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GUEST,Neil D BS: Gravestone reading (54* d) RE: BS: Gravestone reading 08 Oct 10

Of course it is fun to see graves of famous people. The Colonial cemetery in Philadelphia covers one city block yet contains the graves of 5 signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin. The one in Savannah has a grave that has contained two sets of remains at different times. They were both Revolutionary war generals, one from each side. But even if there are no famous people, visiting cemeteries is a great way to learn the history of an area. The death dates on the oldest stones will give you a good idea of when an area was first being settled and you can learn who were the prominent families, when there might have been yellow fever or cholera epidemics and how the area was represented in various wars.
   There is a fascinating cemetery about 30 miles from where I live in a small town called Gnadenhutten, which was a Moravian missionary village in the 1700s. It contains a piece of the earliest tombstone in Ohio as well as a 50 foot tall memorial to the Christian Native Americans who were massacred there by U.S. troops during the Revolution. When President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the monument he called it the most shameful incident in American military history. While snooping around the old part of the cemetery I noticed several gravestones from 35- 40 years after the massacre that noted the persons service in the Washington Co. Pa. militia which just happened to be the same unit that had perpetrated the murders. This means that after the war was over and the area was opened to white settlement these guys moved their families 50 miles to the west in order to settle on the exact spot where they had beaten in the heads of innocent, non-resisting old men, women and children with a cooper's mallet. Talk about a lack of remorse.
   Here's a tip for recording old and worn gravestones that I learned from a woman who does a lot of genealogy research. It's a better alternative to doing rubbings. Spray the front of the marker with shaving cream and then squeegee it off. The squeegee will remove the cream from the flat area but leave it in the indentations shallow as they might be. Then simply take a photo of the stone and the everything will be entirely legible, more than from a rubbing. You can then get rid of the rest of the shaving cream with a damp rag.

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