"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press & Thorndale Champion
12 August 2004

Cemetery Preservation

As many of you know, this column sponsors the "Texas Cemetery Preservation" website at http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/CEMETERY-001.htm. One of our main goals is to teach individuals the importance of cemetery preservation.

Currently, I am working on obtaining a Texas Historic Cemetery Designation through the Texas Historical Commission for the Founders' Memorial Park Cemetery located at 1217 W. Dallas & Valentine in Houston.

This cemetery was established in 1836 when Houston was founded by the Allen brothers and contains the graves of over 50 important individuals in Texas history and/or veterans of San Jacinto.

The preservation efforts related to the Founders' Cemetery is being sponsored as one the 2004-2005 Community Service Project for the Alexander Love Chapter, DAR. Buried in the cemetery is Sallie Chapman Allen, mother of the founders of Houston. Her father was an American Revolutionary War soldier.

Last Saturday, (Aug. 7th), I went to the cemetery to take the necessary black & white photographs for this application process. I went back yesterday afternoon, (Aug. 12th), to take colon photographs and two of the large Texas Historical Commission 1936 Centennial Markers had been overturned. No, they were not broken, just pushed over and now lay flat on the ground.

This cemetery is located on one of the major streets leading into downtown Houston. Yet, in a few days time, vandals struck and damaged the historical gravemarkers.

This is a clear message, keep an eye on your cemeteries because you never know when vandals with strike!

Book Review

"Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography" by Douglas Keister (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, $24.95, 4.5-in. x 9 in., 256 pages, June 2004 - ISBN 1-58685-321-X).

Last week, a small package arrived in the mail and it contained the neatest little handy guide for cemeteries. This portable, compact and practical field guide is a must have for anyone interested in family history, genealogical research, cemetery preservation or local history.

When looking at gravemarkers you will many times see varying degrees of information. The markers can include the individual's name, dates of birth / death, age, the name of his / her parents, place of birth, military information, as well as other historic information.

However, these stones also include hidden clues that can revel the individual's religion, ethnicity, clubs, organizations, hobbies, occupation, etc. Also the type of funerary symbology on the marker in the form of plants, animals, religious icons and secret society emblems will provide researchers with a wealth of information.

Keister has created a practical field guide that is compact and portable, perfect for individuals and researchers to take on their cemetery treks. This guide includes full-color and black & white photographs of funerary architecture, mausoleums, chapels, tombs, sculptures, and memorials with detail explanations of their meanings.

"Stories in Stone" reveals the codes, meanings, importance and context of over 350 symbols and is the ultimate resource book for cemetery sleuths. The book is very well written and easy-to-use with an excellent index. According to Keister, "Nowhere is the language of symbols more apparent than in cemeteries."

Keister is a noted photographer who has spent many years seeking and interpreting mortuary symbolism and has photographed more than 25 critically acclaimed books earning him the title of "America's more noted photograph of historic architecture."

This field guide should be on the shelf of every public and the home library of genealogists and historians. I will confess that I had the book on my Christmas wish list but Santa came early and I am so excited about using this book. It has helped me on my current cemetery project and I will be recommending this book in all of my future seminars and lectures on cemetery preservation.

The only down-check I have with the book is the quality hardback binding and high gloss finished paper. The quality of the book and printing is so good that I have the urge to want to put it on my coffee table and not drag it to cemeteries. I don't want to get it dirty or lost! But, to the field we will go because it now has a permanent place in my bucket with brushes and other items I take with me to cemeteries! Maybe next time they will consider an edition with spiral-binding and plastic coated pages for those of use who seem to be too rough on field guides!

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 29 Sept 2004 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604