Tombstone Tuesday: Cenotaphs

[Even though it is Wednesday where I am, I’m still calling it “Tombstone Tuesday.” Hey, it’s still Tuesday somewhere in the world!]

Question: When is a tombstone not a tombstone?

Answer: When it’s a cenotaph.

A cenotaph (literally “empty tomb”) is a memorial for someone who is not buried at that place, either because they are buried someplace else or the body could not be recovered. Sometimes the marker will give you a clue that it is a cenotaph rather than a tombstone.


George Kruskie, Holy Cross Cemetery, Cross Village Township, Emmet County, Michigan. Photo take by Amy Crow, all rights reserved.

George Kruskie, Holy Cross Cemetery, Cross Village Township, Emmet County, Michigan. Photo taken by Amy Crow, all rights reserved.

The phrase “Lost on Ice” on this marker in Holy Cross Cemetery in Emmet County, Michigan is a clue that George Kruskie is not actually buried here, but rather was lost. The area is on the shores of Lake Michigan and near the Straits of Mackinac. A search for newspaper articles might confirm my hypothesis that he fell through the ice and his body was never recovered.


Dorothy Beetham, Union Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Amy Johnson Crow, 2008. All rights reserved.

Dorothy Beetham, Union Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Amy Johnson Crow, 2008. All rights reserved.

The marker shown above is the first one I have seen that actually notes that it is a cenotaph. It isn’t clear whether it is a cenotaph just for Dorothy Beetham or for all three people listed on the stone. A check with the office at Union Cemetery in Columbus, obituaries, and death certificates would clear up the situation.

New Companion Blog: Graveyard Rabbit of Central Ohio

Graphic by footnoteMaven

Graphic by footnoteMaven

Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi has started a new blogging project: the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. The purpose is to highlight tombstones, cemeteries, burial practices, etc. in specific geographic regions. This seemed like a natural fit to me, considering my fascination with cemeteries. 

Graveyard Rabbit blogs are supposed to limit themselves to the topic at hand: cemeteries in the area the blog covers. Since Amy’s Genealogy, etc. Blog covers more than just cemeteries, I have started a new blog called Graveyard Rabbit of Central Ohio:

I will still have Tombstone Tuesday here. (They will also be mirrored on my GYR blog.) I haven’t quite decided what to do about other cemetery posts. Obviously, the cemeteries and tombstones outside of central Ohio will stay here. The central Ohio ones will probably appear on both sites. (Just thinking out loud here. If you have any comments or suggestions, let me know!)

Tombstone Tuesday: Daniel Lewis, fireman

Capt. Daniel S. Lewis, Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus. Photograph taken by Amy Crow, August 8, 2008. All rights reserved.

Capt. Daniel S. Lewis, Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus. Photograph taken by Amy Crow, August 8, 2008. All rights reserved.

This impressive monument is in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus. The imagery on the stone immediately tell you it is the grave of a firefighter — the hydrant with the hose that outlines the stone, a helmet, a ladder, an axe, and a lantern. The inscription reads:


In Memory Of

Capt. Daniel S. Lewis

Born May 15, 1854

Entered the Service

Oct. 18, 1881

Gave his life to the city

April 26, 1903

Lewis, captain of Engine Company No. 11,  was killed fighting a fire in the Brunson and Union Company buildings at the corner of Long Street and High Street in downtown Columbus.  According to a newspaper account, he was killed when a wall collapsed and fell on him. “His body was cremated in the ruins.”

“The fire was attended by many exciting incidents, the most thrilling being the rescue of Philip Nation, a grocer, from his apartments on the fourth floor of the Brunson Building where he had been hemmed in by flames. The fire started in the Brunson Building and its progress was fanned by a brisk wind from the north. This building was occupied on the ground floor by the Walkover Shoe Company, Tallmadge Hardware Company, and Bott Brothers’ saloon. The upper floors were occupied mainly as living apartments, the exceptions being the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union rest room and the art studios of Maurice Hague and H. P. Hayden. 

“Smoke was first seen issuing from the basement under the saloon. The fire smoldered for half an hour and the firemen thought they had it under control, when the flames suddenly burst from an upper story”


The New York Times, April 27, 1903, p. 1. Available online at

Tombstone Tuesday: A Homemade Tombstone

Homemade tombstone with GAR flag holder

Homemade tombstone with GAR flag holder

A few weeks ago, I went with my parents down to Mount Tabor Cemetery in Ross County, Ohio. We hoped to find the grave of Dad’s uncle who died of influenza and pneumonia at age 2 in 1919. It is a very quiet cemetery, nestled in the hills southwest of Chillicothe. You have to look for it to even know it’s there.

