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Posts Tagged ‘Headstone’

It’s our tradition. Every year we take a trip or two and visit relatives for Memorial Day. Well, actually we don’t visit live relatives, we visit my ancestors, take them flowers, pull a few weeds and take another picture of their headstones, as though the information changed since the last time we visited. It never changes, the information, that is, but the headstone, that’s another story!

We started on Saturday and drove north to Harrisburg to visit my great-great-grandparents in their home in Harrisburg Cemetery. There was a change in their headstone, but it wasn’t drastic. This was the headstone as I photographed it in 2009.2009

. . . and this is the way it appeared on Saturday, a little worse for the wear, but very readable and looking like it will last for quite a while.

Niess

Abraham Auxer, Catharine’s younger brother is another story. The stone was easily readable in 2009, not so Saturday.

Abraham1
On Saturday I was hardpressed to even find the stone, and when I did and cleared away the debris, I couldn’t remember if it was Abraham’s or his father (my great-great-great-grandfather!) Philip’s headstone.

Abraham2

I’m going to have to go thru a few photos and see if I can find the ones I took in the 1990’s to see what those were like. I know the ones laying flat were covered with debris so they were probably protected.

Perhaps we shouldn’t clean them up every year. What do you do? Clean them or leave them protected by the debris? It would be interesting to know what to do. . . .

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This week I’m going to honor my very own Grandma Nellie with her headstone as my “Headstone of the Week.” The reason I selected her is because I just celebrated the marriage of my grandson to a beautiful bride, and my grandmother was a beautiful bride! These two brides a few things in common, as you will soon see.On Saturday evening, 31 March 2012, Stephanie Ages became the bride of Nellie Viola Niess Sherman’s great-great-grandson, Michael Foster. She was a lovely bride in a beautiful ceremony. She had her friends and relatives attend her, as bridesmaids and maid of honor. Nothing was lacking in the ceremony or reception. . . . and 98 years prior, the groom’s great-great-grandmother had a similar ceremony on 16 September 1914. She, too, was attended by a maid of honor, and four bridesmaids, that included both relatives and a BFF (although the term would be foreign to her!)  in the perfect wedding ceremony with the perfect reception. Details of it were written up in the Washington Post on Thursday, September 17, 1914:

 The marriage of Miss Nellie Viola Niess, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Niess, and Mr. William Francis Sherman took place last evening at 8 o’clock in the First Congregational Church in the presence of a large company of relatives and friends.  The pastor of the church, the Rev. Jay T. Stocking, officiated.  The bride was given in marriage by her father, and wore a gown of ivory brocaded crepe de chine made with a court train.  Her veil, which was of tulle, fell from a cap of lace and orange blossoms to the edge of the train, and she carried a shower bouquet of lilies of the valley, orchids, and bride roses.  Mrs. Jarvis Goodwin was matron of honor, and her gown was of pale pink satin and lace.  She wore a cop of pink tulle and carried a basket of pink roses.

There were four bridesmaids, each of whom wore a gown of crepe de chine in the pastel shade to form the colors of the rainbow.  Miss Hattie Montgomery, of Baltimore, was in pale green; Miss Martha Niess, of Pennsylvania, in pale mauve; Miss Dorothy McElwee in yellow, and Miss Elsie Small in pale blue.  They all carried standard baskets of asters tied with chiffon ribbons to match their gowns.

Mr. Charles Graves was best man, and the ushers were Benjamin Harlan, Mr. Edwin N. (sic) Niess, Mr. Carl Joras, and Mr. Edwin Kavanaugh of New York.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at the home of the bride’s parents, 61 Rhode Island avenue, after which Mr. and Mrs. Sherman left for their wedding trip.  They will be at home after November 1, at 20 W street.

Out of town guests here for the wedding included Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Niess, grandparents of the bride; Mrs. Louis Houseal, Messrs. Louis and Robert Houseal, Mrs. Julia Kern (sic), Miss Fannie Laverty, and Mrs. Sarah Luxen (sic), all of Harrisburgh(sic), Pa., Mr. James Montgomery of Kansas City, Mr. Samuel J. Montgomery and Mrs. Hildeman of Baltimore, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Lehman and Mrs. Saide Leham (sic) of Camden,  N.J.

This is probably where the similarities will end, however. Times have changed and expectations differ in the 21st century. My grandmother was expected to fit into society, have Bridge parties as her mother did, belong to the DAR, and all the proper societies. Stephanie, on the other hand, plans to continue her schooling and be a supportive wife of a husband serving his country in the US Coast Guard.

