Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cemetery Tales

As we near All Hallows' Eve...

The past two days, instead of getting some of the things done that we should, we've been out enjoying crystal clear days and fall leaves. It's been fun, especially since our brother, who until recently has shown little interest in the outside world, was with us.

On Sunday, we ventured out enjoying and photographing fall foliage. John and I had been out on Friday and the trees were at their peak. They were still beautiful on Sunday, but heavy rains on Saturday had taken some toll. In our travels, we saw a lot of beautiful vistas. We were looking for drama, I think - pictures that told a story - and as we passed a cemetery, John asked if we had ever been up to Mount Bethel Cemetery in Columbia. Most of our relatives from that area are in another cemetery there, but Mount Bethel holds our great grandparents and some great aunts and uncles we never met. We filed the idea away and decided we'd have to visit - someday.

Well, Monday dawned clear and beautiful and by afternoon we were able to put our work plans aside in favor of another photo day. After running a few errands, we headed to Mount Bethel. We really had no idea where our relatives were, but while we were looking, we found a lot of interesting stones and stories:

First, the requisite angel....This is the marker for Charles F. Sourbeer, aged 19 years, 1 month and 16 days. He died in August of 1885. I guess I feel like the childrens' markers are the most poignant... This one says "Our Son" across the top and it marks the grave of David Smith who was 9. There was another one that said "Our Boy" and I was so touched by that.There were large markers that listed a number of children and babies - Often, before the list, it would begin, "Our Babes". I realized that stillborn and very short lived babies were not at all uncommon.

When we finally found our great grandmother, we noticed that there were apparently two very small babies buried with her as they were marked on the front of her stone. Our grandmother was the youngest of 17 and I'll have to check family record to see if the 17 includes the very young ones or not - I don't think so. In that particular plot were our great grandmother, great grandfather and one great aunt, Harriet or "Hallie" who died as a teenager of heart problems. I remember our grandmother always speaking very fondly of Hallie and suspect everyone knew she would not live long. The other one of the children buried there was George. George was killed when he was a young man, in a railroad accident.

So, while I'm writing about children, these appear to be two sisters, Edith and Eveline. They were 12 and 11 when they died and it appears they died around the same time in October although I can't read the year, I suspect it was the same for both. What a tragedy that must have been. I didn't really look around - I suppose their parents or other siblings must be buried somewhere nearby, but there is no last name anywhere on the stone.
When I saw the lamb on this one, I assumed it would be another child, but no, it is a 58 year old woman, Fannie A Gohn. I wonder if she was never married...
Since it is a derivative of our name, the name on this one attracted me - Samuel Swartz. As I read more, it is the marker of a young man who died in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1861, during the Civil War. He was 31.
I just liked the carving on this one and took the picture before I had actually read the stone.. She was 30 when she died and is remembered as a wife and as a daughter...
It was interesting to see the stone work and the difference in the wear in the various stones. I guess some were carved from native limestone and they have worn quickly and are hard to read. They were apparently the most interesting to me because I didn't take any pictures of the marble stones that still seem almost new until you read the dates and realize - oh these are from the 1800's too...

Finally, I loved this obelisk with the beautiful wreath carved on it.
All those stories... All those lives...

1 comment:

comfrey cottages said...

wow, some really beautiful old tributes to loved ones.nice that you 3 got to take a jaunt that john suggested and that he is showing such interest in his surrounding again:) alot of times the trees are outstanding in these old cemetaries also. nice you chose to take a break from work and wander:)