Monday, November 10, 2008

Gone, and Forgotten


I don't know how cemeteries work. That is, who takes care of them? Yesterday I set out to find an old cemetery in a remote location inaccessible by car. I hiked up a long, steep hill (a very long hill . . . so long that I went up backwards part of the way—or maybe that says more about my lack of conditioning than the length of the hill) and was rewarded with the sight you see above. Despite the tangles of bushes and sapling trees, the place had a stately quality common to most old cemeteries. And peace, of course.

I was sorry to see that so many stones had almost disappeared into the ground. They'd sunk so low that their tips were buried under grass and leaves. I kept tripping over them. I was also sad to see that the remaining gravestones were so overgrown. They were erected to honor the memories of people who were loved, by family members who probably never imagined that 100 years later visitors would have to fight their way through brambles to read the inscriptions.

But read them I did, at least the 21 stones that were readable. And I photographed them, and uploaded the pictures to the FindAGrave database. As I've said more than once on this blog—and many more times elsewhere—gotta love the Internet.

10 comments:

Dona said...

I love old cemeteries. Good for you -- photographing and uploading these old gravestones so maybe someone will find their ancestor.

crystal said...

Nice photo!

Cemeteries are so interesting. In San Francisco, no one can be buried in town anymore and they moved all the bodies from the existing cemeteries to a nearby town - Colma. In Paris, they did the same, but put them under the city in catacombs :)

Adam Byrn "Adamus" Tritt said...

Whenever I travel, wherever I travel, I always find the old cemeteries. I walk slowly, look for the oldest stone, clean what graves I can, brush leaves from names, sweep dirt with my fingertips, read what I am able, spend quite time with the too-young, marvel at the advanced in years, look admirably upon the couples buried as they lived – side by side eternally.

I sit in silence and allow the sounds and years to enter, leave, slip by. I grab for nothing, hold nothing and then, leave.

Joya said...

It looks like you'e taken up one of my favorite hobbies, Susan! The bare trees and gloomy sky set a perfect mood.

There are so many old graveyards around here-- tons of small family plots and old churchyards-- I don't think I'll ever get to them all. But, a distant relative of mine who is very active in the town historic society has taken on a project of documenting and photographing all of them in my town and its outskirts. Fascinating stuff.

Susan said...

Thanks for the nice comments. I've been volunteering as a gravestone photographer for amateur genealogists around the country (and beyond) whose ancestors were buried in my county. I really enjoy it, although I realize that I'm going to have to take a hiatus for the winter.

I've been working through two websites: FindAGrave and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. Perhaps some of you would like to join me.

Helen said...

I agree with you about the internet. Who knew there were people going around committing random acts of genealogical kindness? What a great hobby. I was at a meeting last month where, as a way of introducing ourselves, we had to say one thing about ourselves that the others at the meeting were unlikely to know (you should have heard what mm revealed!). If someone had said something similar to what's in this post, it would have made me want to get to know them more.

Susan said...

Helen, when I'm in that situation I usually tell the story of how Bob Barker read my limerick on The Price is Right.

I can't wait to hear what MM said!!

Mali said...

Susan I love this. There is an old cemetery in the middle of Wellington, moved to make way for a cemetery. Workers sometimes eat their lunch there. I'd like to think that when I'm gone, some workers would sit on my grave in the sun, happy and relaxed, and casually wonder what kind of person "Mali" was.

mm said...

I want to know what mm said too!

Helen said...

Oh, stop being so cagey and coy!