Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tombstone Tales

Last night I went to the monthly meeting of the St. Louis Genealogical Society. This month’s discussion topic was an appropriate theme for October: Tombstone Tales. There was a lot of good information presented on dos and don'ts regarding visiting tombstones. (Don’t clean a tombstone with household solvents. Very little is safe for a tombstone beyond water. If it’s a family burial ground, it’s not public, and you need to ask permission, or you could end up facing an unhappy landowner with or without gun. What you should wear. Tips on taking good photographs. Stuff like that.) There was also discussion and handouts about common symbols and artwork you find on tombstones and what they mean.

The presentation ended with several slides of tombstones…some from all over the world, and some from St. Louis. I had no idea that General William Tecumseh Sherman, who marched through Georgia, was buried here. But there were two graves shown, several slides apart, that caught my attention. After seeing the second slide, I wanted to raise my hand and ask a question, but I wasn’t sure if I recalled the first slide correctly, and didn’t want to embarrass myself if I remembered it wrong. So, alas, I said nothing.

The first slide was a picture of the tombstone of Dred Scott. It was originally an unmarked grave, but a stone was eventually erected. It says on the stone “Freed by my friend, Taylor Blow.”

Several slides later, was the tombstone of famed educator, Susan Blow.

Taylor was her uncle. Her grandparents were the owners of Dred Scott. Her father was Henry Taylor Blow, one-time ambassador to Venezuela. But census records clearly indicate brothers Taylor Blow and Henry Taylor Blow were separate individuals.

I either wasn't paying attention during the Local History section of my education, or the connection between these two was never mentioned. I actually couldn't remember much about Susan Blow beyond that she was important to education in some way. She introduced the concept of kindergartens to the US.

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