even “full” falls,  but “half” falls, whatever they may be, to Joseph Britton Carvell and his wife, Rebecca Mark Carvell. His mother died when he was only 4 years old, leaving his father with 3 small children. Within two years he had a new mother, and would eventually have at least 10 more brothers and sisters.Headstone in Springhill Cemetery, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

According to his 2 column obituary found in Shippensburg Pennsylvania’s The News on 7 September 1894:

In addition to his common school education,

  • he attended, in 1861-62, the Millerstown Academy, and after his second term of enlistment had expired completed his studies in the academy at Markleysville
  • In 1866, without any further collegiate or theological training, he entered the ministry of the Church of God, beginning his labors in Perry County.  Upon entering the ministry Mr. Carvell discovered that his most serious deficiency was his partial training for the work.  He at once became a student. 
  • Under private tutors he made commendable progress in scientific, philosophical and classical studies, taking up to some extent Latin, Greek and Hebrew. 
  • Later he began a post-graduate course at Wooster University, Ohio, a having previously been honored with the degree of A.M. from Bates College, Lewiston, Ma. 
  • Of scholarly tastes and habits, he gradually accumulated a library of valuable literary, theological, scientific, philosophical and classical works of a standard character second to few, if any, in the Church.  He was a man of high ideas in education, morals, aesthetics and religion, which he was often but too conscious of failing to realize.  His abilities and singleness of purpose, his purity of character and power of intellect were fully recognized by his associates in the ministry, so that the Church repeatedly honored itself by promoting him to places of greater usefulness. 
  • He was for years a member of the various boards and standing committees of the East Pennsylvania Eldership.  He had also been a delegate to the General Eldership of the Church a number of times and served on its Board of Publication and Board of Education.  
  • he became one of the incorporators of Findlay College, Findlay, Ohio, on whose board of trustees he also later served for nearly two terms. 
  • He took an active part in the organization of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, at Mt. Gretna, and was a member of the Executive Committee. 
  • He was also a member of the Dauphin County Bible Society
  • He held prominent positions in different orders, being Chaplain of the Grand Lodge Royal Arch Masons of Pennsylvania, a member of I.O.O.F. and the Valley Encampment and Grand Army Post of Shippensburg; past master of Big Spring Lodge of Masons at Newville, P.H.P. of No. 71 Royal Arch Chapter at Carlisle, P.E.C. of St. John’s Commandery at Carlisle”
Very impressive accomplishments for a long life, aren’t they? Well, they would be, but he died when he was just 51 years of age! and that obituary didn’t mention that he enlisted not once, but twice in the Civil War ~ the first enlistment he was a foot soldier, the 2nd time he had a horse!

When Jeremiah got out of the service he met a young widow with a daughter, and married Mary Jane Ziegler Gantt on 2 August 1866 in Dauphin, Pennsylvania. The couple would have 4 children, with only one, my great-grandmother, living to adulthood. Mary Jane died when Jeremiah was a pastor in Philadelphia, leaving him with two daughters to care for him. In the Family Bible, started by him is a pressed flower, and I am assuming it was from flowers from her funeral. There is a piece of fabric with it and it was with their Wedding Certificate.  (Yes, I have the Bible, all filled out in his hand, with births and deaths of each child and his beloved wife)

According to his Civil War Pension file, he died from injuries associated to a gunshot wound. The last months of his life he was confined to his bed in the household of his step-daughter and her husband. He died in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania on 1 September 1894 and is buried in Springhill Cemetery which was once at the edge of town. This headstone cost $90 according to his inventory  filed with Cumberland County. (The original Inventory w/the county stamp was in that wonderful Bible!)

The man with humble beginnings in Perry County Pennsylvania was a true man of God and took advantage of everything he could to better himself in order to serve the Lord and his fellow man. This is why I’ve decided to honor him as

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #9.

