14 December 2010

Tombstone Tuesday--Homemade Stones

I have previously posted the picture of my paternal grandmother's fathers stone when I posted about Curtice cemetery.  I came across it here at the library, when a cemetery buff brought in files of pictures he had taken of many county cemeteries.  That is how we obtained the bulk of the pictures we have in our files.
As Sandy was going through the pictures and saving them, she called out to ask I knew a C J Cross, knowing that was a family name.  I mulled it over and was ready to say no when I remembered GGrandpa Jesse.  And, by golly, there was his stone.  I was thrilled.  And I think what I enjoyed most was the fact that it was a handmade stone. 
I love the stones that have been hand crafted. Maybe its the knitter/spinner/weaver in me. More modern monuments are often made of wood and iron.  But there is nothing like cement or stone for a memorial with staying power.  Maybe not as long as "store bought" granite, but they still have a nice permanence.  As I commented later on Curtice and another north county cemetery, many in the are had stones that appeared to be made of silver painted cement.  GGrandpa Jesse's was the only one with hand carved engraving.  I wonder if it was because, after divorcing my GGrandma Carrie, many of his children had little to do with him, and funds for a stone may have been tight.
That was the case for my Great Aunt Lyla's stone.  Survived only by a step-son who didn't bother putting a stone on her grave, my father crafted this one.  The  little aluminum plaque is there (left by the funeral home?  cemetery?) and is almost easier to read, but Dad made the cement slab and engraved it by embedding  little wooden letters into the cement.  You can see a bit of the wood still left in the 9 and second 1 of the death date of 1981.  Yeah, Dad didn't exactly get the lettering level, but at least its a memorial marker.
This next is not a marker, but rather a form of urn.  My maternal grandmother had one for years by the front door.  It is what I always called a stone basket. I just love them. The cement form is encrusted with stones around the body and over the handle of the basket.  I noticed several of these in the cemetery in Chase Michigan, where many of my mother's family are resting, as well as one or two in Copmish Michigan, where another branch of her mother's family is located.
Now I have no idea who Marilla Ives is.  I am not even sure where this picture was taken, although, judging by the surrounding pictures, I suspect it was taken the day my cousin and I went cemetery hopping to all the Gilbert family cemeteries.  I think this was from one of the Chester township, Ottawa county, Michigan cemeteries.  And, since Marilla is not a relative, I would guess that I just liked this stone and that was why I took the picture.  The construction puzzles me.  The plaque on top is part of the cement, and is very neatly and evenly engraved.  The surrounding stones on the top are more exposed, while the ones around the base look like they were pressed against a mold and the cement poured around them.  Is it solid stone/cement all the way through?  The top stones could have been added later with cement that formed the top engraving.  All in all, a lovely stone.
It really makes me grind my teeth to think that township officials for a local cemetery want to do away with such homemade monuments.  Looking at these and thinking of the current ones made from wrought iron, or marine-finished lumber, I feel sad to think that these more unique memorials may become a thing of the past.

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