Tag Archives: epitaphs

National Novel Writing Month and creative prompts from the cemetery


National Novel Writing Month started today, and while I don’t write fiction I am using the month to focus on getting a huge chunk of writing done on my book about cemeteries.

And I’m inviting you to play along at home!

Throughout the month, I’m going to post some creative prompts on my Facebook page, inspired by Mt. Hope Cemetery. As I’m writing about my experiences in the cemetery and the residents who have captured my attention, I’ll share some of my favorite photos of epitaphs, tombstones, scenery, and interment records. Use them to inspire your own creative efforts – and if they do, feel free to share links in the comment section!



When you’re dead, you’re dead a long time

Words of wisdom inscribed on the headstone of Robert and Grace McGowan, Mt. Hope Cemetery

Words of wisdom inscribed on the headstone of Robert and Grace McGowan, Mt. Hope Cemetery

Here’s the thing about death: it’s permanent. Regardless of your beliefs about the afterlife, in this life, when you take your last breath on earth, the story is over.

Think about it. In 100 years, with the exception of a handful of those who will defy the odds and live beyond a century, every single person on the earth will be dead.

Everyone. Gone. Me. You. Babies born at this exact moment, whether here in America or in India or China or Europe. In 100 years, billions of new humans will walk the earth, and while they’ll share our DNA and genealogical ties, none of them will be us.

How’s that for putting your life into perspective? It’s true. When you’re dead, you really are dead a long time.

Stories from the grave – another walk through Mt. Hope Cemetery

It was a beautiful day to meander among the headstones.

Bandit and I went out for a meander through Mt. Hope Cemetery today, mostly so I could clear my head and shake off the negative vibes I’ve picked up over the last month or so from some know-it-alls and jack-asses I’ve been forced to interact with.

That’s a pretty way to start a blog post, isn’t it?

You know I love the cemetery, so even though the temperatures hovered around 40 degrees on this late April morning, I  enjoyed wandering around the headstones, taking photos and reading epitaphs and wondering about the people who reside there.

Take, for example, the headstone from the Hommel family. I was struck by the age of their son Oscar, who died in 1878 at 7 years old. So I snapped a photo.

When I got home, though, I realized that the date of Oscar’s birth is the same as his mother’s death. That got me wondering if perhaps Regina died giving birth.

In general, I hate technology, but in situations like this I’m grateful for online databases like the UR’s records on the interments at Mt. Hope Cemetery. A little digging showed me that Oscar died December 13, 1877 of meningitis (although is tombstone says 1878). His mother, Regina, died December 21, 1871 of typhoid fever. George died March 13, 1879 of consumption.

So while I don’t know what month Oscar was born, we can assume his father, George, was left with a child under a year old after losing his wife Regina to typhoid fever. And then he  lost his son a few years later. Continue reading