As you can imagine, it’s getting harder and harder to keep going backwards one generation at a time. Last week my Headstone of the Week was that of my 6th great-grandmother. Since I have not found a grave marker for a 7th great-grandparent I’ve given up going backwards. I will still honor my ancestors, but they will be in no particular order.

This week, I’ll spotlight one of my fourth great grandmothers, Mary Wolf Troup Lemon, daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Grove Wolf. She is buried in Millerstown Cemetery in Perry County next to her second husband, Daniel Lemon.

Millerstown Cemetery, Perry County, Pennsylvania

Mary was born on 29 October 1789, and probably in York County, before the family moved to the Pfouts Valley area in Perry County. I descend from her first marriage to Philip Troup who left her a widow before her 40th birthday. The family stayed pretty well under the radar, but what is known is that Philip was a farmer who owned 130 acres on Juniata River adjacent to his brother Peter, on which he had a log house, log barn, tenant house and other out buildings.  He also had 2 apple orchards on this property.  His will was probated in Orphans Court records dated 1 Jan 1827. Mary was left to raise the  five children as a widow, four of them under 14 years of age.

One of the treasures in my “family collection” is a series of letters back and forth between my great grandmother, Carrie Carvell Niess and her mother’s sister, Julia Ziegler Keim of Perry County. The letters were written in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s when the two of them were researching their family tree, and coincidentally mine. Julia mentions stories from “Grandmother Lemon” and for years I couldn’t figure out how the name Lemon fit into the family or just who this Grandmother was. Finding the Lemons on the 1850 census was what I termed the “AHA! Moment.

Millerstown Cemetery, Perry County, Pennsylvania

Daniel is just “down hill” from Mary, leaning against that tree you see in the edge of the picture of Mary’s stone. The last time we visited the couple, Daniel’s stone was embedded in the tree, and was broken worse than the picture above.

Visiting the cemetery on the edge of this small Pennsylvania town added more “family pictures” to my albums of headstone pictures. In one corner of this cemetery are the Wolfs. This section is only missing Mary’s parents, who are probably there, under years of silt, pine needles and growth. Across from Mary is her younger sister Julia, and her family. This seems to be the “family area.” I looked in vain for Philip Troup’s stone, but alas, it was not to be found. I am fortunate I found Mary’s and that is why I have chosen her to be

My Headstone for the week for week # 8

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Why, you ask, is such an ordinary headstone her “Headstone of the Week?”  You’ve seen hundreds just like it, and it is a common shape and just a plain old headstone, after all.

Well!  The thing that makes this my headstone of the week, is the fact that I stumbled across it accidentally while I was looking for another, and it happens to be my 6th great grandmother!  Not only is it my 6th great grandmother, but a grandson of hers that I never knew existed is buried with her!

I had been to this cemetery behind Elizabethtown’s Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church on numerous occasions but had never seen this, until I started studying the ones that are very hard to read!  The ones written in German and worn from years and years of weather. . . .those are the ones I concentrated on this visit.

I cannot translate her information, word for word, but it basically says:

In Memory of Magadalena Axer
Wife of Michael Axer, Sr.
Died June 16, 1816

The bottom part of the stone gave me all kinds of information!

Michael Axer Smith departed this life on the
29th day of January AD 1832
Aged 8 months and 27 days

This three line blurb gave me another branch of the family. What this told me was:

  • Conrad Smith who married a Catharine Axer, was indeed, a member of my family.  I had found information on a marriage for the couple years before but wasn’t sure which “Catharine Axer” it referred to.
  • The stone also told me that Conrad and Catharine had a child that didn’t live to maturity and
  • the parents were either unprepared for a burial of one so young, or they couldn’t afford a stone for their only child.

Magdalena had never known this grandson and now he was her’s for eternity, and that is why Magdalena Wilhelm Axer’s headstone is my

Headstone of the Week for Week #7


Framed and on the wall in my office is a DAR application that my Grandmother filled out many, many years ago. She was going to join the DAR but never got around to it. At one point she tore the application in half, but my father rescued it and had it framed in the 1970’s. It was passed on to me in the hopes that I would join. I never have.

