Interesting & Unusual

Paul G. Lind (legal name Ebbighausen) died 29 March 2005 and is commemorated with a Scrabble board in Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. A fanatical Scrabble player, this game contains two blank tiles: the “b” in football, and the 2nd “l” in loveable.

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The gravestone for Penney is inscribed with the American sign language symbol for ‘I love you’. Pennies are frequently left atop the gravestone.

Hand sign

Andrew Heron had 4 wives who died in 1803, 1812, 1832, the last seems to have finally outlived him. He died in 1848.

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Resembles walking into the sea.

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From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity. ~Edvard Munch

This sculpture could be related to an old tradition of attaching a bell to the wrist of the dead to prevent people from being buried whilst still alive. A string was tied on the wrist of the corpse which was attached to a bell above ground while a sentry sat in the cemetery overnight.

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Colma, California

 

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Cemetery now under water

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Is there a true Gypsy Queen?

The term Gypsy is no longer used by the aforesaid people who prefer to be known as Roma. More of a nickname, several countries claim their own ‘Queen’ .

USA
On January 31, 1915, Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsy Nation, died at age 47 while giving birth to her 14th child. Although she died in Coatapa, Alabama, she is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Meridian, Mississippi, USA. Approximately 20,000 Romanies travelled to pay their last respects. The headstone is constantly swathed with beads and trinkets put there to beseech the Queen to provide answers to their problems. Her husband Emil Mitchell, King of the Gypsies, is also buried in the cemetery.

UK
When Ruby Pearl Marshall died in 2016, hundreds of mourners travelled to Wales to pay their respects to the 78 year old who had 52 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The funeral was held at St Tydfil’s Old Parish Church in Merthyr with burial at Glyntaff Cemetery in Pontypridd, Wales. The Romanis followed a century old tradition which allows each family member to choose a keepsake from the deceased’s belongings. The caravan with contents was then burned.

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Ellen McDonagh from Levenshulme, Manchester, England, survived the tragic loss of two husbands. She raised six kids on her own, and at the time of her passing in 2017 she had 40 grandchildren. She was known across England and Ireland as Queen of the Gypsies. Members of the traveller community in Ireland and the UK travelled to Manchester to pay their respects to Ellen.

Spain
Carmen Amaya who was born in 1918 in the slums of Barcelona, Spain became the greatest Flamenco dancer of her generation. She was also known as the Queen of the Gypsies. She died in 1963 of kidney failure and was originally buried in her hometown of Bagur. Her body was later transferred to the family tomb of her husband, Juan Antonio Aguero, in the cemetery of Ciriego, Santander, Spain. The grave is not marked with her name as the family wished to prevent it from becoming an attraction for gypsies.

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A monument of Carmen posed in traditional Flamenco dress is located at the Jardins de Joan Brossa in Montjuïc, Barcelona.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The term ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was initiated when President Bill Clinton signed a law regarding the service of homosexuals in the military, which directed military personnel to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, don’t harass.’

Leonard P. Matlovich was an Air Force sergeant who served three tours of duty in Vietnam and was gravely wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and two Air Force Commendation medals for gallantry under fire and exemplary service. Yet, despite his service, he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force after confessing his sexuality to his commanding officer. His struggle to receive an honourable discharge, rather than the general discharge advocated by the Air Force, triggered a national movement regarding gay rights especially in the military.

Knowing that he had AIDS at a time when it was a death sentence, he designed his own headstone with the idea that it would stand as a memorial for all gay veterans.

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His design of a black reflective surface replicating the Vietnam War Memorial incorporated two triangles referencing the pink triangle which was a symbol sewn on the clothes of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. The left triangle pointing downward is a symbol of defeat. It is highlighted with the legend, ‘Never Again.’ The upward pointing triangle on the right is a symbol of victory with the phrase, ‘Never Forget.’ Although the dates of his birth and death are inscribed on the headstone, his name (Matlovich) is only inscribed at the foot of the memorial.

