Showing posts with label Washington Indiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington Indiana. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2019

Worth a Visit: Gill's Funeral Practices Exhibit

The small town of Washington Indiana has a nostalgic feel with laundry drying on the clotheslines, quilting parties still in vogue, and horse and buggies traveling the roadways. More than 800 Old Order Amish reside in Daviess County, which is home to one of the largest Amish settlements in the country. But that is not what spurred my visit this spring. As a Tombstone Tourist, I went in search of Gill’s Funeral Practices Exhibit.

Daviess County Historical Museum
Located in the former Masonic Lodge, the Daviess County Historical Society is home to this rare and interesting collection.The exhibit can be found on the fourth floor of the museum and “viewing” the historic equipment is available only with a guided tour you must request. But the artifacts on display show the amazing story of how funeral practices became accepted in our society.

The Parlor
The entire presentation is done quite tastefully and is suitable for families. In fact, it was interesting to see the reactions of my nine-year-old granddaughter Alessa as our guide carefully explained the procedures used in the 19th and 20th centuries to prepare a body for viewing and burial. Instead of being “icked out” by the equipment, she was fascinated and highly involved throughout the tour.

Casket with Window
Done in chronological order, the tour begins in the parlor of the deceased with a wooden casket complete with a viewing window to check for signs of life during the wake.

Portable Embalming
From there we continued down the hall to the bedroom where the death occurred. The portable table had been prepared and the equipment was set up to begin the preparation and embalming process.

Funeral Home Embalming Room

The embalming room set up for the early to mid-century funeral home is stark and clean with licenses on the wall and necessary tools at hand.

Funeral Parlor
A funeral parlor visitation room is filled with flowers and wooden seats from the past.

Zinc Casket
From there, you can get an up-close view into some of the different types of coffins that were available over the decades including one for an infant, a child and an adult along with coffin moving equipment. Two intriguing casket styles included a wicker coffin and a zinc casket.

Embalming during the Civil War
The exhibit was made possible by James Pirkle and the Gill Family Funeral Home, which has been doing business in the county for almost 150 years. In 1865, cabinet-maker Joseph Gill returned home to Washington after serving in the Civil War where embalming was introduced. Gill was hired by Bonham Brothers Furniture and Undertaking Company. 

Funeral Home
In 1892, Gill and Son opened their own funeral home in the city. The business moved several times in the next fifty years as the need for services increased. In 1974, the last of the Gill family retired from the business and sold the business to their funeral director and mortician, James Pirkle who has since retired. But today Gill Funeral Services continues as the oldest continuously operating business in the town.

Historic Downtown Washington
The Daviess County Historical Museum is located at 212 East Main in Washington, Indiana. If you’re traveling from Indianapolis, Indiana, its 114 miles, and from Louisville, Kentucky, it's 91 miles - well worth the trip, if you're a Tombstone Tourist.

While you’re there –
Oak Grove Cemetery
Be sure to visit Oak Grove Cemetery where two US Congressmen are buried. If you are a fan of tree stones or white bronze monuments, there are several located here. Plus, I have visited here three times and two of the three trips, all made during the day, I have left with unexplained occurrences happening.

Safe Travels!
~ Joy

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Haunted Hoosier Cemetery - Oak Grove

Oak Grove Cemetery
On a wind-swept hill in broad daylight, the sounds of children laughing could be heard. But in the middle of this 23-acre cemetery, there are no children to be seen. Welcome to Oak Grove Cemetery in Washington, Indiana.

Arthur Greenwood
Oak Grove was once the burial place of the movers and shaker of the community. Congressman Arthur Herbert Greenwood served as Indiana’s representative for the 2nd District from 1923-1933, and represented Indiana’s 7th District from 1933-1939 in the US Congress. He was also House Majority Whip during the 73rd Congress. Greenwood began his foray into politics in Washington Indiana when he served as a member of the Board of Education in Daviess County from 1911-1915. He died in 1963 in Maryland and was buried in Oak Grove.

William Bynum
Another US Representative from Indiana buried here is William Dallas Bynum who served as Washington Indiana’s first City Clerk. Bynum was also City Attorney and Mayor. He was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1881 – 1885, and was elected to the 49th and four succeeding Congresses, serving from 1885- 1895 during which time he was House Minority Whip. Bynum died in 1927.

A stone is hidden by growth
Oak Grove Cemetery began to fall into disrepair at the beginning of the 21st century. With no perpetual care money left to maintain the cemetery, the grass and weeds were left to grow in the older sections. These are the sections where unrest has been felt – and experienced.

Then they were gone
I have visited this cemetery three times in the past few years with different people. Each time we’ve come away with otherworldly stories to tell. My first time there I discovered a large black dog roams the cemetery. I heard a large dog running up behind me with the tags rattling on his collar but when I turned, there was nothing there. When I looked over at the woods that borders the property, a man, dressed in black, stood there with his black dog. They looked at me for a moment, took one step back and they were gone.

An encounter was experienced down this lane
A friend who had never had any paranormal experiences was given quite a scare when we decided to roam the grounds to photograph graves. Meeting up later, we discussed the condition of the cemetery. At that time, it was privately owned and was not being properly taken care of. The grass in the older section where we stood was knee high. After chatting a few minutes, we each headed out in different directions. Half an hour later she came rushing over the hill. Tossing her camera into the car she asked if I had slipped up behind her and called her name in an attempt to scare her. But I and our other cemetery buddy had already packed it up and were sitting in the car talking. The fact that the spirit had mimicked my voice frightened her the most. When we drove to the location where the incident occurred, there was nothing: no sounds, no odd feelings, no one we could see.

The boy who watches
There is a lifelike statue of a small boy who died in the 1800s. He sits on his stool as if unsure what to do, but his eyes seem to follow you around the cemetery. The truly weird part is when you approach the stone - the eyes appear to go flat and are covered in lichens.

I have also encountered a portal of some sort in the middle of the cemetery, which opened with an odd sound and a quick blast of air, and closed the same way – similar to an elevator. Voices can be heard talking, but the words are undistinguishable.

An untended area of the cemetery
Apparently, some “residents” are not pleased that their burial sites have been ignored. The cemetery had not been adequately cared for in over half a dozen years, and since it was privately owned, little could be done about it. But earlier this year a group called the Oak Grove Caretakers took over the cemetery promising better maintenance and upkeep for the more than 12,000 graves.

Where children play
Several people have heard the children playing high on the hill. Their laughter floats through the air as they go about their ethereal play. Let’s hope the remainder of the spirits will be appeased once their graves are giving the care and respect that is deserved.

~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is now available at bookstores across the country. Click here for book information.