I am originally from Springfield, Ohio and make my home in Pittsburgh, PA. My areas of interest focus on my paternal, German ancestry (Staker/Stecker/Stoecher, Nagel, Gerlach, Gleim, Apel) and Anglo-Scottish ancestry (Hudson, Campbell, Chatfield, Neely, Ruby, Stewart) who eventually settled in Scioto/Lawrence Counties, Ohio; My maternal ancestors (Strickler, Frizzell, Little, Grant, McNamee); and my wife's Czech and Dutch-German ancestry (Branchik, Van Jura, Ezarik, Pittuch, McCanna, Terwilliger, Crispen/Christman) who settled in Western PA.
I take pleasure in my hobby of cleaning stones, archiving records, photography, quiet walks, and knowing I am helping others find the final resting places of their family and ancestry. Especially when I have the companionship of one of my kids.
Removing the debris, clearing the weeds, discovering a lost buried stone, cleaning a neglected monument, and saying a short prayer is my way of giving tribute to someone's long or short life. These places are electrified with emotion, with millions of stories about millions of lives, faces, feelings, personalities, triumphs, despair, and ultimately death, with their secrets long lost to the wind.
When I return from a day out I often spend hours scouring the internet to find something about who my person was and what legacy or family they created or left for us today. I have questions. Who was she? What did he look like? What was her passion in life? Did he live a satisfying life? All we can see is the beginning and end dates, but nothing in the middle. Learning where that person fit in with their society, the role he or she played in their family, a biography and even the rare photograph make that hour I invested worthwhile. Its the least I can do to pay homage and give some sort of tribute to this person's life - now an etched name in granite, just one of thousands on these acres of ground.
This interest in cemeteries has always helped me to deal with deaths of those very close to me, our final destination, and a way to spiritually understand our real eternity in Heaven.
THE RECORDING OF A CEMETERY
BY THELMA GREENE REAGAN
Today we walked where others walked
On a lonely, windswept hill;
Today we talked where other cried
For Loved Ones whose lives are stilled.
Today our hearts were touched
By graves of tiny babies;
Snatched from the arms of loving kin,
In the heartbreak of the ages.
Today we saw where the grandparents lay
In the last sleep of their time;
Lying under the trees and clouds -
Their beds kissed by the sun and wind.
Today we wondered about an unmarked spot;
Who lies beneath this hollowed ground?
Was it a babe, child, young or old?
No indication could be found.
Today we saw where Mom and Dad lay.
We had been here once before
On a day we'd all like to forget,
But will remember forever more.
Today we recorded for kith and kin
The graves of ancestors past;
To be preserved for generations hence,
A record we hope will last.
Cherish it, my friend; preserve it, my friend,
For stones sometimes crumble to dust
And generations of folks yet to come
Will be grateful for your trust.