30 June 2010

View from a Rural Georgia Cemetery (Wordless Wednesday)

28 June 2010

Her Orb Will Rise

I found today's epitaph etched into a pedestal tombstone of marble, topped with a draped urn located in Snow Springs Cemetery at Snow Spring (Unadilla), Dooly County, Georgia.

Smithy Louisa
Wife of Charlie Clewis
Feb 11, 1835
Apr 4, 1918
Our Mother
In God's own morn her orb will rise,
Once more a star of Paradise.

22 June 2010

Macon's Old City Cemetery, 1825-1840 (Tombstone Tuesday)

The Old City Cemetery in Macon, Georgia was established in 1825 and used by many until 1840. That year marked the opening of Rose Hill Cemetery, a much larger and more beautiful landscape that attracted most Maconites for decades to come.

Today, the city of Macon maintains the grounds. When I visited in May of last year, the grass was pretty and green and not too tall. That didn't hide the fact that the tombstones left in the cemetery were in poor shape and most of the brick walls surrounding family lots were crumbled. I did see several plaques stating restorations were done, many from the 1960's. All in all, the cemetery is a shell of what I imagine it once was.

The Old City Cemetery was neglected for many, many years. In fact, old newspaper articles I have read on the subject say as much. A 1919 "Just 'Twixt Us" column by Bridges Smith of the Macon Telegraph states, "We now speak in sorrow of the neglected condition of the old cemetery at the foot of Poplar street, of the sunken graves, the tumbled down monuments, of the weeds and briars growing over the graves, and of the dastardly deeds of the sacrilegious..."

The best and most thorough article I have seen was written by John T. Boifeuillet. It was published in the same newspaper in 1907 for his column "Caught on the Wing." I posted this article on this blog more than a year ago. Instead of pointing you to it, I am going to reprint it here so it is combined with the photos from the 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."

17 June 2010

Empty & Waiting are the Riverside Cemetery Benches

I recently visited Riverside Cemetery for the purpose of conducting a scavenger hunt. While there, something else kept getting my attention. It was the cemetery bench. I'm not necessarily writing about the stone benches that are more prevalent today. I'm choosing to focus on the weathered, worn, and rusted benches that look like they'll turn to dust if you touch them.

There were several of these benches at Riverside, and two words kept coming to mind each time I would see one -- Empty and Waiting. Hollow and Lingering. These words might not seem to go together, I know. But they express my thoughts about the many souls that have used these seats. The living ones, and maybe even those of the ones passed on. The emptiness they were feeling. The yearning they had to see their loved one again, and possibly lingering in hopes of catching one last glimpse.

I consider myself a "picture taker," but not really a photographer, if you know what I mean. However, I think I captured something with these photos. It's a part of the cemetery even us taphophiles don't always notice. I hope you see it, too.

16 June 2010

Lush Summer Green (Wordless Wednesday)

15 June 2010

My Scavenger Hunt for the Graveyard Rabbit Carnival

Kick yer feet up, folks, this is a long one. Don't worry, it's fun and full of pictures.  You'll enjoy it!

A scavenger hunt in a cemetery? You know I'm there! I excitedly played along for the next edition of the Graveyard Rabbit Carnival. I chose to try and find all the suggested items at one cemetery. That could have been a challenge in itself, but I put the odds in my favor by selecting Riverside Cemetery in Macon, Georgia as my hunting ground. This cemetery was established in 1887 and covers a beautiful 125 acres. It is a delightful mix of old and new tombstones. I especially love it because even the "new" sections have maintained an increasingly "old style" look. Upright markers are the norm, and plots can be decorated to the hilt. I know this makes upkeep more challenging, but I am grateful Riverside has chosen to continue with this layout.

Fifteen items were on the list -- from crosses to flowers to stars to mausoleums -- and I found them all! Some were challenging, though. Grab some lemonade (it's HOT here in Georgia) and come along with me as I show you my findings and a little bit of Riverside Cemetery.

Item 1: the Cross.

Item 2: a heart. This one was slightly difficult, but I found a couple!

Item 3: a fraternal symbol.

Item 4: monuments. I chose works that memorialized more than one individual.
Click to enlarge.  The roughly cut granite marker in the middle at the left
contains a beautiful prayer.

Item 5: flowers. There were many flowers carved in stone, but I chose to go with the vibrant colors of the living!

Item 6: hands. I tried to find hands standing alone, and that proved to be difficult! I thought for sure I would see some "fingers pointing up" or "clasped hands," but I did not.

Item 7: Angels.

Item 8: a bird. I never thought I'd get this one. Turns out I was wrong.

Item 9: trees. I elected to go with live ones again. The Riverside Cemetery landscape is summer green right now, and I want you to see it.

Item 10: a star. This was the hardest thing for me to find! On a final go around, I got creative.

Item 11: an obelisk.

Item 12: four-legged animals. Too cute! I think my favorite has to be the frogs playing cards.

Item 13: a photo. These are the best finds. Surprising to me, they are all new. The etchings in the black granite are awesome.
The center photo was trimmed to fit in the collage.  I would like you to be
sure of his full name - Thomas McRae Hamilton Robinson.

Item 14: a military gravestone. There were too many of these to count. Here is a sampling.
The grave of Hugh Smalling shown in the upper right corner helped make
Riverside Cemetery a finalist in the National Trust for Historic
Preservation's "This Place Matters" contest.

Item 15: a mausoleum.

That's it! I hope you enjoyed seeing my scavenger hunt findings. There's still time for you to join in the fun, too. The deadline for carnival submissions is June 25th. Take part in the scavenger hunt and share your discoveries!

