GUEST OPINION: Return Stone Head, now

By MIKE KELLEY, guest columnist

Everyone wants to know your name.

You’re the talk of the town, and now, because of social media, the talk spreads quickly, far and wide.

You took it upon yourself to deface an iconic Brown County landmark, one harboring a long history of community spirit, a spirit of goodness.

You must live among us in our community, but because of your younger age, may not have completely understood the ramifications of your misguided action in front of the farmhouse at Stone Head on the night of Nov. 5.

The sandstone monument was the artistic expression of a local fellow in the community named Henry Cross.

The Stone Head statue, circa the 1980s. Submitted
The Stone Head statue, circa the 1980s. Submitted

The three monuments Cross was commissioned in 1851 to create in lieu of paying property taxes started out as just whimsical direction finders for people struggling to find their way along the dusty country roads.

This particular one became unique in being the only one to survive all these years, and in doing so, became something special for not only our community, but also for the many tourists who visit here.

Margurete Rust Burns stands with the Stone Head statue at State Road 135 South and Bellsville Pike in 1914. The statue was carved by Brown Countian Henry Cross. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Margurete Rust Burns stands with the Stone Head statue at State Road 135 South and Bellsville Pike in 1914. The statue was carved by Brown Countian Henry Cross. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It had the ability to attract untold thousands of friends and families to gather in front of it, all smiling while having their photos taken with Henry’s whimsical creation now known, along with the community around it, as “Stone Head.”

And believe it or not, even in these more modern times, it is still needed and used to help lost people find their way.

This is the legacy of Henry Cross, our fellow Brown Countian.

So what do we know about Henry Cross, other than his name and that he was talented because of his many intricately designed tombstones seen today?

We know he felt he had certain shortcomings in his life and that he made mistakes along the way, simply because he was just like all of us.

The thing of it is, even though we don’t know your name, we already have a sense of who you are because we are a community of human beings, a family of man, if you will, all sharing this moment in time together.

We know you must be suffering from low self-esteem. You believe some important people in your life have let you down. You feel life hasn’t treated you fairly. Something has left you with deeply seeded anger.

We know that you probably feel like a “big shot” now, but only in a perverted sort of way with your buddies.

We know that after all your braggadocio and laughter subside, you will stand alone, facing yourself in the mirror and wondering who you really are.

We know so much about you because we’ve all been there before, too, in one form or another.

People aren’t created equally, but we all struggle in different ways and have equal opportunity to better our situations.

We know you are going to be feeling an increasingly heavy burden of guilt, knowing that you have hurt so many people as a result of this mistake.

Perhaps someone will eventually come into your life after you have gained maturity, such that you will find yourself admitting that you are not happy with the direction your life is going and you wish to be more like him or her.

Is your impulsive, malicious act of defiance going to be the end of this particular Henry Cross legacy, or is the return of his stone head going to be the beginning of yours?

We are a community blessed with talented people who can restore Stone Head to appear as good as new, or perhaps better stated, old once again. I’ve saved the small stone pieces of debris you left behind, but only you have the ability to help us get it to the condition that will bring back joy to countless others now and yet to come.

We know how to forgive, and we want you to allow us to extend our forgiveness to you.

Until you do, it hurts us in knowing how you will be hurting.

Drop Stone Head off at the farmhouse in the dark of night.

You’ll know when the time is right, and in doing so, we’ll know you are on your way to feeling better about your life and us feeling better about you.

We would even love to know your name someday, after we know you’ve confronted that fragile person you now see in the mirror and have made the heartfelt decision to make meaningful contributions in the start of your new life.

The spirit of Stone Head transcends the physical embodiment carved in a block of sandstone. We welcome you to join us in feeling the goodness of this spirit.

What will be your legacy in the continuum of time, fellow Brown Countian?

Mike Kelley is the “unofficial caretaker” of Stone Head.