Archive for May, 2011

Most resources suggest that Orsa as a woman’s name is derived from the Latin word for “bear.” Orsa Lander sleeps in Chester Township Cemetery.


In the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, you can find the grave of Blodwyn Tipton. My quick and not entirely scientific research (can’t believe everything on the internet, you know) indicates that Blodwyn is a Welsh name that means “white flower.”


Asenath Harris Gillam is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. The name Asenath is Biblical: the name of the Egyptian woman who is given to Jacob (son of Joseph) as a wife by the Pharoah.

Asenath Harris Gillam

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The muffled guns sad roll

On fame's eternal camping ground

No rumour of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind.

No vision of the morrows strife

Their shivered swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow;
And the proud forms, by battle gashed,
Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop

Nor war’s wild note, nor glory’s peal,
Shall thrill with fierce delight;
Those breasts that never more may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce Northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with triumph, yet to gain,
Come down the serried foe;
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o’er the field beneath,
Knew the watchword of the day
Was “Victory or death!”

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O’er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the glory tide;
Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr’s grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation’s flag to save.
By rivers of their father’s gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

For many a mother’s breath has swept
O’er Angostura’s plain,
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its moldered slain.
The raven’s scream, or eagle’s flight,
Or shepherd’s pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o’er that dread fray.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.

Your own proud lands heroic soil

Thus ‘neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother’s breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead

Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel’s voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished age hath flown,
The story how ye fell.
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter’s blight,
Nor time’s remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory’s light
That gilds your deathless tomb.

Stanzas from “Bivouac of the Dead,” a poem written by Theodore O’Hara in 1847, is on plaques around the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

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Here are some crosses that my fellow cemetery bloggers have photographed.

Over Thy Dead Body takes us to a cemetery in Ireland to show us a lovely cross with stone vines and more crosses covered in flora and/or fauna in this post.  We also visit the incredible monument for Monsignor Dr. William Yore, topped with an intricately detailed Celtic cross.

The New Orleans Graveyard Rabbit takes us to St. Batholomew’s at dusk.

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Harrisburg Cemetery does not have a lot of statues, at least not in the half that I was able to tour while we were there. In fact, I photographed only three.

The first two are rather traditional cemetery statues.



The third is not your standard mourner or heavenly messenger, but a represetnation of the deceased himself: Major General John W. Geary. He’ll be getting a post all to himself sometime soon.

Geary 9

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My stepmother was kind enough to lend me a 1995 Walking Tour of Harrisburg Cemetery when I was home visiting/vacationing. It was published as part of the cemetery’s 150th anniversary celebration. The cemetery was created in 1845 by the state legislature. Harrisburg Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places. With its location within the state capital city, it is the final resting place for notable state politicians. In addition to the famous people who were originally buried at Harrisburg Cemetery, the burial ground is a re-interment site for many of those originally buried in local churchyards.

Jacobs Haldeman

The tour is actually pretty good. The problem with a general cemetery tour is walking the line between indulging your pet passions by over-representing them on the tour and trying to include everything and being overwhelming. The tour has a nice mixture of monuments of historical significance along with those that are artistically interesting. It’s also helped a bit by the appendices – the narrative tour is annotated with a list of famous people sorted by the field for which they are known, a glossary of funerary symbols, and a listing of the people in the cemetery for whom streets are named. The writing style can be a bit awkward, particularly when read aloud. (That was our way of dealing with having one booklet and four people.) The directions can be a little head-scratching, too, but I have to chalk some of that up to the fact that it is rather difficult to give directions in a place where stones are scattered haphazardly.


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Unknown Soldier

According to Vicki Blum Vigil’s Northeast Ohio Cemeteries book, this replacement stone really does mark the burial of Bay Village’s own unknown soldier. One day, the residents of Bay Village were surprised to find a body washed up on the lakefront beach. The man was clad in a Union uniform. He was never identified.

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Calder Howard 2

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In today’s edition of things I never knew, we have the Dental Corps. Both the Army and Navy had a Dental Corps by World War I, formally established by an Act of Congress in 1911 and 1912, respectively.  This was not done out of altruism, but as a response to the need for a system of dental care for soldiers that had plagued the military since the Revolutionary War.

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This has been today’s edition of juxtapositions of names on tombstones that make me giggle.

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Lentz (2)

Albert J.
Pvt Hdq Co 13th Infantry Div
Born in Gettysburg Oct. 17th, 1895
Killed in action at Catigny, France
April 27, 1918
The first Gettysburg boy to make the supreme sacrifice in the World War

Lentz (3)

What is it about being the first to die that grants one recognition? I’ve looked at this before, with David Eldridge (who has the distinction of being the first European to die in the Western Reserve). It’s certainly not an honor very many people would vie for. Albert Lentz, from what I can tell, had done nothing particularly noteworthy before his departure for service in Europe. I’m not saying he wasn’t a perfectly nice young man, loved by friends and family, because I don’t know – he seems to have been living an average unrecorded life. Suddenly, he has the misfortune to be the first Gettysburg fatality in the Great War, and he’s a household name – really, he gave his name to the American Legion post in Gettysburg. But what is it about being first? For a far-off war, is it the first body that is not just a body, but the shell of a person who we used to know? For a new place, is it the knowledge that even if we move from this spot, some small part of us will also remain here with the first person we have broken ground to bury?

*Any errors in transcription are my own. I tried to confirm my transcription with online sources, but others disagreed on items I am confident I can read clearly.

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