----- ............Cemetery Walk: An afternoon of discovery! Every stone has a story. And they are waiting to be told........... -----

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Talk 20 Slides 16-20

Wow, did life get busy. Shortly after my talk my Daddy passed away. And, as I felt things slowing down from all that comes with that we had the opportunity to purchase a downtown building after a 2+ year search. So, here we are in July!

Let's wrap up the slides.

Slide 16: Eastside Cemetery & Talking Tombstones
Eastside Cemetery is also the location for Talking Tombstones, an annual fundraiser of the Hutchinson Theatre Guild. Since 2007 actors have portrayed the lives of over 50 people buried at Eastside. Many of them were prominent citizens responsible for the development of our city.

Others were stories that needed to be remembered like the murder of the 5 Moore children and Laura Fife, a young black girl that fell to her death from the roller coaster in Riverside Park, present day Carey Park.  

Mark your calendars for October 24th for the 9th annual Talking Tombstones and support your local theatre guild.

Slide 17: Cemetery Sign Project
In 2009 I coordinated a project for the Reno Co Genealogical Society to place signs at 17 cemeteries in the county that did not have one. Through a grant from Honoring Our Ancestors and fundraising efforts we were able to complete the project.

The signs were installed by cemetery caretakers and members of our genealogical society, Dwayne & Vivian Gobin and Jay and Jeannie Moore.

This was an important project, not only to help researchers find a cemetery, but especially for those burials located in rural and remote locations, including fields that are farmed around them.

The Hutchinson News and The Clarion helped us share our project with the community.

Slide 18: Cemetery Bookshelf  
I have a small library of books that offer informational, educational and entertaining cemetery resources, including several on signs and symbolism.

Among my favorites are:Stories in Stone, Forever Dixie, Going Out in Style by Douglas Keister; Soul in the Stone, Cemetery Art from America’s Heartland by John Gary Brown;  And books about some of the wonderful cemeteries I’ve visited like Bonaventure in Savannah GA that was featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. And, Bellfontaine in St. Louis, as one book notes is filled with Movers, shakers and scalawags. 

Slide 19: Love in the cemetery
We can find much more than death in the cemetery. Sometimes we find love. Jon is a civil war re-enactor and Kristen was a reporter for the Hutchinson News when they met at Eastside Cemetery.

It was during a headstone dedication for John Crooms, a civil war veteran born into slavery in Kentucky and died a free man in Hutchinson in 1922.

Jon & Kristen are getting married this Spring.

Slide 20: Where to find me
To date I have photographed over 360 cemeteries across 13 states, that total thousands of photographs. I share bits and pieces on my blogs, Digital Cemetery Walk  and Eastside Cemetery while I continue to add to my collection of photographs, maps, brochures, books, interment lists and anything else cemetery related.

I almost started my talk with “My name is Gale and I collect dead people.” Instead, I’ll leave you with this:

Cemeteries offer an afternoon of discovery and History remembers the famous-----genealogy remembers everyone.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Talk20 Slides 11-15

Slide 11: Secret Societies
As we saw with slides on symbolism and epitaphs there are many headstones that contain emblems of secret societies, organizations, military service including wars, clubs, hobbies and occupations that are representative of a persons life.

The term "secret society" is often used to describe fraternal organizations that may have secret ceremonies. There have been countless organizations that span the ages, many of them still in existence today.

The center photo has multiple icons and the compass and square notes he was a Freemason.

Secret Societies

Slide 12: Photo Essay
A photographic essay is a set or series of photographs that are intended to tell a story or evoke a series of emotions in the viewer. I do it to showcase the details.

For many of the detailed carved stones I like to photograph the features individually and present them visually in a photographic essay. When they are presented this way it allows your eyes rest on the feature before moving on.

Photo Essay

Slide 13: Eastside Cemetery
Eastside is the oldest cemetery in Hutchinson, but not the first. It was established about 1879 when graves were moved from the original city cemetery location that is present day 17th and Monroe area.

A ledger at City Hall dated 1880 discusses the number of bodies in the old cemetery, for them to be counted before moving.

Records for Eastside begin in the 1884 so there are many interments unknown from both those moved and early burials.

Documenting Eastside Cemetery lot by lot is an ongoing project of mine, and one I've worked on with my friend, Kathleen Dankanyin. It is my goal, through my photographs and cross referencing available records to create a good record for future generations.

S.C. Brady and James Bailey are two of the oldest marked graves I have found.

The little stone I’m kneeling behind is for a 2 month old that died in 1884 and has an interment record.

J. Brander is one that has a stone but no burial record.

Eastside Cemetery

Slide 14: Eastside Mausoleum
The Hutchinson News reported on June 6, 1912 that construction had started on the first Mausoleum in Kansas at Eastside Cemetery.

Another article dated September 5, 1912 reads: Slowly arising, in the south part of the East-side cemetery, is a massive structure of concrete, steel and marble, with the graceful lines of a Grecian temple. It is the new mausoleum, the first public mausoleum to be erected in the state of Kansas.

It was to built at a cost of $30,000.

Further in the article it shared many details of how science and skill would work together to handle any moisture or gases and render them germless or odorless for the 200 crypts.

One document in the sexton records refers to it as the Temple of Rest mausoleum and I’d like to find additional information for this.

Eastside Cemetery Mausoleum

Slide 15: Mattie Franklin Moore Blanchard
Mattie Franklin’s life is one I can’t imagine living. She married John Moore and had 5 children.

A part of her life documented in the newspapers begins in 1899 when her husband murdered their five children with an ax at their home on E. 10th Street. He would also set the house on fire to cover up the crime.

