Paper No. 44-0
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY MARBLE GRAVESTONES IN THE MIDWEST?: DOCUMENTING THE RISE AND FALL OF MARBLE USE IN NORTHEASTERN OHIO CEMETERIES
HANNIBAL, Joseph T.1, BAUER, Andrew2, HANSON, Claudia Britt2, and ELMORE, Jesse V.2, (1) Cleveland Museum of Nat History, 1 Wade Oval Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106-1767, hannibal@cmnh.org, (2) Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106-1767

Marble gravestones are prominent features of 19th century midwestern cemeteries. Stone-use seriation patterns based on all usable gravestones in three 19th-20th century Cleveland area cemeteries document apparent transitions between local and imported stone, including marble. Comparison with historical records, particularly advertisements, shows that the seriation pattern for the most rural of the cemeteries most likely documents the introduction of stone types, including marble, to the area.

Local sandstones (Euclid bluestone and Berea Sandstone) were the first stones used for gravestones in the cemeteries. Use of sandstone for gravestones diminished during the 1830s, but sandstone continued to be used for monument bases until the end of the 19th century.

Marble was used for gravestones in the cemeteries at least by the 1830s, and marble gravestones remained in use into the early 20th century. Marble's replacement of local stone in the region and elsewhere during the 19th century was due to a number of reasons, including: the popularity of the classic Greek model, especially in architecture; comparable ease of cutting and carving marble using mid-nineteenth century technology; and the advantageous position of Vermont and Carrara marble quarries in relation to water transport. Construction of canals in the eastern US in the early 1800s and a pier in Marina di Carrara in 1851 greatly facilitated marble transport.

Despite difficulties associated with carving granite, it began to replace marble as a monument stone in the Cleveland region and elsewhere by the 1870s. Technological advances, including use of Carborundum as a cutting abrasive and development of pneumatic drills in the 1890s, followed closely by use of sandblasting, greatly facilitated carving of granite. Growth of railway networks facilitated transport of granite and by 1890 prices for granite used for monuments was much less than that of marble.

Gravestone style in the cemeteries is broadly correlated with stone type: early sandstone and marble gravestones are tablets, whereas marble and granite gravestones are present in a variety of forms. Weathering of marble gravestones, studied using a visual inscription-legibility method, is related, as expected, to the cemeteries' locations in relation to pollution sources.

North-Central Section (36th) and Southeastern Section (51st), GSA Joint Annual Meeting (April 35, 2002)
Session No. 44
Geology and Human History I: Geological and Regional Perspectives
Hyatt Regency Hotel: Patterson Ballroom D
8:00 AM-11:40 AM, Friday, April 5, 2002
 

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