Archive for April 15th, 2010

I’ve started to notice occupations on tombstones, especially after joining the Flickr group “butcher, baker, candlestick maker – deceased.”

This past winter, we took a side trip to Gettysburg while visiting my family, and we visited historic Evergreen Cemetery to see the Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial. Evergreen Cemetery was founded in 1854 and was already in use by the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, giving the land it was on the name of Cemetery Hill.  The Union Army held the hill during the battle.   After the Battle of Gettysburg, the acting caretaker Elizabeth Thorn (her husband, Peter, the official caretaker, was serving in the Union Army) buried 107 soldiers in the cemetery, with little assistance from others and while 6 months pregnant. (There are discrepancies in the numbers I’ve seen for the number of soldiers and her pregnancy, so I am going with the numbers Thorn herself provides in her diary, excerpted here.) The Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial is supposed to be modeled after Thorn herself. That’s the handle of a shovel under her right arm.

Gettysburg Civil War Women's Memorial

I noticed this marker.

Jay Luvaas

Here, in the midst of Gettysburg, possibly one of the single most studied places in all of American history, was where a historian had chosen to be laid to rest. I looked up Jay Luvaas online, and found that he was a military historian, a retired professor who had taught at Allegheny College, the United States Military Academy and the United States Army War College at the Carlisle Barracks. A glance through Amazon.com yield a variety of titles with Luvaas as author or co-author, nearly all of them on the Civil War: The Military Legacy of the Civil War (author), The Civil War: In the Writings of Col. G.F.R. Henderson (author/editor) and a number of U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles (co-author). But according to the memorial essays I read on blogs and in newsletters, what really set Luvaas apart were other contributions – he wrote the tours for National Military Parks. He lead tours of battlefields for military officials and this lead to the battlefield guides that non-academics used to understand what had occurred on those hallowed fields over 100 years ago. He shared his passion and knowledge for the Civil War, and he left us a wonderful legacy. I can understand the love that would lead him to this cemetery plot, with “historian” as his epitaph.

Here is a memorial post on another WordPress blog about Dr. Luvaas.

Rest in peace, Dr. Luvaas.

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