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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ran Through The Briars

I chalked one more thing off my bucket list yesterday. I wanted to see three small family cemeteries scattered through the Bareville-Leacock-Leola area. For the best photography, I needed to go in the morning of a bright sunny day. The opportunity presented itself yesterday and was all I could have wished for. It was even more fun because my sister went with me.
We started at the Hershey-Groff cemetery behind the barn on an Amish farm. I had been there before but it was at the wrong time of day. This time the sun was in the east and I got better photos.
Next we went to the Landis-Grabill cemetery. I had been told this cemetery is in a fence row but we walked right by it without seeing it. I asked at the farm house and one of the girls went with us to show us where it is. No wonder we couldn't see it! About half a dozen grave stones are standing between the trees and fragments of about that many more are lying on the ground. As we crawled around in that fence row the words of a poem popped into my head: "They ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles, and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit wouldn't go." The things we don't put ourselves through to find a gravestone! But we found it.
This one for John Landis is the one I wanted to see.  I highly doubt this is his original stone. In 1727 they usually used field stones, not a sculptured or dressed stone like this one. Also, the lettering is not worn enough to be nearly 300 years old. Nevertheless, gravestones for a person who died in 1727 are few and far between.

Our last stop was at the Gerber cemetery at Leola. Last year a couple men spent a lot of time and money restoring a neglected family cemetery on an Amish farm. Old gravestones disappear or become illegible over time. By the time this cemetery was restored in 2015, only 22 stones were left to tell their stories. This photo was taken by Steven Garver in October 2015 when the restoration was completed.

This cemetery is on the land which one of my Swiss immigrant ancestors, Christian Gerber, settled in 1744. He died in 1751 and was probably buried in this cemetery along with his wife and some of his sons. Christian was Amish and it is an Amish farm today. After Christian's death, his sons, John and Peter, received the patent for this land on October 31, 1765. The patent describes Christian as "an alien born out of Allegience to His Brittanic Majesty." In other words, he had not been naturalized and therefore was unable to obtain the patent (first deed) from the Penns.

Christian Gerber is my only Amish ancestor. The next generations left the Amish and my line eventually circled back to become Mennonite. My Gerber ancestors are:
Christian Gerber, d. 1751, m. Barbara
Peter Gerber, d. 1792, m. Magdalena
Jacob Gerber, b. June 8, 1775
Barbara Gerber, Oct. 15, 1816-Apr. 20, 1888, bap. Lutheran; m. Josiah Powl
Emeline Powl, Sept. 7, 1849-May 29, 1938; m. Joseph Burkholder; bu. Groffdale (frame) Mennonite Cemetery

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