Posts Tagged ‘hopewell’

Anyone who knows me very well knows that poor spelling and grammar are pet peeves of mine.* In particular, I am a stickler for the proper use of apostrophes.  I read Eats, Shoots & Leaves with relish, and only keeping the book intact for future amusement has kept me from employing the punctuation repair kit it contains.

So I had to laugh a bit when my friends immediately pointed out that poor John Milligan had an error engraved into his tombstone.  Oh, dear stonecutter, the possessive should be whose, not who’s.
John Milligan

* By stating this, I have almost guaranteed that I will make some sort of error in this post.

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Louise Behnke tombstone

We’ll start today with Louise Behnke’s broken tombstone in Adams Street Cemetery in Berea, Ohio, and its carved handshake. According to Douglas Keister’s Stories in Stone and numerous cemetery symbolism guides on the internet, carved hands that appear to be clasped or in the midst of a handshake indicate one of three things: earthly goodbye, heavenly greeting, or matrimony.

This monument for the Towns is in the Old Hudson Township Burying Ground.


Looking closely at the monument for Elizabeth Brown on the right in Historic Hopewell Cemetery, the words “Farewell mother” above the carving indicate that these clasped hands are clutched in farewell.

George and Elizabeth Brown

J. Monahan’s marker in Erie Street Cemetery features clasped hands.
J. Monahan

It’s not really possible to distinguish whether the sculpture was thinking of goodbyes or hellos, but the third option (matrimony) is usually reflected by two different sets of cuffs on the wrists of the disembodied hands. One cuff will look more feminine and the other more masculine. It’s hard to tell if the Wolfs’ monument in Lakeside Cemetery includes a difference in the cuffs because of the wear on the marker.

Alfred M. and Carolina Wolf

The monument for the Casinos who died in the Cleveland Clinic disaster has very clearly differentiated feminine and masculine cuffs, implying that the clasped hands are there to let you know that the two buried here were married.

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In the newer section of Hopewell Historic Cemetery, I found this tombstone:
Robert K. Cole
I’ve never seen times recorded on a tombstone, so I knew then that I would be doing more research to learn about this young pilot.

Warrant Officer Cole was from Richmond, Indiana, and was born in nearby Hamilton, Ohio. It appears from his obituary that Cole’s parents were divorced – his father lived in Richmond, Indiana, and his mother in College Corner, Ohio. He had three sisters, a brother, and stepbrother. He graduated from Union High School in College Corner, Ohio, in 1968. I don’t know if he enlisted or was drafted, but Cole entered basic training in 1968 after graduation. At the time of his death, he left four grandparents and one great-grandmother to mourn him.

However he got there, he ended up in Vietnam in 1970 in the 101st Airborne Division, 158th Aviation Battalion, Company C. His helicopter was shot down during a supply run in 1970, which helps explain the precision with which the moment of his death is noted (although some of the information from the Company website online disputes that his death was immediate). There are a variety of sources where you can learn more Warrant Officer Cole, including the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. The VHPA even has a short comment from one of Cole’s fellow soldiers, who helped look for the wreckage. Punctuated reports of the helicopter crash that killed Cole and his two crewmates are also here.

A memorial was held for Cole in the local American Legion post in 2003 that his surviving family attended. Cole is remembered on the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial (The Wall) in Washington on Panel 10 West line 60, D.C., as well as on the Freedom Fountain in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana.  You are not forgotten, Warrant Officer Cole.

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I took a few days off from posting because I had an event that I was helping to run.  Today, as part of recovering from that, my two friends and I went to two cemeteries in the area around Oxford, Ohio.

Our first stop was the cemetery at Historic Hopewell Church, which was founded in 1808, although the existing building dates from 1826. The church and cemetery are outside of Oxford, Ohio, on Camden-College Corner Road, north of Hueston Woods State Park. The historical marker notes that the first burial in the cemetery was Thomas McDill, a War of 1812 veteran who died the next year.  I suspect this may be a photograph of the grave marker that includes his name because of the War of 1812 marker next to it, but if it is, I photographed the wrong side to read his name.


This cemetery is still active, as evidenced by at least one relatively new grave we saw.  According to the text on the historical marker, there are a number of Revolutionary War veterans buried here, but we didn’t see any marked as such.

The single most fascinating marker I saw was this one.
Margaret Vandegriff

I don’t know much about Margaret Vandegriff, but the intricate carving on her tombstone has made her a local notable, if posthumously. The Hopewell Historic Church itself uses a photograph on the website, and a pamphlet on funeral and mourning customs at the McGuffey House uses it on the cover. It’s a little hard to make out, even in the detail shot, but the tomb the female figure is sitting on actually has text on it, most of which is worn away, but we could make out “memory” and “Vandegriff.”

Margaret Vandegriff

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