Archive for July 11th, 2010

One of the things I have noticed is how often death by drowning is mentioned on a tombstone, like this on at Fort Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Ohio.

F. X. Belanger Sr.

Only a fraction of tombstones make any mention of how the deceased, well, got to be deceased.  The practice was more common in the early 19th century, but drowning continues to show up after other causes of death have disappeared from grave markers.

The back of the Prentice stone in Chestnut Grove Cemetery in Ashtabula tells us that Charles J. Copeland drowned in Lake Erie in 1887.


We already looked at photographs of grave markers at Lakeside Cemetery and Erie Street Cemetery that specifically mention drowning.

Dr. Cudell’s stone at Lake View tells us that he drowned:
Adolph Cudell, M.D.

Why does drowning elicit special mention? Is it our relationship with water – an element essential to our survival that can nonetheless be deadly? Does it have anything to do with the symbolism of baptism for Christians, who all of these dead seem to nominally be? Or is it because drowning is so sudden, that fatigue and water can overcome even the strongest, healthiest man within a short time?

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