Archive for February, 2012

George S. Humphreys

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Charles Durnbaugh

It cannot be easy to come up with an epitaph that will speak across the years to people who might not have known the deceased. I find this one compelling: “Life was his craft.”

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Phi Beta Kappa is probably one of the best known collegiate honor societies in the United States. It was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, making it the first Greek letter fraternity for college and university students, the oldest liberal arts honor society, and one of the oldest undergraduate organizations in the country. Ohio Chapter Alpha was founded at Western Reserve College in 1847 (from the University archives).

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Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Despite how famous of a biblical quote this is, this is the only time I have ever found it on a tombstone.

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I can’t make out the names on this stone, but what I can read is heartbreaking. What I can make out is this:

9 months
they died
Sept. 6, 18?
Children of Ga? & Emily Sanford

So there are at least two siblings buried under this stone who died on the same day.

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Dr. Gideon Case

Dr. Gideon Case died May 15th, 1822 in the 44th year of his age.
Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

It’s hard to provide an exact citation for Dr. Case’s epitaph. Versions of the phrase appear in translations of the Biblical Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and those words then spun off into hymns, sermons, and religious tracts. Whatever the route by which epitaph came to Dr. Case’s tombstone, it is a reminder to the passerby that it is important to attend to the care of his soul today, since there may not be a later time to do so.

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George L. Rider

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Stephen Thompson Jr.

When I see a tombstone like this, it really highlights how different the culture I live in is from that of people who lived in the same place just one or two hundred years ago. When I was 14, I was finishing middle school and going into high school, going to dances, playing soccer, singing in the choir and playing violin. My brother had different hobbies, but his fourteenth year followed the same basic pattern. There was a war going on then, thousands of miles away in a place called Kuwait that I don’t think I’d heard of before, but there was no one I had ever met fighting in it and no real concern that my brother or I would be affected by that war, and we definitely had no chance of fighting in it until we were at least 18. But when Stephen Thompson Jr. was fourteen, he was a drummer boy in a war that was happening around him. Even if he hadn’t chosen to join the army, his life would have been altered by the hostilities.

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Susan Thompson

Susan, Daughter of A. & S. Thompson died Sept 12, 1814. Aged 5 years.
an infant son died Oct. ?

I’ve written about double stones before, where the stone looks like two tombstones with the same outline are mashed together to form one that is symmetrical. Usually, the writing on the stone is also done in this symmetrical pattern: if we could somehow magically slice the tombstones apart, each side would look like a perfectly normal single stone. This one is different, with the inscriptions for both Susan and her unnamed brother carved across the entire width of the stone.

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Beneath this stone lie buried the mortal remains of Watson, 7th son of Owen Brown & 1st son of Owen & Sally Brown, who was born at Hudson on the 22nd day of July 1813, and died on the 29th day of J? 1833 AE 18 years.


He was a kind-hearted, generous, and manly youth who, by his mild and amiable character was endeared to his numerous friends. Cut off in the spring time of life.

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