The application states that our ancestor,

  • Joseph Britton enlisted in Limerick Township, Montgomery Co., Pa. in the spring of 1776 in Capt. Caleb North’s Co, in Col. Anthony Wayne’s Pa Reg. and served until the spring of 1777. 
  • Lieutenant Jos. Briton appears on the rolls of returned Officers of Malitia (sic) in the County Of Philadelphia Pa. Tues July 3, 1792 (Executive minutes 1790 & 1817 Pa. Archives. Vol IV, 6th Series, page 114) 
  • Joseph Britton applied for liberty to raise a company of minute men; which was granted Oct. 9, 1775 (American Archives, 4th Series, Vol. IV, page 1729
  • Joseph Britton was a Captain in Col. Gist’s Pa. Reg. 1778. He applied for a pension May 20, 1818 at which time he was 63 years old and a resident of Union Co., Pa.
 There are only two sentences on that application that are factual; the first one and the last one. He did serve, but not as a Captain or Lieutenant, but a mere Private. You see, Joseph Britton was illiterate. He signed his own will with an “X“. This is not to say that he is not a hero, because he is. Any foot soldier who states under oath that “After being enlisted and taken to Ticontoraga (sic) being there in the winter laying in tents where he had his feet frosted and got criplet(sic)*” is a hero in my book, be it my ancestor or yours!

Joseph Britton’s headstone can be found in Grubbs Churchyard, Port Trevorton, Snyder County, Pennsylvania. There is no doubt that Joseph was one of the earliest settler’s in this area of Snyder County. The question as to “when” is up for grabs, however.

Joseph married Hannah Frane on Christmas Day, 1790 in Montgomery County. At some undetermined point he left that area and settled in Snyder County.

According to his service record, he enlisted in Limerick Township, Montgomery County in 1776. Another reference lists earliest settlers in the area and states: “. . . Then Henry Rine about 1763, Joseph Britian, Adam Nerhood, Frederick Kreitzer, Peter Lahr, who came among the earlier pioners into this section.**” It is uncomprehensible that Joseph would settle in Snyder County, and then travel to Montgomery County to enlist. More logical would be he settled in this county with his young family after he completed his service to our new country, since he did not purchase his property until 28 April 1812, the date the property was conveyed to him by Andrew and Susanna Mittour.

Regardless of when he settled in the area, he was a farmer, as were most in the area during that period, and a father of two girls. His oldest daughter, Mary, was my ancestor. By the end of 1820 he was disabled, almost penniless and owed over $200. He states”I have no family except my wife, Hannah aged about 50 years, and I am now by old age and bodily infirmities unable to support myself without the assistance from my country.” He had to itemize exactly what he owned:

  • 1 piece of land about 70 acres of Hill land valued at 3 per acre
  • 1 bed and bedstead
  • 1 Table and two potts
  • 1/2 Dozen of knives & forks 1/2 dozen of Delf plates
  • 3 Dishes Earthen
  • 1 Stove
  • 2 Horses old
  • Horse  Geers
  • 2 Cows
  • 2 Calves
  • 1 Plough and Harrow
  • 1 Old Wagon
  • 4 small Hogs
By 1827 he was no longer “to pursue his occupation being afflicted with rheumatism and nearly blind.” He died three short years later on 26 September 1830 and is buried in the Graveyard of the Church he attended. When my grandmother filled out that error filled application his headstone said “He was a Revoluntionary War Soldier” Although a factual statement, the stone that marks his passage no longer says that. When the headstone was replaced is not known.
What is known is that Joseph Britton was a true patriot and fought for the liberties we enjoy today. For that reason, I’ve decided his should be
Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #6
*30 May 1818, Court of Common Pleas, Union County, Pennsylvania, Associate Judge, J. Bolander
**”The History of Grubb’s Church,” Snyder County Historical Society, 11 August 1948,

The further back I get in my family’s history, the harder it gets to find a headstone for an ancestor. This week I had a total of two to choose from for my headstone of the week. My 4th great grandfather, Samuel Leader is my choice this week.

