Archive for the 'Gravestone' Category

Tombstone Tuesday | Asa Benjamin

My 4th great grandfather, Asa Benjamin is buried in the Hall Rd. (Sam Brown) Cemetery in Pierpont, Ashtabula Co., Ohio.

Asa was born in Preston, New London Co., CT in October of 1754. His second great grandfather, John Benjamin, came to America in 1632 as part of the Puritan Great Migration from England.

Asa enlisted in the Revolutionary War at Worthington, MA on May 4, 1775.  He served eight months as a private in Captain Evenezer Webber’s Co., 8th Regiment, Continental Infantry, commanded by Col. John Fellows and was discharged on December 23, 1775.  He re-enlisted and was discharged six times from first enlistment to the end of the war in 1783.  During that time, he transferred to Valley Forge, PA on March 19, 1778 to the Commander-in-Chief’s (General George Washington’s) Guard.

After serving for a few months, Asa returned home.  When the need occurred, he re-enlisted, earning the rank of lieutenant by the end of the war. He died in Pierpont on December 28, 1825.

Benjamin Family Plot (click to enlarge)

Asa Benjamin Gravestone (click to enlarge)

Tombstone Tuesday | Russell Ormsbee

Russell Ormsbee

Russell M. Ormsbee was born in Greenfield, Saratoga Co., NY on October 23, 1908.

He was the family “publicity man”. Early in life, he developed the habit of making records and preserving them, and inspiring his descendants to do the same. I take that inspiration to heart and owe him a lot of gratitude! It’s also neat that the name “Russell” is a prominent name in my recent family, being used in the last four generations, beginning with my grandfather.

He died on June 20, 1892 and is buried in the Ormsbee Family Cemetery, near Porter Corners, in Saratoga Co.

*This photo was taken by a Find A Grave volunteer

Tombstone Tuesday | Leonhard and Katherine Seybold

Leonhard and Katherine (Protz) Seybold stone

Leonhard and Katherine (Protz) Seybold stone

My 2nd great grandparents, Leonhard and Katherine Seybold, came to America from Germany in 1857. They settled on their homestead in Brillion Twp., Calumet County, Wisconsin in 1864. They are buried in Forest Home Cemetery, which is a few miles from where they farmed.

1893 Plat Map of Brillion Twp. showing Seybold Homestead and Forest Home Cemetery

1893 Plat Map of Brillion Twp. showing the Seybold Homestead and Forest Home Cemetery (Click to Enlarge)

Joseph and Sadie Voiland – Sacred Heart Cemetery, Manawa, Waupaca Co., WI

My great grandparents, Joseph and Sadie (Romond) Voiland arrived in New York City from France on May 27, 1857, only a couple of months after they were married. They traveled to Buffalo, and remained there until passage through the Great Lakes could be obtained.  They finally arrived in Little Wolf Township, Waupaca Co., WI in December of 1857.

An 1889 plat map shows the 80 acre Joseph Voiland farm a mile or two east of Bear Lake in Royalton Township, Waupaca Co.  They sold the farm in 1903 and moved to the village of Royalton.


After Sadie’s death in 1908, Joseph moved to Clintonville, Waupaca Co. and lived with his daughter’s family. Joseph and Sadie are buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Manawa, Waupaca Co.

Our family name of “Voiland” was change to “Weller”. More about that can be read here.

Pvt. Lee George Bobb | May 19, 1925 – March 13, 1945

Lee George Bobb was killed in action in Germany on March 13, 1945. He was a native of Shawano, WI. Lee is my 1st cousin, once removed. Before  his induction into the armed forces in February, 1944, he worked for the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. in Clintonville, WI.

He left for Fort Sheridan, IL on June 27, 1944, then was sent to Camp Blanding, FL, and later to Fort Meade, MD. Lee went overseas with the infantry in December, 1944. He was killed shortly after his unit crossed the Rhine river in the invasion of Germany.



Lee was originally buried in the US Military Cemetery #1, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, until the war in Europe ended. He was then re-buried in the Bobb family plot in St. Rose Cemetery, Clintonville.

