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Monday, November 17, 2014

Burkholders In Stone

It's always a good feeling to see a project completed. I was privileged to have that happen again on Saturday when this memorial stone was officially unveiled in the Groffdale Mennonite cemetery. (Click to enlarge)

Several years ago some Burkholder descendants erected a memorial stone in this spot which contained a lot of incorrect information. They were going by the old, often-published story that the parents of this family were Christian and Elizabeth; the father died in Germany just before they were ready to immigrate; and their son Peter was buried here when he died in 1799. All of those stories have proven to be incorrect. 
Some of the Burkholders in Pennsylvania were unhappy with that memorial stone which was circulating false information. In June, we began a movement to remove and correct that stone. After securing the permission of the Burkholders in Virginia who had erected it and the approval of the cemetery, the work was authorized. The stone was removed from the base and taken to the shop. All the lettering was ground off and replaced with what you see in the photo above. Then it was returned to the base and reattached. 
Being concerned that we do not repeat the first mistake and write things in stone which later prove to be incorrect, this time we included only facts which can be proven by documents in Switzerland and America. For example, there is no document to confirm Barbara's death date so it was not included. Of Ulrich and Barbara's six children, only Christian has an existing legible gravestone. It stands next to this one. By including the names of all the children on this stone, they are recognized here even though they are buried elsewhere. The names were placed at the left margin, leaving room to add more information on Barbara and Anna if anything is ever found on them.  
On Saturday, in conjunction with another meeting at Groffdale, the stone was officially dedicated as we gathered around it to sing the first four verses of a hymn Christian Burkholder wrote in 1804. To me, that was a meaningful tribute and proof of the value of written words. "He being dead yet speaketh."

Christ is full of love and power
Full of glory, light, and grace; 
He refreshes those who sorrow,
Fills their hearts with joy and peace. 

Giving Him our heart's affection,
True and upright we should be;
This way leads us to perfection,
Leads to God with certainty.

May I ever, till life closes,
To my Maker faithful stay;
Nevermore with unhoned conscience,
Insincerity display.

May I never shrink nor waver
From the words of Christ so true;
Unto righteousness they lead us,
Granting us salvation, too.

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