I’ve been craving a sweet treat lately, so I think it’s time for another cemetery recipe! Peaches are coming into season right now so I thought why not try O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler? This tasty treat would also go well with a side of ice cream. It is summer after all!
O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler recipe can be found on the gravestone of O’Neal Bogan “Peony” Watson, in New Ebenezer Cemetery in Castor, Louisiana. O’Neal’s son Charlie McBride loves this family recipe so much, that he had it inscribed on his Mother’s grave after she passed away in 2005. He said “It really is just a great recipe”.1 In an article for the Sault Lake Tribune, Charlie reminisced about memories that making this recipe brought up. It’s a perfect example of how these cemetery recipes are a sweet way to remember our loved ones.
Here is the recipe, as inscribed on the gravestone:
O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler
1 c. Flour
2/3 c. Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 c. Butter
1/4 tsp. Salt
Mix ingredients. Add 3/4 c. Milk.
Put fruit into pan. Pour on topping.
Bake at 350’ until done.
I always find it interesting how descriptive or nondescriptive recipes found on gravestones can be. I realize it might be too expensive to inscribe too much text on a stone. I do appreciate how creative some authors get to skirt around that. This recipe is a short and sweet one, pun intended. The only things I found missing was the amount of fruit, and how long to bake it for.
Rosie Grant over at GhostlyArchive, of TikTok fame, used 1 can of whole peaches that she cubed up, so I did something similar and used 1 big can of sliced peaches. I drained the peaches before putting them in the pan and tried to make sure they were evenly distributed.
I followed the recipe as closely as possible, mixing the dry ingredients first, then adding the milk. I poured on the topping as evenly as I could, now it was time for it to go into the oven. The recipe says to bake it at 350’ “until done”. I wasn’t sure how long that should be, so I started with a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes it wasn’t looking cooked through, so I left it in for another 10 minutes, then another 5. After 35 minutes it was looking nice and golden so I took it out to cool.
I paired my first serving of O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. It was to die for! The topping puffed up, creating a lovely fluffy texture that combined nicely with the soft peaches. I’ll be keeping this first batch for myself, since there isn’t enough left to share! But, I will need to make this again for a friend or family gathering.
Have you tried recreating any cemetery recipes yet? Share your favorites in the comments!
Today on the blog I wanted to share a little bit about my first cemetery road trip of the year! A couple of weekends ago, two of my best friends and I went on a fun-filled day of adventures to celebrate a birthday. We traveled over 900 km to visit Grimsby Ontario, in the Niagara Region—and it did not disappoint!
A month or so ago, my friend had asked to visit a graveyard for her birthday, as she had never visited one before. There are closer graveyards we could have visited, but since this was a special occasion I took some time to try and find the perfect spot. Weirdly enough, the internet provided the solution. Randomly, or not so randomly if you believe that technology listens to us, a video popped up in my Youtube feed by Canadian Cemetery History. I took the bait and watched the video. It showed a visit to Saint Andrew’s Anglican graveyard. This beautiful graveyard was just what we were looking for!
Not only does Saint Andrew’s Anglican Churchyard boast the 4th oldest church in the province, but it also has a lychgate and table stones. Both of which we have never seen before in person. So I began looking into what else we could visit in Grimsby; other cemeteries, museums, attractions, haunted locations, and of course interesting places to eat. I pitched the idea to the group, and they were as excited as I was to explore this beautiful little town.
I continued to research things for us to do and managed to book us a private tour of the Nelles Manor Museum. We would be visiting the resting place of the Nelles family at Saint Andrew’s, so it made sense to visit their historic home and learn more about this prominent family.
The day of the trip started bright and early. After picking up our first Starbucks of the day, we left Sudbury a little after 6 a.m. The plan was to drive straight to the graveyard, with a Starbucks stop along the way, to make the best time. Then we would take our time exploring, and visit the Nelles Manor at 3 p.m. for our private tour.
We arrived at Saint Andrew’s Anglican graveyard at about 11 a.m. and got out to stretch our legs and explore. The graveyard was absolutely beautiful. As was the weather, we had a beautiful day for exploring. Right away we noticed the prominence of the Nelles family as they had their own family plot, as well as family members scattered throughout the graveyard. We would learn more about the Nelles family when we toured the Museum later in the day.
