Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

September 6, 2013

Cemeteries reveal personal histories

BROOKVILLE – By taking a walk in a cemetery, persons can learn much more than just the names of those buried there and their birth and death dates.

On Aug. 21, Julie Schlesselman, Franklin County Library District local history and genealogy department manager, presented “The Tombstone Trail” at the Brookville Library. She showed pictures from various county locations and told audience members, “Cemeteries are more than just grounds for dead people. They have architecture, flora and fauna.

“You will see tombstones, but notice what is on these stones. They can provide a list of nativity/ethnicity, maiden names, military service, occupations, cause of death, religious affiliation, and they tell stories.

“Sunny McQueen was born in 1941. Apparently, he was a rodeo cowboy,” because there was a picture of that on the stone. “There was color on it, too, which is unusual .... A Kopp stone shows a tree stump with a squirrel, which means he was interested in hunting or woodland scenes.

“Susan Oglesby had an interesting stone. She must have loved her house” because there is a picture engraved along with a street sign that “tells you she lived on 12th Street. Forrest Seeley had a school bus on his stone, which indicates he had a connection with the schools. He was a bus driver .... A Drake gravestone had a picture of a house and dogs, meaning he either liked dogs or raised them.

“For Earl Case, you’ll notice his stone is complete on the right, but the left is unfinished. That indicates a life cut short. His wife’s name is noted on there, but her birth and death dates are not listed. Since he died so young, she probably remarried and is buried elsewhere.”

Many people purchase the tombstones before their deaths. They can be made from a variety of materials, including concrete, cement, limestone and granite. “They could also be made from field stones or tree trunks, also called tree stones. Those were more popular in larger areas during the 1800s to 1905. You could actually buy them from Sears and Roebuck.

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