Friday, November 20, 2015

13 Grave Markers With Descriptions

It is amazing, the different shapes and styles of cemetery stones you can find in the graveyard. Here is a list of some of the most common, and some of the more unique.

Box Tomb
Box Tombs

This is a rectangular shaped above ground grave marker, sometimes constructed of brick or stone with four sides and a slab top. There is no “floor,” and the body is buried below ground. This style is very popular in the eastern and southern parts of the U.S.

White Bronze Cradle Grave
Cradle Grave Marker
Curbing, or small walls, surround the grave and usually incorporates the headstone in the design. The interior was then filled with live flowers. Many now sprout weeds since left unattended; others have been filled with concrete to keep a “clean” look about them. Despite the name, a cradle grave does not indicate that a child is buried here. Today, they are called kerbed headstones.

Flat Stone

Flat Headstones

These markers lay directly on the ground, which makes mowing easier. You will find many of these were created from cement with names and dates hand-carved into the marker during the Depression years.

Gateway Arch

Gateway Headstone
This stone is usually seen on the graves of a married couple. It is made up of two columns connected by an arch. It also known as “The Portal to Eternity.”

Grave House
Grave Houses
A grave house is a building constructed over a grave to protect it from the elements and, at one time, grave robbers. The structure resembles a tiny house with walls and a roof; many have small windows and a door. Others have tiny openings, which are known as spirit windows. 

Individualistic Markers

These began with angels and lions, guarding mausoleums and above ground markers. Today, they take a decidedly personal approach as seen by these figures and icons representing the souls of those whose graves they mark.

Ledger Stone
Ledger with Cut-Away
Flat Ledger Stone
This flat, rectangular stone is laid directly upon the ground and covers the grave completely. The top is used for inscriptions or cut out designs.

Monolith Marker
Monolith Stone
This is an upright stone placed upon a base. It is very common in the cemetery.

These four-sided towering spires were popular in the 19th century and were a part of the Egyptian Revival Movement; notice the top tapers into the shape of a pyramid. These stones usually mark the graves of those who had standing, and money, in the community.

Pulpit Gravestone
Pulpit Stone
Pulpit Tree Stone
This stone has a slanted surface and resembles a lectern. They may also look like an open book. Many people assume that the book is a bible but not necessarily; it can also represent “The Book of Life.”

There are several variations of this marker but all take their influences from the Egyptian Revival Movement of the 19th Century. The style is still considered rare in cemeteries.

Detailed Sarcophagus
This stone receptacle is placed on a pedestal and has inscriptions and designs engraved upon it. This marker was very popular from the latter part of the 19th Century up until the 1950s in the U.S.

Tree Stone
WOW Emblem

Tree Stone
These carved markers resemble tree trunks or stumps with vining ivy, severed branches, and other icons that tell a story about the person buried there. The tree stone was adopted by Modern Woodmen of America and Woodmen of the World, but a stone does not signify that someone belonged to either organization unless their emblem is on it.
Now, head out to a cemetery this weekend and see what you discover.

~ Joy

Friday, November 6, 2015

Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald - 40 Years Later

Next Tuesday will mark the 40th anniversary of the final voyage of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which occurred on November 10, 1975. The freighter went down in a storm on Lake Superior, taking all 29 on board.

SS Edmund Fitzgerald
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was launched on June 8 and made her maiden voyage on September 24, 1958. She was one of the largest ships to traverse the Great Lakes at 729-feet, and also the largest ship to have sunk there.

Mr. Edmund Fitzgerald
The ship was named for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company’s president and chairman of the board, Edmund Fitzgerald. The insurance company owned the Fitzgerald. The ship had several nicknames including “The Big Fitz,” and the “Titanic of the Great Lakes.”

The ship mainly carried iron ore from the mines near Duluth, Minnesota to the iron works located in Detroit and other ports on the Great Lakes. Round trips usually took her five days, and she made between 45 and 50 trips a season. It was estimated that she had made close to 750 trips during her 17 years on the Lakes. The Fitzgerald set numerous hauling records, many times besting her old records.

Superior, Wisconsin Lighthouse
On November 9, 1975 the Fitzgerald departed from Superior, Wisconsin loaded with 26,116 tons of ore pellets, and heading to Detroit. Her captain was 63-year-old Ernest M. McSorley, a Canadian with over 40 years experience on the Great Lakes. McSorley had taken over as captain of the freighter in 1972. This was to have been his final voyage before retirement.

November Gales
The ship was en route for all of 20 minutes when the National Weather Service issued gale warnings for the region that the Fitzgerald would be sailing into early the next morning. This was a bad omen as November is known as “The Month of Storms” on the Great Lakes, and this year “ ...the gales of November came early.”

At 1:00 a.m. on November 10, the ship reported winds at 52 knots and waves about 10 feet high; she was 20 miles south of Isle Royale.

At 7:00 a.m. another weather report was issued from the ship. This time winds were at 35 knots and waves were holding at 10 feet. The ship would not make another weather report.