Fuhrmann Stone – St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Johnsburg, Fond du Lac Co., WI

This is the Fuhrmann family stone in St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Johnsburg, Fond du Lac Co., WI. Buried here are my 2nd great grandparents, Anton and Maria Katherine (Michels) Fuhrmann and two of their sons, Peter and John. Anton emigrated from Germany in 1845.


We’ve always appreciated the uniqueness of the stone – a broken piller, symbolizing the deaths of the pillars of the family, forms the top of the stone, with the initials “AF” carved on the pillar’s top.


Cato Heights Cemetery – Cato, Manitowoc Co., WI

My 2nd great grandfather, Nelson Harris, his wife Louisa Cleveland, and their family came to Cato, WI in 1856. He opened a saw mill and built a beautiful home. In the early 1860’s, Nelson and Louisa donated some of their land for the building of a Presbyterian Church and a cemetery. It is the final resting place of many of Cato’s early settlers.

1878 Cato Plat Map

1878 Cato Plat Map showing Cato Heights Cemetery

The first person to die in Cato was supposedly Nelson’s father, John Earl Harris – “The death of Harris, an old gentleman, was supposedly the first death”. John Earl was born in Greenfield, Saratoga Co., NY on June 15, 1798. He died on January 6, 1855.

John Earl Harris

John Earl Harris

Nancy (Ormsbee) Harris

Nancy (Ormsbee) Harris

John Earl Harris and his wife, Nancy Ormsbee are both buried in Cato Heights Cemetery. She was born in Barrington, Bristol Co., RI on April 6, 1796 and died on May 28, 1881 in Greenleaf, Brown Co., WI.

Cato Heights Cemetery - 2007

Cato Heights Cemetery - 2007

The church building is no longer there. The cemetery, however, is well maintained. It is surrounded by the beautiful farmland that once belonged to my Harris family.

Simon and Deborah Newcomb

Simon Newcomb and his wife Deborah moved to Lebanon, New London Co., CT in 1713. The were married about 1687 in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, where they resided at the time. He was a farmer and landowner in Lebanon. Simon took the Freeman’s Oath at Lebanon and was elected highway surveyor in 1714.

The graves of Simon and Deborah, and those of all the Newcombs interred in the Old Cemetery (also known as Trumbull Cemetery), are but a few feet from the tomb of the Trumbull family, and in a westerly and southwesterly direction. This colonial cemetery also contains the graves of many of the founders of our nation, including Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull and William Williams, signer of the Declaration of Independence.


Old Cemetery (Trumbull Cemetery)


Old Cemetery (Trumbull Cemetery)

Many of the tombstones were carved by Obadiah Wheeler of Lebanon, who was considered the greatest of the rural carvers in the area. There are 82 of his stones in this cemetery as well as stones by many other fine carvers, including John Huntington, Benjamin Collins, Lebbeus Kimball, the Manning family, and the old master John Hartshorne.

Wheeler’s early stones somewhat resemble those of John Hartshorne in being three-lobed on the top and in having framed faces and elongate straight noses. They have a series of elaborate curls beside the face rather than wings and usually some form of diamond or triangle border design. Later Wheeler stones take several different styles of wings which are sometimes very elaborate. Wheeler faces are characterized by slender, aristocratic noses, almond eyes, and a small smiling or frowning mouth. In later stones the eyes are closed or squinting in a rather beatific expression. Some of his most elaborate stones have faces in strong relief; finials are usually six- or eight-rayed rosettes. There is usually a horizontal row of designs below the face and above the legend consisting of a central heart or triangle and lateral stemmed rosettes and circles. Wheeler footstones are very distinctive, many of them large ellipses and others great circles with large six-rayed rosettes within. No Wheeler stone is later than 1749. His work is most abundant and varied in Lebanon and Norwichtown, but there are beautiful stones in Windham and Mansfield and isolated stones occur as far north as Union and Putnam and on the coast in the old Mystic Whitehall burying ground. Wheeler is often considered the greatest of all eastern Connecticut carvers. (From: Slater, James A. The Colonial Burying Grounds of Eastern Connecticut and the Men Who Made Them. Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts & Sciences, vol. 21. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1987.)

