Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Graveyard Stew

I am always researching for more sites to add on Graveyard Stew. I keep collecting stories about old and abandoned graves. It is so sad to read about these forgotten graves.

Here is one example. A story from Wake County, GA: Developers keep finding unexpected graves as they move into more rural areas. In the past many cemeteries were on the family farm land, land that has been broken up and sold many times over. There is no longer a marker, but the builders still need the land. These were real people once, great grandparents of someone, maybe me or you. Did you ever wonder why you couldn’t find GGGrandpa’s grave?

When the developers find a grave they have three choices. They can try and contact the surviving family, they can preserve it, or they can move it to another spot. Another option occured to me, but is not part of this story. What if the developers simple don’t say anything, and keep on working? Who would know? After centuries there isn’t much evidence left.

Another story from Charleston: They are moving dozens of old unmarked graves that are over 200 years old. On the sacred ground they are going to build affordable housing.

Now I have been around the historical community long enough to know that everything cannot be saved. I do not have a degree in Cemetery History (is there such a thing? If there is I want to learn all about it.) But something needs to be done! I have thought and thought. The only thing I know is to keep alert, keep posting grave sites on line, and keep the level of awareness going in any way you can.

One more story, one that belongs to me. It is a research problem of a great grandpa, Abel White in Indiana. In his will he requested that a portion of his land is set aside as a family cemetery. He asked to have an appropriate marble headstone to mark his grave. But I cannot find it anywhere. I won’t give up the search, even if he and his family are under a modern building, I want to know.

Excuse me, but I have to run over to my own cemetery and make sure it is still there!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Postcard: Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, MD

This is Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland. The postcard shows the superintendent's residence. Researching on the web, I found no evidence that it is still there. This cemetery is positively on my "to see" list. This is the final resting place of Francis Scott Key. There is a beautiful monument in his honor at the entrance to the cemetery. The first burial was May 28, 1854. At that time the church cemeteries were all at capacity, so it was important to create a new one. Today there are over 34,000 silent residents.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Carnival, Cemetery Preservation

No, I have not found a rural, unknown cemetery and cleaned it up and straightened all the stones and transcribed each name and researched each “resident.” I wish I had. My favorite book is Love Cemetery about a lady that did just that.
I have not found a niche to dedicate myself to. If I had I probably would not be able to stick to it for long. There are so many aspects to attend to. And I want to explore them all.
Raising awareness of cemeteries and their importance is my job. No money in it but lots of rewards. Here is what I do.

I am on the Sunnyslope Friends of the Cemetery Iron Fence Fund board. We do a cemetery stroll each year raising awareness for Corona history. This is my favorite project. I love to get dressed up and be a historical person.

I speak on cemeteries whenever I get a chance. Once in a while I get a chance to speak to Boy Scouts about cemeteries. At first they look at me like they are not sure what to expect, but in the end they love to talk about it and ask questions. Some of which I have no answers to! For the genealogy community I talk about The Armchair Tombstone. It is how to research from your comfortable spot at home. And the general purpose What You Didn’t Know About Graveyards.

Of course there is the Graveyard Rabbit. I am so glad I discovered the association! I write two blogs and am the newsletter editor. I love being a Rabbit!

Traveling to different cemeteries is my fun. I enjoy the travel, I like the search, and I love to talk to people there, both dead and alive. It is especially fun with another Rabbit or someone who likes it too. But I often go by myself if I can’t find a cemetery lover to go with.

Shhhh..this is a secret. I am trying to write a book about a dog at the graveyard. I am not great writer, although I would like to be. But I have a great idea, now I am WORKING to execute it.

Often I get asked to take pictures of headstones and I always try to get it done. Each time I come away with a fun story to go along with the picture search.

I gave myself a pretend job at Find A Grave.

These are my little ways of doing cemetery preservation, and I am having a great time!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tombstone Poem

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.

Author unknown

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Caretaker's Home

In older times a home was built for the caretaker and his family. Usually the cemetery was far out of town so it was an important convenience. Now this is the prettiest one I have seen. If I could live here, I would do the hard work that is required of a caretaker! Well, I would more than likely try to get my husband to do it instead.

I have seen a few on my trompings but not many. I added a topic on Graveyard Stew with caretakers homes. They are so interesting. Most of the stories are about them being torn down.

