Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

genealogy, graveyards, gravestones, poetry, photography, history, local

Child Graves: Always Emotional

[photographer: Linda MILLER, AUG2010, Brandon Cemetery ( Brandon, Manitoba, CANADA)]
[photographer: Linda MILLER, AUG 2010, Brandon Cemetery ( Brandon, Manitoba, CANADA)] TRANSCRIPTION: Darling Baby / Died / April 24, 1903 / LEECH
As a parent, it is rare to walk through a cemetery, find a child’s grave and not be moved.

draped columnIf you put aside the possibility of financial hardship (meaning the family is unable to purchase a  crafted stone) and the probable sub-standard qualities of stone during the U.S. Civil War, how grieving families memorialized their precious little ones has not changed very much over the years.

In the mid to late 1800s, you would find draped (broken) columns, mostly in the eastern coast states and Great Lakes area; while from the mid-west to the West, foot-stones (half the size of a regular upright stone) with a perched dove, a lowing lamb, an small empty chair, ,a pair of empty shoes, a weeping angel or a sleeping cherub.

But, these carved monuments have changed drastically as early as the 1900s; and it is the visual symbolism that has proven to be the strongest and most popular venue, and the examples are endless! (I list but a few): 

  • from a child reaching for the sky as he climbs out of his wheelchair,
  • to teddy bears holding hearts — or sleeping upon a smiling, crescent moon
  • to baby blocks, favourite toys and Disney characters
  • to a small basin that when filled with water, allows a small, surviving brother to play again with with the sibling he lost
  • to a simple marker surrounded by the relics of the child’s crib


Finally: the Grave of a DAR Patriot

revwarFREEDOMSLIGHTI’ve written a few times about Daniel, Junior’s 5-times great-grandfather

skinner table

An American Revolutionary Patriot Lies Here, 26 JAN 2013, and

Sunday’s Obituary: 1846 – Daniel SKINNER, GAR (DAR Patriot), 23 DEC 2012

Through the power of the Internet, a photo came to light Daniel’s gravestone.

And, of course, Time has not been kind:


Eldred Cemetery, Lumberland, Sullivan Co, NY

Leprechaunrabbit’s notes:

(1) Across the curved top: Chips in the edge from the probably of being struck (vandalism?) or dropped in transport / delivery.

(2) Left of center: Lichen marks denote moisture variances and the stone’s porous surface.

(3) Left side: Delamination, or water damage; difficult to ascertain from one photograph.

(4) Front face: Wind-shear has made the script at the stone base near impossible to read.

As the Spring weather is returning (2015), perhaps a graveyard rabbit (or genchat genie) might be in the area to snap a few new pictures, a little closer to the stone (for a better assessment)?


Black Slate Gravestones

Lister Lane CEM HalifaxMister Manton’s photograph above is a beautiful capture of the aging quality of black slate gravestones.

This picture is of the Lister Lane Cemetery located in Halifax, West Yorkshire in England.

Rock of Ages 6: Military Uses

Grave Concerns Part 6: Military Uses

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

Military service personnel, having lost their lives in action, are honoured with government-issued stones made from marble or Barre Grey granite [41]; but, when the markers are to be located in more humid climates, they are usually cast in bronze. (see photo at lower right).

Taukkyan War Cemetery, Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma)

Canada’s war dead numbers over 110,000 and are proudly commemorated in 75 countries around the World! [42]

[41] “Canada and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,” Ottawa: Commonwealth War Graves Commission [Internet]
[42] ibid.

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Rock of Ages 5: Granite & Exotic Styles

Grave Concerns: Granite & Exotic Styles (Part 5)
Sorry, missed a day; so two installments today!

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

Hodgson-Atkinson GRANITE

Currently the most popular, granite came into widespread use by 1900 [34], although there are some reported uses as early as 1870.

It is a hard stone that requires a great deal of skill to carve. These days a rubber stencil is used for the names, dates and emblems which are then sandblasted onto the stone’s surface. [35]

Granite has also been used to replace some of the more weathered sandstone and marble markers in older cemeteries.

