It’s a long road to Cooperstown


Maria Frances Cooper: b. 1819 - d. 1898 (daughter of James Fenimore Cooper)


Every summer, a small village in upstate New York swells to several times its size as thousands of visitors descend upon it, eager to pay respects to their baseball heroes. Located approximately an hour half from the state capitol in Albany or five + driving hours from New York City, most agree that for baseball players and visitors alike, it’s a long road to Cooperstown.       

It’s an even longer road in winter but the payoff comes in having the town practically to one’s self. The Hall of Fame, shops, and readily available parking are all there for the leisurely traveler willing to put up with the occasional icy sidewalks and snow drifts.       

For the more scholarly-inclined, winter is a great time to visit the Cooper family plot at Christ Church where literary genius and Victorian churchyard cemetery gazing can be had with few interruptions.       

Cooper family plot - southern side


At this time of year, the Christ Church grounds are well insulated with snow, except for the path from the old-fashioned vicarage through the Cooper family plot and to the church itself.       Continue reading

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And we’re back…

It’s great to be back!

What with all the little things going on in the past few weeks, it was really nice to concentrate on getting them all done and out of the way. Now it’s time to resume some regular posting but we won’t get too staid just yet. Since most of us are still enjoying a long weekend, let’s keep the celebratory spirit going with some fun cemetery articles from around the world.

1. Whimsical, patriotic, serious…here is a terrific post, A Lovely Day for a Trip to the Graveyard, by Dina Fainberg who writes (and photographs) the fabulous carvings found in Russian cemeteries. Sights like these are what inspired me to begin writing this blog because I felt like I was visiting an open-air sculpture park and not a graveyard.

2. A timely followup to the previous post, Redefining the Cemetery Concept, discusses how cemeteries can still remain relevent in today’s society (photography, symbolism discovery, art festivals, even weddings) and points out several unique sites for future visits.

3. If all this cemetery talk is stirring up the ambition to find out more of your family history, check out, Take a Trip to Trace Your Roots. Detailing some of the more well-known sites from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to the Allen County Library of Fort Wayne, Indiana, the article is a help to those of us who could use a little more direction in our genealogical searches.

4. One caveat to keep in mind is that many online genealogical searches are not cheap and many can snare first-time seekers into paying more than they had originally anticipated. One solution for those living in larger metropolitan areas is to check out their local libraries. Quite often, full-time genealogists are on hand to help out and if they’re not, the libraries will have readily available and free databases.

5. And speaking of searching, Josh Perry still believes in good old-fashioned, gumshoe work. Combining an interest in cemeteries with organized crime, he hunts down gravesites of notorious Chicago gangsters. Check out his Grave Hunting Primer to see how he does it and what he recommends.

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Stones & Bones Stories pdf

For those readers who thought it might be neat to check out the Stones & Bones slide show, I’ve finally created a pdf for you.

It can be found here: Stones and Bones Slide Show.

If you’re interested in hearing the Seattle Public Library presentation mp3 podcast, here it is:


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So, you think you can cook…

Clarence Metz: Army cook


I admit it. I’m a Top Chef fan.   

Not that I can whip up such amazing creations myself, but I really enjoy seeing how these talented chefs pull off the seemingly impossible in such a limited amount of time. And under some really difficult environments.   

But did you ever see those episodes where the contestants are told they must cook a gourmet meal for 300 people? And even though the serving portion usually ends up being some spoon-sized, artistic dollop on a tiny plate, the contestants usually all have the same freaked-out expression on their faces.   

One meal for 300 people?   

Oh. My. God.   

(Cue the laughter from all those current and ex-military cooks)   

Let’s look at this challenge from a military perspective.   Continue reading

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Military Veterinarians: Then and now

Rudolph Celinas: World War I horseshoer


World War I irrevocably changed the view of warfare in a number of ways. The trench bogs, the introduction of tanks, weapons of mass destruction (mustard gas) and the last-gasp reliance on horses for either hauling artillery or cavalry officers through the endless mud and muck.  

Animals were integral to the war effort. According to the website, the US Army had six classes of animals to fulfill military hauling requirements. These were:  

• For the cavalry: Active horses from 950 to 1,200 pounds  

• For hauling light artillery: Strong active horses from 1,150 to 1,300 pounds  

• For hauling siege batteries: Powerful horses from 1,400 to 1,700 pounds  

• For hauling wheelers above 1,150 pounds or leaders above 1,000 pounds: pack and draft mules  Continue reading

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Where there’s a war, there’s a nurse

Blanche Hackett: WWI Army Nurse Corps


The Army Nurse Corps.    

In the U.S., the need for nurses was recognized as early as 1775 when General Washington requested that the fledging U.S. government send nurses and matrons to care for injured Revolutionary War soldiers. Thankfully, such assistance wasn’t limited to behind-the-lines facilities. For example, take volunteer Molly Pitcher who carried water under fire to help keep her husband’s artillery gunners hydrated.    

By the time the Civil War erupted, nursing support had become more official.    

According to the Army Nurse Corps website, “Approximately 6,000 women performed nursing duties for the federal forces…often performing their humanitarian service close to the fighting front or on the battlefields themselves.” One of the most famous personalities from this time, was Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.    

The Spanish American War in 1898 proved to be one of the deadlier arenas due to typhoid and yellow fever contagions. While less than 400 American soldiers were killed in combat during this war, more than 2,000 contracted yellow fever during the campaign.    

Among the nurses, fifteen died from typhoid, one died from yellow fever.    Continue reading

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Remembering our veterans…

…and the history they’ve made. 

Private Koester: Born 1833 - Died 1918


May is a great month for remembering our veterans and our sometimes forgotten history. Over the next few weeks, Beyond The Ghosts… will be posting a variety of interesting memorial headstone snapshots and stories from the photo archives. In the meantime, here are four links to some previous military postings to get us started. 

And lest we forget…To those who have served, or who are currently serving, thank you! 

World War 1 Tank Corps 

Marching with General Sherman down through Atlanta 

The Siberian Front – World War I 

Before the Air Force, the Army had things well in hand…

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