I often find myself honing in on little things in my surroundings, little pieces of history that are probably very disinteresting, but, well, a large curiosity to me. Take, for instance, the picture to the right here. It’s the picture of a family headstone that I found at the cemetery down the road from my house.
Actually, I should say, I had noticed it first a few months ago as I was driving past, thinking it looks like a statue of a man with a top hat (from that distance). I kept thinking that until finally, during a walk one day, I decided to get up close to the thing and figure out what was going on.
Now, I’ve walked through the cemetery hundreds of times. During the end of my wife’s first pregnancy, we spent countless hours in there, trying to get her to go into labor, checking out the names on tombstones to determine if any would suit our new born child.
I never noticed this headstone, which, from taking a closer look at it, has been around since shortly after the Civil War. It’s old.
But that’s not the truly odd thing. In the area were several other monuments that matched the intricate style and beauty of this one. If one were to guess, there was a monument maker here in Eau Claire at one point who could make some fantastic pieces of work, but, apparently, only had a few customers wealthy enough to pay for them.
So, I pulled out my handy dandy (notebook?…sorry, kid humor) cell phone and took pictures of the multitude of stone monuments, hoping to find out some more information regarding these peculiar pieces of art laying around the cemetery, all in fairly close proximity to each other (in fact, on that note, looking around the rest of the cemetery, I didn’t find any others outside of this rather small area…except for one, which was still pretty close, but outside of the immediate grid the others were in).
But here’s the issue…I can’t find any information on these headstones whatsoever. I’ve found some great information about the folks in question. They were, as could be guessed from the times of their death, all decorated war veterans. And as could be guessed from their headstones, were quite wealthy. They all also seemed to be respected in the community, although, from as best as I can tell, not actually from Eau Claire.
However, I can’t find any connection between them that would cause them all to have matching markers of their final resting places. Nothing. Not even a note about how they all had coffee together every morning at the local McDonald’s in their later years (of 1901).
I hate it when I get to these points in my research. Sometimes I find the answers I’m looking for. Most of the time those answers aren’t incredibly satisfying, but they exist. But those times where I just can’t seem to figure out why something is the way it is, knowing that there must be a story behind it… it makes me sad, knowing that it’s possible the information has been lost to time.
Perhaps some day I’ll have to make up a story to answer the question of the peculiar tombstones. Perhaps someone out there actually has the answers (which is likely, they are a very interesting couple of pieces). Maybe I’ll get lucky and get the answer someday as well.
But for now, I’m just going to imagine that they were part of some sort of local secret organization hell bent on running the world, or at least the local government. Perhaps there were cool steampunk robots involved 🙂