Saint Andrews Anglican Church and graveyard is located a stone’s throw away from the Nelles Manor. The current church building dates back to 1825. The graveyard is well-maintained and has a large number of historically important grave markings. The land for the church was originally donated by Colonel Robert Nelles.1 The Nelles family plot is closest to the church on the left side of the churchyard, enclosed by a chain with small cast iron tassels hanging from it.
This graveyard also acts as an arboretum of sorts, with beautiful examples of different varieties of trees. Many were in full bloom when we visited. There is a lovely variety of gravestones to be found there as well, many of which I had not seen in person before, like the willow and urn motif, broken column symbolism, and closed books covered in cloth. It was curious to see the difference in popular cemetery symbols that we found. In the Sudbury area, lambs, doves, and hands are very common. There also stand the tallest tablet stones I have ever seen. They are taller than I am! The gravestones I was most looking forward to seeing in this graveyard were the table stones. I have not had the chance to see one in person yet, and I find them so unique and fascinating.
Table stones have an elevated ledger top, that provide space for a longer inscription, and is supported by four to six columns. This type of gravestone was popular during the first part of the 19th century.2These types of stones were used for prominent people and were sometimes installed many years after the person’s death. In that instance, these stones would sometimes cover the original gravestone. These tabletop stones are often more worn, like the ones we saw, due to larger surface erosion, making the stones barely legible.3
After we wandered the entire graveyard, we took a break for lunch and then made our way back toward the Nelles Manor. We were a little bit early for our tour, but luckily there were a few points of interest in and around the Nelles Manor for us to explore while we waited. We visited the Trinity United graveyard, and the Grimsby Museum and grounds where we discovered more interesting Grimsby history. When it was time, we made our way a couple of houses over to visit the historic Nelles Manor Museum for our private tour.
The Nelles Manor was built from 1788 to 1798, well before the American invasions in the War of 1812. The house was fully built and lived in by the Nelles family by the time the Americans declared war on the British. The Niagara Peninsula became a gateway for American fighting forces to work their way from the American frontier on the East side of the Niagara River as they reached for Burlington, York, and Kingston. Nelles Manor was occupied by British and local militia during the War of 1812, but on at least two occasions was also occupied by American forces that had moved up from Niagara.1
We received a very warm welcome when we arrived at the Nelles Manor. Our tour guide Kate, and two other guides, were finely dressed in period clothing, which added to the authenticity of the experience. We started our tour outside, taking in the magnificent architecture of the building, as well as the warm weather. Our guide talked about the land where the Nelles Manor sits, and its connections to its surroundings. Our group found it very helpful that we had visited Saint Andrew’s, as well as the Grimsby Museum grounds before our tour.
After moving inside, we were treated to a walking tour of the house; starting at the front door, touring through the sitting room parlor, and making our way upstairs. Every room is beautifully decorated for the time period, with great attention to detail. Along with period-specific furnishings, the house is decorated with some original pieces that belonged to the Nelles family, as well as original art from the period. It felt like we were stepping back in time.
The guides are incredibly versed in the history of the house, the Grimsby area, and the Nelles family. They had no trouble answering our many questions. We had explained that we were in the area to visit the cemeteries and graveyards, and they kindly pointed out artifacts and related tidbits as they took us along the tour. At the end of our tour, they asked if we would also be interested to hear some of the haunted history of the house. We of course said yes!
They shared stories of experiencing odd smells when there shouldn’t have been any, such as smelling a delicious roast or floral perfume, which was a favorite of Mrs. Nelles. They also shared some stories from paranormal investigations that have taken place in the manor. Paranormal teams have reported their fresh equipment batteries dying quickly and suddenly. They have also captured some eerie electronic voice phenomena (EVP). The staff now use some of these EVPs during their Halloween events, wherein they tell the haunted stories of the house. I would love to attend one someday. As we were discussing the spooky happenings, my friend happened to check her Apple Watch and noticed the battery was dead. Were the Nelles spirits letting us know they were with us?
