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I’m going to start a new feature here on the blog: Tombstone Tuesday. I’ve been inspired by Wordless Wednesday on some blogs, including George Geder’s. My goal with this is to share some of my favorite tombstones or those that highlight a particular aspect of tombstone and cemetery research.

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday features the tombstone of Baby boy and Julia Graham Pembleton in Maple Grove Cemetery, Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky.

There is a lot of information on this stone and a lot to evaluate. The first thing to do when evaluating a tombstone is compare the death date(s) to the style of the stone. Is the stone the type that would have been placed there at the time of the death(s) or was it placed long after? The deaths of these children occurred in 1880 and 1881. The style of the stone (type of stone, symbolism, shape, font, etc.) is consistent with a late 19th century death. However, one thing should be pointed out about this stone concerning when it was placed. The shape of stone would indicate that it was always intended to mark the graves of two people. It seems unlikely that the parents erected this tombstone immediately after the death of Julia since it is a tombstone for two. It is more likely that they erected it after the son’s death.

Why is this important? Like any other record, the further away from the event that it is recorded, the more likely there is to be a mistake. If this stone wasn’t placed until after the son’s death, then it was at least seven months after Julia’s death. Her parents probably did not forget her death date after only seven months, but think about the possibility for error if the stone had been placed seven years after her death.

There is a clue to follow for other family names. Julia’s middle name — Graham — might be her mother’s maiden name.

The iconography on the stone is vivid. The broken rosebud on the son’s side is symbolic of a young life cut short. The finger pointing upward on Julia’s side symbolizes the hope that the deceased is up in heaven.

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