Union Meeting House, Marietta, Pennsylvania

As you enter Marietta you see it. The Old Union Meeting House, a large brick building, surrounded by aging headstones, some you can read, some you can barely read and some you can’t read at all. And then there are those that are no longer where they once stood tall and proud. Samuel Leader’s is among those in the last category, with one exception. His is in pieces, some remain and other pieces have either vanished or are buried under sod, leaves, or whatever it is that blows through a cemetery, year after year, after year.

The person in the spotlight is the easiest person to research, but information on an ancestor who just gets by day to day, gets harder to find the further back you go. Samuel falls into the second category.

Samuel was the 1st of at least 9 children born to Ludwick (Lewis) Leader and his 1st wife, probably Catharine Miller. He was born the same year our country was, in York County, Pennsylvania. Since his father and family moved from York County to that new developing area of Marietta on the other side of the Susquehanna River by 1804, it is assumed that Samuel followed him shortly thereafter. He kept below the radar up until 1811 when he was listed as a Joiner (carpenter) on tax lists. The fact that he was a carpenter is no surprise since there were many Lumber Mills in Marietta. He and his wife, Susannah Bischoff (Bishop), had three children, his eldest and only daughter would become my ancestor. He signed petitions, was active in Marietta affairs and bought a house and then lost the house in foreclosure. 1839 is the first year he does not appear on the Tax Lists. This is Samuel’s life in a nutshell, that dash on a headstone between the dates . . . . which brings us back to those broken pieces of his headstone.

Next to the fence, far from Samuel’s original burial site is a neatly stacked pile of broken pieces of stones that once marked the passage of a life. I believe Samuel’s headstone to be in this pile, and I have several reasons why.

  • 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.
  • 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.
Those stones are way too heavy for me to move, and Jim said he do almost anything in the world for me, but moving heavy pieces of rock is not one of those. Since I sincerely believe Samuel’s headstone is in that stack, I’ve decided to bestow him with the honor of being

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #5

My selection for headstone of the week is Joseph Britton Carvell, my great-great-great grandfather.  He is buried in cemetery at Otterbein United Methodist Church in East Salem, Juniata County,  Pennsylvania, next to his 2nd wife, Mary Hile Carvell. Born on 1 February 1821 in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, he was the first son out of 14 children born to William Carvell and Mary Britton. He was named for his grandfather, Joseph Britton, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

When Joseph was 20 years old, he married Rebecca Mark who bore him at least 5 children, my great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Mark Carvell, being one of them. In November of 1847, Rebecca passed on to glory, leaving Joseph with 3 children under 5 years of age. It is of no surprise that he had remarried by the following September. The marriage to Mary Hyle lasted 44 years until Mary died in 1887. She had borne him at least 12 children.The picture is a copy of a copy, and therefore not a good one, but it shows the couple and shows Joseph as who he was – a hardworking man, doing his best to support his family. The work boots on his feet show he was just a working man.

Joseph and Mary Carvell lived in Thompsontown, Delaware Township in Juniata County. Delaware Township is just 29 square miles with under 2,000 residents today. During their life time the population was probably a lot less. Another researcher tells of two of his granddaughters who remember their grandfather living in a house directly off the square in Thompsontown. He made his living by making brooms and peddling them throughout the countryside. Although several things point to the couple owning property, nothing conclusive can be found, and it is doubtful the couple ever did.

My selection for Headstone of the Week is for a man I know little about. What I do know however makes me respect his values. The process of making a broom from growing, harvesting, and drying the broom straw thru the assembly on specially cut and finished wood handles and then peddling them yourself would make anyone worthy of being my choice for

Linda’s Headstone of the Week; Week #4.