We thanked our tour guides for an amazing tour and made our way outside. They had one last interesting piece of history to point out as we were leaving. In the garden, leaning up against the house are two small gravestones, that are still very legible. Kate explained that these stones were originally at a graveyard close to the water’s edge, which has since eroded away. A cenotaph was erected at Saint Andrew’s Churchyard in memory of the souls that were washed away, and the original gravestones were moved; some ended up at the manor and used as flagstones for the walking paths. These two were preserved and now sit in the garden. You never know where you might find a gravestone
There was so much we explored and experienced that day. As well as exploring the Nelles Manor Museum, we visited two graveyards, one cemetery, and one burial ground. We also stopped in at the Grimsby Museum and quickly visited the Grimsby Gingerbread houses. I’m sure I will write some more in the future about those visits. It was a very long day, but it was worth it.
If you ever get the chance to visit Grimsby, I highly recommend the Nelles Manor Museum. It’s a beautiful place to learn more about the history of the Niagara region and the War of 1812, and you might also have a paranormal experience. Don’t forget to also pay your respects to the Nelles family at Saint Andrews’s Churchyard.
While working on an upcoming project, I was going through my photo archive and found myself frequently stopping on the images of weeping willows. I have captured an interesting variety in the last few years. I love weeping willows, they have a very unique look. They are not common in my area, in the forests, or on graves.
So for today’s collection, I wanted to take a closer look at this cemetery symbol and share some of the different versions I have found and photographed during my cemetery walks.
As the name implies, weeping willows commonly symbolize grief and mourning. They are a very common Victorian-era cemetery symbol. Adopted from the Ancient Greeks, the weeping willow can represent immortality and life after death. Weeping willows are sometimes associated with the Underworld because, in Greek mythology, Orpheus brought with him a willow branch on his travels to the Underworld to save Eurydice from Hades.1 The symbolism of immortality stems from the fact that willow trees are very hardy, and can survive heavy damage.
A variety of the weeping willow motif you might find is a weeping willow standing beside a gravestone. I love the idea of a gravestone on a gravestone.
Another variation you might come across is of a weeping willow and urn. The urn represents death itself, and the willow again symbolizes grief.2 This motif was a popular gravestone symbol of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. You might also see weeping willows paired with a lamb or a cross.3 I have yet to come across these variations.
I noticed that the majority of the ones I found were in Southern Ontario. As I explore more Ontario cemeteries this summer, I hope I will come across a few more to photograph. I would love to find some more variations on the symbol. If you have any suggestions for where I might look, I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards by Tui Snider
I feel like a broken record lately, always talking about the snow. But it’s finally melting! We have been having some consistent warm weather so the snow has been disappearing quickly. I have been getting ready for the warmer weather by planning and mapping some upcoming cemetery walks. It’s exciting that the weather is finally warming up. I have some great future road trips planned and am looking forward to some fun cemetery adventures. All this planning has got me thinking about some of last year’s trips.
My mother and I did some exploring of St. Jospeh’s Island last year, home to Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site and bird sanctuary. We spent the night at a quaint little motel on the island and explored everything the island had to offer. I wrote a little about our adventure and finding a pet cemetery, but there are many more stories to tell from that trip.
So today, I wanted to share another experience from that cemetery road trip and talk about our visit to Fort St. Joseph, and the Historic Fort St. Joseph Cemetery.
