Category Archives: Smaller Graveyards

Churchyards and family burying-grounds often hold hidden treasures, especially gravestones of early settlers, placed in the days when stonecutting was a local craft.

Henry Pomerene, Sr., Tombstone, North Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery

In Memory of
Jan.(?) 22, 1789
March 17(?), 1855

A restrained example of the middle-1800s poster style, with fewer than the usual riot of lettering styles. Father Pitt was not able to read the epitaph.


Elizabeth Flowers Monument, North Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery

A particularly well-preserved monument in the romantic style of the 1860s, with two poetic epitaphs.

She was a mother good and kind
While she with us did stay
Life is short to all mankind
God’s call we must obey

Come, children, to my tomb and see
My name engraved here.
Remember, you must come to me.
Be like your mother dear.

Margareta Linhart Tombstone, North Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery

daughter of
died Dec. 10, 1845
Aged 1 Year
5. Mos. 10 Ds.

A good example of what Father Pitt calls the “poster style” that became popular in the 1840s and 1850s: a plain rectangle on which the inscription is engraved in a wide variety of lettering styles, like an advertising poster of the same era.

Gutbub-Guttbub-Goodboy Plot, Zion Cemetery

Here in Zion Cemetery, Whitehall, is an interesting document in the German-American immigrant experience.

George and Sophia (Klotz) Gutbub had a number of children who did not survive to adulthood, all buried in a row in the family plot. Those children all died with the name Gutbub—but their father did not.

In 1896, Sophia died as well, and was buried under the spelling “Guttbub”:

George later married a much younger woman, and at some point they decided that “Gutbub” was entirely too German. Father Pitt suspects that point may have come during the First World War, when some German-American families had good reason to fear for their lives.

So they Anglicized their name to “Goodboy,” and the name has stuck with their family ever since.

The plot is still in use, and all subsequent burials bear the name Goodboy. And, as you see in the picture at the top of this article, the family monument has had “Goodboy” added at the bottom, so that all the Gutbubs become Goodboys retroactively.

Thus the story of one family becomes the story of the Americanization of the Germans in America, who are America’s largest, but arguably America’s least visible, immigrant group.

Master of the Curlicue I in Canonsburg

Oak Spring Cemetery

In memory of
James R. Sinclair
who departed this life
Jan. the 21, AD 1843.
aged 5 months.

Two early-settler graveyards at opposite ends of Canonsburg have tombstones inscribed by some of the same local craftsmen. One of them, who worked in the 1830s and 1840s, is very easy to identify by three obvious quirks of his style:

  1. He writes almost exclusively in italic letters.
  2. He begins each inscription with a very distinctive capital I with curlicues.
  3. He makes the abbreviation “AD” into a single character, with the right-hand stroke of the A serving as the left-hand stroke of the D.

In addition, if you paid him well enough, he was capable of some fine decorative folk-art reliefs.

The Giffin family, buried in Speer Spring Cemetery, employed him almost exclusively:

In memory of
who departed this life
in the 19 year of his
April 22 AD 1842

In memory of
who departed this life
in the 53d year of his
Aug. 12, AD 1841.

memory of
Samuel Webster Giffin
who departed this life
Sept. 18th, AD 1838, aged
9 months and 25 days

memory of
Consort of Andrew H. Giffin
who departed this life
May the 15th AD 1842, in
the 36th year of her age
— — —

Following his usual method of naming anonymous craftsmen after a distinguishing characteristic of their work, Father Pitt will call this artist the Master of the Curlicue I.

To round out the Giffin family plot, we include one broken tombstone done by a different craftsman:

Memory of
GIFFIN, who—
departed this life,
Febr. 11th, 1836
in the 13th year of
his age.