Archive for June, 2010

Today’s post is a quick hit of the most interesting epitaph I found on a grave marker this weekend in Woodland Cemetery. I first took a walk over to this grave marker because of the intact porcelain portrait on the front.


The portrait is a little worn with time, but looks pretty good for something over 100 years old.

Albert Sluka

Then I read unfortunate Albert Sluka’s epitaph – “stabbed to death.” I need to get to a library with newspaper access to see if I can find out more about his murder.

Albert Sluka

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Woodland Cemetery contains what is allegedly the only Confederate grave in Cuyahoga County. Henry Ebenezer Handerson, who lies sedately in a cemetery with well over a hundred Union veterans, served in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier and officer.

The Yankee in Grey

Henry Handerson was born in Orange Township in Cuyahoga County in 1837, to Thomas and Catherine Handerson, natives of New York state. Within two years, a tragic accident killed Thomas, leaving Catharine with 5 children. Henry and one of his sisters (whose name is never mentioned in accounts I have found) were adopted by his uncle Lewis Handerson. The uncle moved his family to Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. In 1854, he entered college at Geneva College in New York and returned to his adopted family after completing his course of study. In Tennessee, he worked as a surveyor before finding work as a private tutor to plantation-owning families in Louisiana. He embarked on medical studies at the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University) in the fall of 1860. He had joined a company of local militia, or home guards, and volunteered for the Confederate army in June of 1861.

He was part of the Stafford Guards, Company of the 9th Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers. He rose through the ranks to eventually reach the rank of Adjutant General of the 2nd Louisiana Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. Handerson was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864 and became a prisoner of war. He became part of the Immortal Six Hundred, a group of Confederate officers explicitly placed into the line of fire of Confederate guns on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor and later moved to Fort Pulaski in the mouth of the Savannah River. Handerson finally signed an oath of allegiance on June 17, 1865, four years to the day from when he first volunteered for the Confederacy. Handerson wrote a memoir called A Yankee in Gray that I have not yet been able to locate.

Handerson completed his long-delayed medical studies at Columbia University in New York and earned the degree of M.D. in 1867. He married a woman named Juliet Alice Root in 1872, but she did not survive long and left him a widower with a young daughter. He practiced medicine and researched the history of the field in New York before finally returning to his birthplace in 1885.

In Cleveland, he married a significantly younger woman named Clara Corlett in 1888, and she can be seen resting beside him in Woodland Cemetery. They had two more sons together.


His work in Cleveland afforded him great acclaim in the medical community. In addition to being a practicing physician, he published books and articles on the history of medicine as well as the state of health in Cleveland. He became a professor of Hygiene and Sanitary Science first at University of Wooster and then the Cleveland College of Physicians and Surgeons (now Ohio Wesleyan University). He founded the Cleveland Medical Library Association and served as its president for six year. He was also president of the Cuyahoga County Medical Society and a member of professional organizations: the Cleveland Academy of Medicine, the Ohio State Medical Society, and the American Medical Association. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 80 in 1918.

A detailed biography of Handerson is contained in this link, as a foreward to one of his books published posthumously. During his life, most accounts state that Handerson often downplayed his Civil War service, but it is now probably what is most often remembered about him.

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I did this scavenger hunt that was posted to the Association of Graveyard Rabbits, although I didn’t get the post written before the deadline for the carnival itself. I twisted my ankle walking around Union Cemetery doing the carnival and then limped my way around Origins gaming convention for four days.

All scavenger hunt photos were taken this past Wednesday morning at Union Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Below I’ve listed the scavenger hunt item and then a photo of the grave marker that fulfilled that requirement.

Cross – The Birk monument culminates in a cross.


Heart – This very worn marker for a baby named Paul is heart-shaped. I can’t even make out his surname.


Fraternal symbol – For the fraternal symbol, we have the marker for Frank P. Walters, a Marine who served in the first World War and has a Masonic symbol on his tombstone.

Frank P. Walters

Monument – This seemed so general that I decided to feature the Gaddis family marker. A metal sundial sits atop the center column.


– A carved flower decorates the top two corners of the Hagans’ stone.


Hand – The gravestone for Amanda Evans includes a single hand holding the stem of a flower.

Amanda m. Evans

Angel – The names of the two Cooper children are flanked by praying angels.

Iris Lee and Rose Mary Cooper

Bird – A bird, likely a dove, is carved into baby William Wiedemann’s tombstone.

William Wiedemann

Tree – A weeping willow grows on the tombstone of John Lisle, whose 1808 burial must have been one of the earliest in the graveyard, which was only founded two years before.


