I’m a taphophile – not a bad thing, just a person who loves to visit cemeteries.
On our cross-country trip, there were lots and lots to visit, but I only took time for a few.
First, near Hudson NY, this old cemetery looked like it honored veterans, and looked old enough to have civil war-era headstones, and sure enough:
Whenever I visit a cemetery, I wish I could learn the stories behind some of these folks. I also ache for the loss of infants and children, one of the most heart-breaking aspects of life in the past. And here, I had to wonder ‘whose mother and father?’
At Iona, Cape Breton Island, NS, we visited the cemetery where some of my ancestors are buried. The last time we were here, we simply looked for the ones we knew about – this time, I searched a little further, looking for older generations, names from the family tree. Sadly, I didn’t find what I was seeking.
But my great-grandparents, and two great uncles are buried together:
It’s sad to note that there were no immediate family members near-by to erect a headstone for Great-uncle Murdoch - I think I want to talk to my family about rectifying that somehow.
While wandering through, I found a series of headstones, all alike, and one that told a little bit of the story:
Mother, aged 46 and six children aged 22, 14, 13, 11, 8 and 6 all died on the same day in 1958. The father appears to have been the lone survivor and lived another43 years. The family name is MacNeil, which is one of my ancestral names, so my curiosity is even more heightened. In doing some vital statistics/genealogy searches, I found the death record of the mother – apparently her death was accidental, ‘car ran off dock’ resulting in drowning.
In St. James ON, we came across this cemetery, at an old church that’s been converted to a funeral home. Around the building, banks of old gravestones were set up – we wondered if they’d been moved from somewhere else, and if so for what reason. No explanation was forthcoming from signage around the building:
Also in Ontario, we came across an Amish cemetery, and were struck by the same-ness and simplicity of their headstones:
At Rushes cemetery not far away, the most intriguing story is told of a man who buried two wives, both very young, in 1865 and 1867, and engraved the headstone with a cryptic message:
It was 80 years before the message was deciphered, by two different people. Dr. Samuel Bean went on to marry a third time, this marriage lasting 34 years, ending with his death at sea in 1904.
I’ll leave you to puzzle this out for a bit, if you’re so inclined and post the answer in a few days.
In Iowa, at Amana Colonies, the cemetery had some similarity to the Amish resting places. A sign at the gate stated that there are no family plots, that burial is purely chronological by date:
At Bannack MT (ghost town) there were two cemeteries, both closed up so a real crawl wasn’t possible. Near the town, a steep walk up the hill from the gallows:
And outside town a little drive:
It’s sad to see cemeteries so sadly neglected, no matter that there are no survivors remembering the deceased any longer. As we looked at these gravestones, we talked about the adage ‘as long as somebody is alive who remembers me, I’m still here’. It occurs to us that, at the time of death, the youngest person among family and friends who will probably have an active memory of the deceased will be about 5 years old – so that means that as long as that person lives, assuming they live an average life span, the deceased will be ‘here’ for probably 75 years or more after their actual death. Kind of nice to think that we don’t just disappear when we die.
These crawls were just for you, sis, wish you could have been right along with me. Maybe someday we’ll do another crawl together.
Happy crawls. Blessings, Peg