I first learned about Fort St. Joseph when I stumbled onto a trail map while going down an internet rabbit hole. The cemetery trail piqued my interest and I redirected my Google search to learn more. Fort St. Joseph is a National Historic Site of Canada that features the ruins of an archaeological site and is filled with history about the War of 1812. “History that saw a powerful alliance struck between the British and the First Nations People of the western Great Lakes region.”1
The historic site has an interactive visitor center with a walk-through exhibit as well as an educational short film that tells you more about the history and discovery of the site. There is also a trail system that takes you through and around the ruins and includes the Cemetery Trail, Rains Point Trail, and the Lapointe Point Trail. Visiting cemeteries and hiking are two of my favorite things and often go hand in hand. I thought they would be a perfect destination for a summer road trip. My mother was on board right away when I asked her if she wanted to come. She is an avid bird watcher and was excited to visit the bird sanctuary. More than 200 species have been spotted in the area.1
After taking our time exploring the interactive exhibits and watching the film my mother and I headed outside to explore the ruins. Fort St. Joseph was once the most westerly fort in Upper Canada.1 All that is left today are the foundations, ruins, and surviving artifacts. It was very windy the day we went to explore the ruins, and rain was on the way. We took a chance and tried to beat the rain by going as soon as the site opened. We toured the ruins, reading the plaques and taking in the history laid out before us. I found it a little hard to imagine these small foundations housing a community, but the helpful diagrams and maps of the area helped visualize what the layout of the fort would have looked like in its time. Because we got there so early we had the place to ourselves and took our time exploring. Even with the strong winds, we spent some time at the shoreline, examining the horizon. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any birds or wildlife while we were there. I think we can blame the stormy weather on that.
As we were finishing up at the ruins, the rain started to come down and visitors started to trickle in. When the rain started to pour down harder we took shelter in the visitor center and gift shop and tried to wait out the storm. They have a cozy little gift shop filled with most of the typical things you would expect from a historic site; postcards, magnets, pins, sweatshirts. One of the more interesting items they had was chocolate, more specifically heritage chocolate. Using a recipe and ingredients authentic to the colonial era, you can try a chocolatey treat that was commonly consumed at the time. They had chocolate sticks and hot chocolate mix at the time of our visit, and I regret not picking up the hot chocolate mix along with the couple of chocolate sticks I did purchase.
After the rain finally eased up, we made our way to the car. There was one more stop to make. The Cemetery Trail turns off the main road to and from the historic site. A small green sign with a hiking symbol and the word “Cemetery” mark the turnoff. My mother was a bit tired at that point and didn’t want to walk the trail. I didn’t have any idea where the cemetery was on this trail loop so I wasn’t sure how far I would need to walk to find it. She decided to stay in the car and wait.
At the trailhead, there is a trail map, along with a description of the cemetery. It reads “The cemetery at Fort St. Joseph contains graves established between 1796 and 1812. While there were only 10 recorded deaths during the occupancy of the fort, such as those of Jessie Crawford’s twins who died in 1807 shortly after birth, there are probably others who rest here eternally, their identities unknown. Those that died at Fort St. Joseph usually suffered from illness or their deaths were as a result of tragic events or accidents like that of Private Antoine Gazzinel who was killed May 9, 1803 when a loaded musket went off as he was placing it into a bateau. A cairn was erected in 1954 to recognize the final resting place of these individuals and stands today as a reminder of the community that once existed at Fort St. Joseph.”
The Cemetery is located right at the beginning of the trail, with a clearing opening up on the right side of the trail. The rain held out for me as I examined the large cairn and took photographs. The cairn reads, in English and French, ”This cairn marks the site of Fort St. Joseph cemetery in which are the graves of soldiers and fur traders who died here between the years 1796 and 1812.” There are about a dozen white crosses here, with no names. One grave looks to also be marked with stones surrounding it. It’s a peaceful spot, surrounded by the lush green forest, but it is also a place of sorrow. I was very sad to see the blank white crosses, marking lives that are now unknown, and who knows how many more lie there unmarked.
My mother and I really enjoyed our time visiting Fort. St. Joseph, even though the weather wasn’t ideal. Exploring the historic ruins and cemetery was an interesting look at the past, even when at times it was a somber one. It was my first time exploring a ruin site, and I look forward to the chance to visit more.
Have you visited Fort St. Joseph? Will you be adding it to your travel plans? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Today on the blog I wanted to share another cemetery recipe with you. All the recipes I have made so far have been sweet treats, and today’s recipe is no different. It’s the Easter long weekend, so I thought today’s recipe would be a perfect fit – A Good Carrot Cake.
This recipe is a little different than the previous ones I have made. It can be found on a white tablet gravestone for Christine W Hammill in Ferndale, California. Her stone sits beside the stone for her husband Richard. The difference is that Christine and Richard are still living.
They seem like pretty fun folks as well, based on their gravestones! Not only can this delicious recipe be found on the back side of Christine’s gravestone, they both also have some funny epitaphs on their headstones.
