Cemetery Article

This was in the Clinton Herald, but I don't know the date.

Sleeping the long sleep through the changing seasons of 121 years. Charles Hollinshead lies buried in an abandoned family cemetery on a high hill in Whiteside County.

He is not alone; around him in the dappled autumn sunshine of this quiet hickory glad are the graves of many other--those of hardy souls who, in spite of the rigors of pioneer life, reached ripe ages, and those of many more who did not survive infancy or youth.

The old area cemeteries, Hollinshead Family Cemetery and Fulton Protestant Cemetery in Whiteside County; York Cemetery in Carroll County and Holy Cross Cemetery, on Route 136, Clinton County, have stories to tell on their tombstones, though they often may be no more than those told by the dates of birth and death.

Polished granite is hard and information engraved upon it remains legible for a long time, but most of the early headstones were fashioned of white sandstone or marble and carvings cut into their surfaces have, in many cases, blurred into near or total illegibility. Formal designs of clasped hands, weeping willow trees, Roses of Sharon, or lambs enclosed in five-pointed stars still may be clearly identifiable but, if these come across in clear voice, most of the epitaphs remain only as fading whispers.

The cemeteries are well-maintained, including the one in which Charles Hollinshead lies, but it was not always so. The first burial on this hilltop was apparently in 1841, the last in 1944. Present owners of the property have been restoring the site, removing overgrowth, keeping the grass neatly mowed, and reassembling broken tablets toppled and trod under during a previous ownership when the knoll was used to pasture cattle and horses.

In early cemeteries, it is evident that today’s tendency for women to outlive men was not the case in times past. Dates on gravestones demonstrate that men often reached venerable ages, sometimes surviving three wives. Children, if they survived birth, often died in infancy of illnesses, now almost unknown or no longer considered serious. But men seemed to survive: Holy Cross Cemetery contains the grave of Hugh Berry whose impressive marker reads: “Aged 100 years. Departed this life, Aug. 20, 1858,” and the graves of men who reached their eighties and even their nineties are not at all uncommon.

Hazards existed of kinds unknown to us today; we are not told exactly what brought about the death in Carroll County of Mary A. Cole who died Oct. 1, 1866, aged 17 years, 25 days, “Killed while bravely defending her Brother from a deadly assault.”

Occasionally man and wife survived long years together, as witness the Holy Cross gravestone, erected in 1902, of James and Anna McCrain.

In labor and in love allied
In death they here sleep side by side
Resting in peace the aged twain
Till Christ shall raise them up again.

And some young couples of James and Anna McCrain are those of Louise E. and George T. Ford. What early-day tragedy accounts for their passing is now lost to our knowledge. Louis died No. 26. 1862, at the age of we years, 2 months. George died 11 months later aged 29 years, 5 months. On Louise’s stone only the first line of her epitaph is still decipherable: “Its but a casket that lies here....”

But the mortality of young wives and children is everywhere predominant in these early burying predominant in these early burying places, as these typical ones show: Daniel H. Hollingshead, born in 1834, died in 1826 at the age of 92 years, 5 months, 2 days, having outlived two wives--Rebecca, who died in 1902 at the age of 65 and Mary, who died at the age of 25 in 1867. Rebecca had only one child, it seems: Archie, who died at the age of 5 in 1881. Mary, however, was preceded by three children: Viola, who died in 1861 at the age of 4 months, 4 days; Emma, who died in 1864 aged 1 year, 4 months and Agnes, who died in 1867, aged 9 months, 15 days. Mary out-lived her youngest daughter by only 13 days,

Beneath clasped hands on the weathered stone of Lydia H. (19 years, 5 months, 25 days) can still be traced out her husband’s valediction:

Sleep on dear wife none distress you
Sleep till Jesus bids you rise
When with all God’s ransomed people
We will meet you in the skies

Near Lydia’s grave is that of Clarissa B. Houghton, 16 year-old wife of Levi H. It, too has an inscribed poem, now too time-blurred to read. Levi lies nearby, having died at the age of 86 in 1892.

Twin tombstones sometimes stand over infant double burials and inscriptions like the following are not rare: “Catherine Dolan, a native of Co. Wexford, Ireland, Died Sept 1, 1869 at 38 years, Also with her two infant daughters Katie and Maggie and Anna by her side, God grant we may all met in Heaven.

Close by, three small stones mutely commemorate Joseph P. 1882-1882, Mary B. 1889-1889, and Margareth M. 1887-1901, children of P. & M. Owens.

In the true democracy of death lies settlers from our own east and south together with immigrants from many European countries. “Born in City of New York,” says one stone; “Native of Scotland,” says another: “Born in Parrish of Clamaney County Donegal, Ireland.” a third. These are stories in stones.