Grandma Nellie’s life took a turn for the worse as the Depression affected the family and a downward spiral sent the family first to New York City, then San Francisco where the only available jobs could be found. Her “Papa” continued to write and spoil his Nellie who eventually spent her waning life engulfed in that terrible Alzheimer’s disease. We called her, affectionately, “Grandma Forgetful.”

She died in Riverside, California on 30 April 1976 and her ashes were sent to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to be placed in the same grave with her mother. A small ceremony was held with about 10 people present and she was laid to rest with flowers placed on her grave. Until I moved to Pennsylvania, I doubt that anyone remembered her or her mother on those special occasions such as Mother’s Day or Memorial Day. We remember her each year with fresh flowers even though she didn’t remember us for years before her death, thanks to that dreaded disease.

We remember her as a beautiful bride, a talented artist and most of all a loving and caring grandmother.

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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!

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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

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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.

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Finding a candidate for my “Headstone of the Week” isn’t hard for me. I have literally thousands of headstone pictures in my database. Narrowing it down to just one is what is hard! This week, I decided on another Grandfather ~ a Great-Grandfather, this time!William Adolphus George von Breyman was born in Harburg, Hanover, Germany in 1835 and died in Cortina, Colusa County, California in 1901. He is buried in a cemetery in the small town of Arbuckle, California.

Headstones tell a part of the story, a very small part! By the time my great-grandfather was 15 years old, he was in California. Family legend has it that his older sisters got him employed on a ship that was sailing to California where he jumped ship in San Francisco. For a short while he panned for gold, as many did, and then decided the real way to make money was to pack in supplies and sell them to the gold seekers. He became a naturalized citizen in 1859. References have been found to him being a packer, farmer, vet surgeon, postmaster and at one time even co-owned a Fence Company in Sacramento. He spoke his native German in addition to English and Spanish and could write in each language, as well.

In 1854 when he was in this country for about 4 years, Wilhemine Sophia “Minnie” Goda was born in New York. Their paths crossed in California and in 1877 they would marry and become the parents of 10 children, with the 9th one being my grandmother, Bertha Emma. She was six years old when her father died at the young age of 66.

With many thanks to his children and their children, his story has been preserved. His eldest son was a prolific letter writer. Copies of his letters with tales of W.A.G. von Breyman’s values, work ethic and exploits have been shared with me. My great-grandfather’s diary, written in English and at times, Spanish, has also been shared. Life offered him many opportunites and he grabbed them as he passed thru.

That is why his headstone is my choice for Headstone of the Week #2.

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Making New Year’s resolution seems to be a tradition many of us follow. Breaking New Year’s resolutions seems to be another tradition! Will this year be different? I hope so since I have several I’d like to make. My first resolution involves my blogging.

Several years ago I had a “Headstone of the Week” blog, and I had fun doing it. I made it all the way to week #46 before something happened and I did not complete the year. I disappointed myself, and hopefully a few followers. This year I resolve to make it through the end of the year and post all 52 blogs!

Perhaps putting it in print will help me follow through with this resolution! 

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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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Leaving Vermont reluctantly, we decided to stay off of the road most traveled, and take scenic country roads for our final drive south. Had we not, I would have never seen Robert Frost’s home/museum, and never known that this Poet extraordinaire  was buried in Bennington.

The Road Not Taken

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
                                                         —-   Robert Frost

We had already decided to stop at the Battlefield Monument on our way south and now we had a second stop before we left Vermont since a stop at his grave to pay my respects had become a necessity.

In the quintessential Vermont village, one of America’s most loved poets lies in eternal rest with his wife, Elinor, and others of his family who have passed from this world into the next. The First Congregational Church in Bennington has been a most gracious host to visitors who come from far and wide just to pay homage to this man, providing signs along a well kept path to his grave. Pennies, trinkets and pebbles tell of many past visitors, with a few colorful leaves tossed in by Mother Nature herself. The labor intensive grave marker is almost poetry itself, with carvings that were obviously done by a stone carver’s hand ~ a stone carver with artistic leanings. As I stood there, alone, reflecting on his contributions to America, I thought of his “Road Less Traveled” and how it fit into our choice that morning. Had we taken the other fork we would have sped by Bennington and missed a chance to stop and reflect.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
                                  —- Robert Frost

Reflection over ~ reality before us.

After all, we had miles to go before we sleep, And miles to go before we sleep.

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