Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What can you learn in the cemetery?

photo credit: rvaphotodude via photopin and cc

Cemeteries are full of stories. Some fresh and some forgotten. It may be a little odd that I enjoy these places that are connected to so much sorrow. But, what is a final resting place for other than for people to visit and remember you?

I live near a large cemetery that was formed in 1850. It sits on rolling hills and is full of trees. Old stones reside next to new stones and the styles are endless. From a genealogical perspective I am fond of one in particular. It is a double stone - husband and wife and contains the usual birth and death dates but also each spouse's birth location, their marriage date, and the wife's maiden name. I do not know this family but just passing by it I get a sense of who they might have been.

The photo above is not one I took, but it also embodies this (perhaps older?) tradition by including where the person was born and died. [As a side note this photo is from a grave in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Quite the neat place from what I have been told and would like to visit it some day.]

Another gesture that I think is a nice is the addition of quotations on stones. I have distant relatives in this cemetery and each time I consult this list this saying always catches my attention...

"Remember friends as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me"

A little searching indicated this may have been a common 19th century epitaph with ties to Christianity.

Another from the Yingst Cemetery...

"A kind and loving husband and affectionate father and a great member of society. Weep not for me my friends most dear"

Makes me wonder who wrote it.

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