Friday, November 14, 2008

A Walk Through the Cemetery

For somebody with no intention of ending up in one, I certainly have an affinity for cemeteries. After exploring a stretch of the Cullasaja Valley where Silas McDowell unearthed mysterious clay sepulchres of the ancients, I decided to roll on into Franklin and revisit Mr. McDowell's burial place.

There on a hill above the First United Methodist Church, I remembered how much I like cemeteries, and the older the better. This cemetery contains the grave of at least one Revolutionary War veteran, which is something you don’t see very often in these Western North Carolina graveyards.

I found the grave of Silas McDowell, and it got me to wondering why his wife and the rest of his family weren’t buried there along with him. Add that to my long list of things to investigate.

Anyhow, I sat down and had a little talk with Silas. We go back a long ways and never run out of things to be amazed at. I talked about how these mountains have changed. And I talked about how they’ve stayed the same - more so than most people realize. And he was glad to hear it.

Leaving Silas, I ambled through the cemetery in search of other stories. On the stone marking the grave of James Robinson, I read "If the actions of a good man can endear his memory, this stone will be often visited."

Nearby, a matched pair of stones told the story of yet another damnable war. In a span of less than four months, John and Mary Siler lost two sons to the Civil War. James Wimer Siler died April 8, 1862 in Petersburg, Virginia. William Theodore Siler died July 24, 1862 in Richmond, Virginia. Enough said.

A cemetery is a good place to be, alright, especially if you’re above ground rather than under. I know I’m not alone in my enjoyment of cemeteries. Once again, no matter your field of interest, the web will hook you up with like-minded souls.

Take, for instance, the Cemetery Club Blog, by the editor of Epitaphs Magazine. After a quick review of this site, I find that my enthusiasm for cemeteries pales in comparison to that of the dedicated taphophiles of the world.

Or check out the Cemetery Lovers Headquarters:
The group for anyone who loves cemeteries! Whether your hobby is headstone rubbing, genealogy, family history, cemetery photography, cemetery preservation, or any aspect of cemeteries, this is the place to be!

Cemetery Lovers provides a link to a collection of odd gravestone epitaphs, including this one, seen in a London cemetery:

Ann Mann
Here lies Ann Mann,
Who lived an old maid
But died an old Mann
Dec. 8, 1767

Who says cemeteries can’t be fun?


Duck Hunter said...

I also love exploring old cemeteries. You posted some great photos and, as always, had some interesting stories.

Duck Hunter said...

I also love exploring old cemeteries. There are so many great stories there. You just have to slow down and find them... as you have done here. Great stories and great photos.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite places is the Thyatira Church graveyard outside Salisbury. There is a monument there to a woman who gave, as the story goes, all the gold and silver coin she had to Francis Marion so that he could maintain his ragtag little army in its harrying of Tarleton and Cornwallis. The monument is to her memory from grateful citizens; happily she lived to see our independence.

Class of '74

GULAHIYI said...

That was from the Revolution that was not televised, right? I don't think I've been to that church, but what a great story. Francis Marion came through here when the Cherokee villages along the Little Tennesee were wiped out in 1761. Apparently, he thought the treatment of the Cherokees was excessively harsh and he expressed his grief over the situation veryu eloquently. That quote's on the blog here somewhere.