Captain McSorley
It was 3:30 p.m. when Captain McSorley radioed to the SS Arthur M. Anderson, another ship also out in the storm, reporting damage and requesting that the Anderson stay close until the Fitz could get to Whitefish Bay Michigan.

Final Course
About 4:10 Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson that he had lost both radars and needed assistance with his position. The Anderson radioed back that they would keep the Fitzgerald advised of their position. (To hear the actual radio communication, visit

SS Fitzgerald 1971
Around 7 p.m., the Anderson radioed that it was following the Fitzgerald, lagging about 10 miles behind. When asked how McSorley was “making out with your problem?  He replied, “We are holding our own.” It was the last transmission that would come from the Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship hit a squall at 7:15 p.m. and 10 minutes later, the Fitzgerald vanished from radar.

At 2 a.m. on November 11, the William Clay Ford arrived at the site where the Fitzgerald went down – 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan. There were no survivors.

It was later reported that winds reached 45 knots where the Fitzgerald had last been reported, with waves as high as 30 feet.

In May 1976, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was officially identified. Its final resting place is about 520 feet underwater in Lake Superior. Divers reported that both water pumps were damaged on the ship, and the lifeboats had been destroyed by the storm’s force. Many speculate that the ship was taken down by huge waves swamping or pushing the Fitz underwater.

Numerous expeditions have been conducted at the wreckage site over the years. The U.S. Coast Guard rejected a preliminary report of faulty hatches in 1978. To this day an actual reason for the ship’s sinking remains undetermined.

The ship’s bell was raised in 1995 and restored. It now rests in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point, Michigan. Each November 10th the bell tolls 29 times in memory of the 29 crewmen who died that fateful night.

Gordon Lightfoot commemorated the sinking of the freighter with his song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” released in 1976.  (This version includes edited footage by Joseph Fulton.)

It is now forty years later, and the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is still one of the greatest tragedies, and biggest mysteries to have ever occurred on any of the Great Lakes.


Special thanks to:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Haunted Ashmore Estates – Ashmore, Illinois

It’s October – my favorite time of year, and with it comes the chance to investigate some haunted places around the U.S. This year, A Grave Interest has focused on haunted houses, and the spirits who are up to some mischief making … Here’s one final look!

Photos courtesy Ashmore Estates
It was once a poor house where Coles County, Illinois residents could go and work for food and lodging. Residents grew their food on the farm; butchered and smoked their meats, churned butter, and grew the vegetables.

The current structure was built in 1916 on the same ground the original Alms House had stood on for almost 60 years. Built in the Neo-Georgian style, the three-story building also had a basement.

The Coles County Poor Farm operated until 1959 when it, and the surrounding land, was sold to Ashmore Estates, Inc. for use as a private psychiatric hospital. The hospital operated for five years before going broke and closing its doors.

One year later, in 1965, the facility opened again as a public mental institution, taking patients in from all over the state. By the late 1960s, the hospital had 50 residents in-house.

Ashmore Estates was sold again in 1976 and an attempt to modernize the building began. It took until the mid-1980s for the reconstruction to be completed, but by 1986, the facility was heavily in debt. By April, residents were being transferred to other locations and the psychiatric hospital was closed.

The building was left abandoned for years and rumors began to spread that it was extremely haunted. (It’s now listed as one of the three most haunted places in Illinois.) On Halloween night in 1995, the old caretaker’s home, across the road, was burned by vandals. As the spooky tales increased, so did the vandalism; all of the windows were broken out, people entered the building to spray paint the walls, damage the structure, and party with the “spirits.” As the years went by, Ashmore Estates continued to fall into decline.

Reports of full body apparitions have been made, especially involving a little girl. Some say it is four-year-old Elva Skinner, a child who died in the first almshouse back in 1880. The story goes that Elva was hurrying to get dressed one cold February morning when she stepped too close to the fireplace and her dress caught fire. She died later that day as the result of her burns. It is believed that Elva has haunted the property since her tragic death over 130 years ago.

An apparition of a man has been seen jumping from a window to his “death.” Another figure is that of a man wearing a dressy top hat who roams the hallways. Music can be heard in the building along with singing coming from the empty music room.

Local television weather personality, Kevin Orpurt stayed in the house overnight in 2009. He reported several incidents in the basement area where it felt as if something was trying to lift him off the ground. Around 4 am while the group he was with went up to the second floor to investigate, Orpurt stayed on the first floor. He has no recollection of how he came to be body-slammed onto the floor, but awoke in pain, surrounded by the rest of the group who decided it was some type of evil spirit that did not want him in the building.

The crew of the Travel Channel series, Ghost Adventurers recently recorded a show here. During filming they encountered banging noises, dark shadow figures, disembodied voices and scratches. Watch the Ashmore Estates episode on their web page:

A fierce storm hit in 2013 with wind speeds up to 100 mph. The building’s roof was blown off and the classic gables were destroyed. Most said the building was beyond repair. But the paranormal community stepped up and has assisted the new owners in bringing the building back to life. Another storm, which hit in May of this year, damaged the roof again and repairs have been made.

