Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Creepy Images for Halloween

Death Makes Its Mark
(Otherwise titled: Main Reason Not to Have Your Image Put on Your Tombstone!)
The Floating Head of Maynard
(otherwise titled: My Mom Goofing Around Behind Her Grandparents' Tombstone, with Body PhotoShopped Out!)

Happy Halloween, everybody! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photo Friday: Our Darling Dora

Sad and sweet on a beautiful fall morning:
Dec. 16, 1890.
1 Y'r. 11 M's. 9 D's.
She was but as a smile
Which glistens in a tear
Seen but a little while
but oh, how loved, how dear.
Union Cemetery, Long Lake, Hennepin, Minnesota.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Essential Items for a Graveyard Hopping Kit

I love graveyard hopping, but I am by no means a pro.  My daughter and I often come across situations where we wish we had some sort of tool to make our tombstone searching easier.  This stone at right, for instance, had been completely covered over with grass and weeds.  This picture was taken after several minutes of two of us tugging and ripping at the weeds with our hands - and we still didn't get the entire stone uncovered!

We've thought of making up some kind of kit that we leave in the car, so we'll have the tools we might need when we're at a cemetery.  Here are a few of the items we think would come in handy.  We'd love to know what kind of things you bring to the cemetery, and why you bring them!  We're considering:
  • a canvas tool bag to keep everything in
  • grass clippers (probably just hand clippers - not electric)
  • a camera (we always bring that anyway)
  • extra batteries for the camera
  • a kneeling pad
  • a notebook
  • pens or pencils (more than one)
  • an edging tool (I'm questioning this one - I'm not sure how it would look if you were "digging" around with an edging tool.  Would people object?) 
  • In certain circumstances we could've used a loppers - but again, I don't know if it's acceptable to take one into a graveyard and start lopping away at the brush to get to the tombstones!
  • a spray bottle of water
  • a sponge or a very soft brush
Have you ever had someone question what you're doing as you're cleaning off headstones?
I'd love to hear some of your ideas for a graveyard-hopping tool kit ideas.  What do you bring with you to a cemetery?  What other things have you found you've needed?  Do you keep a kit in the car?  What tools should a graveyard rabbit have?

(Here are a couple where a loppers would've come in handy....)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photo Friday: Oak Hill Cemetery in the Morning

Oak Hill Cemetery is a beautiful old cemetery on a very steep, round hill.   It's found tucked away (now between busy roads) just off the shore of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior, Hennepin, Minnesota.  The cemetery "road", lined with rocks and barely wide enough for one car, spirals up and up around the hill.  Gravity has performed its duty on this steep incline to ensure that hardly any of the stones are straight anymore, making it very picturesque. Happy Photo Friday!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Photo Friday: There Be Pirates Here?

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day this past week, here's a little story from one of the last times my daughter and I went graveyard hopping, over Labor Day weekend at the vast Greenwood Cemetery in Virginia, St Louis County, Minnesota.  

We were being very silly, walking along and looking for my second great grandma's grave, and sort of calling out "Shaw?" "Shaw?" as though Grammie Shaw might answer us to tell us where she was.   (We were quite alone, and never, never mean any disrespect).  (Alas, we still haven't found Grammie Shaw, though I know she's there). 

We love to look at a tombstone and try to imagine who the person was, what they did, what their life was like, etc.  We came across this little 6" x 6" square with only the letter "R" on it.  Lauren said, "Well that doesn't tell you anything about the person!  First name or last name?  Who were they?"  I said, "Well it does tell you their occupation - isn't it obvious?  They were a pirate!  Arrrr!"  Oh, so silly.  

A little later we came across another 6" x 6" stone with just a "T" on it.  Then we found another at another corner of the grave and another and another... oh!  We figured out the little stones marked the edge of the family's plot.  We'd never seen that before.  (And I guess there were no pirates in inland northern Minnesota anyway, maties!) 

So we learned something new.  Have you seen these little square stones with the family initial to mark off the family plots?  Is that common?  How else have you seen the boundaries of family plots marked off?  Let me know in the comments below!
And yes, I know it's not really Friday for Photo Friday... I'm late.  You'll find I take quite a lot of liberties like that.  Hope you enjoyed nonetheless!

Monday, September 20, 2010

One hundred seventeen years later...

John Mann at the grave of Nancy Power Mann, circa 1893
This is the most interesting, powerful and moving image I have found in my genealogy research to date.  This is John William Mann, my great, great, great grandfather, standing at the grave of his wife of 52 years, my great, great, great grandmother Nancy Power Mann.
I found this image on  It had been uploaded (it turns out) by my fourth cousin once removed, who lives in Washington state, and she graciously allowed me to use it here. The best part about it is the grave is in Woodside Cemetery - just 20 minutes from my house in Minnesota! 
My mom and I had gone graveyard hopping just a few months before at this very cemetery, but I apparently hadn't looked over the transcription list very closely (learned a lesson there - be prepared before you go!)  We had found my great, great grandparents' stone, pictured right, (John and Nancy's daughter Ann Mann Aldritt and her husband), but missed this one entirely, even though it was only about 30 feet away. (You can even see it in the background of the picture I took of their daughter's stone in May!)
So of course we had to go back!
And one hundred and seventeen years later, here's what the plot looks like today, compared to that image:
One hundred seventeen years later

In 2010, the plot looks a little forlorn. The stones surrounding Nancy's grave and the small headstone on her plot are gone, as is the urn that stood at the top of the family headstone.
But even though my daughter giggled about trying to look as serious as John Mann, I still felt a certain connectedness to my 3x ggrandfather as she posed there in the same spot where he had stood.  Lauren wondered if John had ever imagined that 117 years and six generations later, she would be standing right there.  I told her I don't know if he could've imagined her!Then she wondered if in another hundred-or-so years her great, great, great, great granddaughter might be standing right there.  That's a pretty neat thought (especially for an 11-year-old), and I hope it comes true some day!

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