30 April 2009

Unmarked Graves from 1800's Found in South Bibb County, Georgia

I don't know how I missed this article by Travis Fain on macon.com, but I did. I think it's important enough to still share, though.

(From 7 April 2009)
Unmarked graves from 1800s found in south Bibb
By Travis Fain - tfain@macon.com

A small cemetery of unmarked graves has been found in the path of the Sardis Church Road extension, and the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to unearth and move the bodies...

...The cemetery is in the Avondale Mill Road area in south Bibb County, and the graves appear to be connected to the former McArthur family plantation site there. It’s on land that was part of the plantation, and there is a marked McArthur cemetery nearby, the DOT said...

...The DOT has asked anyone who knows something about this cemetery to visit www.avondaleburialplace.org or to contact Coco at (770) 498-4155, extension 103, or jcoco@newsouthassoc.com. [Read complete article here.]

22 April 2009

Earth Day at Rose Hill Cemetery

I was going to make this a Wordless Wednesday post, but decided some words were necessary.

I’m pretty passionate about cemetery appreciation and preservation.  This goes hand in hand with Earth Day and a passion to appreciate and preserve our planet.  Let’s think about the connection for a moment.

There is the obvious correlation of mortal remains being buried in the earth, or having one’s ashes spread all over it.  The tombstones we strive to conserve for the information they contain, as well as their artwork, also come from the earth:

- marble:  a metamorphic rock formed from limestone or dolomite

- granite:  a common, coarse-grained hard igneous rock consisting chiefly of quartz, orthoclase or microcline, and mica

- limestone:  a common sedimentary rock consisting mostly of calcium carbonate

- slate:  a fine-grained metamorphic rock that splits into thin smooth-surfaced layers

- rock:  relatively hard, naturally formed mineral or petrified matter; stone

- tombstone:  stone used to mark a grave; gravestone

See the connection? When tombstones are desecrated, not only are the vandals disrespecting the individual the stone memorializes, they are disrespecting the Earth that contains the stone.

We actually can go even further.  The designs carved onto and into tombstones are often of the earth.  Flowers are a large part of cemetery symbolism…  the chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity and immortality; the daisy often indicates the grave of a child, or innocence; and the fern symbolizes humility, frankness, and sincerity.  Just to name a few.  I could go on and on about fruits, grains, vines, trees, and bushes.

The earth is the cemetery; the cemetery is the Earth.

Here are some photos from the couple of Earth Day hours I spent at my favorite local cemetery, Rose Hill.  See how it is all intertwined?

Happy Earth Day!

15 April 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Rose Hill Landscape

11 April 2009

Signs of Easter Carved in Stone, a Photo Essay

10 April 2009

Caught on the Wing: 1907 Editorial About a Rundown Cemetery

The Macon Daily Telegraph, Georgia
27 March 1907
Viewable online at GenealogyBank.

Caught on the Wing

The remains of the daughter of a former Governor of Georgia, the dust of a president of the first bank in Macon, and the ashes of other persons once well known in this city repose in the old cemetery situated near the foot of Cherry street. This is the burial ground which Alderman Bowdre, with commendable spirit, desires to have reclaimed by the Mayor and Council from many long years of neglect. Broken tombstones, bearing inscriptions to the memories of members of families formerly prominent in Macon, lie on the ground, under leaves and dirt, the walls of the graves in a crumbled state. Some of the tombstones still stand erect, and the lettering on them is easily read, but in the majority of cases the marble memorials are badly broken and the inscriptions almost obliterated by the corroding effects of time. In numerous instances there is scarcely any sign of a grave, and in many places no trace of one exists. The lot of a name still prominent in this city is surrounded by a well preserved brick wall, with an iron gate locked and which bears evidence that it has not been unfastened in considerably more than a half of a century. The marble slabs over the graves of the husband and wife tell of their deaths in 1838 and 1839, respectively.

