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Sunday Pastries With the Dead 33
A circa-1812 church and cemetery nestled among sweeping farmland in Pennsylvania.
Today we’re in a Pennsylvania township with an incredibly rich history—it dates back to 1775 and the area’s original industry was integral in supporting the Revolutionary War’s patriots.
It’s home to the world-famous boatmaker whose creations crossed the Delaware carrying General George Washington and his troops, its est. 1727 furnace made ball shot, canons, and military equipment (Colonel George Taylor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was one of the furnace’s managers), and later its est. 1820 grist mill provided flour to the region.
The area’s Lutheran Church and its sizable cemetery (with over 3,200 interred and counting) were established well after the War of Independence, in 1812. They’re on a plot bordered by farmland and boast stunning views of the surrounding hills and countryside.
The back of the church still has the original separate entrances for men and women (created to aid the practice of seating the sexes on separate sides in order to preserve modesty and attention during service). Because most churches face east (as do most graves, underscoring sunrise/resurrection), it was a general rule back then that men entered and sat on the north (left) side, and women entered and sat on the south (right) side.
There are several German-language headstones that nod to the area’s early ancestors. John Jacob Deemer (far left) died in 1845 at the age of 80 and was a father of 10 (the top of his stone reads “Zum Andenken An,” which translates to “To Commemorate”). Peter Jacoby (center left) was a blacksmith and farmer who took ill during a court term as a juror and died in 1815 at age 56. William “Wilhelm” Woodring (center right) died in 1815 at age 44; his stone reads “Willhelm Wuodring,” which could’ve been a carver error or could denote the original pre-Americanized German spelling. Aaron Grube (far right) was 27 when he died in 1859.
These two large arched monuments gave me pause—they’re an arresting design style that isn’t exactly common in rural cemeteries. Anna and David Bachman’s stone is topped with three draped urns (symbolic of shedding the earthly body and belongings as the soul ascends); their son Reuben Knecht Bachman would go on to own the area’s mill (shown above in the post) and served as a Democrat in the 46th U.S. Congress from 1879 to 1881. Lewis and Adam Raub’s marker is an excellent example of how the interred informs the interpretation of a headstone symbol. These two were brothers—Lewis died in 1868 at age 28 and Adam died in 1878 at age 25—so the handshake pictured stands for a fraternal one. As we saw in SPWTD 32, this symbol can also indicate a marital connection.
Of the lovely symbol examples here, these four most piqued my interest. I love William Laubach’s dove holding an oak tree leaf and acorn (far left). The bird symbolizes peace and the Holy Spirit, while the plant stands for strength, patience, faith, and greatness growing from humble beginnings. Henry Kressler’s stone (center left) is fascinating to me because the symbol looks to be a deconstructed play on the death’s head, with a rose (love, virtue) at the center of the wings. Kizzie B. Long’s lily of the valley (center right) stands for purity, innocence, and rebirth—and paired with her epitaph, “We Miss Thee At Home,” it’s quite moving. Elizabeth Hibbler’s beautifully-carved wreath (far right) has several distinguishable flowers, including chrysanthemum (longevity), evening primrose (eternal memory and undying love), and morning glory (the rebirth of the afterlife).
To finish, fans of the Unique Historical Name Game are in for a treat—there’s a wealth of stand-outs at this locale. I found a whopping fourteen favorites: Lovina Youngkin, Bishop W. Stahr, John Stem (I was tickled that an actual stem is growing from his grave), Christianna Applegate (a few letters away from Hollywood royalty!), John Strawsnider, Amos Deemer, Samuel Wolfinger, Bartholomew Hoover, Mary Etta Heiny Super, Peter Fackenthall, Sarah Schmetzer, Emma Streepy, Reuben Lay, and W. Illick Long.
Until next Sunday, fellow cemetery lovers!
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