Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Venture Into History

For more than a month now I have wanted to take my camera to an old cemetery a couple of blocks behind my house. I finally got my lazy butt over there and here is what I discovered. The first thing you notice about this old cemetery is all the broken and dismantled gravestones. Now, I personally am not an advocate of this country's ritual of burial. I believe strongly that it is a waste of land. When I took my trip over there, that is exactly what I was confirming to myself. What a waste, here sits a plot of land that could have been a pretty park or simply a field of wildflowers. So to enter and see how it is somewhat forgotten, tore me up. I proceeded through the graveyard and took photos of interesting head stones with odd engravings. Born June 23, 1787—Died September 11, 1853, Aged 65 years, 2 mos, 4 days.

I wandered around taking several photos and getting tiny glimses of the souls buried there. I came across a headstone that simply read Mabel 1883—1884, Right beside Mabel was another—somewhat fancier headstone, that read Ivan C., Son—died 1882. Beside those were the headstones of Mother and Father.

At first I wondered—why is Ivan's headstone more
elaborate than little Mabel's? With a bit of pondering I realized that this couple lost there beloved son in 1882 at the age of three. One year later Mabel was born and passed away a year after that. It's no wonder her gravestone was so simple. I cannot imagine the loss these parents must have felt having to bury yet another child in such a short period of time. I left the cemetery feeling an overwhelming amount of sadness.

After discussion with hubby, we attempted to do some internet investigating to find out more about this old cemetery. To our disappointment we could not find any information, not even the name. I called a local funeral home to see if they knew the name of the cemetery. They offered up the name Grove—more research, still nothing. So hubby and I took another trip over to see if we could get any clues to help us with our research. I was intriqued now, I had to know more about the history here. As we walked around, we noticed a neighbor at the home that sits beside the cemetery. We called to the woman and asked if she knew anything about the cemetery. Her name was Carol, and what a treasure trove of information she was! Carol told us the name of the cemetery was Raysorville Cemetery. It was a church cemetery. The congregation had divided into two different churches that are still around today, Paxton Presbyterian Church and I believe the other is Grace UME Church in Penbrook. After time, the little cemetery church was torn down. She also told us that our community at that time, was called Raysorville Heights. The Sheesley (Sheasley) family had maintained the cemetary for years and many of the family are buried there. I came across many headstones with the family name. We also spotted two with the name Raysor—founding fathers? The cemetery is now somewhat maintained by the township. but I doubt it gets many visitors. She told us many other bits of history I was not aware of. She told us that at the corner beside our house and the neighbors was a place called Hoover's Tavern. I confirmed this with my 82 year old neighbor who recalls a ditch between the properties where the patrons of the tavern would tumble, after a night of a few to many! She also told us about the Mader's Farm that took up most of the property surrounding our home, which of course was not built yet. My neighbor said, she remembers the pasture was directly across the street and they would sit on the porch and watch the cows grazing—some of which gave birth right there in the pasture.

I entered the cemetery that day intending to write a blog post about wasted land and morbid tradition. I haven't changed my opinion on that subject. However, I now have a new appreciation for the history in my community because of an old neglected cemetery. Maybe this post will inspire you to learn a little history in your community.

Below are all the photos from that day at the cemetery:



  1. wow this is such an interesting post. i live beside my towns two cemeteries. one old, one new. the old one is very interesting too. i have to make a point to go visit it soon:)

  2. I know this is not my normal self-depricating post. But I felt inspired.

  3. I share your feelings about Cemeteries and waste of space, but I too am intrigued to look through them, take some photos...Great post!

  4. well aren't you two just the little town detectives! haha... this is cool. It's really weird to think that apartment complex across the street was just fields of cows. I bet with more research & a trip to the library you could actually find some photos of what it all used to look like...

  5. Amazing~everything we do happens for a reason! You were meant to learn about the history of that place and your home! God works in mysterious ways!