This red granite marker (above), placed in 1932, marks the 1852 and 1857 deaths of my fourth great-grandparents and their arrival in Canada in 1833.

Exotic Styles

four exotic styled stones

Aside from the isolated return of these exclusive monuments, some modern-day memorials do not use stone at all, but involve planting trees. [37] These living memorial tree programmes exist in Red Deer, Lacombe, Wainwright, Calgary, High River and Sylvan Lake to name a few locations in…

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Rock of Ages 4: Limestone & Marble

Grave Concerns: Limestone & Marble (Part 4)

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

Limestone, which was fairly easy to carve and extremely popular during the 1700s, was also referred to as “Tennessee Marble.”28 At the height of its popularity, it was used in tomb structures, but most of the limestone inscriptions carved during the 1700s and 1800s are no longer legible.[29]

Marble, which is re-crystallized limestone, replaced limestone by the 1830s. Marble graves quickly gained popularity because of their beauty instead of utility. Slabs of “Vermont Blue” and “Italian White” became the two most-demanded colours from marble importers. Artisans found these slabs easier and softer than sandstone to apply and showcase their craft; however, they continued to use sandstone to make monument bases through the 19th century.[30]

Memorials with round or pointed with cursive inscriptions were the soft (and usually white) marbles with dates between 1845 and 1868; but if the stone was flat-topped, it was the harder dolomitic-type marble with dates from…

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Rock of Ages 3: Fieldstone, Sandstone & Slate

Grave Concerns: Part 3 of Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns


Fieldstone (front) McGuigan Cemetery, Merrickville, ON

delaminated sandstone

Fieldstone was a common grave material choice among struggling settlers. The stones were found while tilling or clearing the land. Many were laid unmarked, some sported symbols or the name and age of the deceased.

An excellent example of fieldstone markers exists in Grande Pre, Nova Scotia at the Acadian Burying Grounds. A Herbin Cross commemorates this National Historic Site and the burials there, which are dated between 1680 and 1750. [24]

Sandstone & Slate
During the 1600s, ample supplies of sandstone replaced fieldstones in Colonial North America, because of its durability yet it was still soft enough to carve easily. [25]

Some sandstone markers remained so well preserved that each chisel mark can be discerned in the carving, but the vast majority of these stones delaminated and crumbled into dust. Delamination occurs when moisture gets between the layers that make up the sandstone. As it freezes, expands and…

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Rock of Ages 2: Social Influences

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

Social Influences
During the 17th and 18th Centuries, graveyards and cemeteries looked like dark, gloomy cities of silence. Stones were poorly clustered in disarray — tilted, sunken or broken with tall trees and grasses, brambles and other flora growing between or around them. Some headstones faced west, matching footstones (if they were affordable and survived the environments) faced east and the mounded graves lay between the stone pairs. [14]

Inscriptions on headstones faced west, away from the deceased’s head; and if there was a footstone, its inscription faced east, away from the deceased’s feet. This was done to avoid walking on someone’s grave. [15]

Grave location during this time was tightly crowded and haphazard like a minefield; where the tallest tablets reflected the importance of certain individuals, the smaller ones — their children, and the odd stones in between represented the rest of the family. [16] Occasionally, burials in the…

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Rock of Ages – Part 1

The influences of stones, metals, time, religion and wealth (or the lack of it)

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns

Dedicated to Emily, “Gramma Rabbit,” 1905-1975

This piece began as a photo collection [1] of various family gravestones and a few others depicting the different types of stone, presentation styles and usages over the years. My love of art and history, and my youngest son’s fascination with rocks (geology), influenced it into what you now see. Many materials have been used as grave markers, some of the most common and the approximate time-frames they were used are listed here.

Identifying headstone materials can assist a genealogist in better understanding the social status of the decedent and the stability of surviving family members within their community. Sometimes, one’s financial status is also hinted in the stonework. Artistic expression, observed in the carving styles of the stonemasons, also reflected the general scope and religious influences of the community during each time period. But it is not just what is carved into the…

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Back To The Beginning: Rock of Ages

Re-blogging my research paper for new friends

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

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