Friday, February 15, 2013

One heck of a huge hunk of granite

Tombstones rarely make the news, but this one out there in the Norwood Cemetery did back in 1902 when The Chariton Herald of April 17 reported:

"Miller Brothers, of Norwood, gave an order last week to D. A. Enslow, monument dealer of this city, for the largest and costliest monument ever set up in the county. It is to be erected over the grave of Wm. Miller, father of the Miller brothers, in the Norwood cemetery. The stone will be of berry granite and will weigh close to eight tons. Its cost will be $1,250. Nothing approaching it, either in size or cost, has ever been erected in the county."

William Miller, whose monument this is, was born July 11, 1833, in Armagh, Northern Ireland, and came to Philadelphia as a young man. By 1859, he had moved to Topeka, Illinois, where he married Diantha Ames on May 2 of that year. They settled in the Norwood neighborhood during 1868.

The Millers became the parents of seven children, three of whom were living at the time of his death: Robert Orpheus Miller (1861-1944), John Sherman Miller (1865-1945) and Della E. (Mrs. Howard) Clore (1868-1951).

The small tombstones just south of the family stone mark the graves of daughter Lillie M. (1871-1874) and son William L., born 1873 and struck dead by a bolt of lightning in yard of the family home on June 17, 1881, at the age of 8. His death reportedly drove Diantha Miller into madness from which, although she survived until December 12, 1928, when she died at age 90, she never fully recovered.

Although the big stone contains multiple panels where inscriptions might have been carved, only the surname "Miller" appears on it. Smaller headstones contain the names and relevant dates of family members.

The question now is, is this still the largest tombstone in Lucas County? I'm wondering if the simpler Eikenberry family stone in the Chariton Cemetery would rival it, but having a weigh-off is problematic (and the Copeland mausoleum can't be included in this competition). The Mallory family's towering celtic cross might have been a contender, but that example of the stonecutter's art now reposes in Florida and can't be included either.

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