This cemetery was the first buri[a]l ground in Macon. In 1826 the Legislature reserved the land for this purpose. It consisted originally of four acres between Cherry and Poplar and Sixth and Seventh streets, but perhaps some of it has been encroached upon for building purposes. The first interment in this cemetery was John Clark, a painter. He died on November 24, 1824, being the first death among the citizens of the town of Macon. Prior to the reservation of this ground by the Legislature for a cemetery, the town commissioners in the early part of 1824 had set aside the four acres for sites for religious meeting houses, with burial ground attached. Afterwards the Legislature gave other locations for the churches and reserved the four acres for a cemetery exclusively, and according to my information it was abandoned as a burial ground some years before the Civil War. A number of bodies were removed from there and reinterred in Rose Hill Cemetery. One of these was that of Rev. John Howard, the first presiding elder of the Methodist church in this city, and a man who took a leading part in establishing Wesleyan Female College. He died August 22, 1836, and was buried in the Cherry street cemetery, and a monument was erected to his memory by the Methodist church. The inscription thereon was written by Rev. Ignatius A. Few, who, in 1829, as pastor of the Mulberry Street Methodist church, established the Sunday school of that church. The monument referred to can be seen over Rev. Mr. Howard's g[r]ave in Rose Hill. It is said that this was the first monument ever built in Macon.

Curiosity carried me yesterday to the old cemetery, abandoned and neglected, overgrown with trees, weeds and briars, the browsing place of cattle, the home of reptiles, cut up with footpaths signs of descration everywhere. In this scene of neglect I read with almost a tear, the inscription "Remember me," on a tombstone hidden among the briars, and in order to decipher the words I had to brush away the mold and fungi of many decades. "Remember me." How like a mockery this seemed! -- there buried in the tangled bush through which the sunlight could scarcely bleam.

While wandering about I saw upon the ground the broken monument which had been "erected by the kindness of the Presbyterian church" to the memory of the wife of Rev. Samuel J. Cassels. She died in Macon on May 24, 1838. Her husband was the second regular pastor of the First Presbyterian church of this city. His pastorate commenced in 1835 and ended in April, 1841. During his ministry the house of worship which was being constructed by the Presbyterians on Fourth street between Mulberry and Walnut streets, was completed and occupied.

This church was afterwards bought by the Catholics, and they still own the ground upon which it stood. While Rev. Mr. Cassels was pastor the late Eugenius A. Nisbet, who was a distinguished Congressman and an eminent justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia became an elder in the First Presbyterian Church. In memory of the faithful services of Rev. Samuel Cassels it seems to me that it would be appropriate and proper for the First Presbyterian Church to remove the remains and monument of Mrs. Cassels to a more suitable burial place. On a part of the monument upon the ground I read an inscription to the beautiful Christian character of the deceased. Her last word were also quoted, to-wit: "Christ is my only salvation."

Then I cam across a marble slab under which repose the dust of a former distinguished college professor, Elisha Hammond. The inscription told that he was born in Massachusetts in 1764, and died in Macon, July 9, 1829. He was a graduate of Darmouth College, N.H. He emigrated to South Carolina, and first became a professor in the South Carolina College, and then a professor at Mt. Bethel Academy. The tribute upon the slab says that he was a man of great learing and was noted as an instructor.

A monument to the memory of Charles W. Washington tells the sad story of his drowning in Walnut Creek, March 1, 1833.

John E. Carter was a native of Boston, Mass., and died in Macon, October 24, 1837, aged 20 years. And though he passed away "a stranger in a strange land," as his epitaph recites, a nice tombstone was erected to his memory, upon which is inscribed, among other things, the following:
"Thus died the stranger in a foreign clime,
Lovely and young in all manhood's prime;
Away from friends and parents to whom he was most dear,
And brother and sister too, who drop affection's tear."

The earliest trace of a burial that I saw was that of Mrs. Rebecca A. Pace, consort of Thomas Pace. She died December 30, 1828. Over her grave rests a marble slab. What attracted my attention was the statement in the inscription that she was the daughter of Jared Irwin. Here then was the sacred dust of the cherished child of a man who was Governor of Georgia several times, and held other positions of public honor and responsibility. He first occupied the office of Governor from January 17, 1796, to January 11, 1798. He had the distinction while Governor, in 1796, of signing the act rescinding the Yazoo law. In 1806 he was president of the State Senate and became Acting Governor on the election of Gov. John Milledge as United States Senator. He continued Acting Governor from September 23, 1806, to November 7, 1808, when he was elected Governor, and filled the office from November 7, 1806, to November 9, 1809. He served as Governor under two constitutions. He was the president of the constitutional convention of 1789. Mr. Irwin was president of the Senate at various times, both before and after being Governor, commencing in 1790. He was holding the presidency of this body at the time of his death, which occurred at Union Hill, Washington County, March 1, 1818, to which place he had moved from Burke County. Gov. Irwin was 68 years old when he died. This prominent man was born in North Carolina, and removed to Burke County, Georgia, before the revolution, in which conflict he took a gallant part, and afterwards served in campaigns against the Indians. He was made a brigadier-general because of his splendid military services. At the close of the Revolutionary War he was a member of the first Legislature held in Georgia under the new form of Government. In Sandersville stands a monument that was erected to his memory by the State of Georgia. Irwin County was named in his honor.

