As a result of a telephone call in 1991, I started to research one of my family's surnames. To this day, I am VERY glad 'a distant Snook cousin' contacted and connected with my family.
It is an interesting journey tracing the Snook name. If you share this particular name, you know exactly what I mean! Countless individuals share this passion. If you are reading this, perhaps you share it too! To me, it is a slice of Americana!
I cannot put into words, the first time I stood at the foot of my g-g-g grandparent's final resting place. An indelible moment. Recently I was able to locate another g-g-g grandfather's marker. This was possible through the efforts of another and this project. Thanks Dan OH! Thus, I too have joined FAG. On my visit to PA, my family and I photographed stones in several locations around Mifflin County. In some way, they seem connected to the Kepharts, Gearharts, Barrs and Snooks but may not be directly related. Discovering my Printz ancestry is a new journey.
I smiled when I found Dr. Flinn's marker. This doctor dressed my great grandfather's snakebite wound when Eddie Snook was a little boy living in the Narrows (Reedsville). As I turned, I recognized another name. Elmer Dippery. The gentleman who loved and played baseball with my g-grandfather in 1890's.
I wish to thank all the amazing and dedicated people who have been kind to help & encourage me. In closing, I have tried to do this with and out of respect. If you have a concern or take note of an error, please contact me. Thank you.
RE: Germany Flats Susan: Thank you for your kind words. Finding a gravestone with a visible inscription was so exciting to me. I posted my findings on this site to help others who are looking for their ancestors. So that you know why I decided to reclaim the cemetery, Below is a write-up that I prepared after I completed my work.
I have been asked why I decided to reclaim the Germany Flats Cemetery.
I grew up on the Germany Flats Road (now Lawrence Road) and remember “discovering” the Germany Flats Cemetery in the early 1960’s when I was “playing” with a friend who lived on (the then unnamed) Pierce Road. At that time it was not enclosed by fence and the cows roamed through the grave stones in the field. Although now there are berms on two sides of the cemetery, I don’t recall them being there 50 years ago.
I completely forgot about this cemetery until my adult years when I was told that there were some Hursh’s buried in a cemetery on the Germany Flats Road. My husband, Hixon’s ancestors were Hursh’s and in fact, his middle name is Hursh – his Grandmother’s maiden name. Knowing that the Hursh family dated back to the 1700’s in the Germany Flats area and remembering discovering a cemetery as a child, my first ‘order of business’ after retirement was to visit the cemetery. In 2007, my mom, husband, and I visited the cemetery looking for the Hursh’s. At that time, although somewhat overgrown, we saw that it had been cleared of brush and trees (as was evidenced by a pile of brush) and were told that the Sheriff’s SLAP/SWAP Program had done some clearing. We found the stones that we were looking for and I took pictures.
I like many others, never gave that cemetery any more thought. In 2011 I was asked by my husband’s cousin (who is President of the Layton Cemetery Association) to help her document the grave stones in the old part of that cemetery. After almost three years of work experience there, my thoughts returned to the Germany Flats Cemetery and the condition it was in. In May of 2014, I returned to that cemetery. I was quite disappointed to see that it was overgrown with picker bushes and poison ivy, and the stones were barely visible. I went to the cemetery with the intention of looking and perhaps doing some probing to see if there were any more Hursh’s buried there. Although I did find a few unmarked stones under the weeds, I left them on the ground where I found them as I would have had to sit on the ground and dig around the poison ivy to reset them. I decided that I would not go back unless I sprayed first. On that initial visit, I found a grave stone in a ground hog hole. Although broken without a name, I was excited to see the date inscribed was 1728.
I asked several people what they knew about the cemetery and all I was able to find out was that it was an abandoned cemetery and that others had been there previously probing for stones. I then visited a Pierce Road property owner who provided me with some documentation from 2010 that was given to her by a former Pierce Road resident who now lives in Rhode Island. I contacted that person by email but never received a response. I did find on a website that the cemetery is 0.23 acres located in Block 110 Lot 1.02 within Lot 1.01 assessed in 2013 for $18,400 and no annual taxes are paid.
