Graveyards and Epitaphs
Odd & Interesting

Graveyards and Epitaphs

Welcome to my bonus Halloween post! Do you like cemeteries and graveyards? Do you know the difference between the two? A graveyard adjoins a church. Anyway, my husband and I like cemeteries and graveyards, especially older ones with cool old gravestones. I sometimes search the newspapers for the story beneath the stone with some surprising results. For example, a father, mother, and son were all buried the same day and I imagined their deaths were caused by a car accident. Wrong! After a perfectly ordinary evening of playing cards, the father killed his wife and son and every animal on the property, drained the water tanks, and in the morning locked the gate to his farm before setting fire to every building. The fire department was delayed getting to the fires because the gate was locked and when they broke through, there was no water. He had effectively destroyed his whole family and everything they owned. His body was found in one of the buildings.

The Weekly Herald
Wetumpka, Alabama
April 25, 1901

An Enigmatical and Mysterious Epitaph

In the old Dutch village of New Paltz, Ulster County, NY, a few miles from Lake Mohonk, there is an old Huguenot graveyard with many old gravestones still standing. Upon one tombstone is a curious inscription. Many people, among them historians, ministers, and judges, have studied this gravestone and as yet have failed to decipher the inscription.

The Ancient City
January 14, 1854

A Letter to the Dead

The following curious incident is reported from Lower Bavaria: A peasant died and was laid out for burial. His niece, who lived in the house, when she believed no one saw her, stealthily pinned a letter to the grave clothes. The letter was addressed to her mother who died fourteen years ago and it was the poor woman’s belief that her uncle would find means to deliver it in the land of the dead. It is to the following purpose:

Dear Mother, as there is now such a good opportunity, I send you this little letter with the request that you cause me to dream three numbers in the lottery for I suppose you know that I am very badly off. It may be that this paper gets rotten but as nothing is impossible with got, please to entreat our Lord and give me news o fate 4 numbers which are sure to win. I remain your faithful daughter, Maria.

The Idaho Statesman
Boise City, Idaho
January 20, 1898

Wife of Judge Graper Escapes A Live Burial

Toledo, Ohio — Residents of East Toledo are much overwrought about a story that came to light today. Mrs. John Graper was supposed to have died Friday night. Later events prove it to have been a case of suspended animation. This is the story told by a daughter of Mrs. Graper.

“Father and mother quarrel and he struck her on the head with a stick. She fell to the floor and when picked up was unconscious. She was later pronounced dead by a physician. She was prepared for burial but on Sunday afternoon one of the family noticed color in her face. Later on, she suddenly arose in her coffin, was assisted to a bed, and is now on a fair road to recovery.

“When we took mother from the coffin, she was very much dazed and though it was still Friday, having no recollection of the trouble which nearly ended fatally. We merely told her what day it was but made no other explanations.

“We shall not have our father arrested now as that would let mother into the secret of it all, and we should prefer to keep her from knowing any more about it. Father is very repentant and has made all sorts of promises for the future.”

The Pantagraph
Bloomington, Illinois
January 24, 1866

Green Plums

A friend has handed us the following which was transcribed from a tombstone in East Tennessee by a friend of his:
“She lived a life of virtue and died of the cholera morbus caused by eating green plums, in the full hope of a blessed immortality, at the age of 21 years, 7 months, and 16 days.”

The Bismarck Tribune
Bismarck, North Dakota
June 18, 1880

Old Churchyard Bits

The old graveyard attached to the Presbyterian church at Bound Brook, New Jersey, contains some venerable tombstones, many of which are crumbling today. Some of the inscriptions as so well worthy of note that we have carefully copied them. The obituary bard seems to have been a native of Bound Brook.

Let sorrow for Eliza’s early doom
No more in silence sigh
There is hope beyond the tomb
Bids every tear to be dry.

In memory of Adam Jobs, March 10, 1798
O let not selfish love presume
To drop a sigh o’er Job’s tomb
While sad regrets our mind employ
He triumphs in a world of joy.