Simon and Deborah each have a headstone and a footstone. These are Simon Newcomb’s (1665 – 1743) stones:

Simon Newcomb Headstone

Simon Newcomb Headstone

Simon Newcomb Footstone

Simon Newcomb Footstone

And these are Deborah Newcomb’s (1664 – 1756):

Deborah Newcomb Headstone

Deborah Newcomb Headstone

Deborah Newcomb Footstone

Deborah Newcomb Footstone

May Belle Cook

She was only 16 when she died. May Belle Cook was born in New Orleans, LA on July 23, 1907. Her mother, May Belle Harris, is my grandmother’s oldest sister. So, she is my first cousin once removed. We were always told that she passed away as a result of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Her story always intrigued me. All we had was the family story and this picture. May Belle is on the far right.


I began to wonder if the story was correct. The flu pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920. May Belle died in Omaha, NE on November 5, 1923. That death year didn’t make sense if she indeed died from the flu. So, I obtained her death certificate from the state of Nebraska. On it, the death date was confirmed and the cause of death was listed as diphtheria. Diphtheria was a dreaded disease in the 1920s. There were an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 cases per year in the US, causing 13,000 to 15,000 deaths per year. She had only been sick for a couple of weeks. Maybe she did have the flu, at one time, and her health was compromised because of it. I don’t think we will ever really know for sure. May Belle’s death certificate also indicated her burial was in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Omaha.

Through the help of a Find A Grave Volunteer, I now have this photo of her tombstone.


It’s sad that someone so young was taken so suddenly. I’m glad to be able to have some answers and know where she rests.

“English” Cemetery, Florence, Italy


The Protestant Cemetery of Florence, called the “English” Cemetery, is located in Florence, Italy. Because it was a Protestant burial site, it was placed outside the medieval city walls. The cemetery stood on the top of a hill where Florentines would go in the early 19th century to watch ball games played on the adjoining piece of flat land.

In 1827, the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church purchased the land. It was enlarged in 1860, after the purchase of an additional parcel of land. It is called the “English” Cemetery because the majority of the tombs belonged to English people who resided and died in Florence.

The layout of the cemetery is simple – two main gravel paths running at right angles to each other, with a column erected by Frederick William of Prussia in 1858 at the point where the two paths meet. The graves are not laid out in regular ordered rows as in Catholic cemeteries, but in a romantically landscaped manner, creating a natural feel that is accentuated by the lie of the land and the presence of a variety of trees and shrubs. It’s present oval shape came about in 1870 as part of the “Florence Capital” plan. This included the building of city ring roads, the creation of the artist district and various works of landscaping, with the cemetery standing as an island at the center.

The cemetery closed in 1877 when Florence became the capital of Italy and the medieval walls came down. Roman Law made it illegal to bury within city limits. For a century and a quarter, it remained locked and the tombs neglected.  It opened to the public eight years ago, and restoration funds are being actively raised.  Although no bodies can be buried there, ashes still can.

For many years the entire area was doused with weed killer, but today the effort is to restore the cemetery to the 19th-century garden it once was. Weeding is done by hand to protect the tombs, and replanting is being carefully managed.

Among the well-known buried there are the poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, sculptor Hiram Powers, and English novelist Frances Trollope. Richard Hildreth, an American journalist, historian and anti-slavery activist, is also buried in the English Cemetery.


He is a distant cousin of mine. Hildreth was born on June 28, 1807 in Deerfield, MA. He graduated from Harvard, studied law at Newburyport and became a lawyer.

Having gone to the South in 1834, for the benefit of his health, he was led by what he witnessed of the evils of slavery (chiefly in Florida) to write the anti-slavery novel The Slave: or Memoirs of Archy Moore. It is almost certainly the first anti-slavery novel published in America. His chief work, however, was The History of the United States. The history is notable for its painstaking accuracy and candor.

Poor health forced Hildreth to retire from his writing career in 1860. In 1865 he moved to Florence, where he died on July 11th.

**The above cemetery photo is attributed to Samuli Lintula and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

The Association of Graveyard Rabbits