Monday, October 22, 2012

Tombstones - Part 2

Just as funerals have changed to be more of a "celebration of life" rather than  a "mourning the death, tombstones seemed to have also changed.  In my recent college class project, I noticed the tombstones were less of a notation of who the person was, i.e. just a name and a date of birth/death, and more of who the person WAS, i.e. sports enthusiast, parent, fisherman, and more.

Early tombstones tended to have one large family stone with the last name:
Smaller stones around the family monument marked the gravesites of the individual family members.  These smaller stones tended to have just a first name, and year of birth/death.

As time went on, I found stones were beginning to add much more information to tell us about the family member laid to rest under a stone. The entire date of birth and death were added to the information on the face of the tombstone.

We found a commemorative keepsake of a Jack Daniels bottle on one tombstone which we read as a tribute to Carl's love of the well-known whiskey.

Photos are also starting to adorn the stones, a permanent reminder that these were real people, who really existed, and are not just a name engraved into a slab of marble. In some cases, like this one, there is a family photo, showing us that he was a husband and father.

Those who spent a lifetime in an occupation are commemorated for their hard work, such as this man, who was obviously a dairy farmer:                                

Or this man, whose family wanted us all to know that when he left his family at the young age of 35, he wasn't just a farmer, but more importantly, he was "Erin's Daddy" (bottom left corner):

The same with Kent Limbach.  Obviously someone who loved fishing, but again the family wanted us to know more than being a fisherman, he was someone's "Daddy":

This couple wanted to forever honor the place where they were married and had the temple where they exchanged their vows carved into the stone.  This man was obviously a big Purdue fan, too, as shown by the Purdue train right above his name!

We can only guess that Nancy was a receptionist who answered the office phone, maybe she worked as a telephone operator, or that she just loved to gab on the phone with her friends!!  Either way, this telephone on her stone shows us that conversation was a big part of her life:

When I saw this stone, I was moved to do some additional research. It seems this family of four perished in an airplane crash in 1974. William was obviously an accomplished military man, in addition to being a family man and whoever put this stone up for them wanted us to know that:

Cemeteries are great sources of historical information. They show us, not just genealogical information but they are anthropological snapshots in time to show us how our thinking and perceptions change over the years.

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