Friday, May 22, 2009

And now for something completely different...

A few weeks ago, I moved some old fencing and a large gate from behind my garage. I used the gate as part of my tomato bed (we're going to try to train the tomatoes to climb and grow them vertically this year.)

This past weekend, I was doing some additional yard work, pulling up a path of grass and weeds, or truthfully, weeds and some grass, from the front yard to create a path to lay some slate stepping stones (came out really nice so far, btw.) I didn't know what to do with the sod I'd cut out so I decided to dump it behind the garage, where I'll eventually either spread the pile out or move it to the street when we have bulk pick-up this summer. After dumping the second wheelbarrow full, I reached down and pulled a big clump of weeks from in front of and the top of what looked like a big rock that was up against the back wall of the garage. (the gate had been resting on top of it for who knows how least the past four years, since we've been in the house that long.)

Well, it wasn't just any ol' rock, it turns out.

That looks a lot like a grave marker to me, right? So I leaned in a little more...

Mother an Baby. Um, this was getting a little interesting.

There are no other inscriptions on the stone. Just "Mother and Baby." Needless to say (and yet I'm doing it anyway) I was a little freaked out, but after taking these pictures and showing the stone to Robyn and a couple of friends who came over for diner that night, I came up with a few theories.

  1. There were two people buried in my back yard.

  2. My house (or one nearby) used to be occupied by a stone cutter, who left this scrap laying around.

  3. Someone, at some point, stole this from somewhere (possibly, I admit, the least formed theory.)

The fact that it only said Mother and Baby for some reason made me less likely to believe theory number one and lean more toward some version of number two, that this was, at least, a left over stone that had never been used. I mean, don't people generally put names on markers? I suppose that it could be for a Jane Doe or something, but still. I'd prefer to think that there's no one buried there, and the position of the stone, conveniently moved against the back wall of the garage, indicates strongly that it had been moved. So, not knowing where it had originally been, I decided not to take a shovel to the whole yard looking for skeletons (yet.)

But, being the slightly morbid person that I am (did you not know that about me?) I couldn't stop thinking about the stone, and what a cool conversation piece it would be displayed somewhere prominently in my yard. Perhaps at the head of a mound of dirt or something. You know, with some tasteful flowers? No?

So, anyway. On Wednesday, I decided to move the stone around the garage and into my back yard.

Stones are heavy. I just thought I'd get that said. I had to really work to get it into the wheelbarrow so I could wheel it around to the front of the garage. And when I did get it in, and I had to flip it over to do so, I saw this...

Those are inscriptions. Look closer...

Well, now I was intrigued. I mean, it's not every day that you find an old grave marker just laying about your back yard, right? Unless, of course, you live next to (or in) a cemetery, in which case it probably is every day that you find grave markers in your yard; or if, perhaps, you live in a Wes Craven movie or Stephen King novel, in which case, now would have been the time to run. Fast.

Since I live in neither a cemetery (that I know of) nor a horror movie or novel (that I know of) I was surprised.

I tried to brush as much of that dirt off as I could to read the stone. The engravings were faded to say the least, and more so toward the bottom. So, I decided to try to "rub" the stone (get your mind out of the gutter.) Unfortunately, not being a gravestone rubbing hobbyist (there are such things), I didn't have the proper equipment. I found a large post it note presentation pad in the basement, and a couple of pencils and got this...

[I have to tell you, something about seeing the words "George W" on a gravestone sent a nice little wave of pleasure, or anticipation through me, though I'm not sure why (in case the Secret Service sees this...)]

From what I can read, this is what's written:
July 2, 1861
Oct 23, 1899
Born [?] 22, [?]
I plan on getting some proper materials and trying a rubbing again this weekend. I really think that I should be able to read more if I do it right.
My guess so far? Deliah L was the wife of a J A Smith and they had a son, George W. I'm pretty sure that both Deliah and George died in 1899, I assume at nearly the same time since there is the one marker.
Our house was built in 1902, three years after Deliah (and I think George) died. It's possible that the grave was on the property somewhere that was subdivided out to build our house and the stone was found at some later point.
It's also possible, I guess, that it was never used at all. Maybe something is misspelled and they cast this aside for a correct stone. But I have the feeling not.
Who they were, I hope to find out. How their stone ended up holding up an old gate in my back yard, I don't know.I think some research is in order. If you have any suggestions or ideas, feel free to leave a comment or two. I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

GenghisKhan said...

Popped over from FC--crazy grave marker story! Check city/county records for old cemeteries or perhaps it was a private burial. Weird!

As to your "boring" 100MoN, perhaps do it in a chicken suit? Or, maybe someone in a cheese suit followed by someone in a mouse suit followed by someone in a cat suit (hmmm, that one could be interesting...) followed by someone in a dog suit and so on and so on... ;o)