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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Stumbling Upon St John’s, Wytheville!

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Hallowed Spaces on Halloween Eve!

It was still early October when after picking up a set of maple twin beds from Jeanette and meeting her for lunch in Staunton (See THAT POST for a refresher!) I took the backroads down past Wytheville, VA to get me to Mouth of Wilson where I would be dropping off my cargo at Quiltville Inn.

You know how it goes – audio book playing, deeply engrossed in the story line – and all of a sudden “PING!”  Uhoh.  Low fuel light.  I needed to pull off at the next exit for gas.

As I’m pumping gas, I look just there – just across the slightly busy country road, and there on a hillside is an OLD cemetery, complete with old church to go with it.

I finished pumping.  I moved the van into a regular parking space away from the pumps, and I watched both ways until it was safe to cross.  I had to explore.

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From the edge of the road looking toward the church.

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MUST ALWAYS READ SIGNS!

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Old white church, and a little log house behind!

What I didn’t find out from the sign, I found out much later when I finally got to the cabin for the night and could do a bit of googling. 

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Beautiful stone carving.

The precise time when the present burial ground was first occupied as 'God's Acre' cannot be ascertained from church or civil records. It is probable that the graveyard was commenced before Wythe County was formed in 1790. Some of the graves bear evident marks of extending back into the 18th century, although no legible inscription dates further back than 1805.


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Once I read this marker – I started looking for the artistry of this stonecutter!


There is a sacredness attached to this hollowed ground, the final resting place of Wythe County's rich and poor, old and young, famous and forgotten, who now rest from their labors. Among the first graves that were marked, we find the names of Rader, Kegley, Sharitz, Repass and Brown.


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Check out the foot stone!

One of the most recognizable graves is that of Pastor George Daniel Flohr. His grave is marked by a native stone known as 'mountain marble', hewn and chiseled in the form of a coffin. Another burial plot of note is the Gibboney square which is located within the foundation of the original church. First intended to be reserved for pastors, the plot was sold to the Gibboney family by special concession.

A number of members of Wytheville's founding families are buried at old St. John Cemetery, including such names as the Simmermans, the Spillers, the Hallers, the Crocketts, the Baumgardners and others.

The graves, the monuments, and the inscriptions of this old cemetery are witnesses to the faithful departed and memorials of the devotion of the living for their dead. [source]


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Distinctive edging on this one -

Is this the work of Laurence Krone?

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Interesting things about this stone – beyond the typo (In MAMORY of  - October IS Breast Cancer Awareness month – get your Mammories checked, ladies!) This child was 7 months, 29 days when she passed.  Heart breaking – but also, no mother is mentioned.  It just says “The daughter of John Baumgardne – and the R is squeezed in just above the name -  Good save, Mr Krone!  Those German last names can take up more space than you think they will.

With no wife listed on the stone, one might think that perhaps mother had passed during child birth – but right next to this stone, heartbreakingly so -

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Little Francis Ann

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1831 – the year after Emmalina.

The name still runs off the edge with the R of Baumgardener above -

By this time my heart has truly broken for this family – all “interesting observances” from these stones set aside, (Such as – if there is a typo, do you get a discount?!) and I walked the rows of stones and just let the tears flow for all of the lost little ones, my own included.

This was only 2 weeks after returning from Mark’s memorial in Arizona, and I mourned him as well as my lost Heather Leann. 

And I still wondered – who was Mrs. John Baumgardner?  Did they have any more children?

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Some crumbling stones have been replaced -

War of 1812 veteran.  Wow. 

Born the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

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Some family plots were fenced.

I couldn’t get close enough to read names.

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Marker that looks like a tree stump.

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Feathers and flowers.

Gone too soon.

Up toward the newer part of the cemetery there are even some benches – it was nearing evening, and temps were still very warm, so I sat and had a good hour long conversation with my dad.  The wonder of cell phones.  Being able to call at any time from nearly anywhere.  I couldn’t have done that 30 years ago. 

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The Flohr House!

The Reverend George Daniel Flohr, born in Germany in 1763, was the founding father of St. John Lutheran Church and served as its first pastor from 1799 until his death in 1826. 

His home, located about one mile north of the church, was built on 47 acres of land purchased in 1807 by Pastor Flohr from Andrew Brown, an elder of the congregation. It is uncertain whether the house was built by Flohr or whether it was on the property when he purchased it.


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The original structure was a two room house constructed of hewn logs. It has a large fireplace made of native stone, used for heating and cooking, and all indications are that it had a dirt floor. 

The house was later enlarged with two additional rooms and other structural improvements. After Pastor Flohr's death is 1826 the home was owned by his widow, Elizabeth Baer Flohr, until her death in 1858. The Flohr House has been owned by a number of persons since that time.

In 1984, when the house faced destruction for a real estate development, effort was initiated to save the old Flohr home and to relocate it on the St. John Church property. The house was purchased by Everett Kegley, then disassembled, moved to the new site, and reassembled using stone from and spring house and chimney for the foundation. 

