I’ve never seen a mortsafe. I’ve heard about them. I’ve heard about mortsafes in the South and Europe, but not in Pennsylvania. Then I heard about not one, but two in a small cemetery in Catawissa. This type of mortsafe was popular in Scotland, but there is some evidence that these two are the only “caged” graves in the U.S..

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The Visitor

Amanda Stevens is one of my favorite authors. March 29, her new book in the Graveyard Queen series, The Visitor,  is due for release. Because of devastating circumstances, it has been a long time between books. So I’m re-reading the first three books in the series before the release date.



The main character, Amelia Gray, is a graveyard restorer in the South, mostly the Charleston area. The ambiance of the series is creepy, charming, mysterious, filled with Southern well-mannered gentility, laced with suspense and Spanish moss, with an underlying core of something rotten. Very evocative of  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. At the heart, this series is a Gothic era ghost story set in present day. Also, think of Turn of the Screw or  Woman in Black.

For maximum effect, I turn out the lights and read on my Kindle Paperwhite. I love the downlight feature!

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This is fun? I don’t get it.

Marker damaged by vandals Credit: Nabill K. Mark/CDT

Marker damaged by vandals

Damage done at the Boalsburg Cemetery is estimated to be in excess of $100,000. Credit: Nabill K. Mark/CDT

Damage done at the Boalsburg Cemetery is estimated to be in excess of $100,000.


The Boalsburg Cemetery was found vandalized Sunday with approximately 50 tombstones damaged. Credit: Nabill K. Mark/CDT

This was done last Saturday night. People just “out having fun?” I don’t get it.

The markers that were tipped over can be righted. The ones that are broken are gone forever. Possibly new ones can be made, but the originals are from the Civil War era in a place where Memorial Day was purportedly founded.

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Success with a cemetery

There is a certain cemetery I have been trying to photograph for about a year now. The problem is the church was decommissioned back in the 1920s and there is no one around there to ask about access. I have tried to contact the neighboring church pastor, the closest cemetery’s caretaker, the pastor of the closest church of the same denomination, the district leadership of the denomination, people who are designated “local historians” by the townspeople, and people who know everyone and everything about the area.

Zip. Squat. Nada. Until today.

Today, after much wracking my brain and digging for answers, I asked the right person —  who said she had no idea even where the place was, let alone the person I needed to contact. However, apparently it got her talking with colleagues who, in turn, knew the right person to ask.

I have high hopes of getting out there Sunday with my new camera and taking photos. Over the past several years, there has been much discussion on an board about residents of this particular cemetery. I would also like to volunteer to photograph several of the cemeteries for the local cemetery project. We shall see.