There were some interesting tombstones, including this one made of poured concrete and inset with colored ceramic tiles. It appears that there was a place for a plaque (probably with the name and dates), but unfortunately it is gone. There is a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) flag holder next to it, but it is unknown whether it belongs with this tombstone or was placed there erroneously.

Despite the three of us systematically searching the cemetery, we did not find little Tommy’s grave. We strongly suspect that his grave is unmarked, especially considering my great-grandparents’ economic condition at the time of his death.


Mount Tabor Cemetery, Ross County, Ohio

Mount Tabor Cemetery, Ross County, Ohio

Tombstone Tuesday: Creepy Angels

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday isn’t a lesson on reading a tombstone or interpreting tombstone iconography. Instead, I’d like to share what are without a doubt the creepiest angels I’ve ever seen. From Pioneer Cemetery in Westerville, Ohio:

Pioneer Cemetery, Westerville, Ohio

Pioneer Cemetery, Westerville, Ohio

I’m adding those to the list of things I don’t want on my tombstone!

Tombstone Tuesday: Using Your GPS in the Cemetery

Those who know me know that I love technology and, further, I love gadgets. It came as no surprise two or three years ago when I asked for a GPS unit for Christmas. What did surprise a few people was the reason I wanted it: to take it with me to cemeteries and mark the location of graves I’d found. Besides the “techie” part of me being happy, the genealogist part of me was thrilled. Now I could return to a specific grave without having to hunt for it or stop in the cemetery office.

As I’ve worked with my GPS unit — a Garmin GPSmap 60CS — I’ve developed a method for using it in conjunction with my digital camera. Rather than saving the position on the GPS itself and then having to enter some sort of description so I’d know which grave it referred to, I simply take a picture of the GPS right before I take a picture of the tombstone.

Here are a few things I’ve found useful:

  • Be consistent in when you take the GPS photo. Do it either always before or always after you take the tombstone photo. This will help eliminate confusion later when you’re looking at the photos.
  • If possible, try to get a bit of the tombstone in the GPS photo. In the photo above, you can see a bit of the tombstone in the upper right-hand corner. This also helps you match the GPS with the tombstone.
  • Become familiar with your camera so you know where you can best focus for the GPS shot. You want the unit close enough so that the numbers are very legible when you look at the photo later. (Otherwise, what’s the point?) With my little camera (a FujiFilm Finepix Z), I’ve found that it will quickly focus if I hold the GPS at arm’s length.
  • Make sure there isn’t glare on the GPS’ screen; it makes the numbers illegible in the photo. 

Joel Parsons, Union Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio
The photo above is the one I took when I was at Union Cemetery on the north side of Columbus. Not only is it a huge cemetery — 128 acres — but it is split into two major sections on opposite sides of a very busy road. You don’t want to wander around looking for a stone if you don’t have to! Now the next time I want to visit the grave of Medal of Honor recipient Joel Parsons (private, Company B, 4th West Virginia Infantry), I know exactly where to go. (Well, actually, plus or minus 15 feet.)

For those of you who follow Tombstone Tuesday, I’d like to thank you for your patience over the past few weeks. Between preparations for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, the conference itself, losing power for 5 days (!!), and autumn quarter staring, I simply have not had the opportunity to post like I’ve wanted to. Hopefully, I will be able to get back on a good schedule and return to having Tombstone Tuesday be a weekly event!

Tombstone Tuesday: Friendship, Love and Truth

George H. Boggs, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Ohio

George H. Boggs, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Ohio

This tombstone for George H. Boggs is in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Licking County, Ohio. It shows membership in two organizations: the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Grand Army of the Republic.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1819. It is also referred to as the “Three Links Fraternity” because of the Order’s symbol. The three links sometimes include the initials F L T, which stand for Friendship, Love and Truth. However, it is common to find the three links on a tombstone without the F L T initials.

