Friday, May 18, 2012

Carroll Neidhardt

     I am very interested in grave walking; I never saw a cemetery that I didn’t want to walk. I have always had a fascination about old burial grounds. Whenever I’m traveling my eye is always drawn to the tombstones up on the high ridge and wishes I could get off the main road and find the country lane leading to the old cemeteries.  There is always something unique and unknown to be discovered.  There is also something about death that makes life sharper and clearer. It’s funny because if you think about it some burial grounds remind me of soldiers marching row after row all standing at attention while in other graveyards the stones appear to be tipsy [laughing] like a night at the local pub- Leaning at odd angels even tumbling down the hill. I just like to take walks through the cemeteries and see what I can learn about the dead.    
Yes I have come across a lot of odd things at the cemeteries. One particular stone I came across many years ago makes me still laugh today as I think about it. In the spot where it gives the date of  death  it says February 31st now everyone knows there is no such date maybe February 29th every four yearbut never a February 31st. I always thought about that concept; how they can make the mistake of the date especially since that date doesn’t even exist. There is a lot you can learn by walking among the dead.  Grave walking has given me the opportunity to glimpse into the past. Long life, short life, nipped in the bud of youth, illness, and marital status.

     One other tradition that the German had was called Witch balls. Our old farm house of eleven rooms began as a two room log house in 1839 with several additions over the years. In decades past, new improvements were made then things were retired or removed as something new came into our lives. Chandeliers, trunks, spinning wheels, and other things were pushed up into the attic and was a natural magnet for exploring children [laughs].
      My brothers and cousins were secretly playing once in Grandma’s attic and happened onto several glass balls that we began to toss around until discovered by grandma herself with a stinging rebuke both verbal and physical. The little glass balls were put away for another decade. Years later when the purpose of the little glass balls was explained as witch’s balls that formerly hung on the kitchen window with copper hooks. Each glass container held some dog fennel and other herbs and if the inside of the glass sphere turned gray, you would know a witch had tried to get into the home and its spirit would be absorbed into the glass bulb. Then the glass trap was removed and thrown into a fire, the spirit would be destroyed.


  1. What an interesting person he is, you must had a amazing time interviewing him Ruth.

  2. He would be so cool to do this stuff with!!! I'm very intrigued!!!