THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Tales from the old-timer
Issue Date: July 18, 2012
I have asked my father to cede his weekly column to me this week as I seek information on a mystery, stated Jane Martin of Bixbey, Okla. Approximately 45 years ago, as I scuffed through deep autumn leaves on my parents property, I kicked up a flat piece of metal, 7x3. Although it was very black and corroded, I could feel the raised metal letters At Rest. While I was alone and probably only 10, I didnt feel frightened or creeped-out at the time, perhaps the result of many hours alone in the woods, and the lack of horror movies or reality TV back in those simpler times. If I found such a thing today, Id probably be looking over my shoulder in fear.
But back then I took it home, and my parents and I puzzled over the presence of such an item on their low-lying land in Sec 35 in the Town of Peshtigo.
I found the plaque on the edge of the overgrown pasture, which by that time was covered in small trees and brush head-high, just at the edge of the second-growth maple woods. When I found it, I scuffed all the leaves in the are away, looking for anything else that looked man-made, but found nothing. My parents land is very low, bordered by hand-dug drainage ditches to make it suitable for pasture when the property was farmed. The spot by the woods is covered with standing water in spring and indeed as I recall, I walked that way that early fall day to check on the small cranberry bog close by. It seemed an unlikely spot for a grave, especially with the nearby sand hills (old sandbars from when the bay covered all this low land) so close by. If the spot is really a grave, it must have been a last resort or hasty burial to choose such a soggy spot over the elevated sand hills.
My father and his dog walked his land all the time since moving there in 1957, and neither he nor anyone else ever noticed a fence, stones, or any other feature suggestive of an early family cemetery. The spot I found the plaque is some distance from the small country road nearby, and the row of small hills created by the digging of the big drainage ditch between that spot and the road make it unlikely someone could have thrown the plaque from a passing car.
The plaque has two very small tack holes on either long side, and was apparently designed to be fastened to a wooden cross or wood slab marker, or perhaps fastened to the lid of a wooden coffin. It is machine stamped, and made of either thin tin or sterling silver, which tarnishes rapidly. I havent been able to find a name or date of manufacture on it.
I have searched the internet several times seeking anything similar, and have never found anything close.
I am very curious to see if we can find a likely date range for such markers. I am wondering if any Times reader has ever seen anything similar. If so, please respond to the Old-Timer in care of the Peshtigo Times.