Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

March 21, 2014

Back To The Beginning: Rock of Ages

Filed under: The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — leprechaunrabbit @ 10:14 AM


Re-blogging my research paper for new friends

Originally posted on Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns:

Back when I started this blog, I submitted a post regarding gravestones. It was called “Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns” and it was submitted in segments.

I began writing it many years ago. When finished, it was published by the Alberta Genealogical Society (Edmonton, AB) in their quarterly, RELATIVELY SPEAKING.

It described some materials the graves are made from, and the the various types of damage that befalls many of them. I also included a bit of background regarding social pressures, public health concerns and cemetery maintenance.

And yes, I used the same title for this blog and posted my paper as the first set of posts.

In this post, I submit HOBBES Rock of Ages Grave Concerns for reference purposes.  If you find it useful, drop me line.


The Leprechaunrabbit

View original

February 13, 2014

Tombstone Coins

Filed under: Poetry, The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — Tags: , , , , — leprechaunrabbit @ 4:12 PM

While walking through a national graveyard, well-kept and so preserved;
I asked myself “Why?”
Was desecration I spied?
And closer I went to observe –

An old man, feeble with age, with a handful of coins in his fist?
Stopping to place
A coin on each face,
Of the graves in the morning’s mist.

Quietly, I watched him, put a coin — no two — on another;
He asked, “How would you know?
You were too young to go!”
(Was he talking to me or “his brother?”)

“A splatter of coins ‘pon a flat grave, to you, must be disrespectful;
“But each little token
Leaves a message unspoken,
“‘tween dead heroes and visitors grateful.”

He faced me as I slowly approached him, his face weather-beaten and tired;
“I was your age, I’d guess
When I left my girl Bess,”
Then his words trailed off to retire

I looked o’er the graves he left and noticed not one but three;
Straight in a line
A penny, nickel and dime,
And wondered just what each would be.

“Each penny declares just a visit,” he said, “to a grave regardless of weather;
“And each nickel will tell
A different story as well:
“As boot camp we went through together!

“Now, a dime means we served a posting for a couple of years,” he cried;
“But, if it is there
“Two-bits is more rare,
“It means I was there when he died.”

January 14, 2014

Over Her Dead Body – cartoon funny

Filed under: Genealogy, The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — Tags: , — leprechaunrabbit @ 9:37 AM


November 25, 2013

Back To The Beginning: Rock of Ages

Back when I started this blog, I submitted a post regarding gravestones. It was called “Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns” and it was submitted in segments.

I began writing it many years ago. When finished, it was published by the Alberta Genealogical Society (Edmonton, AB) in their quarterly, RELATIVELY SPEAKING.

It described some materials the graves are made from, and the the various types of damage that befalls many of them. I also included a bit of background regarding social pressures, public health concerns and cemetery maintenance.

And yes, I used the same title for this blog and posted my paper as the first set of posts.

In this post, I submit HOBBES Rock of Ages Grave Concerns for reference purposes.  If you find it useful, drop me line.


The Leprechaunrabbit

November 20, 2013

QR Codes Belong in Cemeteries

Filed under: The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — Tags: , — leprechaunrabbit @ 1:47 PM

I first saw pictures of the little digitized squares when I was still President of the Alberta Genealogical Society three years ago.

I said to myself: “What an odd little thing! It must be a remote way for ground maintenance to contact the Office about grave damages and concerns — like sending a photo through instant messaging on your cellphone.”

I then continued on my merry way and didn’t give the matter another thought, until recently.

Arlington National Cemetery considered the use of these QR Codes.
And unfortunately, voted it down again.

I think it is a wonderful idea to implement because it can promote so much to the general public through education in history and genealogy as well as be used in tourism and routine ground maintenance, as it can track the last time work was done in the area.

If every military stone, including the memorials, had these little boxes, a visitor can walk through the cemetery on a history walk, or society “scavenger hunt” for whatever amount of time that they choose.