– I wandered around looking for a star for while before it dawned on me that the Civil War veterans’ markers contain or are stars, like these two for George Lakin.

George W. Lakin

Obelisk – This obelisk memorializes the Lakin family.


Four-legged animal – The marker for little Mildred Ferguson, who sadly did not live to see her 2nd birthday, is topped by a lamb – a four-legged animal.

Mildred V. Ferguson

Photo – Dorothy Price Walsh’s tombstone preserves her likeness for us.

Dorothy Price Walsh

Military gravestone – For the military tombstone, I found the memorial for Medal of Honor recipient Joel Parsons, a Civil War veteran.

Joel Parsons

– Amaranth Abbey is a giant mausoleum.

Amaranth Abbey

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Inside St. Patrick’s, one of the first things you come to may or may not be a grave slab.
St. Patrick's well stone

These stones (apologies for fuzziness – I was quite tired) were found near the legendary site of the well where St. Patrick allegedly baptized people.

Stone excavated from St. Patrick's Well

The difficulty of photographing gleaming metal monuments is exemplified by the fact that I have this decent shot of the Celtic cross itself, but I cannot read the engraving below it in any of my shots.

Celtic Cross brass

Charles Inglis, Bishop of Nova Scotia and Doctor of Divinity, is honored inside the church with a metal plaque with an intricate Celtic cross in the center.

Charles Inglis, D. D., Bishop of Nova Scotia

By the time I left St. Patrick’s Cathedral to trek back to my hotel, it was too late to visit the churchyard. I photographed this Celtic cross through the bars against the swiftly darkening Irish sky.

St. Patrick's Cathedral churchyard

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I came across this grave marker with some unfamiliar symbolism in East Cleveland Township Cemetery. I can’t quite figure out what the hand is supposed to be holding – is it a brush? I’ve tried finding out more about John Hoffman, but his burial record isn’t available from the cemetery foundation website, he doesn’t seem to appear in the Cleveland Public Library Necrology file, and the name is a bit too common to be sure of finding the right John Hoffman.

Rectangular grave stone with an open flower in each corner and a hand in the top center clutching a tool, possibly a brush.  The stone reads "John Hoffman, 1868-1926"

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I’m off to a gaming convention for a few days. I’ve set posts up to publish automatically, but I might not be able to moderate comments as quickly.

In honor of the gaming con, I am posting a photograph of a tombstone I found in Willoughby Village Cemetery. So far, I don’t know anything about Valerie J. Klein other than what is engraved on her tombstone, but I’m going to guess that she enjoyed games.

Valerie J. Klein, July 25 1958 - Feb 24 2008, with an Uno card between the dates

RIP, Ms. Klein.

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Sarcophagus tomb with detail leaf carvings on top and the facing side, sitting on top of a stone rectangle

One of the things I’ve been learning about as I read Stories in Stone is about cemetery architecture and what certain things that you find in a graveyard should be called. One of the most interesting monument-types I have read about is the sarcophagus tomb.

A reddish brown stone tomb that looks like a rectangular box with carved rounded edges and a stone that looks like a cushion on top

Sarcophagi are permanent containers for bodies, usually made of stone and located above-ground. Keister states that most sarcophagus tombs in cemeteries are purely ornamental in the sense that they do not actually contain remains, but they look like they could. Lake View Cemetery has a considerable number of sarcophagus tombs.

Sarcophagus tomb with four inverted torches with garlands of leaving strung between them and a carved cushion with curled ends on top

I first noticed this tomb type when I photographed the Wetmores’ monuments on a snowy December day.

Two sarcophaguses with ornately carved legs on top of stone pedestals

Dark gray rectangular tomb with name Horace Kelley in capital letters, above that a pattern of carved Tudor roses, topped by a carved cushion with the edges curled under
There are specific names for certain kinds of sarcophagus tombs that I’ll write about in the future.

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Black marker with "In Loving Memory of the Babes Buried Here" and a cross on it

We saw this marker in Ireland among the cliffs and mountains on the Ring of Kerry. Our guide told a story that explained the amalgamation of Roman Catholicism and mythology that combined to create it. Here is how he explained it:

According to some Celtic myths, fairies were a race of people who left this world and went to live in the Otherworld when humans invaded their homes. Fairies could still enter our world at fairy rings, fairy trees (hawthorn), and other places associated with the mystical and supernatural. Irish myth treated fairies with a mixture of fear and respect. Even today, our guide told us, the Irish will laugh and tell you that they don’t believe in fairies, but they also won’t let you disturb a fairy ring or cut down a hawthorn tree. We drove on a highway that was diverted around a hawthorn.