See this post too late to join the carnival? No worries. Search your cemeteries, post your findings on your blog, and leave a link here in the comments. The more the merrier!

08 June 2010

Here Lies the Body of Susannah (Tombstone Tuesday)

Here Lies the Body of
Wife of Williams Brown
Born in Jones County, No-Carolina
12th March 1803
Died in Houston County, Georgia
17th March 1847
In the 45th Year of her age.
We miss thee from a band so dear,
That gathers round our hearth.
We listen still to hear thy name
Amid our household mirth.
We gaze upon thy vacant chair,
Thy form we seem to see.
We start to find thou are not here
Yet joy that thou art free.

Henderson Church Cemetery
Houston County, GA

Note:  Epitaph from poem entitled "The Loved and Lost,"
but cannot find an author.

"In Memoriam" for Master Mason Edward McGehee

Rev. E. T. McGehee, M.D.
From the 7 June 1870 Macon Weekly Telegraph, Georgia:

Reverend, Edward T. McGehee, M.D., a Master Mason, and a member of Houston Lodge, No. 35, F. A. M., died April 16th, A. D., 1870, A. L., 5870 -- Aged 62 years.

Our Lodge has never been called upon to mourn the death of a brother more beloved than he, whose name heads this notice.

At heart brother McGehee loved the mystic charms of Free Masonry. His intercourse with his brethren in all the relations of life, and his communion with them around our sacred altars, illustrated his high appreciation of a devotion to our time honored and indissoluble Fraternal Union; his outer life exhibited his high estimate of our Moral Temple and added lustre to its wisdom, strength and beauty. Over and around all of which he threw the higher charms and purer light of a holy life consecrated and devoted to the cause of Him in whom we put our trust. Honored and revered by us while living, and now "he being dead, yet speaketh" -- let us while we record his virtues and would embalm and cherish in our hearts his memory -- remembering that we too must die -- copy his bright example, and like him when our time to depart shall come, we also may be ready to enter the Supreme Grand Lodge Eternal in the Heavens.

Resolved, That while we deeply deplore the death of brother McGehee, we believe that our loss is his eternal gain, and would bow submissively to the will of Him who hath taken him from us -- and hereby tendering to his bereaved family our warmest and tenderest sympathies, would commend them for comfort and support to the God of the widow and friend of the fatherless.

Resolved, That a blank page in our Lodge book be inscribed to his memory. That the furniture and jewels of the Lodge be draped in mourning, and that we wear the usual badge for thirty days, and also that a copy of this tribute be transmitted to the Telegraph and Messenger for publication; and also under seal of the Lodge to the family of the deceased.

T. M. Killen, Jno. S. Jobson, Jno. A. Hafer, Committee

A true extract from the minutes of Houston Lodge, No. 35, F. A. M.

Perry Ga, May 20, 1870, Jno. S. Jobson, Secretary." [end of transcription]

Rev. Edward T. McGehee was laid to rest in Henderson Church Cemetery; Henderson, Houston County, GA. For a glimpse into what his funeral ceremony might have been like, see Calm, the Good Man Meets His Fate (& a Masonic Funeral Ritual).

Until next time,

07 June 2010

Photos from Henderson Church Cemetery Now Online

Whew! I've been working! Some more photos are now available online. These are from Henderson Church Cemetery in Henderson, Houston County, Georgia. Surnames include Brown, Clark, Coleman, Haywood, Hodge, Jones, Kendrick, Kezar, McGehee, Peacock, Rogers, Shafer, and Till.

Direct link to individual photos and commentary - Henderson Church Cemetery.

06 June 2010

Dear Mamie You've Left Me as an Angel Leaves (Today's Epitaph)

Mamie E.
Wife of T. E. Rogers
b. Sept 9, 1875
d. June 25, 1909
I especially like the epitaph on Mamie Rogers' tombstone in Henderson Baptist Church Cemetery (Henderson, GA) because it's a note from a husband to a wife:

Dear Mamie you've left me as an angel leaves. You have gone where angels go. I try to realize my loss, your gain. Still bitter tears will flow. - Eddie

04 June 2010

Photos from Shiloh Cemetery Now Online

I'm still playing with Picasa's web features and found out I can embed a slideshow into my blog posts. This works well for a small number of photos, as with the case of Shiloh Cemetery. This predominantly African-American burial ground is an old church cemetery located in Henderson, Houston County, Georgia. There are several dated tombstones that likely memorialize former slaves.

This is not a complete survey, but a compilation of photos of some of the older stones and others that simply caught my eye. Surnames include Adkison, Amica, Davis, Hill, Jones, Nix, Riley, Simmons, Sneed, Thompson, Webb, and Williams.

If you are interested in viewing larger images and / or individuals, as well as my commentary, you may go directly to the album here - Shiloh Cemetery.

03 June 2010

Born in Slave Time

Sallie Jones
D. Oct 28, 1928
B. In Slave Time
Gone But Not Forgotton

Shiloh Cemetery
Henderson, Houston County, Georgia

02 June 2010

Shiloh Cross (Wordless Wednesday)

The Beauty of Bonaventure Through Jennifer's Eyes

I just got back from visiting Jennifer at I'm Having a Thought Here. I hope you will visit her, too. Actually, I'm begging you to go. She just returned from visiting the famed Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, and I must say she captured the beauty with her camera and descriptive words like no one I've seen before.

Not only are her photographs stunning, also is her well-drawn representation of the grounds. I've been to the awesome moss-covered garden of stone before, and her work made me ache to return. If you have never been to Bonaventure, do yourself a favor and take a tour through Jennifer's eyes...Bonny, bony Bonaventure
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