Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library

The Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library in Machias.

MACHIAS — The Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library will kick off its 12th annual Summer at the Stone House event series on June 8 with a program on the meaning of symbols found within cemeteries.

This year’s inaugural speaker will be Laura Fitzgerald, a local historian and taphophile — someone with enthusiasm or interest in cemeteries and gravestones — who will present a program called “Cemetery Symbolism.”

“Symbols are a part of our everyday lives,” she explained. “With a visit to your local cemetery, you can learn a great deal about the people buried within its gates — their occupations, hobbies, age and era in which they died.”

Fitzgerald will share examples of unique stones from Western New York and beyond. Learn the stories behind these stones and the important lives they represent.

Fitzgerald worked for the Forest Lawn Group, serving as the director of interpretive programming, historian and volunteer coordinator for three years. Prior to that, she worked in higher education administration for 11 years.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting from Buffalo State College, she assisted in several locally themed productions at Buffalo Toronto Public Media, including Buffalo’s Houses of Worship and Polonia.

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As an active member of the community, Laura has volunteered her time at many area organizations such as the Irish Classical Theatre Company, Shakespeare-in-Delaware-Park, B Team Buffalo, the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, Inviting Buffalo, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Citybration, Buffalo’s Promise Neighborhood, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D Martin House and has been a board of trustee member for the Buffalo Presidential Center since 2020.

All Summer at the Stone House programs take place at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, June through August. They will be held under an event tent on the museum lawn, rain or shine, and are free and open to the public. Some seating will be available, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs if they wish.

The full schedule for 2023 is:

  • June 8: Laura Fitzgerald, “Cemetery Symbolism”
  • June 22: Dave Ruch, “Music of the Erie Canal”
  • July 13: Amanda Woomer, “Haunted WNY Vol. 3”
  • July 27: Ron Cary, “18th Century Tavern Music”
  • Aug. 10: Linda Hunter, “What do you do with Five Inch Squares?” (quilting)
  • Aug. 24: Jeanette Sheliga, “Newspapers: Above the Fold, Your Ancestors in the News

The Cattaraugus County Museum is located in the Stone House, 9824 Route 16 in Machias. For more information, visit our Facebook page or call (716) 353-8200.


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