Friday, May 14, 2021

Renewed Remembrance in Stone

When I first visited the grave of my fourth great-grandfather Vachel Kirk (1805-1832), I was disappointed to discover that his original headstone was illegible. The marker, slanted skyward, was fully exposed to the elements. No doubt decades of snow and rain pounding at the surface completely eroded the inscription away. 

Vachel Kirk's original headstone, the inscription worn away

The only way to pinpoint the grave as Vachel's was the small footstone engraved with his initials "V.K." This marker was also beginning to succumb to damage. Pieces of the stone were flaking off around the delicate lettering.

Vachel Kirk's original footstone with the initials VK

My visit seemed fortuitous. I was able to confirm the burial location before the identifying memorials were completely destroyed. 

After having crowd-sourced a new headstone for Vachel's parents Thomas and Sarah (Bonar) Kirk (who are buried just feet away in the same cemetery on the other side of a walnut tree), I felt compelled to also preserve his memory for generations to come.

Last summer, I ordered a new headstone for Vachel. Cut from the same red Wausau granite as his parents', it was finally placed earlier this month. I took the liberty of adding some genealogical context, including his parentage, spouse and children.

Vachel Kirk's new headstone, placed in May 2021

"As long as there is one person on Earth who remembers you - it isn't over." -Oscar Hammerstein, Carousel

Have you placed a new headstone for an ancestor whose grave was unmarked or whose marker had seen better days?


  1. That's a wonderful thing to do. I actually told the rabbi of the synagogue that owns the cemetery where my three-times great-grandfather is buried that I wanted to do that and followed up a couple of times, but alas, it never happened. Or hasn't happened yet. Thanks for reminding me to contact him again.

    1. Happy to oblige! Did your ancestor have a stone that deteriorated?

  2. Hello! I found an old post of yours referencing Rebecca Margaret Messersmith who is my 6th great grandmother (through her daughter Elizabeth). I would love to connect with you regarding family history you might have on these folks, including but not limited to ancestry info. You can reach me at

    1. Hello and thank you for reaching out. I love it when the blog connects me with cousins. I don't have much more information on this line, but will reach out to your email.

  3. I'm curious about the costs of buying headstones. My great-grandfather, Isaac, his aunt, and his grandmother have no headstone. Only his parents do in this family plot of 5 at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. My email is