[Go here for a compilation of contemporary images from the cemetery.]

09 April 2009

Gone Before Us, O Our Brother

A. J. Paris
Son of Dr. J. R. & Dorothy A. Paris
Died Nov 27, 1886

He was laid to rest in Hillcrest Cemetery; Reynolds, Taylor County, Georgia.

Census records suggest A. J.'s full name was Andrew Jackson Paris. He was the son of a local dentist, Dr. Jackson Paris. An obituary states A. J. passed away after suffering through a very long illness.

The back of A. J.'s urn topped, pedestal tombstone displays the following epitaph:
Gone before us, O our brother,
To the spirit land!
Vainly look we for another
In thy place to stand.

This epitaph is from a poem entitled "Lines on the Death of S. Oliver Torrey" by John Greenleaf Whittier. Wikisource describes Mr. Whittier as "an American Quaker poet and advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States." S. Oliver Torrey was secretary of the Boston Young Men's Anti-Slavery Society.1

While the entire poem is linked above, I will include the first and last stanzas here.

Gone before us, O our brother,
To the spirit-land!
Vainly look we for another
In thy place to stand.
Who shall offer youth and beauty
On the wasting shrine
Of a stern and lofty duty,
With a faith like thine?...

...Peace be with thee, O our brother,
In the spirit-land
Vainly look we for another
In thy place to stand.
Unto Truth and Freedom giving
All thy early powers,
Be thy virtues with the living,
And thy spirit ours!

As you can see, Mr. A. J. Paris was greatly loved. An obituary from the Macon Weekly Telegraph, 4 December 1886 (viewed online at GenealogyBank) also shows this:

"Reynolds -- Death of Mr. A. J. Paris.
REYNOLDS, December 3, -- Mr. A. J. Paris, after a severe illness of eight weeks, died on Saturday night last at his father's residence in Reynolds. He had the best of attention from skilled physicians and kind nursing from loving hands and fond hearts who doted on him. No young man in the town and community would be so much missed. He had an extensive acquaintance and a great many friends who will regret to learn of his untimely death. The grief stricken family has the sympathy of the entire community."

1. Project Gutenberg EBook, Personal Poems, by Whittier, Complete Volume IV, The Works of Whittier: Personal Poems

08 April 2009

Duane Allman & Berry Oakley Graves at Rose Hill Cemetery

I just published a post at my Rose Hill Cemetery; Macon, Georgia blog I think some of you might enjoy. And the Road Goes on Forever: Duane Allman & Berry Oakley is now live.

Wordless Wednesday: From Bonaventure

07 April 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Seiler Monument & the Virtue Charity

Charles Seiler
Born Aug 15, 1839 - Died Jan 9, 1912
Beloved Wife of Charles Seiler
Born Nov 9, 1839 - Died Jan 28, 1894

Bonaventure Cemetery
Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia

From Douglas Keister's Forever Dixie: "This statue of the virtue Charity, with her hand at her breast and offering a rose, marks the graves of Charles and Ernestine Seiler."

Wikipedia states, "In Christian theology charity, or love, means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others."

Oftentimes, Charity is shown with children around her. This time, she stands alone.

I Corinthians
Chapter 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

06 April 2009

Allured to Brighter Worlds and Led the Way

Corinne Elliott Lawton
Died January 24th, 1877
Allured to brighter worlds
and led the way.

Bonaventure Cemetery
Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia

Corinne, daughter of Gen. Alexander Robert Lawton and Sarah Hillhouse Alexander, was originally buried in Savannah's Laurel Grove Cemetery. Her remains were moved to Bonaventure in 1896.1

The statue of Jesus and archway behind Corinne is a memorial for her parents.

The final portion of Corinne's epitaph is from The Deserted Village, a poem by Oliver Goldsmith that dates back to 1770. Per Wikipedia, "It is a work of social commentary, and condemns rural depopulation and the pursuit of excessive wealth." The following quote from the poem shows how the eventual epitaph for Corinne was used (about line 167):
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
These words seemed relevant, as well (about line 109):
Bends to the grave with unperceived decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And, all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be past.

1. Forever Dixie: A Field Guide to Southern Cemeteries & Their Residents by Douglas Keister

All images © S. Lincecum.

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