John Moore was convicted and sentenced to die but that sentence was later changed to life in prison. However, he would later be granted parole and disappear, at least as far I can find.

Mattie would remarry, twice and have other children and live out her days in Hutchinson.

Carl, Pearl, Charlie, Mary and Leo Moore, ranging in ages 3 to 13, rest in an unmarked grave at Eastside. Their 5 white caskets were buried together.

Mattie Blanchard, John Moore

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Talk20 Slides 6-10

Slide 6: White Bronze
The Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, CT produced cast zinc grave markers, sold as "White Bronze" from 1874 to 1914. 

The company opened 3 subsidiaries, with the first in Detroit in 1881 which operated until about 1885. Having operated for such a short time I was excited to find one marked with this location. 

After the closing of the Detroit operation, two more subsidiaries opened in 1886, one in Chicago and one in Des Moines, Iowa. American Bronze operated in Chicago for twenty-three years, until it closed in 1909. Western White Bronze Company in Des Moines operated for twenty-two years, and closed in 1908. This is the most common one found locally. Many markers do not indicate a location. 

They appear across the landscape as a blue gray color and most are in remarkable condition.

White bronze, Monumental Bronze Company

Slide 7: Symbolism
Many religious and secular symbols and emblems have adorned tombstones through the ages, possibly to symbolize or convey a belief of death and the hereafter and other aspects of life.

Boat: a boat, as shown here with a body, represents a voyage or the crossing over.

Lamb: usually mark the grave of a child, symbolizing innocence.

Hand with broken link: depicts the hand or presence of God, the broken link symbolizes loss.

Symbolism, boat on headstone

Slide 8: Epitaphs
·        Many headstones contain more than names and dates. Epitaphs quoting poems or scripture are often seen, especially on the older graves.

·        This one for Nathan Grigsby from Harper County includes his dying protest of the Democratic party. The other side of his stone also notes his brother Aaron married Sarah, the sister of Abraham Lincoln.

·        Charlie Troy’s headstone in McPherson County contains the poem "My Child". I found it in "The Home Book of Verse, American and English, 1580 - 1918." Part of it reads:  I know his face is hid under the coffin lid, closed are his eyes, cold is his forehead fair, my hand that marble felt, o're it in prayer I knelt, yet my heart whispers that he is not there.

Nathan Grigsby, Epitaph on headstones

Nathan Grigsby
Extra photo for blog post... not included in slide

Slide 9: Cause of Death
Another interesting find on headstones is a cause of death.

Henry Morrison died of bullet wounds he received at the battle of the rio grand river during the Spanish American war. Gypsum Cemetery.

Harry Morgan died in the discharge of duty… he was a passenger conductor shot on the train. Wildmead Cemetery.

Charles Powelson died while bathing. Lyons Cemetery.

John Ellwood was killed by lightening. Windom Cemetery.

Samuel McMurry was killed by Indians on the Cimmaron. Fairview Elmer Cemetery.

I didn’t include a photo in my slide but there is a stone in Memorial Park (now called Penwell Gable) that says “I told you I was sick”

Cause of Death, White Bronze, Zinc

Slide 10: Ceramic Photographs
I love finding photographs on headstones.

As a photographer I was excited to find in my research a document titled: The Photographic News; A weekly record of the progress of photography, dated July 31, 1874, in which it reported "that a custom gaining ground is that of placing photographic portraits of deceased persons upon their gravestones, a direction in which enamel photographs might be employed with great advantage."

Today I see a lot of laser engraved images of not only people, but homesteads.

Ceramic Photographs

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Talk20 Slides 1-5

Notes and photos from my talk.

Slide 1: My Journey
This is one of the first graves I can remember photographing. It was taken in 1977 and it would be more than 20 years before my travel plans intentionally included cemetery walks. My journey began in 1999 when I became interested in my family history. My research included visiting cemeteries to document the burial of my ancestors and somewhere along the way I began to notice the landscapes, beautifully carved headstones and epitaphs on many of the stones. I’ll be sharing some of the things I've found or look for on my walks.

Tomb of Unknown Soldier

Slide 2: Preservation
I've noticed that time, elements and vandalism are taking a toll on many cemeteries and stones. In 2004 I began to photograph for preservation purposes. If it is a large cemetery I locate the older section and photograph those stones first or as many as I can. This headstone in the Sylvia Cemetery is a reminder of why I choose to do this. The photos were taken 3 years apart and the image no longer exists on the stone.

Bill Austin, Sylvia Cemetery

Slide 3: Art
There are some incredible pieces of art that mark the resting place of people. I've seen some that take my breath away and others that make my heart sad. Beautifully carved stones with lifelike features and details. One of my future projects will be to research stone carvers. In this region I haven’t seen many headstones with the signature of the stone carver so I may find it to be a challenging project. There are a limited number that use skill, hands & tools to create these works today.

Headstone Art

Slide 4: Headstone from Sears
Monument companies were not always the only place to purchase a headstone. For many decades you could order one from a Sears and Montgomery Ward catalog. Grave guards and arches first appeared in the 1897 Sears Fall catalog and Sears issued a special tombstone catalog annually from 1902 until 1949. Montgomery Ward began issuing their own in 1920. This stone is located in Rice County.

Sears Headstone

Slide 5: Death Heads & Soul Effigies
An interesting find in cemeteries I've visited on the east coast and southern states are headstones with death or winged heads and soul effigies. A symbol for death, danger or the dead, as well as piracy, a death head usually consists of a skull with or without two long crossed bones. The winged heads are not as sinister looking and symbolic of the soul freed and taken into the afterlife. 

Death Head, Soul Effigy