Sunday, June 19, 2005

Kicking Down The Doors of the Dead

From the (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call of June 19, 2005:

Determination unlocks history

Forgotten key, willing locksmith open tomb in Martins Creek.

By Tyra Braden
Of The Morning Call

In the end, Bob Rice saved the day.

The Martins Creek locksmith toiled more than an hour Saturday to conquer the rusted, misaligned lock on the heavy door that since 1892 has stood guard over the Kern-Kiefer mausoleum at Church Hill Cemetery in Martins Creek.

Behind the slab of galvanized steel lay what Dennis Kiefer hoped would be more clues in his quest for family history. Kiefer and his wife, Patsy, had traveled from their home in Memphis, Tenn., to the cemetery several times, and they'd found plenty of Kiefer's kin in plots at Church Hill, but Kiefer wanted to know who was entombed in the granite, concrete and marble mausoleum tucked into a hillside at Church Hill.

Trouble was, no one could find the key.


On Thursday, Bush, said, current superintendent Bertha Ross found a hinged key that folds in half, which looked like it could be the one.


About 45 minutes into the job, [locksmith] Rice gave the door a few good kicks. It didn't budge.

An hour after Rice started, the door swung slowly inward. "Oh, my God!" Swope yelled. "It's open." Someone told her to step inside and look around, to see if the building looked as it did when she was a child.


An inscription on the mausoleum dates it to 1892. Inside are 20 compartments. Six appear to be empty, for their faceplates bear no names. In the others rest Kiefers and Kerns, the youngest of whom died at age 2 months, and the oldest at age 91. One compartment's date is 1891, indicating its inhabitant was moved into the mausoleum after its construction. Kiefer recorded the names to add to his growing genealogy.


[Read the whole story]

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