The inscription on John G. Marshall’s tombstone tells what little is known about the man.
Marshall was born in 1842 in Truro, N.S. and was buried in the Blackfalds Cemetery in 1900.
His monument is the oldest among the 450 headstones in the four-acre cemetery. And for that reason it was recently given new life.
In 1954, Marshall’s tombstone was one of dozens that were believed to be vandalized throughout the graveyard. The stone was broken off its base and left lying on the ground for years.
Judy Carleton, president of the Blackfalds and Area Historical Society, knows many of the family names etched on the tombstones but Marshall is not one of them. Carleton said the society wanted to restore the tombstone to honour his memory and for aesthetic purposes.
“Even though I will probably never know who he was,” said Carleton, standing in the graveyard on Broadway Avenue in Blackfalds.
Ellen Miller, society vice-president, said the cemetery stands as a reminder of the people that were part of the history of the region. Marshall missed the Blackfalds’ census in 1901.
“For some people like John Marshall, that’s all that is left,” said Miller. “It is an important part of history to keep.”
The Blackfalds Cemetery used to be outside of the town but the town has grown to where the graveyard is now surrounded by homes and businesses. The cemetery has roots pre-1900 and was kept up by different organizations until 1977 when the town took over responsibility for maintenance and upkeep. In recent years, the town has beautified the plot and added benches and an area for urns.
The society hopes to restore more tombstones in the coming months or years. The club’s mandate is to preserve, collect and educate people on Blackfalds’ history.
“A lot of people say you don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you come from,” said Carleton. “For a long time nobody was preserving Blackfalds. Blackfalds history has been ignored for so long. That’s why I formed the society (in 2005) so we could do projects like this.”
The society is always looking for Blackfalds’ photographs, artefacts, documents to either borrow or as a donation. For more information or if you have information about Marshall, please call 403-885-4315 or visit www.blackfaldshistoricalsociety.com.