Below the IOOF symbol on this tombstone are the initials G A R, which stands for Grand Army of the Republic. It was the largest organization of Civil War veterans and was instrumental in the passage of many laws pertaining to veterans’ benefits, such as pensions for disabled veterans. The organization was for honorably discharged Union veterans; thus, it serves as a clue to Civil War service. An examination of the Civil War Soldiers System database reveals a George H. Boggs served in Company C, 76th Ohio Infantry. According to the unit history (also on the Civil War Soldiers System site), this regiment mustered in at Camp Sherman in Newark. Although this is not definitive proof that the George buried here is the same George in the 76th OVI, it is certainly a compelling clue.

Close-up of the symbols on George Boggs' tombstone

Close-up of the symbols

Tombstone Tuesday: Little Georgie


George Blount, Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio

George Blount, Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio

Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus has innumerable outstanding tombstones. It is one of my favorite places to go when I need either a cemetery or photography “fix.” One of the most photographed tombstones there is that of George Blount.


“Little Georgie,” as some refer to him, was the only child of Eli and Sarah Blount. Eli was the owner and proprietor of the American Hotel in downtown Columbus. On 7 February 1873, the family was getting ready to go out and little George, only 5 years old, decided that the fastest way to get downstairs was to slide down the bannister. Sadly, the railing broke and George fell; he died eight days later. 

His tombstone features an almost lifesize likeness. People regularly leave toys at his grave. (If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see some beads given to him last Mardi Gras.) Invariably, someone will dress him in a hat and scarf at Christmas time. It’s almost as if he’s been adopted by countless people in central Ohio.

Tombstone Tuesday: Chief Black Hoof

Chief Black Hoof Tombstone/Monument, St. John's, Ohio.

Chief Black Hoof Tombstone/Monument, St. John's, Ohio.

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday features a tombstone (or, more properly, a cenotaph) of a man you’ve probably never heard of who was part of a story that you’ve likely heard only one side of.

If I were to ask you to name a chief of the Shawnee during the early 1800s, I’m guessing most of you would respond with “Tecumseh.” While Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) are the most well-known Shawnee leaders, they were not the only ones. One of the other chiefs was Catahecassa — Black Hoof.

Black Hoof led a group of Shawnee in northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana that did not agree with Tecumseh’s idea of a pan- Native American alliance. Perhaps because Black Hoof was older and had dealt directly with the whites for a longer time than Tecumseh, he believed that fighting the Americans would be futile. He had fought against the colonists during the Revolutionary War and there is conjecture that he was present at Harmar’s Defeat in 1790. What may have turned the tide in Black Hoof’s mind was witnessing the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, in which the Shawnee and other tribes were defeated by troops led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.

While Tecumseh and The Prophet denounced the white man’s influence and promoted a return to “traditional” Native American ways, Black Hoof reached the conclusion that the only way for the Shawnee in Ohio to survive was to adapt and become farmers like their white neighbors. He travelled to Washington in 1807 to urge the government to provide assistance toward that goal. The government authorized William Kirk to help them establish a farm near Wapakoneta.

The Wapakoneta farm was a great success. They had over 500 acres in crops and a sawmill and gristmill under construction. The residents of Dayton sent the War Department a letter praising the Shawnee for protecting them against other tribes.

Alas, the prosperity was short-lived. Through a series of bureaucratic blunders (namely, Kirk not filing all of the required reports) and some rumors placed by William Wells, the Indian Agent at Fort Wayne, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn ended the funding for the project.

After the Battle of Tippecanoe, the powder keg of white/Indian relations finally exploded. The War of 1812 saw Tecumseh and his followers siding with the British; Black Hoof and his followers tried to either side with the Americans or at least stay neutral.

With the British defeat, the War Department changed its method of procuring land from the Native Americans in the north. Rather than gaining land through treaties, it would be done by removal. Black Hoof tried for as long as possible to keep his band of 300 Shawnee in northwest Ohio, but the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the death knell. Even though they could show that they were good farmers and that their children attended the Society of Friends School for the Shawnee and even though they had the support of Secretary of War Lewis Cass, it was to no avail.

The removal process (which began with a dubiously negotiated treaty in 1831) ended in the Shawnee removal to Kansas in 1832. Black Hoof stayed in Wapakoneta and died there just three months after his people moved west.

Black Hoof is buried near St. John’s Ohio. His monument shown here is located in Black Hoof Memorial Park/St. John’s Cemetery at the intersection of U.S. Route 33 and Ohio State Route 65.