Joseph Blackford
died 1804
44th year of age
Here lies the patron of his time
Blackford expired in his prime
Who three years short of 47
Was found full ripe and fit for heaven
But for our loss weren’t in my power
I’d weep an everlasting shower.

In memory of a man and wife
John A. Austen and Nancy Oliver
Twenty-sixth of January 1831
She closed her life.
29 Dec. 1846 he followed her.
She lived a Christian many years
And died aged sixty-one.
Seventy-nine his age appears
Both underneath this stone.

No more the pleasant child is seen
To please the parents’ eye
The tender plant so fresh and green
Is in eternity.
1808 2 yr. 5 ms. 14 dy.

Dr. Jona. F. Morrie. 4, 13, 1810
My faithful spouse and children dear
Come hither and shed the cordial tear
Then quietly turn unto the Lord
And strive to ensure the great reward.
For the loss of a child that is dear
No greater consolation can be given
For Christ has pointed out clear
Of such is the kingdom of heaven.

On the next tombstone to the left is the following economical inscription:
Look to my right and see
A verse that applies to me.

The Idaho Statesman
Boise City, Idaho
January 19, 1898

A Quaint Epitaph

The following epitaph is over a grave in the Caroline Islands:

Sacred to Wilm. Collis
Boat Steerer of the SHIP
SaiNT george of New BED
ford who By the Will of
Almitey god
was siviriliery injured by a
off this Iland on
18 March 1860
also to
Pedro Sabbanas of Guam
4th MaTE drouwned on
the SAME Date his
Back broken by WHALE

Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
August 7, 1875

Last Request

The last request of a dying man in Virginia was that, “he should be buried with his head eighteen inches higher than his feet; that his cane and sheepskin should be placed in his coffin with him, and the the coffin should be carefully wrapped up in a blanket.”

The Olsburg Gazette
Olsburg, Kansas
June 2, 1905

Gruesome Parlor Ornaments

In New England 100 years ago it was by no means uncommon for people to provide their coffins long before their death and keep the same in their houses where they could see them every day.

Another queer custom that prevailed in this section of Maine down to a comparatively recent date was that of removing the plate from the coffin after the funeral and just before the body was lowered into the grave and keeping it in the best room in the house month the ornaments and bric-a-brac. The writer saw one of these gruesome exhibits on the mantel of a Lincolnville parlor not more than twenty-five years ago.

The Seattle Star
Seattle, Washington
September 23, 1899

Fortune From A Graveyard

Frank McLean is probably the only public man who has made a fortune out of a graveyard. Ten years ago he bought at a low price the old Holmean cemetery in the fashionable northwest part of the town and has since, after removing the dead and grading and sodding the land, been selling it off in lots at about a hundred percent profit.

The Semiweekly Billings Gazette
Billings, Montana
April 28, 1899

Graveyards in China

The wife of an American naval officer stationed at Tien-tsin writes thus to a friend in Baltimore: “The trip by train from the landing to Then-tsin takes about an hour and a half. The cars are not palatial but they are comfortable. When you land, hundreds of coolies besiege you for your baggage. You wonder how it ever reaches its destination in safety. The trip is somewhat interesting but rather desolate to take alone. You pass through miles of graveyards. There are thousands of mounds without a sign of green grass or green leaf. China seems to be one vast graveyard for they bury their dead anywhere they wish. They bury in large coffins placed on the surface of the ground, covered over with mud and earth. This is blown and washed away and then the coffins are exposed to view. A few miles from the railroad station on the river you come to trees and vegetation. It reminds you of some of the poor land that some of our railroads at home go through.”

Featured photo from Pixabay.


  • Angela November 30, 2017 at 2:02 PM

    I like old graveyards, too. It’s interesting (and sad) to see headstones of small children. Long ago, children didn’t always live until adulthood.

    • KarenB December 14, 2017 at 7:02 AM

      Sometimes families lost more than one child and it is really sad to see a number of little headstones lined up in a family plot. Losing one granddaughter was painful enough for me.


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