The project to develop this house into a museum continues as funds become available from private contributions. [source]

I hope they do get to open it as a museum. I would love to see the insides!  I can also appreciate what it must have taken to disassemble the house log by log and like a jigsaw puzzle put it back together again.


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I am so glad I took a long time out from my drive for this visit!

I feel enriched that I was able to learn a bit more about the hearty hardworking and faithful people from this corner of Virginia where I plan on spending the rest of my life. 

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Take the small moments and make the most of them!

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More stone artwork by Laurence Krone -

McGavock Family Cemetery, near Fort Chiswell, Wythe County VA

Through my google search I found more work by Laurence – There are now more places on my “Must see!” list for future driving trips around the area.

Halloween (Oct 31) All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls Day (Nov 2) have such rich historical traditions and meanings, many of which have been diluted or lost due to the over-commercialism of Halloween.

In thinking on these things, I was reminded of a trip I took to San Antonio, and was there for Dia de los Muertos.  Irene and I toured several of the missions in the area, and I shared photos and more IN THAT POST.  I love it when a community and a culture keeps their own traditions alive.

As for here in Quiltville, Halloween also has significant meaning – MYSTERY INTRODUCTORY POST TOMORROW!!

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In other news around here!

Yesterday was fraught with machine problems from bad tension, to shredding thread and a lot of un-stitching and restarting.  More life lessons!

But it’s still getting there, even if it isn’t as fast as I’d like it to go.

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Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Vintage Quilt found in Virginia.

Mama said there’d be days like this -

She also said that I’d get through them!

And you will too -



44 comments:

  1. Mama did say that to me, too. And, so far, I have gotten thru them and learned more about who I really am. You are such a giving person, Bonnie. You have know idea how your words enhance my life and I'm sure many others. Thank you, girl! Keep it between the lines!!! xoxox

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  2. Wow, you mean I get to be the first to comment? Oops, make that the second. Bonnie, I am surprised that you did not see the applique pattern in that first stone with the flowers! I realize your work focuses more on piecing than applique, but still!!! And on behalf of the talk on social media, please release those colors soon!!!

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    1. I didn't feel the need to bring up something so evident. :)

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  3. That stone work is beautiful - thanks for sharing.

    I recently saw a video (unfortunately can't remember where) about a man who is going around to old cemeteries and cleaning the grime and growth from old stones, freshening them and bringing them back to life. It would be neat to see some of the stones in that cemetery clean and bright and easier to read.

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    1. I saw that, as well!! I think it included products and methods used.

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  4. Love exploring old cemeteries! Especially the ones that are pre-1900!
    Can't wait for tomorrow! It's like Christmas comes early each year for me, lol! Thank you Bonnie, for making this possible!

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  5. Super excited about tomorrow!

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  6. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing your individual lifetime moment with us. Graveyards are sincerely reverent places that bring stillness to my soul. I think the marking of graves is an awakening of time spent within history, especially when you can view many family members lost during a time of illness; empathy for their situation abounds.

    I am gleefully looking forward to the color posting tomorrow for the 2018 Mystery!!!

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  7. I looked up the Baumgardner family on Find A Grave. It looks like their Mother was a Margaret Rebecca Etter Baumgardner who passed away in 1837. There were 4 other siblings to Emmalina and Francis Ann.

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  8. Aren't old cemeteries fascinating? We love to visit them too. Looking forward to your beautiful mystery colors!Thank you in advance!!
    Debra in Ma.

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  9. Thank you for this wonderful post!! My family hails from Wythe County and we return every August for Homecoming at this beautiful, hallowed place. Kegley, Sharitz and Baumgardner are my ancestors! Julia

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    1. Oh, Julia! I am so happy to know this! SO please fill is in on Mrs John Baumgardner - what was her name?? My heart is with her.

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  10. So many thoughts. Thanks you for sharing. I have a soft heart for remembering the long ago dealy departed. There will be an audible CHEER tomorrow when the colors are released.

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  11. Bonnie, this cemetery is where my grandparents are buried and it is on my way home to and from town. Wythe County is a beautiful place.

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    1. Kay, that is marvelous! Such a rich history! I look forward to spending more time discovering the area.

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  12. Bonnie, thank you for taking us on this journey. Cemeteries are really a lot of history and the reflection and your thoughts and information you provide is so thoughtful and kind.

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  13. What a wonderful post. I hope this interesting visit helped your grieving heart a bit. Thank you for bringing this talented artisan to light. We could use more appreciation of the talents of others who came before us.

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  14. Love the flowers on the gravestones. They made me smile.

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  15. too bad the DAR doesn't visit and clean up the headstones....it's one thing they do often...

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  16. Nice Bonnie. Losing a child is so painful..... Sorry for your loss.

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  17. Just visited the missions in San Antonio this summer. Very interesting to see the history.

