Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

September 6, 2013

Cemeteries reveal personal histories

(Continued)

“You’ll also notice stones have a lot of different icons and images (compass representing masons and links meaning friendship, love and truth). Many of the stones will also tell you the maker of them. There are small metal markers on the contemporary ones and on older stones, the carver’s name is on the bottom,” the presenter revealed.

Some tombstones have a lot of wear on them. She stressed the importance of photographing markers so the information isn’t lost.

Some graves “don’t even have a stone. Little Owen Smith was visiting (Franklin County) when he went bathing in the east fork of the Whitewater River in 1892. He was nearly 14 and waded out in the current and drowned. There was no marker for his grave, just a story about him.”

Schlesselman noted, “In cemeteries, if you’re looking for a particular stone, look at the ones around it. It’s usually some sort of relative.” Also, if there are numerous persons who died within days of each other, it probably meant something tragic happened, such as an accident, fire or cholera epidemic.

She read part of “The Dash,” a poem by Linda Ellius: “‘I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone, from the beginning to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years .... For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth .... What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.’”

She pointed out, “The next time you go to a cemetery, think about all the things that have happened to people over the years.”

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.

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