Last week I told you of a stone we dug up in the backyard. It appeared to be a grave marker, about 16 inches long.
It reads: Joseph Johnson, died Dec 27, 1852.
I speculated on how it found its way to my backyard, and now I know. My husband continued digging up the area to put in pavers and found yet another piece and then a third piece of the stone. In fact. it was not a marker at all but an entire gravestone which stood to mark the head of a grave. The pieces looked to be too long to constitute a gravestone, but I understand that it was embedded about 17 inches in the ground to get it to stand upright. We were relieved to hear from my neighbor and her son, both associated with the local cemetery board, that the family gravesite is across the creek in the cemetery and not near our back door.
Here’s the gravestone in its three parts:
It’s a bad photo because I could not stand it upright, but took the picture with it lying on the grass. I wanted you to see the three pieces and their sizes relative to one another. You cannot read the inscription below the top part of the stone, but the second longest part reads in small inscription near the break:
“in his 50th year, an honest man, the noblest work of God.”
Together with the top section, the entire entire inscription reads:
“Joseph Johnson, died Dec 27, 1852, in his 50th year, an honest man the noblest work of God.”
The entire stone is 60 inches in length and the stone itself is a gray pinkish color. It is beautiful. My neighbor’s son said he knew it was in the yard and that the buriel location for the Johnson family was across the creek on the flats just before the land ascends to the hill. The family has replaced the stone gravesite markings with a new family stone. It was common once stones broke or if a family decided to use a group stone or a new one, to replace discarded stones by tossing them into the creek or repurposing them as stepping stones, which appears was done with our stone pieces. It’s not clear if our stone was carted here from the cemetery or dug out of the creek. I have not gone to the original grave location in the cemetery but will do that this week sometime and continue to let you know the family’s history.
The mystery is solved, and I am grateful I don’t have a grave in my backyard. But now, I’m wondering what to do with these beautiful pieces of stone. It seems kind of disrespectful to turn them face down and use them as stepping stones regardless of what others might have done with them.
I’ll bet some of you have ideas what to do with the stones.