If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Thursday, July 12, 2012


                                                           "Let's talk of graves and worms
                                                            and epitaphs." - Shakespeare

Pioneer Cemetery in Windsor, Ohio

I love graveyards, especially the old ones steeped in history with graves no longer watered by fresh tears. It's strange, but the moment I walk through the gate into a cemetery, all noises except for bird songs become muffled, as if I've gone back in time to another world. The people buried there, if their stones have an epitaph, come alive for me, and I wonder about their stories. For everyone has a story. For instance, I wonder about Miss Polly, daughter of J & L Wolcott, who lies buried in a cemetery nearby. She died Spt. 2d, 1808, aged 19 years when Ohio was sparsely populated. Her epitaph reads:

                                                          Parents & friends Along Adue
                                                          I leave this wilderness to you
                                                          My body lies beneath this stone
                                                          The arrest of death you cannot shun.

I wonder what Polly was like? What caused her death? Some stones tell us more. On Mar. 12, 1871, John Taber Died of heart disease while on his way to worship Sunday.

Capt. Ezra Rawdon, formerly from Conn., died Sept. 16th, 1824 in the 64th year of this age.

                                                          He was killed by a kick from a horse.
                                                          God; who first gave man his breath,
                                                          Oft calls him back by sudden death.

My grandfather discovered an isolated pioneer cemetery when he was hunting in Windsor, Ohio, several townships north of us. He told us about it, and my family went looking for it. It was off a rutted dirt road between two paved roads. No houses were on the road, and it took a while to spot a faint path on the other side of a stream. Crossing the stream on stepping stones, we followed the path up the hill until it opened on an overgrown clearing in the woods. At that time there were no markers for the cemetery, only old gravestones; some still upright, many leaning and some lying on the ground. One that interested us was for Jon H. Higley, esq. He had emigrated here from Connecticut in 1804 at the age of 56 and was 69 years old when he died in 1817. That was considered an old man in those years. What caused a man of his age to relocate? Did he come with his family or with a friend like Capt. Parker?

A lot of people arrived from Connecticut because this section of NE Ohio is the Connecticut Western Reserve. With little or no money to pay soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War, they were often given land here instead.  That was probably the case with Jonathan Parker, a Captain in the Revolutionary War and staff officer of Gen. Geo. Washington. He died Feb. 26, 1824, 88 years old. Others came to the Western Reserve for farming. Land was cheap in this wilderness where Native Americans still lived as well as bears, wolves and cougars. Today a local historical society maintains the graves in this cemetery, but sadly age has worn away the stones making them harder to read, and vandals have found this cemetery and destroyed others.

On top of a hill in the middle of an Amish field in Mesopotamia, Ohio, lies the Old Smith Burying Ground enclosed within stone walls and guarded by two large pines. The white stones are scattered and leaning haphazardly on a bed of meadow grass and wild flowers. One of the graves is for Henry C, son of Edmund and Polly Smith, who died Feb. 21, 1864, aged 20. From a history of Mesopotamia, I discovered he'd gone to fight in the Civil War less than 8 months before, becoming quite ill and died in a nearby hospital. His father brought him home to bury him. Such a sad journey that must have been for his family. His epitaph reads:

                                                    For _______ down of this wicked _______
                                                    And the honor of our rights,
                                                    liberties and the defense of our union
                                                    and national flag I offer as a sacrifice
                                                    to maintain that honor.

The blank spaces have been obliterated, making this a very good reason why it's important to record these old stones before they're lost by the ravages of nature, pollution and vandalism.

                                                              Old Smith Burying Ground

Occasionally epitaphs bring a smile. Usually this is either in defiance of the gloom of death, to attract the attention of visitors, alterations of meaning over the years, inadvertent wording, illiteracy or error on the part of the stonecutter. Or maybe an original tombstone replaced by the descendants of Martha caused the humor of Ezra Wildman's stone. On his stone, his name and those of his four wives; Matilda, Rose, Martha and Margaret are followed by a one line epitaph: Jesus Loved Martha.

I've visited many cemeteries over the years, often collecting interesting epitaphs. I've visited the graves of famous people like Emily Dickenson, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Jefferson and many others, but the graves that touch me the most are those found in my own area. So many stories lie beneath those stones. So many questions I'd like answers to. I have much more to write on this interest of mine, but I'll save it for another blog.

Do you visit old cemeteries? If you have, what has interested you?





Warren Bull said...

If you have the chance to visit the graves of the soldiers who fought and died on and after the D-Day invasion of Europe in WWII, I suggest you visit all the national cemeteries. The English cemetery officials apparently allowed the families of the soldiers to chose the inscription in the tombstone. The sentiments covered the whole range of human emotion, sadness, pride, patriotism, searing anger and bitterness about the loss. Reading them brought tears to my eyes and I have remembered the occasion ever since.

Gloria Alden said...

I'll have to do that, Warren. My father was exempted from going because he was in a sensitive job producing shells and had two kids, but two of his brothers fought in the war. One parachuted in at the D-Day invasion and the other was in Africa and Italy. In Italy a good friend was killed beside him. Both of them lived, but I don't remember them talking about the war.