In that packet of information was an article from 1986 written by Jennie Sweetman entitled a “Well-Kept Secret” about the ancient Germany Flats Cemetery. By the condition of the cemetery, it was obvious that no one was interested in maintaining it. So with the experience that I had working at the Layton Cemetery, I decided to take on the task of reclaiming the Germany Flats cemetery.
A few weeks after my initial visit in May, I returned with two gallons of weed killer and sprayed the entire cemetery. On June 28th, work began cleaning the cemetery. My husband hacked and cut all the multiflora rose and wild barberry bushes while I dragged the brush to a single heap just below that last visible grave marker. A few days later I began to probe for stones and reset those found in the exact place where they were discovered. Although exhausted after five hours of work, I was quite pleased having found many more unmarked stones than the few that had been originally visible. A total of 21 stones exist in Row 1 of which five have an inscription of some sort.
On July 24, after 13 days and 65 hours of exhausting work, and a lot learned, I am completely done probing and resetting the stones. I plan to return to the cemetery in the fall to spread grass seed. Important facts:
• There are over 200 stones in the cemetery of which 37 have an inscription. I want to note that every stone found in the cemetery was reset it in its exact location, categorized by rows, given a number and a photograph taken. It is possible that some of the stones represent a foot marker, some may be a broken piece of another stone in the cemetery, and some may not even be marking a grave. I took the attitude though that “who am I to say” a small/large thick round boulder-type stone or an 8 inch piece of shale is not a grave marker. At the end of Row 9, which was the last row in the cemetery, several stones and pieces of stones were found in a four by six foot area next to the berm. The large stones were reset in the place where they were found, however, the small pieces were set in a special section near the middle of Row 9.
• Although provided information indicates that the cemetery is approximately 105 feet by 92 feet, the actual measurement where the visible stones are located is approximately 70 feet by 42 feet. Could the raised berms that were placed on two sides of the cemetery actually cover some grave sites?
• The oldest stone found was the first one that I pulled out of a ground hog’s hole. Could that 1728 stone make the Germany Flats Cemetery the oldest in Sussex County?
• The latest marked stone was another unnamed piece of shale with 1809 scratched on it.
• The latest named gravestone is “In Memory of John A. Fezler a native of Germany who died on April 10, 1804 in the 50th year of his age.” This stone is the only commercial-type headstone in the entire cemetery and was engraved by J.C. Mooney C Farms as is clearly etched in large letters on the stone. This grave marker was one of the last stones uncovered in Row 9. My husband spent two hours probing and digging close to the berm for two missing pieces of this stone to no avail.
• Found directly behind the Fezler stone underground about three inches was a flat stone measuring 36 inches by 24 inches by one inch thick. The only inscription is that of a “6” or a “9.”
• Most of the inscribed stones are etched in the old German language and therefore difficult to translate. Looking at the photograph taken, I believe some of the names that others previously attempted to translate are actually different than what they indicated.
• Five broken small stones have been taken off the cemetery property in an attempt to epoxy them together. They will be returned to their exact location after they are repaired.
• I have compiled a binder of photographs of the entire cemetery together with the information that I have collected the past two months.
So, to answer the question why I decided to reclaim the Germany Flats Cemetery, I saw that this ancient cemetery, perhaps the oldest in Sussex County, was never well documented and in fact, being neglected. Germany Flats was once home to some of the earliest immigrant German pioneers who settled in the area when Sussex County was an untamed wilderness. It is important to remember these pioneers who moved into a strange new land unable to speak the language to eventually help form a new nation. Imagine the hardships they suffered and what they accomplished for their hard work. To remember them in their resting place is to show respect for our ancestors and what they accomplished for future generations.
Sharon A. Salza Spangenberg July 25, 2014, Rev. Aug 5, 2014
Mervines Susan, I'm posting photos of the graves for the Mervines as you described them. Please check them out carefully to be sure you agree. I've posted a group photo with each and an additional photo of the back for George. The first (left) in the group photo is likely little Margaret; hers is the smallest stone and "X days" is visible. Sarah is the second grave. George is the broken stone, which may be lying face down; a stray piece lies in back of Sarah's headstone. There is no way to identify George's headstone. The final stone is likely that of Joseph, though the letters are not clear enough to be certain. If you would like any removed, please contact me. Sandi