It seems only fitting to begin this blog in remembrance of my 2nd Great Grandfather Johann Leonhard Bernthal (27 September 1821 – 17 January 1911) who passed away 103 years ago this week in Frankenmuth, Michigan, a community he along with fourteen other brave souls founded in 1845. He is laid to rest in St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery with his wife Maria Margaretha née Veitengruber (02 November 1827 – 14 November 1905).
Their gravestone decorations are apt symbols of their lives as missionaries and pioneers. Leonhard’s side is adorned with oak leaves, representing “strength, endurance, eternity, honor, liberty, hospitality, faith, and virtue.” Ivy, which remains “eternally green in harsh conditions,” decorates the stone by Maria Margaretha’s inscription and is a symbol of fidelity and immortality.
 Douglas Keister, Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, Publisher; 2004), 62.
 Keister, Stories in Stone, 57.