The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

My interest in cemeteries began at an early age. As a toddler I would fall asleep looking out my bedroom window towards Hillview Cemetery. Hillview as suggested is positioned on a hill, our home was at the top of this hill which made for a wonderful view. My brother and I would venture through this cemetery almost daily to reach the park on the other side.

After my family moved it would be several years before I found myself in any cemetery. In the meanwhile a friend and I began burial services in my sandbox, for all the little creatures we found throughout the neighborhood. Perhaps this seems morbid but I love animals and felt they deserved a proper burial.

My Great Grandmother lived at Woodingford lodge Retirement Home. I remember playing shuffle board with my brother in the visitors area. The visitors area had a large window which looked out upon Anglican/Presbyterian Cemetery. My Great Grandmother use to joke about it being her future home. At the age of eight I would ride my bike to Anglican/Presbyterian Cemetery. When I got there I would walk around reading the stones then sit and write for hours. I felt safe and wasn't afraid to be myself there.

It wasn't long before my Great Grandmother passed away then a few years later my Grandmother. Both of their remains rest in Hillview Cemetery. Every time I visit a cemetery I'm reminded of them and of my childhood when life was simple and I feel at home.

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Comment by Lady Cassandra Hollingsworth on May 13, 2010 at 2:20pm
Just wanted to drop in to say that I also have a love for cemeteries. I love to photograph them. At the current time I have over 3, 000 photos of different style tombstones.
Comment by Noah Meernaum on April 25, 2010 at 12:24pm
Many people in American culture currently consider cemeteries or graveyards as an area removed from life, and thus if one has an extended appreciation or interest in any aspect involved in them, (beyond planning a plot or attending a funeral), one may have an excessive morbid inclination. Much of this is a denial or fear of accepting that death is a part of life, and distancing is sometimes a way for people to avoid the subject. Still much of this is dependent upon particular surrounds (in Cincinnati we have one of the most revered cemeteries in the Nation, Spring Grove), involving the ideologies of religious and familial genealogy. For as you have related cemeteries are a visible reminder not only of our immediate lineage, they also display a larger outline to the history of the people in a particular area. Cemeteries when read in depth can reveal connections to individual and regional history, within the wider surrounding inscriptions, or dimensional markers that carry symbolic meaning.

While I would not describe myself as a taphophile, the appreciation found in funerary markers goes beyond basic aesthetic interest, as the understanding of particular symbolic relief and sculptural images may be read as deep as incised letters. In essence, cemeteries or graveyards exist as a three-dimensional book, although their aesthetic aspect adds to the respect a community continues to honor the departed. Involved in my upbringing, their were stories shared in annual excursions to our familial cemetery involving the immediate connections to known ancestors, yet also through the eldest present there were stories told remembering past distant residents of that area.

Once my great-grandmother on my mother's side was relating a story when I was around 10 or 11 on that particular outing. As she was talking her hand would often be placed upon the headstone of the person that the tale involved. I distinctly recall having a impression of the word touchstone, although its literal meaning means to measure or grade, the physical act involved in her storytelling appeared to add to her drawing forth the outlines. I learned much about my family's history, practice, and sense of place from these annual gatherings, and later in life in learning more regarding the techniques of grave rubbing would continue to see and understand more.

Some books that have helped to enhance my appreciation and have invaluably assisted in extending the artistic practice of rubbing are:

Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism by Douglas Keister (photographer),

Cemetery Walk: Journey into the Art, History and Society of the Cemetery and Beyond by Minda Powers- Douglas

Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture by Richard Meyer.

Your Guide to Cemetery Research by Sharon Debartolo Carmack

The last book cited, if able to purchase only one, would be my singular recommendation as it covers and informs on the subject in an interesting and knowledgeable manner.

Yours in Spirit,


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