Can you help save Flight Lieutenant George Arthur Marrows?

An appeal asking for more information about Flight Lieutenant George Arthur Marrows appeared in yesterday’s Gainsborough Standard.

Courtesy Gainsborough Standard

Courtesy Gainsborough Standard

Flight Lt. Marrows was the pilot of a Halifax bomber which took off from RAF Breighton on 7th June 1944 to bomb rail communications. It crashed near Bretigny-sur-Orge killing all seven crew. All are buried in Bretigny-sur-Orge Communal Cemetery.

The local restoration society would like to repair Flt. Lt Marrow’s headstone in the Gainsborough cemetery as it’s broken and the inscription is very difficult to read. Anyone with information please visit http://www.friendsofthegeneralcemetery.com.

Read the entire article here.

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Book Review: Haunted Washington

After first reading the Black Diamond Cemetery (BD) entry and noting his warning about visiting that cemetery, I looked for other ‘warnings’ or negative feedback from the author and found none. Just the one from BD. 

“Our advice: Consider staying away from the Black Diamond Cemetery, unless you are really determined to see something strange.”

Ghost books aren’t usually included on this site for a very simple reason. This blog focuses on the history of and/or the interesting carvings found around various cemeteries. Not hauntings.

However, after receiving an email from an historian friend who had read Adam Woog’s latest book, Haunted Washington: Uncanny Tales and Spooky Spots from the Upper Left-Hand Corner of the United States, and had lived in one of the supposedly haunted locales, and knew the Pike’s Place Market night watchman, I decided this was a worthwhile exception.

Enjoy the review and if you do end up buying the book, let me know what you think.

The Author: Lives in Seattle. Has written books on mummies; movie monsters, vampires, poltergeists, strange museums, zombies, and illusionists. He writes a monthly column for the Seattle Times on crime and mystery fiction. His books are written for adults, teens and children. Mr. Woog states in the book, “Writing Haunted Washington was way too much fun, but it was not without its frustrations.”

Chapter sections include: Native American Legends, Seattle, The Puget Sound Islands, King and Snohomish Counties, Tacoma, The Kitsap Peninsula and Olympia, the State Capital, Olympic Peninsula: From Twilight to Real Crime and Back, Bellingham, The San Juan Islands, Southwest Washington, Central Washington and the Cascade Mountains, and Eastern and Southeastern Washington.

Introduction by the author: He questions the spooky eerie tales of the State of Washington, considering that they may be contributed to the dark rainforests, sparsely populated islands up in the northern parts, logging towns, rolling hills, the vastness of ranchlands, remote mountains of the Olympics and Cascades, and rich heritage of American Tribes. He contends that people just like a good story, “especially one that has the potential to scare them out of their socks.” His checklist for including a story was, “needing to be mentioned in at least one book or article from a reputable media source and/or involve a well established legend.”

The Stories and the ghosts, unusual unexplained events continue: The Georgetown Castle, Seattle’s Chinatown where some won’t work in or near some established old buildings, stories from the islands are legends, Issaquah’s Rolling Log tavern, the special steps at Maltby that were covered up but the voices and happenings returned, Tacoma’s theatre The Pantages is one of many theaters with the unexplained. Native Americans took about a year of planning a cleansing at Lakewood, but after the events came back said, “We don’t want anything changed here. Whatever energy is here, we want it just the way it is.”

At the top of the list of the strangest is in Starvation Heights in Olalla. In Port Gamble is the most densely haunted place, and the Evergreen State College in Olympia where, in 1997, the Governor and his family moved out of the Mansion due to bats, and at Tenino with their wooden money, the ghosts have remained.

The Olympic Peninsula From Twilight to Real Crime and Back says it all. The military man in a WW 11 wool army uniform faded away before their eyes, and like Monika in Touched by an Angel, the woman is back every night, seated at the same table, dressed in her 1940s outfit–always a heartwarming ending. They were married a week, he went to serve his country and didn’t come home, but he’s there at the table with her. They’ve seen it but don’t talk much about it.

The islands, where, even after they’ve passed on in life, the ghosts still hang around.

Gonzaga University and the Davenport Hotel in Spokane are also included in this book–both with a nice, long write up. In Yakima, “(Ghosts) bring in a good business,” says one restaurant owner in the old depot, “with even more down the block a pace or two.”

You never know where or when you’ll see these unexplained events, from old depots, public buildings, old mortuaries turned into housing, hotels, taverns, colleges and certainly, cemeteries. No area seems to be without its haunted past.

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10 most scenic cemeteries

Prague Cemetery

Just in time for Halloween, here’s a link to a CNN article about 10 of the most scenic cemeteries in the world. Enjoy!

10 most scenic cemeteries…

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Newcastle Cemetery update

Many of you have read my earlier posts on the Newcastle coal miner’s cemetery located just outside of Seattle. Here’s a link to a news video highlighting the site and the $9,500 grant given to help clean and restore the broken headstones. Congratulations, Newcastle!

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The end of the line

After almost three years of writing about historic cemeteries, interesting anecdotes, and funky headstone symbols, Beyond The Ghosts… is closing its doors to any new posts. However, the blog will remain as a static site for those looking to do research and yes, if you leave a comment, I will still respond.   
 

There are several reasons why but time is probably the biggest. Multiple new projects keep pushing me into various directions, severely limiting the time needed to research interesting new angles.  

Good stories take a while to discover and develop.  

