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Who Are These Numbered Souls?


Angel, Grave, Hope, CCO

The smell of dirt choked my airways, and the familiar giant hand pressed down on my chest. The delicate roots of the buttercups were in a heap beside a granite stone etched with the number 46. I walked down the long row of stones readin’ the numbers –47, 48, 49…

I wandered back to the child’s restin’ place. “I suppose you are number 50.” My voice cracked. I knelt down and dug a shallow hole with my hands, quickly foldin’ the wilted flowers into the earth by the head of the fresh grave. I wiped my hands on my apron, bowed my head, and tried to ignore the agitatin’ mosquitoes that swarmed around me.

“Heavenly Father, I come before You, meek and lowly in heart, to ask earnestly that You accept the soul of this innocent child to be safe in Your arms. Without faith, it is impossible to take comfort in these times. I pray for his or her folks and that You will bless them in their hour of need. And I pray for life everlastin’ and all that is good. A-men.”

The song of the hermit thrush spiraled down from the trees as salty tears mixed with a tinge of strawberries and fresh earth. A twig snapped. I heard rustlin’ in the trees as a creature scampered towards the river at the bottom of the hill.

The sun lingered long enough for hope, leavin’ the day and all its secrets inside of a patient, violet cloud. I took one last look at the spindly flowers layin’ face down on the soil, tucked my wayward curl into my bonnet, and set out for home. ~ Abigail Hodgdon, June 30, 1872 ~ County Farm Cemetery: Ossipee, NH

Excerpt: Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series Book One

It is my mission to give voices to those silenced, to evoke images where they have been erased, and to replace numbers with names. During the early stage of exploration, I discovered the identities of more than 260 souls. They are listed on this website and at the end of the first book, Etched in Granite. Mj Pettengill



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