One of the next trips to Europe that my daughter and I plan to do is England. We were there years ago, and both of us want to return.

Jim Jackson said...

We love to ramble through old cemeteries, especially those designed in the 1800s as arboretums. Mt. Auburn Cemetery outside Boston, Spring Grove in Cincinnati and Bonaventure in Savannah.

It all started with Dad's annual cemetery tour where we would spend a Saturday visiting all the cemeteries containing relatives in a three-county area of New York State. While he and Mom were pulling weeds and uprighting stones, I would read inscriptions.

The dates alone tell stories: Mothers dying the day a child was born. Whole families passing away from disease in a one-week period.

And then there are the rows and rows and rows of white stones, most with names and outfit but many only marked as Uknown US Soldier, at the Andersonville, GA National Cemetery.

Even thinking of them brings a stillness to my heart.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

My family has graves in four cemeteries spanning back to preRevolutionary days. There are several family members who keep track of our history. We have photos, documents and newspaper articles.

I'm glad they do, but I'm not one of them. I've read it all so as not to repeat a sorted, sorry history and am reverent of the past, but I have little interest in it and have little time for walking through graveyards.

I'm looking to the future, my kids' future, and what I can do to better it. I ask, what's next? Every family needs those who look back, but they also need those who are guardians of the future.

Alyx Morgan said...

I love cemeteries, too, Gloria! Wherever I travel, I always make sure to visit a cemetery or two & take tons of photos.

I find them to be very serene, & yes, the stories you can find on the residents are quite profound. I once saw a tombstone that looked like a Scrabble board, & had words placed on it that described the boy for whom it was made. It was very cool & poignant.

Judy Hogan said...

I enjoyed this, Gloria. I've had fun looking at old graves on the Gower Peninsula in Wales, speculating about those folks. Some of the old grave inscriptions tell stories, more than nowadays? Cheers, Judy Hogan

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I'm writing down the names of those cemeteries, especially the one in Boston for the next time I go there. My parents visited family cemeteries, too, especially for Decoration Day (Now Memorial Day) to put flowers on the graves. I keep up that tradition, at least for my parents, son and granddaughter.

EB, you have quite a family history. Visiting the past isn't for everyone, I understand. I look to the future, too, but still like anything historical.

Alyx, that must have been a awesome tombstone you described. Did you get a picture of it?

Judy, I'm thinking that visit to the Gower Peninsula and the cemetery inspired your writing, didn't it. Maybe someday you'll get the book or books you wrote taking place there published. I hope so.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I'm not a big cemetery visitor, Gloria. I've had to do so much of it in my day for actual deaths (often of people dying way too young) that I prefer to pass on them otherwise. It's like hospitals for me. I've had to be in them and visit so many in ICU, etc., that I avoid them whenever I can.

Gloria Alden said...

I understand, Linda. I also have had to visit cemeteries for funerals, including that of my son and granddaughter. It's the old ones with stories to tell that interest me.

Sheila Connolly said...

I'm a rabid genealogist and worked professionally as one for a while (now I just write about it). I cannot stay out of cemeteries, and when I get lost driving around here, somehow I usually find myself in front of a cemetery. Go figure. The earliest burial of a relative I've found was before 1700. I visit because I feel I'm honoring the dead, so that they're not forgotten.

And that cemetery with Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott and Emerson (Sleepy Hollow in Concord)? I own a plot just down the hill from them. That way I can be assured I'll have visitors in the future.

Patg said...

I'm not much for visiting cemeteries either, though I've been to Gettysburg and Arlington. OTOH, I have quite a few pictures of a cemetery in Meridian MS where my daughter's ancestors are buried. Oldest that we can read is 1858.

Gloria Alden said...

It gets quite hard to read stones older than what you read, Pat, and even those are hard to read because of pollution. I felt an incredible amount of sadness when I visited Gettsburg and the same with Arlington. It reflects how horrible war is, and the sad part is, we don't seem to have learned how to live in peace. At least, we don't seem to glorify war as was done in the past. It might be because the media is able to show in real time the horrors that once most people only read about.

Kara Cerise said...

I receive a history lesson every time I walk through an older cemetery.

The last one I visited was in Halifax, Nova Scotia. General Ross, who burned Washington D.C. in the war of 1812, is buried there. Not knowing much about this war and wondering why a British general would be buried in Nova Scotia, I went on to learn about the huge role Canada played in the war of 1812.

Gloria Alden said...

Kara, I have yet to visit Nova Scotia, but would like to someday.

It's funny because when I first started visiting cemeteries in earnest for a paper I was working on for a folklore class in college, I'd take a friend or a family member along and soon they became as fascinated with it as I was. It's almost like a treasure hunt exploring old cemeteries.

Anonymous said...

I love cemeteries too! I recently went on a history walk with a history professor from University of California and I found the stories of the dead fascinating. I love imaging what others lives were about so long ago. I was amazed at the amount of folks who signed up for this history walk. I can't wait to go again! This would seem natural for one who enjoys murder mysteries to like cemeteries as well. Great blog!

Unknown said...

hi, do you know how to contact the people who maintain Pioneer Cemetary?