    Thanks for sharing this history with us:)

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  18. We need an eagle scout to organize a community grave stone cleaning. That would be a great eagle project!

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    1. The Eagle Scouts did a grave location for our family/community cemetery in Arkansas. Many graves are unmarked. We still do not know who lies there but at least they are recognized.

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  19. I so want to travel with you on your adventures. You always find such interesting places.

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    1. I agree, but I think that is because Bonnie is open to possibilities all the time!! Time for us to open ourselves to the possibilities around us!!

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  20. Like Kay I have family buried there too. (Hi Kay!) I love this place. So glad you are getting to know the area.

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  21. I, too, love old cemeteries and reading the headstones and admiring their beauty. I kind of like the moss and dirt on the stones; adds to their character unless you can't read them at all. Saddens me to see broken stones as often they are caused by younger vandals with nothing better to do.

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  22. My heart goes out to you, Bonnie, and to all the other women who have lost children. October 22 this year is the 15th anniversary of the death of my daughter. Time doesn't heal the wounds, but it rounds the sharp corners of them. Thank you for taking the time to explore and learn about some lives of people who went before us.

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  23. Thank you for sharing with everyone. I know everything about you. It's great and it's great.
    ข่าวรอบโลก

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  24. A beautiful place for a cemetery thank you for sharing, the beautiful workmanship on the headstones missspelling aside is truly wonderful a craftsman for sure.
    Looking forward to seeing the colours in your next post xxx

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  25. What an interesting post - thank you. In the cemetery in Weston Super Mare there are gravestones that are in the shape of anchors - complete with stone chains! A lot of Royal Navy officers resting there. I love seeing the stonework - such works of art and sad that some crumble away.

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  26. Thanks for this post.. It was so nice of you to share this beautiful historic cemetary wIth all of us.

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  27. Thank you for the Lutheran history tour. I attend a Lutheran church and my mother was of German ancestry so I appreciate the knowledge. It appears that you have a lot of exploring still left to do.

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  28. Bonnie, I had to forward the link to this post to a friend from high school (and his mom, a quilter too). His family name is Baumgardner! Don't know if they're related but I'll let you know what he says! Thanks for taking the time to 'stop and smell the roses' of the old cemetery. It's something I like to do as well and never seem to have enough time for.........

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    1. now why didn't it include my name? I'm Gypsy Lisa Gassman on FB.

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    2. He says this is the "4th Cousin branch of oldest grand-uncle...I have Wytheville and Black Mountain cemetery photos from my Dad’s last trip there in 2002. " I'm waiting to hear back from him about the Mother of those babies for you.

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  29. Thank you for taking us on your adventure. I like walking through old graveyards as well. And researching the people :-)

    The spelling is fun, and I wondered the same thing as you had stated. Did they get a discount if it was written wrong, or was it just simply the way that they spelt?

    The ones that crushed my heart, are the ones of the little babies. The little kids that didn't make it to 5 years old. Sometimes, they didn't even name the children until they were five years old. That's how prevalent disease, illness, and nature affected their lives.

    You might not have known, as well, but October is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Some of us became "members" of that "club (not by our own will,certainly).

    We buried a daughter at five and a half months old, due to SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome syndrome. We also had two miscarriages sometime later.

    In Temple New Hampshire, we came across some very famous Graves. And another place in New Ipswich, we found a Cotton Factory owners family plot. They had seven kids, and I think only a few of them made it to adulthood.

    Enough with the sad. :-)

    Can't wait for tomorrow! Thank you for all that you do Bonnie, to make quilting something that people enjoy, and something that yearly, they can't wait for.

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  30. I would love to see this cemetery. I love the history of it all. Looking forward to the new mystery quilt! Sending love and hugs.

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  31. Thank you for always sharing your adventures with us. I so enjoy. Shows what treasures are off the beaten path when we take time to look around. 😊

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  32. I love to walk through old cemeteries. Thanks for sharing this one with us. I am looking forward to my first mystery quilt with you.

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  33. From a young child I have been influenced by cemeteries. The home I grew up in was 1/2 mile in each direction from my home. My girlfriend and I would walk to one or the other and sit on the benches. So peaceful. My younger sister and brother who only were present in this world are in an old Methodist Church cemetery and it is so restful to go there. It is beautiful where you were and I hope that it gave you some peace also.
    Funny yesterday I did almost as much of the "frog stitch" (rip it rip it) as I did sewing. One of those days. LOL

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  34. Bonnie this was Cthomas' reply to you. I copied it in hopes you might view comments again. It's info about Baumgardner mother of Emmalina:
    "Cthomas said...
    I looked up the Baumgardner family on Find A Grave. It looks like their Mother was a Margaret Rebecca Etter Baumgardner who passed away in 1837. There were 4 other siblings to Emmalina and Francis Ann.
    12:08 PM EDT"

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  35. Beautiful headstones to applique.

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