Monday, August 10, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - I Danced on My Ancestor's Grave

Thank you for adding your copyright to MY photo BillionGraves!
But it was all in the name of genealogy! I swear they would have approved! The dancing was unintentional. I've been stomping on the grave of Edward and Susan Lee nee Philips for years without results...I guess that doesn't sound much better.

OK. Take a look at the photo to your left. Ignore the BillionGraves copyright at the bottom right because that is MY DAMN PHOTO they copyrighted and I'll use it when and where I like! Grrrrr. Oops...sorry...back to my point. So you can clearly see the birth and death years for Edward. For Susan you can only see that she was born in 1821. The death year isn't particularly visible in the photo, but it's there and it says 1883.

This tombstone and those of my ancestors neighboring it are being eaten by the earth. Hazleton was a coal mining community back in it's heyday, but this isn't due to a subsidence. This is due to ants and lots of them! There is apparently one heck of an ant mound (or multiple mounds) right there and it has made the ground too soft for this heavy tombstone. In past years I've visited and tried pressing down the earth (ahem...stomping) with my foot to no avail. This summer my mom and I went out prepared.

I don't know why I hadn't thought of bringing a small shovel with me before. Perhaps I didn't want to look like a grave robber, but this was a hand shovel so there was no chance of anyone thinking that. This time we brought one and gloves. So I went in for what needed to be a quick operation, but there's no such thing as quick when you trod on an ant mound. That's where the dancing came in. I'd lean in and dig at some of the grass and dirt and then I'd be dancing and stomping around making sure that the ants never made it farther up my legs than my sneakers. It took a few tries, but I managed it. I snapped the photo after and made note of the year in case the photo didn't turn out well. I'm delighted I did since it didn't. I'm sure I looked quite odd to the few people in the cemetery that day, but I was finally able to get a year for Susan's death and that made it all worthwhile. Now if the tombstone sinks more or disappears entirely the picture and information will be preserved on BillionGraves, FindAGrave, in my family tree, and on my blog. Susan and Edward would approve!