I was drawn into a quest to find a gravestone one day. A website can be found on the internet that may have a gravestone you are looking for. The site is called “Find-a-grave”. But, not all gravestones can be found at “Find-a-grave”. When someone tries to find a grave and it isn’t available, people can request from the “world at large” that someone could perhaps find the gravestone and get the missing picture. That is not as easy to fulfill as it may sound. Finding the cemetery might be easy enough but then finding the loose stone amongst hundreds is not so easy. In this day and age “stone searchers” can be hired to find the missing stone, but the search can become difficult. At any time, the stone may be worn from years of weathering, or damaged, or missing, or maybe just covered with lichen so that it is blurred or totally indiscernible.
My friend Nancy tried to find the stone that was requested, the Mehitabel Turner stone of 1787. A request was made to find Mehitabel’s stone so that a photograph could be put into “Find a Grave”. We started out at Ancestry.com where we found the Charles Hale List of Inscriptions, created by the WPA in the early 1930s. This gave us a list from eighty years ago where we found her name to verify that The Mehitabel Turner stone did exist back in the 1930s. We used the names from the Hale list to find other gravestones in the vicinity, and were thus able to find Mehitabel’s gravestone in very short order. It was very old and warn and was not easily readable after the first picture was taken. When I blew up the picture on my computer, I was able to see “Mehi” on one line and “tibel” on the next followed by “wife of Samuel” and then “Turner” on the next line.
The time of day was perfect one day when Nancy and I went to see Mehitabel’s stone again. The light was perfect to get a slight shadow from the letters on the stone when the sun was near its zenith. Unfortunately the stone was sitting in the shade so the “zenith shadow effect” could not be utilized. Nancy was dubious about the words I saw on the stone. At that moment I said “Look, here is ‘Mehi’ over here and then ‘tibel’ rolls around to the next line. And right there is Samuel”. Ha! As I pointed to ‘Samuel’ the branches parted above me and ‘Samuel’ shown clearly from the gravestone. Nancy said “Get out of the way so I can get a picture” and she nudged me out of the way. Then I said “Look, it says ‘Turner’ right here” and as I pointed at ‘Turner’ the stone again lit up and Nancy gasped! And got a very lovely picture of the Mehitabel stone with all of the lettering accented using the “zenith shadow effect”.