Before the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), the Catholic church in Ireland taught that infants who died before baptism went to limbo and were ineligible for burial in consecrated ground. Distraught Irish parents, unable to bury their babies in the churchyard, entrusted them to the fairies, interring them in places where the fairies were supposed to be, like under fairy trees.

After the church altered its teachings on limbo and reversed its position on burying the infants, the local priest and families came up to this spot, blessed it, and erected this memorial to these babies.

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A balding white middle-aged man wearing glasses sits on a chair, bottlefeeding an infant

Pap feeding me

One of my earliest memories of you is sitting on the toe of your boot, “helping” you lace them up to go work on the railroad. I learned to color sitting on your lap, and later I learned to read in the same place.  So did my brothers.

A blond white boy and an older, balding man are reading a children's book on a porch

Andy and Pap reading

You had three spaces after you retired: the chair by the big picture window where you took your coffee and taught me to read, the recliner in the living room where you watched old movies, and the couch where you napped. We got you a new recliner when I was about five, and I kept the secret because I so desperately wanted to surprise you, even though it was hard not to tell you everything.

In the foreground in gold-colored recliner is an older white man with glasses, in the background is a brown-haired white woman and a blond-haired little girl

Pap, Mom and me (and the old recliner)

You left school after the fifth grade, and you knew it sometimes held you back. You wanted me to study and get good grades, and you were so proud when I did.

A older balding white man with glasses holds a toddler-age girl in a polka dotted dress

Pap and me

You told me once that if you had known you would have a granddaughter who loved history as much as I did, you wouldn’t have sold that Civil War musket you found in your teens in the CCC for the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

Black and white photo of a man holding a little boy in a light-colored suit

Dad and Pap

You didn’t talk much about your childhood. I know you were born to a single mother and then raised as if she was your sister. Your grandparents divorced, your half-siblings were unkind, and you ended up on your own at an early age. I’m not sure you had much joy in your life until you met Mimi. She told me she met you drinking in the polka halls while she was working at the Navy Depot. One time, just once, I saw you two dance together when an old song came on the radio. You took wonderful trips together when I was a little girl.

A middle-aged white couple, the man balding and wearing glasses and a suit and tie, the woman in a semi-formal black dress

Pap and Mimi on a cruise

You were never much of a talker, but sometimes, in the mornings, if I would get up while you were drinking your coffee and enjoying the cigarettes you never could quit, you would tell me stories. You didn’t want me to be “as stubborn” as you were, but all I saw was a man who refused to compromise his principles to toe a company line.

A white older man with glasses and receding white hair

Pap at Krazy Kamp

You came to my 8th grade play when I was the star.  If I told you it was important, you would be there, a quiet smile of pride on your face.  As much as your hips and back pained you by then, you rode for five hours to see me graduate from college, and it meant the world to me.

A white elderly woman with brown hair and a leopard print shirt, a white young woman in a black graduation cap and gown, and a white balding man with glasses in a button down blue shirt

Mimi, me and Pap

You gave me the most precious gift of all the Thanksgiving before you died. You looked at me, sitting on the couch, and told me that you had done everything you ever wanted to do in your life. Did you know you were dying and that was the last time I would sit with you and hug and kiss you?

Metal grave marker for Robert C. and Gloria R. Smith, born 1921 and 1926 respectively, a rose on each side, and then an open Bible below his name and cross below hers

My grandparents' marker - before the death year 2006 was affixed

Happy Father’s Day, Pap. You were the best grandfather in the world.

Kids on Pap

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In the mid-19th century, strange architectural designs started appearing in American cemeteries. Copying the ancient Egyptian temples and tombs, American architects created monuments and mausoleums that harkened back to those pre-Christian ideas of death and rebirth. The Egyptian revival movement spawned a plethora of monuments with images like the circle with vulture wings (sun), twin cobras (death), Sphinxes, and even hieroglyphics. Lake View Cemetery has a number of examples.

The winged circle and cobras are clearly visible on the King mausoleum just above the door. Ignoring the snow, one could easily see that entrance on an ancient Egyptian building.

King Mausoleum in Egyptian revival style

The Pollock mausoleum has the same set of symbols and column-edged entrance.

Pollock mausoleum in Egyptian style

The Towslee monument lacks the columns but still has the cobras and sun.

Towslee mausoleum in Egyptian revival style

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