I have never been to Arlington, so I will use myself in this example:

I show up on a Sunday morning and the office is, of course, NOT open.
I regret that I know very little about American history or American military history, and due to this, I take a child’s wonder to it all and wander about happily because I know that this linestome library will teach me. West-South-West, I turn up along Roosevelt Drive. A maintenance vehicle slows and asks who I’m looking for.

I answer nowhere in particular and then confess that I have never been before, but am enjoying the history of it all.

“History?” The driver then asks where I have travelled from.

His eyes widen when I answer “Canada.”

The next thing I know, he insists I catch a ride with him, telling me that he knows of a place near the back of the cemetery that I would like to see.

A few minutes later, he carries on his way having dropped me off at the intersect of Farragut, Memorial and Wilson drives.

I decide to walk south along Memorial Drive.

Looking around the trees are massive and resplendant in their colours. They resemble a forest, but anyone can tell this forest is special: each any every tree is unique and symbolic of the people that they memorialize.

Within a moment or two, I find an interesting gravestone of a named serviceman with a star-shaped symbol above his name.


Off-centre near the left side, I spot a QR Code and scan it. Within a minute, I learn this brave young man was posthumously awared the Medal of Honor!

Two minutes later, I read how he earned his coveted medal … single-handedly.

Another two minutes pass, I have read what his unit was outmanned and outgunned; which lead this hero into making the decision he did so quickly and without regret.

I find similar stories from neighbouring QR Codes of sailors, marines and airmen. The information is emotionally moving and draining. One code reveals scanned pages from a sailor’s journal addressed to his pregnant wife and unborn-yet child; but all have photographs of these handsome heroes — or so I was led to believe.

I toddle off deeper into the cemetery’s transquil estate, following the winding trail to still an older segment. It is as immaculate as the area I traipsed before, but the stones appear smaller, darker and a little harder to read amidst the many, shaded trees that appear larger than those that greeted me before.

I quickly notice, not all of these stones are equipped with QR Codes and I wonder “Why?”

And it is more than a few minutes before I find an informative little square. When I do, it is about six graves into the row.
I scan the the tiny image and discover that this gravemarker belongs to a Civil War soldier from the Union!

I learn his name, his unit and his age when he died. I read about the massive injuries he sustained and his unit’s movement during the war. No photopgraphs this time.

I look at the darkening sky and realize I should be going. I follow the roadway and within twenty minutes realize I’m lost!

A metal post holds a sign marked “Section 13″ with a QR Code beneath it. I scan it and a cemetery map opens on my cellphone with the message “You are here!” with an arrow pointing East to the Visitor’s Centre.

Within five minutes, my courteous ride pulls over, again.

“Would you like a ride back to the Visitors Centre, Sir?” he asks.

I nod, and after climbing in ask him how he knew where I was, as I had wandered about for at least an hour since our last meeting

He points to my phone and says, “Every time a visitor scans a QR Code, we know how many visitors are in the cemetery, who they are visiting and where they are within a few feet. Most of your scans were about ten minutes apart earlier on, then they were twenty; and from where your last one was, we figured out you were walking.”

“Oh, that’s neat!” I replied.

“When the Office radioed me and told me what section I had to go to, I knew it was you,” he smiled.

QR Codes will not take away the respect and beauty of Arlington Cemetery, they will enhance it!

I do hope they reconsider.

October 29, 2013

It’s been almost 3 Years since …

Filed under: Poetry, The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — leprechaunrabbit @ 1:19 PM

I started this blog! It doesn’t seen that long though 0.0

I will admit, I have not been posting near as often as I should be. Moving, family, health issues and a change in employment have been taking up too much of my time, unfortunately.

I need to dig my photos out of storage (in the basement) and get this running again, but it is going to take a while; so, I would like to share a favourite post (one a month) for the remainder of the year and start fresh in 2014.

My very first post was a poem I wrote, “Amidst Nature’s Splendor.”  It was published in the Alberta Genealogical Society‘s quarterly journal, RELATIVELY SPEAKING (V38N3 AUG2010) as a part of my presidential message to the Society; and then again, online (16AUG2012) with some stunning photographs — taking by a fellow Graveyard Rabbit — of Historic Oakwood Cemetery (located in Raleigh, North Carolina) on the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal.


