Wednesday, November 7, 2007

One of My Ancestor's Tombstone ...

I realize this is a random posting, but the past couple of days I've been thinking about posting one of my pictures I took of an ancestor's grave marker.

Copyright 2004. Picture of the grave of Barbara Detwiler at Riverside Cemetery in Three Rivers, Michigan taken by Jessica Oswalt.
This is the grave of my ancestor Barbara, the wife of Jacob Detwiler. As you can see, the stone is broken into two pieces. I am not sure if it was broken by accident or if it was a result of vandalism. You can't tell by just looking at this picture, but the part of the stone that is still part of the marker, an elegant inscription has eroded away to being unreadable. I did look at the grave closely and that is how I know about. I could not read it, but I wish I could have been able to, since there might have been important information on the marker. And that fungus did not make reading the stone any easier. Does anyone know if it is possible to determine what was inscribed on a tombstone?


Miriam said...

Jessica, one thing I have done that has been helpful is to take the digital photo and invert its colors, using the edit features of my photo-viewing software. This basically creates a negative of the image, and you can sometimes see the engravings on the stone much easier than in the image's positive. If the photo you have is not a digital one, then scan it and then use the "invert" feature.

Taking photos of gravestones from different angles and/or in different light can also be beneficial, especially when examining the image using the zoom-in feature.

Of course, there's the recently developed software that can "read" worn out engravings on tombstones, but for most of us, that's not available or affordable, yet.

Jessica's thoughts said...

Hi Miriam,

Thank you for the information. I did not know that. I took this picture with a film camara, and then later scanned it in. I did not know that I could do that, but I'll give it a try and see what I can do.



Apple said...

Great tip by Miriam. I haven't found how to invert a picture with my software but I'll work on it.

You could try making a rubbing of the stone.

One of my Badgley cousins successfully cleaned a stone making the previously hidden inscription quite legible. I just searched for "cleaning headstone" and found lots of resources.