The white granite tablet gravestones read:
“Oops, / I should / have listened / to my wife.”
Richards S. Hammill
June 3, 19__ –
“Yeah. / Look where / we ended up.”
Christine W. Hammill
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find more information about the Hammills and where their future resting place is, but I do know that Christine makes an excellent carrot cake.
Here is the recipe:
A Good Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1 1/2 cups oil
1 tsp. salt
2 cups grated carrots
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 (8 1/2 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup chopped nuts
Sift together flour, baking powder, soda salt, and cinnamon. Beat eggs and add sugar. Let stand 10 mins. Mix in oil, pineapple, carrots, nuts, flour mixture. Turn into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350’ for 35 – 40 min. Cool in pans for 10 min, remove to wire racks, and cool well.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
Mix butter, cream cheese, vanilla then add sugar. First between layers, top and sides.
This is one of the more thorough sets of baking instructions I have come across on a gravestone. It didn’t need any guesswork at all. The recipe is very easy to follow and create. I started with the prep work first; chopping, grating, and measuring out ingredients to make the mixing process a bit smoother.
I did start off thinking I would only need two cake pans, but I did need to make a third layer. I only filled the cake pans about halfway with batter because I had a feeling they would rise as they baked. They did rise as I suspected so that left batter for a third layer. I only have 2 cake pans though. I put the first two pans in the oven for 35 minutes and used the toothpick trick to test if they were done.
If you don’t know this trick, you take a toothpick and stab it into the middle of the cake, touching the bottom of the pan. If it comes out clean when you pull it out, it means the cake is done. If there is batter on the toothpick when you pull it out, it means the center is not cooked all the way through and should go back in for a few more minutes.
After the first two layers were done, I let them cool for ten minutes then removed them from the pan and placed them on a wire rack to continue cooling. Then I put the third layer into the oven to bake. This did make the baking process a bit longer, but it wouldn’t be an issue if you have extra cake pans.
I used the time while the last layer was baking, to make the cream cheese frosting. I have to say, it’s the best frosting I have ever made. Sifting the powdered sugar made all the difference in creating a smooth and creamy frosting. I ended up with some extra frosting as I was unsure how much to frost in between the layers. I was afraid to run out of frosting for the top and the sides. I didn’t have to worry though as I had quite a bit left over. I put the leftover frosting in a container and put it in the fridge to use as a cookie dip. I couldn’t let that deliciousness go to waste.
I had some chopped walnuts left over and decided to sprinkle them on the outer edge of the cake as decoration and to use them up. I think it was a nice added touch, but you can decorate it however you like. The white frosting is a lovely base for frosting accents, sprinkles, or any other type of decoration you may want to add to make your cake more festive.
I love a good carrot cake with a good cream cheese frosting, and this might just be the best one yet. I was curious how the final product would taste with the addition of pineapple. I had never seen that in a carrot cake recipe before. The cake is so moist and sweet, I think because of the pineapple. It’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. I shared this cake with my mother and fiancé, and they both agreed, it was delicious. I think this cake would make a lovely finish to an Easter meal, or any meal for that matter. It’s a big cake, so it’s perfect for sharing with loved ones.
I wish I knew more about Christine and this recipe. I am going to assume that it is a Hammill family favorite. At any rate, I want to say thank you to Christine, for sharing this sweet treat with the world!
Have you tried this recipe before? Do you have a favorite carrot cake recipe? I would love to read about it in the comments.
I recently had an author reach out to me, asking if I would be interested in reviewing her book Cemetery Reflections and if it would be a good fit. She described her book as a pairing of photographs with epitaphs, poetry, and prose; giving a slightly different slant to a typical walk through a cemetery. I thought it would be a perfect fit! So for this month’s cemetery book review, I wanted to share my thoughts about Cemetery Reflections by Jane Hopkins.
Cemetery Reflections looks at the beauty and emotion that accompanies cemetery visits and is meant to be read in bits and pieces, as a cemetery walk would be. This new book was published in the fall of 2022, by Headstone Press. This is Jane’s first cemetery photography book, but she is no stranger to photography. Her fine art photography has been exhibited and sold since 2002, at many venues including the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, and the Dyer Arts Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology.1
I was already familiar with Jane’s work, having seen her beautiful photographs on various cemetery social media accounts that I follow. I was very excited when she reached out and asked me to review her book. She was also very gracious and provided me with a beautiful paperback copy to read.