Does anyone have insight on caretakers homes? Are there any books on this subject? Please let me know of anything you have about this topic. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Los Angeles Veterans Cemetery

At one time it was called the Sawtelle Veterans Cemetery because it was associated with the “Old Soldiers Home,” called Sawtelle, which we would call today the VA Hospital.
I first got wind of this when I began to study a Civil War soldier named Andrew Wheaton who is buried in my cemetery, Sunnyslope, in Corona, California. His obituary said that he died in the Old Soldiers home and was to be transported from Sawtelle to Corona. What is Sawtelle!? The research began.
I became friends with George Wilkinson in Michigan who is a researcher and collector of anything and anybody from the Michigan 4th Regiment of the Civil War. Andrew Wheaton was with this unit and fought for the entire duration of the war. He was involved in some of the bloodiest battles, and was wounded in the right knee at Gettysburg. Wheaton will be portrayed in the next Sunnyslope Stroll that will take place October 25, 2009.
I offered to help George with anything he might need in Southern California. He asked me to photograph the gravestones of some men that were in the 4th Mich. There was special pride in taking these pictures. A good friend went with me. She is organized and persistent; I couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks Kathleen!
In spite of the arrangement of a military cemetery, these men are special individuals who served our country. They are all lined up in military order. Generals next to Privates. Rich next to poor. Some men made something of themselves after the war, others just survived with a military pension. There is a complete life story for each soldier invisibly etched on each stone.
This cemetery has no room for any more soldiers. It is in L.A. very near to the filming of movies and TV. The cemetery is very conscious of picture taking in any form; after all, it is Hollywood! Once I convinced them that we were historians, not film makers, they let us photograph the soldiers.
One interesting note was there was never the letter “J” in the rows. At first we thought it was an oversight, but not in a military graveyard! Finally I asked one of the workers. He said that it was because of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Custer’s unit was J.
There were two monuments we noticed. One was the Civil War Soldier. Not a word was written on the monument; however the image was worth a thousand words!
A couple other items got my attention. Two dogs are buried here!! (I love dogs.)
. War Dog "Bonus" buried with handler, Charles E. Temple - Ensign USNR, Section 101 Grave 1 Row A. War Dog "Blackout" buried with handler, George Lewis Oshier U.S. Navy/Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps, Section 99 Grave 2 Row A. Although this is no longer permitted, I was thrilled to see that it once was.
Another thing is, my husband and I are interested in black history. I was happy to see that
over 100 Buffalo Soldiers are interred at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. These African American soldiers were members of the 9th, 10th, 24th, and 25th Cavalry during the Civil War.
Finally, Nicholas P. Earp father of Wyatt Earp, Section 13 grave number A-18, We liked this because the Earps are associated with my neck of the woods, the Inland Empire.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Salt Lake City Cemetery, SLC, Utah

JoLyn wrote about the fun we had at the Salt Lake Cemetery. It is so much fun to be with another graveyard lover. I had a great time with Linda from Lancaster (the TV star!) when she came to my house too. Us Rabbits are so much fun! I wish we could have a Rabbit Bed and Breakfast. Oh! Oh! An idea for a book!! I know the perfect house to buy in New Orleans. But I digress.

The picture above is what we called the graveyard dog. He was happy and playful. At one time he found a flag on a grave and brought it to me to throw for him. There was not a owner is sight but he seemed happy and healthy and loving the cemetery as much as we did.

At the Salt Lake City Cemetery, which is well run by the City of Salt Lake, there are such a variety of stones. It could be a museum of graves. There are sandstone markers, which are peeling from the elements, there are zinc markers, marble markers, granite markers, and several large rocks or boulders used for markers. There are flat stones, and there are monuments. One special monument is the statue that inspired the book The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.

There are many interesting articles about this cemetery on the web. One that gave interesting information is http://www.common-place.org/vol-03/no-04/salt-lake-city/. Although we spent a couple of hours there, we missed alot of the graves, yet saw so many that my memory is jammed. Much of the history of the Salt Lake Valley is here, many pioneers that came to SLC in handcarts are buried there as well as most LDS church leaders. There is a view of the mountains and the city from almost anywhere you walk in the cemetery. This is Salt Lake's History Book!
A Member of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits