Photo Survey of Lima Presbyterian Cemetery Reveals Many Lost Inscriptions

Stone in Lima Presbyterian Cemetery

Family plot in Lima Presbyterian Cemetery

By Deanna Appleton

This semester, I registered for a Western Civilizations history class in which my teacher was Professor Derek Maxfield. Students in the class were given a Service Learning assignment, in which we could propose 1 out of 3 choices that we would prefer to go through with, one of which was to find a cemetery within 20-25 miles from the Old Erie Canal and take 350 photos of different tombstones with death dates between 1800-1920. I quickly chose this assignment because I am currently pursuing my major in Photography and saw this as a great opportunity to advance my experience. The purpose of this assignment is to digitally capture tombstones from this period, in which I was pleased to be a part of. I chose to do my photos at the Presbyterian Cemetery, behind the Lima Presbyterian church in Lima, NY. I am just finishing up my assignment and am amazed at how worn and illegible these tombstones are. Many of the inscriptions are barely there and some are totally worn away. Some of the tombstones I came across were even broken off and fallen to the ground behind the base of the stone.

This cemetery is not very big because of its limited location behind the Lima Presbyterian Church and contains mostly old tombstones between the death dates of 1800- 1920; only a few tombstones have dates after that. One casualty I ran into was finding a map of this cemetery, because it is so old. Unless one knows the area of Lima, NY, this cemetery is hard to spot. Although many of the tombstones in this cemetery are disintegrating and illegible, the detail and design on some of the tombstones is amazing. The ones shown in this blog were some of my favorites that I had taken, particularly because of the designs. I also found a lot of closed off “family” sections in this cemetery, in which there is an example photo posted in this blog. From what I photographed in this cemetery, a “family” section contained one large monument, usually with inscriptions on all sides or just one side, followed by small tombstones that either lined the front of the monument or circled around it. The section was also marked with poles wrapping around the area, in order to show importance or unity of those particular tombstones. Based on the conditions of these tombstones, I was glad to be a part of capturing pictures in hope of preserving them.

Deanna Appleton is a first year student at GCC majoring in photography.


About Derek Maxfield

Associate Professor of History Genesee Community College
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