Here is the book synopsis from Goodreads: “Stroll through three centuries of American cemeteries through photographic images, historic poetry, and memorable prose. The reader will find stunning photos in both black-and-white and color. Paired with the images are poignant passages drawn from timeless literature and sensitive recollections of family losses. The cemetery emerges as a place of solace, where final and loving farewells may rest safely among the tombstones.
This book offers a compassionate context that deepens awareness of the experience of death. Devotees of art, history, poetry, and philosophy will find Cemetery Reflections a mesmerizing journey. Grief is intense and lonely, dying can be frightening and sometimes painful beyond expectation, and the “great beyond” remains a mystery. The pandemic and recent violence in the US have brought issues of death to the forefront. People are searching for ways to better understand and cope with challenges that once seemed far distant. Cemetery Reflections can provide a valuable assist in this process.”2
This is a beautiful, high-quality softcover photography book. It’s filled with full-color and black-and-white photographs alongside beautiful poetry, epitaphs, and musings. It is very different than the books I have been reading lately. I loved that it showcases American cemeteries alongside Canadian ones. I also love the variety of the photography, from detailed shots of grave goods to lovely cemetery landscapes, and everything in between.
Cemetery Reflections feels like a contemplative walk through a cemetery. I found each epitaph, poem, and beautiful photograph encouraged self-reflection and exploration of my own understanding of grief and remembrance. At times it is a very emotional read.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fine art photography, poetry, and cemetery walks. Because of the self-reflective nature of this book, I would also recommend it to those who may be grieving a loss, as well as those who might find cemeteries and death uncomfortable. They might find its heartfelt and thoughtful messages to be healing.
Have you read Cemetery Reflections? Do you agree with my review? Or will you be adding it to your reading list? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
I am always on the hunt for cemetery-related book recommendations. Please feel free to share yours in the comments. If you are an author and have a cemetery-related book you would like me to review, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my connection to cemeteries. I recently read Death’s Garden Revisited, edited by Loren Rhoads. It’s a collection of 40 personal essays by people from all walks of life, regarding their own connections with cemeteries. I saw a lot of myself in those essays, and it has encouraged me to look back on past events in my own life that have attributed to my love of cemeteries.
One of those moments that stand out, is a family story that has been passed down by my mother. I was too young at the time, so I have no memory of it, but my mother has told me the story many times.
When I was a child, I saw an angel in a cemetery.
Now you may be thinking, well yes, there are lots of angels in cemeteries! And yes, this is very true. Angel statues are a very common sight in Catholic cemeteries. Children are also known to have overactive imaginations, and I was no exception. I did have an imaginary friend growing up. But I am curious and wanted to learn more about the circumstances of this cemetery visit.
One of my earliest memories is of attending my uncle’s funeral in Elliot Lake. I was very young, maybe 5 or so, but I vividly remember the funeral parlor. I remember the smell of the parlor, as well as seeing many somber family members, sitting in dark leather armchairs. I don’t remember the cemetery though. Was this the same moment? Were we visiting the cemetery after the funeral service?
In 2021, my mother and I took a drive to Elliott Lake to do some hiking and cemetery wandering. We visited my uncle in the cemetery. I had no recollection of being there, but my mother had vivid memories of the place. She said it looked a lot different; there had not been as many graves in the section where my uncle was laid to rest. Over the years it had become a very popular section. It was so full that the cemetery opened another section at the back, which was now about half full. The cemetery has no standing gravestones, only flat grave markers. No angel statues here. My Mom confirmed this was not the cemetery where I saw an angel.
It turns out there is MUCH more to this story.
In the summer of 1987, My mother, father and I were visiting my uncle in Quebec for a family reunion. I would have been about 3 years old. It was planned to be a big reunion of my father’s side of the family. Unfortunately, only we showed up. My uncle was a bit dismayed but decided to not let that ruin our visit, so there was a change of plans. Since we were close to Quebec City we would visit some old stomping grounds and visit some cemeteries to visit family. There was one family member in particular that my dad and uncle wanted to find—their uncle Joseph Larochelle.
