Posts Tagged ‘Niess’

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.


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

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.


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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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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In keeping with the theme (and it wasn’t really a theme, it just kinda happened) my headstone of the week belongs to one of my great-great-grandfathers. Picking just one was the hard thing this week! I had a couple of great candidates to pick from! Which one should I pick? My great grandmother’s father? He has a great story and and had an obituary a column and a half long and accomplished a lot in his short 51 year life, or would I pick her father-in-law who was a common working man, just getting by in life? Well, after a lot of thought, I picked her father-in-law, Ephraim H. Niess, and for a very good reason, as you will soon see.

Ephraim, the oldest son of John and Elizabeth Hauenstein Niess, was born October 21, 1841 in Lititz, Pennsylvania. He  died on November 25, 1915 and is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery along with his wife and 5 of his children. His very devout wife’s diary had four short words to mark his passing: “He took my husband.”

During the Civil War, Ephraim enlisted in Pennsylvania Volunteers, 122nd Regiment, Company E in August of 1862. He was 21 years old. When he mustered out in May of 1863, as a Private, he had just seen the action in Chancellorsville and experienced the horrors of war. A year later he married Catharine L. Auxer, a marriage that lasted over 50 years and produced 10 children, 4 of which lived to adulthood.

Ephraim H. and Catharine L. Auxer Niess

Harrisburg City Directory lists his occupation as Laborer, Bricklayer, Furnace Maker, Furnace Builder, Fireman and finally, Foreman. Want to know what he really did for a living?

Each day he walked to his job at Bailey Iron Works, just across the tracks from his home. Since the huge brick furnaces were essential to their operation, letting a furnace cool down to change bricks that needed replacement was not an option.  Somebody had to put on 6 layers of clothing and go into that furnace to change the bricks, and that somebody was my great-great grandfather. Yet he kept going to work, day in and day out. He had a job, a commitment and an obligation.

Life was not easy for the family. Catharine’s diary tells of past due bills, family deaths, illnesses, and depression.

He had no fancy education, just the bare minimum to get by, but his children were all educated. His daughter got piano lessons along with her schooling and his son got a University education before furthering himself with a law degree.

A man’s position in life, be it owner of a business or the lowest paid worker is not the total of his worth. His experiences, his values, principles and stick-to-itness speak more of who he is than piles of money and/or degrees attached to his name.

My great-great grandfather went thru Hell and back, from Chancellorsville to the furnaces at Bailey Iron Works, but he didn’t give up. He raised a successful family, celebrated his 50th anniversary with the bride of his youth, and kept going into that furnace, changing those bricks, day after day after day.

. . . and that is why I selected his headstone for

Linda’s Headstone of the Week for Week #3

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In March, on our way home from visiting our grandson at his Coast Guard “A” School in Yorktown, Virginia, we decided to “visit” my great-grandfather in Warrenton, Virginia.  It was pouring rain, but we stopped anyway since I did not have a good picture of his headstone.  Once we saw the area it appeared we would not get a good picture that day as well.  Not only was it surrounded by wet, soggy, muddy ground but a bush now covered over half of the stone. I had not come prepared with my Cemetery Kit so there were no clippers to take care of the gardening chores.
Fast forward to Easter Weekend and another trip to Yorktown, this time for Grandson’s graduation from his “A” School. We prepared for the return trip with clippers and and a garbage bag so I could perform my gardening duties.The ground was still soggy since it had rained the night before, but I clipped anyway. I had come prepared with clippers and my “Cemetery Shoes” this time.

In order to get a different perspective of the site, I walked down hill and took this picture from there. His headstone is under that bush . . . now.  On the other side of the large memorial that says “NIESS” it says “KELLY,” my great-grandfather’s second wife’s maiden name.   Buried to the left of Edwin is his wife, Florence Marie Kelly Niess,and next to Florence is Edwin Alonza’s son, Edwin Mark Niessand next to “Uncle Eddy” is his wife, Lucy Marguerite Kelly Niess
Yes ~ Father and Son were married to sisters! So Eddy’s sister-in-law was also his step-mother and Lucy’s sister was also her mother-in-law! And let’s not forget both father and son were attorneys in Washington DC with the same first name of Edwin! So if anyone would distinguish which attorney they were looking for by saying it was Edwin who was married to the Kelly girl, they could flip a coin!Lucy and Marie’s parents are also buried in this plot and this is the reverse side of the “Niess” Stone with their information on it. The Kellys are scattered here and there in this cemetery, but for some reason these two girls are buried with their parents. (this picture was taken that rainy day in March ~ can you tell??)

Rest in Peace, Niess/Kelly family! I’ll keep checking on you and make sure the shrubs are trimmed and you are all remembered!

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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!



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