Cemetery Decline

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We went to the monument works today to get the engraving ordered for Dad’s grave. As long as we were going to be there I took along the information on Roland West who had died in 1896 at the age of 6. I had searched for Grandfather Jacob on that hill a couple of years ago and couldn’t find him anywhere.


I looked over the secretary’s shoulder as she hunted in the book for the correct name and date. I spotted Jacob’s name right off and told her the number, this time I noticed a “baby” West with the same identifying number. She went off to grab yet another book. She located the numbered page and this time when I saw it I recognized the other names that I had ignored before, buried in the same plot. They were Jacob’s grandchildren, the 2 that I didn’t have names for but knew they existed from the census data on their mother.


I asked for a copy of the section of the cemetery map that showed where they were buried, close to the soldier’s memorial grave locations and we drove up the hill. When we had been talking about the engraving for dad with the salesman I noticed a copy of an article concerning the deplorable condition of the graveyard that I would soon be walking through. It mentioned the move to gain funds to revitalize the cemetery and make repairs. Built on a hill the water damage to the road is making it impassable for most cars. My SUV bounced from side to side, tilting at an angle hard enough to make you gasp and cling to the door. I was determined to make it up and maneuvered to miss the worst holes and jagged rocks. Once at the location, we looked down the steep bank at the destruction to the stones marking graves, tipped and broken, lying on the ground.


The trip up the hill 2 years ago had been bad, but this was worse and the destruction to the stones and monuments heart breaking. Caretakers were having trouble with keeping the grass mowed and trimmed from around the stones. We turned and walked to where the markers were located. The 2 grandchildren, both Berlin babies, had name markers for their graves, although not damaged they both seemed to have slid down the hill towards the road. Roland was located between the 2 other children, without a marker for his grave. According to the map Jacob would be buried to the left of the children and behind them, almost under the large marker for a neighboring burial site, his plot was also unmarked. A short distance from the baby graves there looks to be the bottom of a family plot monument. There is a rounded spot where a cylinder piece of marble, engraved with a name, would have been and was now gone. I had thought that Jacob’s wife Mary had left him in a completely unmarked grave. It seems the family has not escaped the damage of vandals. 


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