The story goes that my great-uncle, Joseph Larochelle who was blind, went out into a snowstorm with his dog. His Family members told him not to go out, because of the blustery winter weather—but he went anyway. He said he would be fine since he had his dog with him. Unfortunately, he lost his way in the storm and went missing. Tragically, both he and his dog perished in the storm. He had gotten stuck on a fence and was not able to break free. He was not found until the late spring.
My dad and uncle did manage to find the grave of Joseph. They took a picture with the gravestone that has some details of what happened to him. The gravestone states he was blind, died February 18, and was found June 4. I don’t know the year, as the photo is a little hard to read. It was while visiting this cemetery that I saw an angel.
The gravestone reads: “Joseph Larochelle / Blind / Died February 18 / And Found / June 4, 19_1 / Aged __ Yrs. / R.I.P”
I have reached out to my aunts and uncles to see if they have more information, or know which cemetery he is buried in. I have not been able to find anything much so far. My searches on Find a Grave and Ancestry have not turned up anything yet. I have an idea where to look—Quebec City, but I don’t have much more than that at the moment. I would love to learn more about my great-uncle, as well as the cemetery where he is laid to rest. Is it filled with stone angels?
When I started looking into this story, I didn’t expect to uncover a cemetery mystery. I love a good cemetery mystery, and it’s even more intriguing to have a family connection to one. I will keep researching and maybe will have an update on this story in the future. In the meantime, I will continue to go down cemetery rabbit holes looking for answers. Maybe I’ll also get closer to answering my question about my cemetery angel.
For this month’s cemetery book review, I wanted to talk about Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial by Penny Colman. This was the October selection of the AGS book club last year. I had never read this author before and was excited to dive into this one.
“Drawing on extensive historical and anthropological research, personal accounts, and interviews with people who work in the funeral industry, Penny Colman examines the compelling subjects of death and burial across cultures and societies. The text, enriched with stories both humorous and poignant, includes details about the decomposition and embalming processes (an adult corpse buried six feet deep without a coffin will usually take five to ten years to turn into a skeleton) and describes the various customs associated with containing remains (the Igala people in Nigeria have a custom of burying people in as many as twenty-seven layers of clothing). Intriguing facts are revealed at every turn; for example, in Madagascar winter was considered the corpse-turning season.
This comprehensive book also includes a list of burial sites of famous people, images in the arts associated with death, fascinating epitaphs and gravestone carvings, a chronology, a glossary, and over a hundred black-and-white photographs, most of which were taken by the author.
Penny Colman writes with compassion and intelligence and humanizes the difficult subjects of death and burial. The result is a powerful look at an inevitable part of life—death.”
This book touches on so many facets of death and burial. I enjoyed the way the author weaved in her own personal stories and experiences with death. It added a very personal touch. This book is also filled with beautiful black-and-white photographs that accentuate the content. I was lucky enough to find a reasonably affordable copy on Thrift Books. My copy is a previously loved hardcover library book, that is beautifully laid out. It has a wonderful flow that makes it a very easy read, and hard to put down.
This would be a great introduction for those who are interested in death and burial but may be bit intimidated by heavy reading. Colman touches on so many different aspects of death and burial, in a way that holds your attention and connects you to the history. I love that a handy chronology and glossary is also included at the back of the book.
I would highly recommend this book for those who are curious about death and burial practices, as well as seasoned taphophiles! It has a little something for everyone.
Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
I am always on the hunt for cemetery-related book recommendations. Please feel free to share in the comments. If you are an author and have a cemetery-related book you would like me to review, please reach out at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
For the last two weeks, I have been feeling a bit under the weather. I was struggling with a bad head cold, that turned out to be COVID-19. Before I got sick and went into isolation, I had done groceries and specifically bought the ingredients I needed to make a gravestone recipe that I had been eager to try. Once I was on the mend I decided to try some baking to lift my spirits, and use up the blueberries before they went bad. So for today’s blog post, I wanted to share my experience making Margaret Davis’ Glazed Blueberry Pie.
