Family Stories

Petrie Family Buried in Frankfort Cemetery – Franklin County

While looking through my photographs taken at the Frankfort Cemetery I came upon a very ornate stone, that of Thomas M. Petrie, born April 10, 1853, died April 8, 1882. Thomas died at the age of 29 – a young man.

The first item on the gravestone that immediately stands out is the delicately carved calla lilies and their beautiful large leaves. I can’t say that I’ve seen a more ornate example. Calla lilies symbolize majestic beauty and marriage. From South Africa, the calla lily was introduced in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century and became very popular as funerary art.

Notice the very decorate urn with Thomas’ name. Generally there would be a drape over the urn, but this one is the receptacle for the beautiful calla lilies.

The fern on the right side symbolizes humility, frankness and sincerity. The vine, on the left, is a powerful symbol of the relationship between God and man.

James Petrie, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, September 1, 1819, died in Frankfort, Kentucky, May 19, 1865, aged 46 years. May his soul rest in peace.

Although James Petrie’s stone is not as elaborate as Thomas’, notice the cords with tassels on the sides, and although a little difficult to make out, it seems that James’ information is on a scroll. I could not find specific information for these symbols, but they were added for a purpose.

From his gravestone we know that James Petrie was born in Scotland and came to the United States at some point before his death. A birth was recorded in Frankfort, Thomas M. Petrie, 1853 (no date was given), parents James Petrie and Catherine Cand. I found the family in the 1860 Franklin County census. James, 40, was born in Scotland and was a painter. Catherine was 39, born in Ireland. Thomas was 7. We know five years after this census James died. I could not find Catherine and Thomas in the 1870 census, but in 1880 they lived on Mero Street in Frankfort. I know that area very well from my time as finance officer for Burgin Schools, since I attended many meetings there. Catharine was 50 (should have been 60), Thomas was 28, and his wife, Julia, was also 28. There are no marriage records for Franklin County on Ancestry. Thomas is listed as ‘at home’, generally what was noted for children. There is also a column listing how many months a person has been unemployed – 12 was in the box for Thomas. Evidently Thomas must have been ill for some time before his death. I found no obituary.

I went to Find A Grave for more information. I put in Frankfort Cemetery and then the last name Petrie. In Section F, Lot C, James Petrie and Thomas M. Petrie are buried in graves 5 and 2. Listed were Mrs. James, who died in 1899, in grave 4, beside James; Julia Petrie, died 1894, buried in grave 1, beside Thomas. J. Petrie is buried in grave 10, and T. M. Petrie in grave 7. Except for the photographs of James and Thomas’ gravestones I shared with you, there are no stones for any others. Were the last two children of Thomas and Julia, that died before the 1880 census? Perhaps other relatives? Perhaps we will never know.

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