A gravestone creator in a small town in Romania took his mission seriously to memorialize the dead. But he did in, er, “living color,” so to speak. With plenty of colorful images and even dirty little secrets and gossip carved onto tombstones of the local residents at the “Merry Cemetery.”
The “Merry Cemetery” Sapanta, Romania. Image credit: “Merry Cemetery – Sapanta – Romania 01”, by Adam Jones (Adam63). Wikimedia Commons image at- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merry_Cemetery_-_Sapanta_-_Romania_01.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Merry_Cemetery_-_Sapanta_-_Romania_01.jpg.
As reported in the New York Daily News, the woodcarver responsible for over 1000 gravestones in the “Merry Cemetery” would wander through town, taking notes on people’s quirks and secrets. Some flaws–drinking and carousing among them–are memorialized colorfully on their tombstones. On other stones, you’ll find his sad laments for the untimely passing of a child or the death of an adult by a sad accident.
“There’s no point in hiding secrets in this small town in Maramures, so people’s lives are captured honestly in their epitaphs,” reports the article.
The woodcarver was Stan Ion Patras, who lived from 1908-1977. Conscious of the legacy he was leaving–and perhaps anxious to tell his own story rather than have someone else do it–Patras carved his own tombstone before he passed away. He trained his replacement, who continues to add to the brightly colored crosses.
Here’s another detail I thought was neat: Patras’ folk art was highly symbolic. According to a New York Times article on the cemetery, “The portrait of the deceased is central, surrounded by geometric designs in symbolic colors: yellow for fertility, red for passion, green for life, black for untimely death. The color scheme is keyed to the subject’s life — if, for example, the deceased had many children, yellow carries the design. Some crosses are crowned with white doves representing the soul; a black bird implies a tragic or suspicious end. The background is always blue, the color of hope and freedom.”
What’s the most fascinating cemetery you’ve ever visited? What’s the most memorable epitaph you’ve ever found? Share it on our Genealogy Gems Facebook page!
If you’re a MyHeritage user, you know how powerful their search and record matching technologies are–and how many records and trees they have. If you use RootsMagic, you know how adeptly this family history software helps you build and maintain your master family tree. Now you can work more heritage magic by combining these powerful family history tools!
MyHeritage’s Smart Matching™ and Record Matching technologies have been integrated into newly-released RootsMagic 7 in a feature called WebHints. Whenever new records become available that match people in your RootsMagic tree, MyHeritage will send you a clickable alert. It’s kind of like having Google Alerts for MyHeritage embedded right within MyHeritage! Some records will be free to view; others will require a MyHeritage subscription. Either way, don’t you want to know what’s out there that you might be missing? (Bonus: WebHints also include hints from FamilySearch.org!)
Personally, I’m so pleased to see this collaboration. RootsMagic is a longtime sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. MyHeritage also sponsors our podcast now, too. These companies offer products I love to share with readers and listeners because they are truly “genealogy gems.”
A few more good-to-know facts:
- RootsMagic assures users that “information sent by RootsMagic to MyHeritage for matching is never collected or shared, and is deleted after matching to ensure the complete privacy of RootsMagic users and their data.
- You do have the option to turn off WebHints if you need to for whatever reason. In the software, go to Tools, File Options, and then uncheck WebHints.
- MyHeritage matching technologies are also being integrated by Dutch genealogy software Aldfaer and the online genealogy services of Coret Genealogie in the Netherlands.
Is it time for you to try a free trial of RootsMagic and MyHeritage? Test drive them both with their freebie versions (still powerful and totally compatible with the paid upgrades). Click here to learn about RootsMagic 7 (and the free version, RootsMagic Essentials) and here to learn about free and paid subscription options at MyHeritage.com.
What are you finding in your WebAlerts on MyHeritage (or by searching the site yourself)? I’d love to hear from you! Post your discoveries on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!
Newsboys or “newsies” used to sell the news. But for a time in American history, they were the news!
Newsboy. Little Fattie. Less than 40 inches high, 6 years old. Been at it one year. May 9th, 1910. Location: St. Louis, Missouri. Wikimedia Commons image, original at Library of Congress.
You’d know them by their common call: “Read all about it!” It was their job to sell stacks of inexpensive newspapers on every street corner that would support them. The Library of Congress has posted a fascinating page about the history of newsies, including their own appearance in the papers.
In 1899, newspaper prices rose–and that cut into the profit margins of boys who had very little profit to begin with. In New York City, many newsboys refused to sell papers published by Pulitzer and Hearst. Over the next few years, the newsboys didn’t exactly unionize, but they did organize. Eventually they formed the National Newsboys’ Association, which evolved into today’s Boys Club and Girls Club.
It’s interesting to read how the newspapers reported the doings of the boys who were essentially their salespeople. I bet it was a tricky place to be caught: a newspaper couldn’t afford to totally alienate their own best salesmen. Those salesmen were actually children, whom nobody wants to be accused of targeting. But their activities were aimed at driving down prices. In some cases, you see newspapers taking “the high road” and reporting charitable efforts to help these boys, like this story from the 1909 Washington Herald:
Click here to read this full story on Chronicling America. And click here to “read all about” newsboys and their role in American newspaper life.
Remember, stories like these are the kind that shaped our ancestors’ lives. Whether we find our relatives mentioned directly in the paper or we just see what life was like around them, we can learn so much from reading the same newspapers they did. Learn more from my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers–and Genealogy Gems Premium Subscribers can check out “Getting the Scoop on Your Ancestors in Newspapers” in the Premium Videos section.