York Town Square

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Dover’s Baughman Memorials craftsmen: ‘Sum up decades of living in a few letters and numbers’

This photograph in the office of Dover, Pa.’s, Baughman Memorial Works shows the business in 1910. The company’s founder, Nelson H. Baughman, is at right. (See present-day photo below.) Also of interest: Each month, three free history presentations offered to York countians and York County’s landscape, buildings, landmarks can serve as a classroom and Dover forges blacksmith shop.
Baughman Memorials is an iconic York County business that, in fact, produces icons for others.
Owner Donald Baughman will talk to the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society about his family roots in Dover, and how the cemetery monument industry has changed throughout the generations with updated technology and more efficient ways of crafting memorials. So says a news release from the genealogical society, sponsor of the free, public presentation on Sunday, Oct. 4.
The release gives further details:

The scene along South Main Street in Dover as seen in 2006. This area of Dover’s streetscape has not changed much since this 1910 photo was taken.
Nelson Howard Baughman moved to Dover in 1875. He founded Baughman Marble Works near the Dover square and transported marble from York by a two-horse team.
All designs and lettering were cut by hand using a mallet and chisel. Sand stones were usually used for bases. Nelson soon became known for his fine craftsmanship and honest nature.
Over the years, interest continued in the business from younger generations. Nelson taught son, Harry. Harry taught son, Nelson Merle. In the 1930s, Harry and Nelson M. incorporated the technique of sandblasting into their business.
Nelson’s son, Donald, also took an interest in the art of crafting memorials and oversaw the construction of a new shop in 1963. Donald has seen many changes since then, including the introduction of laser etching.
One hundred and thirty years ago, monuments were mainly created using marble. Today, materials include granite, both domestic and imported, in many colors, shapes and sizes.
Donald’s wife and their oldest daughter work side-by-side with Donald in the business, making the fifth continuous generation of memorial craftsmen.
The Dover area has produced many achievers, as demonstrated by the links below. Add Baughman Memorials to the list.
A reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News stopped by the Baughman’s shop in 2006.
This excerpt from her report captured the family atmosphere that characterizes this venerable York County business:

“For five generations, the Baughman family has worked not only to preserve their own legacy, but to help others do the same. They etch the details of existences in stone — names and dates that struggle to sum up decades of living in a few letters and numbers.
“It’s a lot of pressure, to be sure, deciding how to make the intangible tangible. Picking out the perfect piece of stone, then personalizing it so descendants can pick you out from the crowd in the churchyard cemetery.
“The Baughmans sweeten the unsavory chore as best they can, using years of experience to balance delicate conversations and offer an open ear.
“Sharon Baughman-Witmer tears up on a regular basis when she hears some customers’ stories. Even after so many years, it still gets to her when she traces her fingers along dates that match years her own children were born.”

Baughman’s presentation at the genealogical society:
DATE: Sunday, October 4, 2009
LOCATION: York County Heritage Trust, 250 East Market Street, York.
TIME: 2:15 p.m., business meeting; 2:30 p.m. program
Other York Town Square posts with Dover ties: Jeff Koons, Ray Krone, Daniel Drawbaugh, Jeb Stuart, John Kuhn , Scott Strausbaugh and the intelligent design case.
Also: John “Clarkie” Souza, Cate Reinart (mother of Nick and Drew Lachey), long trumpeter Bill School, rock group Blind Melon’s Chris Thorn, Jeff Koons, Part II, Gov. George Leader, weightlifting guru Bob Hoffman.