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a believer in quality, not quantity. Far too many blogs and content sites seem more concerned with putting something out there, just anything, in order to keep the search engine spiders hitting. That’s not my style and I won’t insult readers by doing so.  

General interest runs a close second.  

Like most bloggers, I keep an eye on the stats to find out about the audience. Unfortunately, the past several months have attracted far more spammers than readers. I’m not sure whether this means spammers think cemeteries are the new hot thing or whether it simply proves their complete lack of awareness. 

Regardless, the combination of the two has made me realize that this very interesting ride has finally come to an end.  

What a privilege it’s been.  

I’ve traveled to unique places like the early Christian catacombs and an old western ghost town, accessed one of the most fascinating research places in the world (Westminster Abbey), and had the good fortune of meeting dedicated volunteers whose work in these historic sites all too often, goes unnoticed.  

My sincerest appreciation goes out to all those who supported the Beyond The Ghosts… efforts over these past three years—4Culture, the Newcastle Historical Society, Ruth Pickering, Karen Bouton, The Seattle Public Library genealogy experts, and many others who took time out of their busy day to point me in the right direction.  

Last, but not least, thank you to all those who stopped by to read an article (or two) and offered their encouragement.  I’ll still be around to respond if the muse moves you to comment on particular post.

It really has been quite a fun ride.  Many thanks to you all.

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Teddy’s Story: Decoding the kanji stones

This week’s guest post comes from Kristy Lommen whose website serves as a tribute to the Auburn area’s Japanese communities, both past and present. Over the past year, Ms. Lommen worked with Yoshiko Kato to decode as many of kanji stones as possible before they faded away. Here is one of their discoveries:

Photo courtesy Kristy Lommen

When Yoshiko Kato visited the cemetery to translate the kanji stones, I was particularly excited when she reached the fourth marker in the first row. Although the family surnames had been previously translated from most of the stones, this particular stone was marked on our transcript with only a mysterious, black question mark. We had, at that time, not even the least idea who might be buried in that grave.

Yoshiko kneeled in front of the marker, leaning forward and backward alternately in order to make sense of the nearly illegible marks. She resorted to using a finger to attempt to trace the kanji, gleaning by feel information that proved to be too faint to read by eye.

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Now about that cemetery in the backyard…

Idyllic pastures

 

Homeowners wanting to purchase that historic 18th or 19th century farmhouse would do well to think it through before handing over the escrow down payment. Many of these lovely old places come with an unexpected little extra located in the far corners of the property—the family cemetery.     

Finding out about these potential new neighbors generates mixed reactions. For some, it only enhances the overall attraction and connection to local history while for others it’s an immediate deal breaker – especially if it’s a cultural no-no.     

Revolutionary War veteran, died 1850

 

This past April, the New York Times reported on one potential buyer who refused to even look at a $3 million dollar property because it was next to a cemetery while another discovered an 1812 marker in the front lawn after escrow closed. Figuring it was just part of owning a house constructed in the late 1600s, the owner shrugged and added the upkeep into his regular lawn maintenance duties.     

Then there are those who feel they’ve hit the jackpot.     

One Maine family was ecstatic to discover a late 18th century cemetery lurking in their backyard. After clearing out numerous piles of brush and tree branches, the cemetery was re-dedicated with a pretty little memorial plaque and even got its own website.     

Abigail Wellman: died April 12, 1817, 50 years old

 

Old family cemeteries are a lot more common than most people realize and they’re not just found in the New England or mid-Atlantic areas. There are just as many private cemeteries located in the South. But let’s not forget the nation’s longest rural graveyard either; the Oregon Trail. A leisurely drive along the pastoral byways in all of these states will reveal any number of weathered headstones standing guard on a lonely hill.     

Old cemeteries encountered rough times during the recent housing boom when developers pushed further out into previously rural areas. A 2006 Washington Post article highlighted the challenges some of these forgotten sites faced in Tennessee.     

“State archaeologist Nick Fielder estimates that there are 20,000 family cemeteries in Tennessee, but there’s no way to know for sure. There’s no central inventory, and most documentation is done by historians and volunteers who scour records and trudge through meadows in search of graves.     

Fielder says about 100 family cemeteries fall in the path of development in Tennessee each year, about two times as many as a decade ago. Under state law, he said, there’s nothing sacred about sites. Relatives of the deceased have no legal leverage over family plots they don’t own, and landowners who can pay to move a cemetery need only a judge’s approval.”     

Thankfully, the lucky ones are removed to a new location while others, like Comet Lodge Cemetery in Seattle, get stuck in a very odd kind of limbo. Interestingly enough, this particular area is now home to many Asians who would consider it very unlucky to live near a cemetery.     

So what happens if you buy that gorgeous fixer-upper and (gulp) find out there are a few more residents on the place than originally thought?     

Family cemetery, upstate New York

 

Well, the first thing to understand is that most states do not consider the abandoned family cemetery on your property to be yours, regardless of whether you hold the title. You cannot just simply up and move the bodies on your own. However, since rules governing this process vary around the country, it’s best to review cemetery laws at the state level. For example, here is commentary on Florida’s regulations, a link to New York State’s cemetery law manual, the friendly, Q&A styled version for Virginia, and an artistically presented handbook from South Carolina.     

Barring that, there’s always the option of simply leaving the new neighbors alone. After all, it’s not very likely they’ll be throwing loud parties anytime soon.

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