From Family Stories to Gravestones: David Dobson’s Journey of Honoring Ancestors
David Dobson’s interest in history was ignited at a young age. His natural curiosity led him to explore not only the general historical events but also his own family’s past. Over the years, his fascination drove him to engage in numerous conversations with family elders, unearthing unspoken stories and intriguing facts about his lineage. This curiosity has sustained him for an impressive 40 years.
While traversing through family history, Dobson discovered a poignant truth – the lamentable condition of gravestones in many cemeteries. Despite well-kept grounds, the gravestones themselves seemed forgotten and neglected. Names and dates, the only physical remnants of someone’s existence, were often obscured by lichens, mosses, and mildew. This observation prompted Dobson to take the matter into his own hands and start cleaning gravestones, beginning with those of his ancestors.
For Dobson, there’s an immense sense of satisfaction in restoring the gravestones of his ancestors. By cleaning their stones, saying a few words of respect, and leaving flowers, he believes he is honoring his ancestors in a concrete way. This act of remembrance feels beneficial not only to him but also to his entire family.
A particularly poignant moment in Dobson’s journey was the cleaning of his great grandfather’s gravestone. Born in New Brunswick, his great grandfather served during the Civil War and later settled in Houlton to farm and raise a family. His gravestone, once covered with lichen and unreadable, now stands clear, a testament to Dobson’s commitment to reclaiming his family’s history.
If you’re considering embarking on a similar journey, Dobson suggests starting small. Watch videos about gravestone cleaning, gather the necessary supplies, and clean a stone. This initial experience will help determine what’s needed in terms of supplies and practical knowledge. It’s also a great way to gauge your readiness for future efforts.
For Dobson and his daughter, the journey took them from Lewiston to Houlton, then to New Brunswick, cleaning gravestones and learning more about their family history along the way. Their journey was not only an educational one but also a deeply rewarding and fun experience. They’re now eagerly anticipating visits to the gravestones of 14 more great great grandparents, 6 more great grandparents, and 4 grandparents. This task may take a few years, but Dobson is confident that it’s a commitment worth pursuing.
In the end, Dobson’s journey is one of honoring the past, engaging with the present, and preserving history for the future. His story is a testament to the power of individual efforts in reclaiming forgotten histories and honoring those who came before us.