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As an activist for Gay Rights, his words are inscribed on his headstone: ‘When I Was In The Military They Gave Me A Medal For Killing Two Men And A Discharge For Loving One.’ Although eligible to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery he chose to be interred in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC. “I believe we must be the same activists in our deaths that we were in our lives,” Leonard Matlovich. A gay veteran’s memorial service is held at his grave every Veteran’s Day.

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Members of American Veterans for Equal Rights have purchased adjoining plots with the intention of creating an LGBT veterans memorial.

This marker for Marine Corps veteran and activist Tom Swann is located near Matlovich’s grave. Swann won a lawsuit against the Navy for discrimination against him as a civilian employee after they learned he was gay. He also led the creation of a memorial for LGBT veterans in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs. Never Give Up Hope Or Give In To Discrimination.

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Michael William Hildebrand’s stone does not state that he is gay. However, the use of the pink triangle and the proximity to Matlovich’s grave suggests such. An inscription reads, “It Was Said Of Him That He Had The Gift To Give Love To Those Who Felt Unloved.”

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Abandoned and Forgotten

Overgrown and abandoned cemeteries emote a special kind of sadness.

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Give joy or grief, give ease or pain
Take life or friends away
But let me find them all again
In one eternal day.   1862

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Reader remember dye thou must
And after Death return to Dust
Therefore repent, repent in time
The Grave next opened nay be thine.

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To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.  1939

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Tho lost to sight
To memory clear

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The parish of Saint Bernard, New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

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Lights are from our household gone
Voices we loved are stilled
Places are vacant at our home
Which never can be filled.

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Abide with me
Fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens
Lord with me abide.

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Death is swallowed up in victory.

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Death severs yet unites. 1912

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Only goodnight beloved not farewell. 1938

They Fell Asleep

I discovered this cross and markers in the older section of the New Cemetery, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. It is surrounded by hewn stone with engraved names and dates of members of the Mushet family. As the markers are relatively new they must represent broken or damaged headstones which have been removed.

The patriarch was William born in 1821. He married Robina Macfarlane who was born on August 28 1835.

William Mushet
Fell Asleep
April 1879
Robina Macfarlane
His Wife
Fell Asleep April 1911
Aged 77

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George Fred
Rests In India
Aged 22
June 29th 1878

They celebrated the births of 9 children.

  1. George Frederick was born on 1 May 1856 and christened on 25 May 1856. He died on 29 June1878, and is buried in Bombay (Mumbai)
  2. John Macfarlane was born 15 November 1857
  3. Janet Gray was born in 1858 and baptised on 16 January 1859
  4. William was born in 1861 and christened on 1 June
  5. Louisa Cecilia Mushet was born in 1863 and christened on 3 May
  6. Elizabeth Jane was born in 1864 and christened 13 December. Her stone is not visible in the images
  7. William Ernest. A second son born in 1871 was also named William. Given names followed a traditional naming pattern in Scotland by honouring members of the family. On occasion the same name was given to more than one child, if the first child had died, in order to perpetuate the name within the family. William Ernest was christened on 3 September.
  8. David Henry Cadell was born 25 April 1874-1881 and christened on 5 July
  9. Gerald was christened on11 February 1876. He died in 1906. His stone is not visible in the images

Thou Who Art The Hearer Of Prayer
All Flesh Shall Come Unto Thee
For Thine Is The Kingdom, The Power
And The Glory For Ever. Amen

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Willie Fell Asleep
Aged 3 ¼ Years
Dec 1864

David Henry Cadell
Fell Asleep
1871

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Janet Gray Mushet
Wife Of
John Morison
Of Newbattle
Fell Asleep 1939

Louisa Cecilia Mushet
Wife Of Rutherford Morison
Fell Asleep February 1904

Thanks Be To God Which Giveth Us The Victory
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ

Caged Graves

Known as Mortsafes in Britain, already documented in the post Body Snatchers, these parallel iron bars are known as caged graves in the USA. Legends abound for the reasoning behind the ‘cages’ such as wolves digging up the recently buried, or a restraint against the undead and vampires. However, it was most likely a deterrent to body snatchers hired to provide fresh corpses to anatomists in Medical school.