August 13, 2013

I Still Hate Moving

Filed under: Genealogy — leprechaunrabbit @ 7:41 AM

I Still Hate Moving.

May 7, 2013

Why Genealogists Should Hate Moving …

Filed under: Genealogy, The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — Tags: — leprechaunrabbit @ 6:49 PM

Well, here I/we go again …

Yep, moving to another location that is closer to Edmonton, Alberta — this time it’s actually IN Edmonton!

I just hate moving, in general.

My research is easy enough to pack up and label.  It will just sit in boxes for four to six months while the rest of the house is unpacked first.  

It’s the priorities, you know:

  • kitchen essentials, and
  • all the bedrooms (includes two kids and their personal treasures), then
  • re-establishing MiLady’s home office, next
  • transplanting and re-building MiLady’s gardens — you notice her garden is plural this time! The backyard needs a lot of work but the landlord is willing to supply the seed, the sod and the patio stones.
  • an unfinished basement, and
  • my genealogy and gravestone work (including my computer), unfortunately, falls to last place and will occupy a basement corner, once the basement is strapped/framed, wired, insulated, and panelled

But, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it … to be closer to Civilization?

My true headache will be when I resume my research with the new home address and phone number — hopefully, it won’t take 6weeks to memorize; then figure out my surroundings: locate the nearest (midnight) pharmacy, (late-night) bank, postal office, convenience store, etc

Oh, yeah, we move in less than three weeks … 


The Leprechaun Rabbit

April 12, 2013

Common Ground

Filed under: The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — Tags: , , — leprechaunrabbit @ 9:38 AM

Submitted to:


Here is a riddle. Solve it if you can — without the use of Internet.

“Where will you find a cemetery inside another cemetery?”

[Oh, that's just a wee bit too tough, huh? Okay, let's try this one instead]:

What does a Civil War training  facility  for Union  troops, a Prisoner-of-War camp for Confederate detainees and “Mark Twain,” the writer, have in common?

[*] The answer to both questions is Woodlawn Cemetery [*]

Historic Davis Street gate

Historic Davis Street gate

Woodlawn National Cemetery is 10.5 acres, has 8693 occupants (as of 2005) and is contained in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Before it became a cemetery, Woodlawn National was a Civil War training facility for Union troops.

In 1861, it was called Camp Rathbun and located near the town of Elmira, Chemung County, New York. It was established to train soldiers before sending them off to fight in the war; and at full capacity, it easily accommodated 2,000 soldiers.

The location was considered prime real estate, because it was close to the crossing of the Erie and Northern Central railway lines, but as the Civil War progressed, most of the camp’s property (30 acres) was not used.

Lieutenant-Colonel Seth EASTMAN was in charge of Camp Rathbun and the hastily-run conversion to turn it into a prisoner-of-war camp.  By the summer of 1864, 20 new barracks were built and the old #3 Barracks was repaired.  

His report to his superior, Colonel HOFFMAN, stated that Rathbun could support 6,000 troops, but the reply he received instructed him to expect between 8000 and 10 000 detainees within ten days!

Earlier, Eastman had submitted calculations stating only half that number could be housed properly:

  • Barracks are well kept but only accommodate 4000 (with the possibility of another 1,000 in tents)
  • Kitchens capable of feeding 5000 a day
  • Mess Room seating capacity is 1500 at once; and
  • NO hospital facilities on site

But Eastman was still told to expect prisoners, and their arrival would be memorable indeed.

It was July 15th, 1864.  A steamer arrived in Jersey City, NJ from Point Lookout, Maryland with 833 Confederate prisoners-of-war, captured at the Battle of Cold Harbour (in Virginia).

Once in Jersey City, the prisoners were transferred to an 18-car train that would travel along the Erie Railway Line to Elmira, NY.  They were escorted by 128 Union guards.

Delayed until 6am to look for some missing prisoners, the train left for Port Jervis, NY but arrived over four hours late. The next stretch of track was between Sparrowbush, NY and Shohola, PA. It snaked through hardwood forests with many blind curves forcing the train to travel between 20 and 25 mph. It made Shohola by 2:50pm

Further up the route at Lackawaxen, PA, a dispatcher permits a westbound coal train bound for Port Jervis to pass through; as it had been more than four hours since he had heard anything about the prison train. 

