Tag Archive | historic cemetery

Circus Trip 2018: Grandview Cemetery

Day 38, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

I have long enjoyed a historic cemetery.  I get this from my mom, who enjoys taking me to find our departed ancestors and making me pose with the headstones…

This is Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where most of the victims of the Johnstown Flood are buried.  It is a beautiful cemetery, with so many interesting stones.  I wandered around searching for people who died in the flood, and found several.  There was also a beautiful memorial to veterans.  They were certainly fans of obelisks!


Do you enjoy historic cemeteries?

Circus Trip 2018: Indiana’s Historic Cemeteries

Day 23 & 24, Tuesday & Wednesday, August 7 & 8, 2018

Vermillion County, Indiana

Marilyn knows about a million little roadside cemeteries and we checked out a number of them in those couple of days.  Some were tiny, some were larger, and they were in various states of being cared for.

The earliest graves we could read were from the 1830s.  We just don’t have that on the west coast, and I loved these little community plots.

Robert Highfill died on March 9.  Findagrave.com lists his death year as 1855, but the stone looks to me like it says 1835.  I’m sure the 1855 date is correct, as the census records show him marrying his wife in 1845.  Interestingly, he is buried in Highfill Cemetery, so apparently the cemetery was named after the family.

Here lies Frances Remley Johnson, the wife of Robert Johnson.  She died in October, 1837 at the age of 28.  The location of the grave has probably been lost, and that is why her stone is leaning against the tree.

Charlotte Allen’s husband had an unusual name.  Eliphalet means “God, his deliverance,” in Hebrew.  She died February 18, 1845, at the age of 31.  Her husband Eliphalet lived five more years, dying at the age of 54 in 1850.

William Malone was a Freemason; he had the Masonic compass on his grave.  William was born in 1785, and he died during the Civil War, but his death date is unknown and is unreadable.  If he did indeed die during the Civil War, he had a pretty long life…  He was married twice; his first wife Sarah died in 1851, and is buried nearby.

Tuesday evening we ate leftovers for dinner, went and got ice cream for dessert, and then decided to go find another cemetery in the back of a cornfield.  It seems weird writing that, but the Pisgah Burying Ground is an active cemetery, that is literally tucked in behind a cornfield.  It was getting dark when we visited, which made for some eerie photographs.

We went back to the Pisgah Burying Ground the next day in the daylight, and found a well tended graveyard that had none of the creepiness of the night before; the caretakers were there mowing the grass.

Here lies Sebert Pearman; Sebert is another unusual name, meaning “shining sea.”  He died on January 19, 1853.  He was born on January 16, 1793, which meant that he was 60 when he died.  According to information at Findagrave.com, “he was the son of Randolph Nelson (Randall or Randalf) and Judith Pearman. He was a millwright by trade. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 in the Kentucky Militia. He moved to Vermillion County, Indiana in 1829. He married Sarah Rose Nichols February 15, 1815 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. They were the parents of: Malinda, John, Mary (Francis), Jane Weltha, Benjamin Franklin I, Samuel D., Elizabeth, Sarah Wright, Judah Ann, William II, Elisha, Martha, Sebert Jr., David and James.” He had 12 kids!  Well, perhaps better stated – She had 12 kids!  An urn on a grave is a symbol of the soul, immortality or penitence.

The next morning before I headed on my way, we tried to find another old family burial plot, this one on Marilyn’s land behind a soybean field.  Unfortunately, a few years ago, thieves stole the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the plot.  When we visited, we were unable to find the stones, but found the ground cover that had been planted marking the plot.  It would be sad if someone stole the headstones too.  The plot had been in that thicket of underbrush on the right side of the photo below; not exactly something you would stumble across.


Virginia 2015: Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery

Day 5: Thursday, October 8, 2015

Admittedly, not everyone is a fan of cemeteries, but I love to visit beautiful historic ones!  After hiking in Shenandoah National Park, we arrived in Lynchburg a little before 5, and drove into town to check it out. There are parts of Lynchburg that seemed pretty run down, but other parts seemed to be pretty nice. But I had someplace in particular on my agenda: I had read in TheHistoryTourist’s blog about the Old City Cemetery, and I convinced Jon to let me go there.

Old City Cemetery was originally established as the public burial ground in 1806, and about 75% of the burials there are African Americans. There are also about 2,200 Confederate Soldiers from 14 different states buried there.  They have moved several historic buildings into the cemetery, and you can peek into the windows. During the day, a couple of the buildings are open as museums, but we were there too late for that.

One of the historic buildings is The Station House – an old train station that was in operation nearby between 1898 and 1937. Behind the station they have a couple of rather macabre informational signs – they list all of the people known to have been killed by trains who are buried in the Old City Cemetery! From a historical perspective though, it is a pretty interesting piece of research.  To balance out the gore, they also had a list of everyone buried there that was known to have worked for or on the railroad. 

The Station House at Old City Cemetery

The Station House at Old City Cemetery

There is also the Pest House Museum, which tells the story of Lynchburg’s first hospital – a House of Pestilence, where people with contagious diseases like smallpox, cholera and scarlet fever were treated (and where most of them died). The building itself was originally built in the 1840s, and was the office of Dr. John J. Terrell after the Civil War. Dr. Terrell managed the Pest House during the Civil War – the museum combines the two places– with one half represented as the Pest House and the other as his medical office.

Confederate Graves behind the Pest House at Old City Cemetery

Confederate Graves behind the Pest House at Old City Cemetery

Dr. Terrell was appalled at the conditions that he found at the Pest House, and implemented reforms to reduce contagion and make the men more comfortable. On his watch, he reduced the mortality rate there from 50% to 5%. Not bad for a time with no antibiotics, antivirals or advanced supportive care! Old City Cemetery also has a monument to the 102 Confederate soldiers who died of smallpox during the war. 