The grave of Margaret Davis can be found in Mountain View Memorial Park, in Washington State. Margaret rests with her husband Eddy, beneath a beautiful black marble monument designed as a bench. Their grave is adorned with a beautiful color portrait of the couple, doves of peace, the American flag, and a bible quote. If you look to the left side of the monument, you will also find a note From the Kitchen of Margaret Davis, her Glazed Blueberry Pie recipe.
I was not able to find much information about Margaret in life, but from her gravestone, we know that Margaret was born on the 4th of July in 1918. Her husband Eddy was born in September of the same year. They were married on Boxing Day in 1942. Margaret passed away on November 6th, 2004 at the age of 86. Eddy passed away 6 years later at the age of 90. Underneath the recipe that adorns their gravestone is the symbol of the Freemasons, telling us that Eddy was a member. There are also a couple of other symbols as well that could tell us more about the couple’s affiliations in life, but they are cut off in the photos I have seen, and I can’t decipher them. There are currently no photos of the recipe side of the gravestone on Find a Grave, but a quick google search should bring up photos of this cemetery recipe.
Here is the Recipe:
From the Kitchen of Margaret Davis
Glazed Blueberry Pie
Soften a 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese.
Spread in bottom of cooled, cooked pastry shell.
Fill shell with 3 cups of blueberries.
To an additional 1 cup of blueberries add 1 cup of water.
Bring just to boiling.
Simmer 2 min.
Strain reserving juice, about 1/2 cup.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons corn starch.
Gradually add reserved juice.
Cook, stirring constantly until thick and clear.
Cool slightly and add:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pour over berries in pastry shell and chill.
This recipe is straightforward and easy to follow. The only issue I came across is the fact that blueberries are not currently in season here. So, the blueberries I was able to find were the non-organic kind that are comically large, and because of that are not very flavourful. And no, I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell while I was sick. I will need to try this recipe again in the summer months when the local blueberry patches are ripe and plentiful. Because the blueberries were oversized, also messed with the measurements a little bit. I ended up using less than the 3 cups the recipe calls for, as my pie shell could just not fit them all.
Despite all that, this recipe turned out deliciously! It’s almost like a blueberry cheesecake, but much easier to make. And because I made it during my isolation, I had it all to myself! That is another reason to make this pie again in the summer, so I can share it with friends and family. Baking and enjoying Margaret’s recipe helped relieve some of the boredom I was feeling at the time and helped take my mind off things.
Will you be trying out this recipe? Do you have a family pie recipe that you would put on your gravestone? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
This week, I had originally planned on posting a cemetery recipe for Red Lantern Cheese dip, from the gravestone of Debra Ann Nelson. But, I had some issues finding the correct ingredients and the recipe didn’t turn out as expected. So I will continue my hunt for the elusive ingredients.
Instead, this week I will share a collection of Dove’s. If you have been following this blog for a little while, you may have noticed that I sometimes like to share collections of my favorite photos of some of the cemetery symbols I find on my cemetery walks. I have been photographing cemeteries for over 15 years, and in that time I have noticed some repetition of certain symbols and motifs. I find cemetery symbolism so interesting and love looking at what the different variations of a symbol mean.
Doves are not as common a symbol as lambs in Northern Ontario, but they represent similar ideas. Doves commonly are a symbol of peace, but when used in funerary art, they also represent innocence and the Holy Spirit. Doves may appear in many forms, such as sculpture or bas-relief. There are also different variations of doves, and each carries additional meaning.
Sometimes a dove may be depicted carrying something in its mouth. A dove with an olive branch in its mouth may represent peace. This symbolism also can be traced to Ancient Greece. A dove carrying a broken flower bud in its mouth often symbolizes a life cut short.
The position and angle of the dove may have some significance as well. A dove flying downward is thought to represent the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven.
Another variation of a dove you might find, is a dove that looks like it might be dead. A dead dove sadly represents a life cut short. This variation may also be found lying in front of, or on top of a tree stump; which is also a symbol of a life cut short.
Have you come across a different variation of this symbol? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards by Tui Snider
Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism by Douglas Keister