But this is no Halloween “haunted house.” Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters are welcome to set an appointment to schedule their investigations in the building. Horror movie producers and several ghost investigative shows have already stayed at the estates, shooting apparitions, mists and recording voices in the night.
Private investigations may be conducted overnight or during the daytime. Contact Ashmore Estates for current fees, and to set an appointment.

And, it gets better! A public Halloween investigation will be taking place tomorrow night at Ashmore. In what will be a 12-hour “lock-down” – from 6 pm Oct 31 to 6 am November 1  – twelve people will be admitted to explore and experience the estate on the night when the veil is the thinnest. Check the web site to see if the slots are already filled.

Next year will mark the 100 Anniversary of Ashmore Estates, and who knows what spooktacular discoveries await us …

~ Joy
Ashmore Estates
22645 E. County Road 1050N
Ashmore, IL
(217) 899-9978

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Most Haunted House in Ohio: Franklin Castle – Cleveland, Ohio

It’s October – my favorite time of year, and with it comes the chance to investigate some haunted places around the U.S. This year, A Grave Interest will focus on haunted houses, and the spirits who are living up to some interesting mischief making …

It’s known as Franklin Castle because of its location on Franklin Boulevard, though the real name is the Hannes Tiedemann House. But regardless of what you call it; it is said to be the most haunted house in the state of Ohio.

The mansion was built in 1881 for Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant, and his family. Boasting four stories and more than two-dozen rooms, the castle has a dark legacy of death.

Tiedemann Monument
The new year had gotten off to a dubious start in 1891, when on  January 15, Tiedemann’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma died due to complications with diabetes. The family was still in mourning when Hannes’ elderly mother died.

Suddenly, within the next three years, three more of Tiedemann’s children died in the house; one was less than two weeks old. No cause was given for any of the deaths. Tongues wagged and many felt that five deaths in three years was more than unfortunate.

Hannes’ wife, Luise, was inconsolable, but he tried to cheer her by adding rooms and passages throughout the house, including the addition of a ballroom on the fourth floor. Gargoyles and turrets were also added to the exterior of the house, and a Gothic castle-like appearance took shape.

Then on March 24 1895, tragedy struck again when Luise Tiedemann died of liver disease at the age of fifty-seven. Hannes said he had had enough and sold the house to the Mullhauser family, wishing them a more joyful time there than his family had experienced.

The Mullhauser’s lived there several years before selling the house to the German Socialist Party for their meetings and activities. It was rumored that several people had been gunned down in the house due to a political dispute.

During Prohibition, the network of hidden rooms and passageways were discovered throughout the old house. The real reason they had been built were unknown; all of the Tiedemann’s were dead, but it made the mansion a perfect location for bootlegging operations.

By the late 1960s, the house was falling into a state of disrepair, but James Romano and his family thought it was worth saving. Romano moved his wife and six children into the mansion in January 1968, seventy-seven years after the first death had occurred. 

The family soon began experiencing odd occurrences; organ music could be heard throughout the house but no organ was inside. The Romano children requested cookies for their friend who lived upstairs – a young girl only they could see, who always cried. Footsteps sounded through the hallways, and a heavy tread was often heard walking along the concealed passages.

By 1974, the Romano family decided to move out and sold the property to a man who was going to turn the structure into a church. In order to finance the plans, tours were offered with a chance for people to stay overnight in the haunted mansion.

Paranormal groups flocked to the mansion, including professional ghost hunter, Hans Holzer. Holzer told church members that several spirits haunted the house, including that of a girl named Karen.

Hans Holzer
According to Holzer, Karen had died at the turn-of-the century after her father had words with a man she was seeing. Something went terribly amiss and Karen was killed during the argument. To avoid a murder charge, her body was hung from a rafter and her death ruled a suicide. This is said to be the reason she remains.  Karen is believed to occupy a third floor room that stays about 10º colder than the rest of the houses, even in the summer.

Rumors flew during the church remodel when the bones of several babies were discovered in a secret room. The coroner stated that the bones were over 70 years old, so no investigation was held.

Neighbors have repeatedly reported seeing a tall sender woman dressed all in black, standing in one of the turret windows. Many believe it is the spirit of Rachel, Tiedemann’s mistress. Supposedly when he found out she was leaving him for another man, he took her to the castle and strangled her in the turret room. The sounds of choking can still be heard in the mansion.

But no one ever stayed too long here. The house sold twice in 1983, again in 1985, was up for sale in 1994 and sold again in 1999. Ownership of the mansion has changed hands as reports of paranormal activity continued to mount. Reports of spinning chandeliers, wispy figures, doors opening and closing on their own, and faces appearing in the woodwork, only to disappear when sighted could shake the most interested buyer.

In 2001, the house was purchased by Chiara Dona dalle Rose, a European tapestry artist who planned to convert it into a two family dwelling. As of last year, construction crews could be seen working in the house, but the local architect hired for the renovations is no longer involved. Will the mansion ever be lived in again? The answer depends; do you count those troubled spirits that appear to still reside in Franklin Castle?

~ Joy

Franklin Castle
(Tiedemann House)
4308 Franklin Blvd
Cleveland, OH