A beautiful grave - Robert E. Camper, who died in 1904

A beautiful grave – Robert E. Camper, who died in 1904

The history of the cemetery’s role in the treatment of contagious disease didn’t end there though; the cemetery was also the site of a stable that supplied horses for the Civil War.  When the stable experienced an epidemic of glanders, a bacterial infection that causes upper respiratory illness in horses and donkeys, doctors began a study of the disease.  The epidemic was so out of control that out of 6,875 horses stabled at the site in a 15 month period, only 1,000 were fit enough to make it to the front.  Research at the stable identified the cause of the illness and methods to limit transmission to healthy horses (quarantine and not sharing bits or food and water troughs).

A historic watering trough - one of the causes of the glanders epidemic.

A historic watering trough – one of the causes of the glanders epidemic.

Also at the Cemetery are a contemporary chapel and columbarium – built with many reclaimed materials, and a small dovecote (or doocot as they say in Scotland). There is a Mourning Museum too, which explores mourning customs during the 1800s, that we didn’t get a chance to visit. Interestingly, all the buildings had audiospeakers on the outside, and you could push a button to hear about the history of the building. Interesting, but I wonder what the poor ghosts think of all that noise!

The chapel at the Old City Cemetery.

The chapel at the Old City Cemetery.


The Dovecoat at Old City Cemetery

The Dovecoat at Old City Cemetery

I thought The City Cemetery was a worthwhile stop! Jon was less impressed, but hey, he’s just not a cemetery kind of guy…  After our visit, we got some sushi at a place near our hotel – Roto Steakhouse and Sushi in Lynchburg.  There were a lot of locals there for the cocktails, but we just shared a beer. The restaurant was nothing to look at, but the sushi was good, and we sat at the sushi bar and chatted with the chef while he worked. He seemed really surprised that we had come all the way from Washington!  Upon looking later at online reviews, it’s clearly a restaurant that is past its heyday, but our service was good and it was reasonably priced, so I was happy. 

Driving Distance for Day 5: 117.8 miles – Big Meadows Lodge – Humpback Rocks Visitor’s Center – Lynchburg, VA

Hotel for the night:  La Quinta Inn & Suites Lynchburg at Liberty University – this was hands down the nicest La Quinta we have ever stayed at.  It completely reminded me of a Fairfield Inn.  The bed was amazing, the room was brand new and beautiful, and the breakfast was great – even the breakfast area had tons of space.  The hotel even had an old-fashioned popcorn maker! 

The La Quinta in Lynchburg, VA

The La Quinta in Lynchburg, VA


MI Road Trip: Cemeteries and Beer

Our first couple of days on our Michigan trip were really relaxing, as they were all about family. My grandmother is 97, so she isn’t really out partying, unless you count her semi-regular appearances at church. She lives in a very small town (population about 1500), so there’s limited opportunity to do much of anything. Her town consists of a bank, grocery store, hardware store, gas station, library, post office, coffee shop, second hand clothing shop, all in one pizza, hotdog, sandwich, ice cream restaurant and three antique stores. And that’s pretty much it – it is truly a one stop light town.

I wandered over to both cemeteries during those couple of days; the old cemetery with lots of Civil War Veterans (they stopped burying people here in the 50s or 60s, I believe), and the new cemetery with several Civil War Veterans and many other historical graves, but current burials as well.  Sadly, the old cemetery has deteriorated since I was there last, with somebody doing rubbings on the older gravestones that have left ugly marks.  Many of the stones have fallen over, and graves have sunken.  There are several stones stacked against a tree; their bases lost to time.

Jon reading the gravestones in the old cemetery

Jon reading the gravestones in the old cemetery

A gravestone damaged by rubbing in the old cemetery

A gravestone damaged by rubbing in the old cemetery

My grandfather is buried at the new cemetery, so I always like to go over and say hello. Plus, I find cemeteries to be very peaceful, so I’m always happy to go and wander among the graves.  I always explore the older graves; and this cemetery has several from the 1800s.  Many are in very good condition, and I enjoy reading the names and dates.  Some are in bad shape, having fallen over and sunk into the ground.

A Civil War Veteran’s grave in the new cemetery – with the Grand Army of the Republic star

A Civil War Veteran’s grave in the new cemetery – with the Grand Army of the Republic star

I also got very familiar with the Panera Bread in nearby Kalamazoo, because it has Wi-Fi and Grandma’s internet service was on the fritz. I spent over 3 hours there working on a job application; I must have done well on it, because it was the application for the job I now have! Jon and I also visited Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo with my cousin – I considered it a treat after having wrapped up my application. I had been before with my cousin, but it was Jon’s first time. He was very impressed with the beer and the atmosphere. I love the quirky look of the bar, the collection of African masks, and of course, the beer.

The wall of beers at Bell’s Brewery

The wall of beers at Bell’s Brewery

We tried a couple before we settled on our choices; I had the Thump Yer Pumpkin Ale, which was a light beer with a hint of sweetness and flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. It is a seasonal ale, so it isn’t available all the time. Jon had a glass of the Oracle – a Double IPA; also a seasonal beer, available in the late summer, early fall. It is made with Pacific Northwest hops varieties, and has citrus flavors mixed with extreme bitterness.

We were there in the later afternoon, before the after work crowd showed up, and it was pretty quiet. It was certainly someplace we will head back to next time we are in Michigan!

 Have you been to Bell’s Brewery or had their beer?