Mt. Zion Graveyard, referred to locally as the Hooded Graves Cemetery, in Franklin Township, Catawissa, Columbia County, PA, contains several caged graves.

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On 18 June 1852, Sarah Ann Boone died at age 22 years. A small marker carved with the initials S.A.B. identifies her grave which is protected by a cast iron cage with ogee roof and two winged eagles on the peaks (eagles symbolize salvation). A headstone reveals several details of the woman known as Sarah.

Sarah Ann
Consort Of
Ransloe Boone
Daughter Of Lloyd Frances Thomas
Entered Into Rest
June 18, 1852
Aged 22 Years 6 Mos 9 Days

Lo! Where This Silent Marble Weeps
A Friend, A Wife, A Mother Sleeps

The image of an open bible represents resurrection through scripture, and the drapery with frills and tassels denotes mourning.

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Premature Burial

 

In 16th century England, land for burial was sparse. Coffins were dug up and bones taken to the bone-house so that the grave could be reused. Upon opening the coffins, it was noticed that several had scratch marks on the inside. The realization that people were being buried whilst still alive led to the practise of tying a string on the wrist of the corpse, which was attached to a bell above ground, while a sentry sat in the cemetery overnight. This procedure generated several expressions which we use today: ‘saved by the bell’, ‘dead ringer’ and ‘the graveyard shift’.

It also led to a legend known as the ‘Lady with the Ring’. The story relates that a woman was buried while wearing a valuable wedding ring. Shortly after the burial, a grave robber intent on stealing the ring opened the grave. Unable to remove the ring he decided to cut off the finger with a knife, which caused the woman to awaken, surprising the robber. Versions of the story have been found to exist in almost every European country.

In Shankill Graveyard, Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland is the grave of Margorie McCall who it is believed was the victim of a premature burial. Margorie was wed to Dr. John McCall. They lived in Church Place, Lurgan.

margorie-mccall-gravestone

Margorie fell ill and died in 1705 and was hastily buried to prevent the spread of the disease. The story continues with the attempted theft of the ring……when the robbers fled, Margorie climbed out of the grave and returned home. When she knocked on the door, her husband dropped dead of shock and was buried in the very grave she had just vacated.

The Public Records Office in Northern Ireland (PRONI) contains death records for nine Margorie McCalls in Lurgan, three of whom were married to a John McCall. However, no record is held of the death in 1705.

In the 1860s a local stonemason by the name of William Graham created a marker bearing the inscription Margorie McCall Lived Once, Buried Twice. The marker was erected at the base of Dr. John McCall’s gravestone in Shankill cemetery.

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Died Once Buried Twice

There lowly beneath lonely sod,
A lady twice entombed,
Tradition has it noised abroad,
She was exhumed alive.

Her precious ring her finger bore,
From her bright wedding day;
And in death likewise wore
When buried in the clay.

But a foul thief to steal the ring,
Did cast the clay aside
And he to life did quickly bring
She who lately died.

For he should cut the finger round,
To gain the golden prize,
But when the blood flowed from the wound
She spoke and did arise.

And straight away to her home did go
In her dead robes so white;
Like a wandering spirit free from woe,
But doomed to roam at night.

And when she reached her husbands door,
She gave her well known knock
An he fell senseless to the floor,
Un-nerved by the strange shock.

Her children knew here gentle voice
And flew to her embrace;
And all the neighbours did rejoice,
But marvelled at the case.

But death at last took here away,
As he will sure take all
And not again to Judgement Day
Shall Rise Margery McCaull.. 

 

Mors Ianua Vitae: Death is the gate of life