Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review--Beyond the Gatehouse

Kennell, Brian. Beyond the  Gatehouse: Gettysburg's Evergreen CemeteryEvergreen Cemetery Association, Gettysburg, PA. 2000. 117 pages. Index, bibliography, b/w photos, map. ISBN 0966477200, $9.95*.

For those of us who study history it can be tough to pass up a cemetery much to the chagrin of our loved ones. Historic cemeteries are even better when you can purchase an excellent guide like the one written by Brian Kennell, second generation superintendent at Evergreen Cemetery.

In a fast reading 117 pages Kennell takes us on a brief history of the cemetery and then on a guided tour of the most famous burials located there.

The Gatehouse from across the Baltimore Pike
While the grounds are beautiful that doesn't mean it comes easy. As you walk through the Gatehouse and into the well maintained cemetery be sure to understand that much of the ground you are standing on consists of diabase rock. What is diabase rock you ask? Think both Round Tops, Devil's Den, and Culp's Hill. Now imagine trying to dig graves in the summer heat much like the pregnant Elizabeth Thorn did while her husband Peter was serving in the 138th PA Infantry. Hers is just one of many stories you will read about in this must have book for students of Gettysburg.

The book is really a brief series of biographies of the famous and important buried in Evergreen. The book rightly starts out with James Gettys, the town founder. Others that will be recognizable to Gettysburg history buffs include Virginia "Jennie" Wade, David Wills, Rev. Dr. Samuel Schmucker, John Burns, Jack Skelly, and William Tipton. For those with interests other than the Battle of Gettysburg there are the burial sites of Eddie Plank the Baseball Hall of Famer, singer and actor Oscar Shaw, and poet Marianne Moore amongst others. Also included is a nice fold up and removable map for finding the locations of the burials.

Located just southeast from the Gettysburg National Cemetery look for the beautiful Gatehouse on the Baltimore Pike. There is parking close by but be careful as sometimes traffic can be a bit on the fast side near the entrance. Both the book and the cemetery are highly recommended!

Please be sure to check out Gettysburg Daily who has a great set of posts featuring Evergreen Cemetery hosted by Licensed Battlefield Guide Deb Novotny.

* While I have included a link to Amazon the prices are really out of line. This week I acquired a nicely signed and inscribed copy through Battlefields and Beyond paying cover price. I would recommend giving Bern a call or contacting the cemetery directly through the link on their site.

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