The coal train no sooner passes his junction, when the dispatcher receives word that the prison train bound for Elmira has just passed Shohola and was on its way to Lackawaxen!

One and one-half miles from Shohola, the railway line passes through “King & Fuller’s Cut,” a series of blind bends with as little as fifty feet of forward visibility. 

Neither train saw the other until it was too late!

The trains collided head-on with the force of an earthquake. Their combined speeds were only 30mph, but that created enough momentum for the wood stored in the engines’ tenders to impale both sets of engineers and firemen.

The remainder of the fatalities occurred in the first three prison cars, as the box cars were “telescoped” into each other, like wooden Russian Matryoshka dolls of deceasing sizes nesting inside the other. 

The box car immediately behind the prison train engine carried 37 passengers – 36 were killed instantly. Of the remaining prisoner from that first box car, he was thrown from the wreckage and lived!

Shohola Monument

Shohola Monument

Passengers in the latter cars received injuries, and the surviving guards were busy again searching for five prisoners who took advantage of the incident and escaped! They were never found.

Guards’ descriptions of the carnage were detailed, as if they were describing a battle scene from the War.

The people of Shohola, and nearby Barryville, NY, treated the wounded, with total disregard of their uniform colours.  Doctors arrived in two relief trains from Port Jervis and worked through the night, calculating the official death toll to be: 44 prisoners, 17 guards and the four railway staff – and the dead were quickly buried by the side of the railway in unmarked graves.  “An inquiry found the dispatcher, who fled the scene, to be negligent.1

During its fifteen months in operation, Elmira Prison opened its doors to 12,100 Confederate inmates, and almost 25% of the occupants died from the combination of malnutrition, continued exposure to harsh winter weather, and disease from poor sanitary conditions.  The Confederates referred to the prison as “Hellmira” as they considered it a death camp.

Confederate Monument

Confederate Monument

But, five days after the prison opened, Surgeon Charles T. ALEXANDER inspected the place, by request of Eastman’s commanding officer, Colonel William Hoffman, who was also the Commissary General.

The surgeon’s findings supported Eastman’s reports as well as sanitary issues (i.e. clean drinking water) and medical care (a make-shift hospital was made from a tent and run by a civilian instead of a doctor); but, Colonel Hoffman did not heed the warnings and many inmates died.

The dead were then prepared and buried at Woodlawn Cemetery by the sexton, a former slave named John W. JONES.

The last prisoner left the camp on September 25th, 1865. Elmira Prison was then closed, demolished and converted to farm lands.

In 1877 Woodlawn Cemetery was designated a national cemetery.

In 1911 the Shohola Monument was erected. Upon one side are the names of the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers upon the opposite side.  Along with the monument was the re-interment of the unmarked railway burials made 47 years earlier.

In 1937, the Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument to the Confederate prisoners who died while incarcerated at Elmira Prison.


Samuel L. Clemens, better known to millions as “Mark Twain,” is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery.  His wife, the former Olivia Langdon, had died earlier in 1904, was cremated and also buried in there.


When Samuel Clemens was born, Halley’s Comet had made an appearance and the great writer had later predicted that he would also “go out with it.”

When Mr. Clemens died at the age of 74, it was April 21st, 1910 – the day after the return of Halley’s Comet! 

But, did you know “mark twain” is a riverboat pilot’s term? It means “Mark two fathoms.”

Information gleaned from the following:

[1] Elmira Prison

[2] Shohola Train Wreck

[3] Woodlawn National Cemetery


[5] Mark Twain


February 27, 2013

How Well Do You Know …

Filed under: The Graveyard Rabbit of Alberta — Tags: , , , — leprechaunrabbit @ 8:18 PM



This week’s edition of:GYR+Online+Journal+logo

available now!

showcasing an article I wrote about the largest cemetery

in the United States.

[HINT: It is not Arlington!]

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 995 other followers

%d bloggers like this: