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Merritt Cofer's Shakespearean Epitaph

Merritt Jones Cofer rests at Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia. He was born in 1838, and according to volume twelve of Historical Southern Families, a son of Merritt Cofer and Cynthia Ward Bennett.

Merritt's tombstone provides a good bit of information about the man it was placed to memorialize. He was a Methodist Preacher for thirty-six years. He was described as a "Christian - Gentleman - Patriot - Friend," as well as "A Devoted Husband And Father." It is also noted that Merritt was a member of Company C of the 14th Georgia Regiment from 1861 to 1865.

Based on a small amount of research, I can add that it appears Rev. Cofer began preaching about a decade after the Civil War. And according to his Confederate service file available for viewing at Fold3, the latter part of the war was not altogether kind to Merritt. The May-June 1864 company muster roll states he was disabled from wounds and detailed by order of Gen. Lee in Georgia. …

Smile for the Camera, Grandpa! (A Personal Flashback Friday)

(From December 2008)This post was generated for Smile for the Camera - A Carnival of Images. The word prompt is "Stocking Stuffer."

The photo above features my handsome grandfather atop a PEAVY gravestone. My mother and I took him some time ago to pay respects to some cousins at their final resting places. These graves were approximately 10 miles from his home, and he was not aware of them. I was so happy to show him these and other spots related to his cousins around town. Pa had stopped to take a breather while Mom and I were a short distance away documenting some other stones. I saw him, handed Mom the camera, and asked her to snap a photo. I think she got a great one.

I would stuff the stockings of my grandfather and two of his daughters with this photo. Grandpa loves hearing stories I find about his and my family history. He doesn't do the genealogy directly, but loves to pour over anything pertaining to it. Every now and again he finds something "old…

John's Not Slothful in Business (Tombstone Tuesday)

The last few lines of John's epitaph are from the Bible -- Romans 12:11 (KJV).

But Some Must Die, Even Some in Beauty's Bloom

[Originally posted at the Rose Hill Cemetery blog.]

In the Central Avenue Division of Rose Hill Cemetery rests Jane P. Shackelford, her ledger marker describing the sweet young lady she was, and the classy woman she was surely to have become. The article following details her tragic end.

DIED,
At the Female College, in this city, on the 26th ult., Miss JANE SHACKELFORD, daughter of F. R. Shackelford, of Darien, formerly of this place, in the 14th year of her age.

But some must die, e'en some in beauty's bloom
Be laid within the cold and silent tomb.

The melancholy circumstances attending the untimely death of this young lady, are briefly these: -- She was a member of the College, and on the Wednesday preceding her death, whilst alone in her room, thoughtfully engaged in preparation for her customary recitations, her dress accidentally came in contact with the fire, near which she was sitting, and was instaneously [sic] enveloped in flames. With that calm self possession, whic…

Liberty, Fraternity and Unity Since 1892

So says the tag line for the National Society United States Daughters of 1812. Here's an example of a membership marker placed at a daughter's grave:


According to its website, usdaughters1812.org, the United States Daughters of 1812 was founded in 1892. It's "a non-profit, non-political, women's service organization for descendants of patriots who aided the American cause during the War of 1812." There is an ancestor database at the site that would surely be worthy of a look if applicable to your family history.

The membership marker above sits at the grave of Mattie Thompson Hulsey. She rests at Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia.

The Symbolic Sphere

In the very basic sense, a sphere is a 3-D circle. And in tombstone iconography, the circle usually represents the unending circle of life; eternity. Earlier today I came across a quote attributed to Joseph Campbell, author of The Power of Myth, that I think truly explains the symbolism of the circle -- even those in 3-D.
The circle on the other hand, represents totality. Everything within a circle is one thing, which is encircled, enframed. That would be the spatial aspect. But the temporal aspect of the circle is that you leave, go somewhere, and always come back. God is the alpha and the omega, the source and the end. The circle suggests immediately a completed totality, whether in time or in space.The totality of one's life. The totality of death... Totality and eternity. Yep, that's it exactly.

[Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum. Taken at Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia.]

Baby Land at Magnolia Park Cemetery (Flashback Friday)

Back in the early 1950's my grandparents lost a set of twin girls shortly after their birth. Plots were purchased, and the twins were buried in Magnolia Park Cemetery at Warner Robins, Houston County, Georgia. One day, my grandparents will be laid to rest next to them.

For 50+ years my grandmother has tended the twins' grave, and there have been many times when Grandpa and I were with her. On more than one occasion, Pa would mention that the twins were buried not long before "they started baby land." He would always point in a general direction, but I never noticed any obvious special section for infants.

On a recent visit to Magnolia Park, I stumbled across this "baby land" section. It is located in the central section behind the oldest graves, which are behind the main sign for the cemetery. All the markers are tiny and flat, and there are quite a few. If you are not careful, you will be stepping on one before you know it. I'm sure there are ev…

Edward Rutledge, Esq. (Flashback Friday)

(From January 2009) It's been almost 209 years since the death of Edward Rutledge, Esq. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of the state of South Carolina. Mr. Rutledge was buried in St. Philip's Church Cemetery at Charleston, South Carolina. Such an important figure in American history surely has an awesome tombstone, right? Not exactly. The gravestone of Mr. Rutledge is not much to look at. A simple slab he shares with his wife. However, the words inscribed on this stone certainly describe the importance of this man, at least to those who made sure those words were put there.


Beneath the Stone
are deposited the remains of
his excellency
Edward Rutledge, Esq.
Late governor of this state
whom it pleased the Almighty
to take from this life Jany 23rd, 1800
at the age of fifty years
and two months.
The virtues of this eminent citizen
require not the aid of an inscription here
to recall them to our recollection,
it is believed that they are engrave…

Gravestones and the Google Translator (Flashback Friday)

(From January 2009) The great United States of America is a melting pot of people born in this country, as well as individuals from different countries and cultures. Many of those individuals speak different languages in addition to English. Those different languages can sometimes carry over into the cemeteries which hold their gravestones.

I am fluent in one language - English. I took Spanish in high school, so I can pick out words here and there. Also, I lived in Germany for a few years when I was a child, so I can pick out a few words of that language. That's it. So when I come across gravestones inscribed in a language other than English, I'm pretty much lost.

You might not think that would be a problem when visiting local cemeteries, but you'd be surprised. A huge cemetery in Macon, GA named Rose Hill has several hundred tombstones on which the Hebrew language is dominant. A cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina named Bethany is the final resting place of man…

Hudson Family (Flashback Friday)

(From November 2008) Two beautiful tombstones at Sardis Cemetery; Bibb County, Georgia caught my eye recently. I liked them so much I wondered who made them. I'll have to start looking more closely at stones in the future for any signatures. The first gravestone is for Martha A. and B. F. Hudson. Martha A. was born Dec 19, 1849 and died Mar 4, 1919. Benjamin Franklin Hudson was born June 29, 1843 and died Feb 6, 1924:

The second stone was identical in design. This one was for two sons of Martha A. and B. F. Hudson. Otis M. Hudson was born July 15, 1882 and died Feb 11, 1916. William Havis Hudson was born Feb 2, 1886 and died Feb 7, 1919:

My enjoyment of the stones of course got me doing some research on this family...

Benjamin Franklin Hudson was the son of William "Buck" Hudson and Mary B. Moore. This family was in Jones County, Georgia in 1850 and 1860.

According to the 1850 Jones County, Georgia census, Benjamin's siblings were as follows: Matilda, Joh…

Schoolmates Almost Idolized Her (Tombstone Tuesday)

MARY OCTAVIA WEAVER PASSES AWAY SUNDAY

SHE HAD HUNDREDS OF OLD AND YOUNG FRIENDS WHO MOURN HER DEATH.


Miss Mary Octavia, the fourteen-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. M. Weaver, passed away at the City Hospital, at 2:30 o'clock yesterday morning, after an illness of about ten days.

The announcement of the death was heralded throughout the city yesterday and caused hundreds of her schoolmates and elder friends, who almost idolized her, to bow down their heads and weep in sorrow. The death is made doubly sad by the fact that her beautiful young life was just blossoming into young womanhood.

The funeral services were held at the residence Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock, Rev. T. D. Ellis officiating.

The body was carried to Greensboro, Ga., leaving Macon this morning at 2:30 o'clock, via the Georgia Railroad. The interment will occur this afternoon in the family lot at Greensboro. [Macon Telegraph (Georgia), 12 November 1906, pg. 2]


An item in the same newspaper, p…

Flashback Friday: Sardis Sunflowers

(From November 2008) - I love sunflowers. So when I found some blooming in Sardis Cemetery, I had to photograph them. One particular plot -- Charles H. and Mary Ann Jones Johnson -- was covered with them. Here's a question: were they put there for a reason? Are these sunflowers symbolism? Let's start with the photos:




Now, as much as I love cemeteries, I don't have a large library on the subject. I do have a few books, though, dealing with symbolism and southern cemetery symbolism. In only one book, Douglas Keister's Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, did I find mention of sunflowers in cemeteries. He was referring to a sunflower carved into a gravestone. They signify devotion to the Catholic Church.

This would seem to strike down the theory of symbolism in this case. Sardis Cemetery is attached to a Primitive Baptist Church. I did go looking online as well, and come across "Gravestone Symbolism" at Grave Addiction.…

Flashback Friday: God Forbids Her Longer Stay

(From June 2011) - Yesterday brought you a touching Tombstone Tuesday post about the five DUNLAP children resting in Fairview Presbyterian Church Cemetery at Lawrenceville, GA. Two of the little girls have epitaphs that I was able to pinpoint as being from a hymn written by Charles Wesley, entitled On the Death of a Child:

WHEREFORE should I make my moan,
Now the darling child is dead?
He to early rest is gone,
He to paradise is fled:
I shall go to him, but he
Never shall return to me.

God forbids his longer stay,
God recalls the precious loan,
God hath taken him away,
From my bosom to His own;
Surely what He wills is best,
Happy in His will I rest.

Faith cries out, It is the Lord!
Let Him do as seems Him good:
Be Thy holy name adored,
Take the gift awhile bestow’d,
Take the child, no longer mine,
Thine he is, for ever Thine.

Flashback Friday: In Hoc Signo Vinces

(From March 2010) - I came across this emblem during a recent visit to Evergreen Cemetery in Fitzgerald, Georgia. It is one of the most detailed symbol of the Knights Templar I have seen. At the top is a knight's helmet. A cross in crown is on top of a Maltese cross with crossed swords behind it. Included is the motto In Hoc Signo Vinces, a Latin rendition of a Greek phrase meaning "in this you will conquer."

According to Wikipedia.org, the Knights Templar were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders. The organization existed for approximately two centuries in the Middle Ages. It was officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church around 1129, became a favoured charity, and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades.

Today, the Knights Templar is "an international philanthropic chivalric order affiliated with Freema…

What I've Been Doing, and a Flashback Friday About Rocks

Some of you may have noticed I've been a little MIA lately. I haven't abandoned you, dear reader, I promise! What started out as an innocent attempt to rid myself of some paper clutter has turned into a much larger task. Though it is not really represented on the blog, I've been doing a lot of compilation work on Macon, Georgia's historic Rose Hill Cemetery. Transcribing obituaries, cataloguing photos, and the like. I'm up to more than 520 individuals in my Family Tree program. Rose Hill Cemetery contains thousands of graves, so I have a long way to go. What's exciting, though, is the number of obituaries that I have found regarding individuals that are not in the major databases, including Rose Hill's records online. I suspect these may belong to the many unmarked graves in the cemetery.

Since I'm still working on a pile of printed articles and obituaries, I thought I would at least throw in a Flashback Friday post here at Southern Graves. If …

Wolihin Masonic Monument (Tombstone Tuesday)

A monument stands in Rose Hill Cemetery at Macon, Georgia to the memory of Andrew Martin Wolihin (1831-1897) and his son William A. Wolihin (1862-1916). They both were Masons, and each held the position of Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.

As you might guess, the monument is rife with Masonic symbols, including a pair I knew nothing about. Please feel free to comment with any corrections. I make no boasts of expertise regarding Freemasonry.






I was ignorant about the two columns and spheres in this last photo until I read a post at The Burning Taper. I was going to ascribe to these the meanings behind a column and sphere in "usual" tombstone symbolism, but there is a Masonic connection I knew nothing about. These, in this context, are most likely to represent the pillars of Boaz and Jachin, which stood as guards of the entrance to King Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem.


I'll Take What I Can Get (This Time It's Personal)

A couple of days ago, I put in a photo request at FindAGrave to help adorn the memorial of Dr. Addison L. Lincecum. This Dr. Lincecum, my third cousin, died almost 48 years ago. He was a son of Lucullus Lincecum and Fanny Rainwater, as well as a husband to Letha Gandy.

Per his death certificate, Addison's last residence was at Gandy Bend in Lavaca County, Texas. This was the old homeplace of the Gandy family, Letha Gandy being the last to live there. Addison's death certificate also states he was buried in the Gandy Bend Cemetery.

I would like to visit some day, but in lieu of that visit, I'm happy to have come across a newspaper article describing the location -- not only the old home, which is not an uncommon write-up to find, but also the old cemetery.

Vignettes of Old Victoria: Gandy Bend Landmark by Sidney R. Weisiger was published in the 23 April 1972 Victoria Advocate (Texas). The author gives a nice description of the land and home at Gandy Bend, and then he de…

Two Proverbs and a Revelation in the Weaver Family Plot (Today's Epitaphs)

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum


Alexander H. Smith: Soldier, Farmer, Legislator (Today's Epitaph)

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum

For George Walton and Lyman Hall: Another Monumental Tombstone

I've written about monuments as tombstones in this space before (here and here). Last week I took a drive to visit another example -- The Signer's Monument in Augusta, Georgia.


The monument which stands in the middle of Greene Street and Monument Street is dedicated to the signers of the Declaration of Independence from the state of Georgia. It's also a tombstone for two of them, per the historical marker standing beside it:
Dedicated July 4, 1848, in honor of the signers of the Declaration of Independence for Georgia: George Walton, Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett. The first two lie buried in crypts beneath this shaft. The burial place of Gwinnett, whose body was to have been reinterred here, has never been found.

Meet Me in Heaven (Wordless Wednesday)

His and Hers Park (Tombstones Tuesday)

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum

And Then, Ah Then, We'll Understand (Today's Epitaph)

The third part of Edward's epitaph is from a hymn written in 1891, Some Time We'll Understand:

Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, some time, we’ll understand.

We’ll catch the broken thread again,
And finish what we here began;
Heav’n will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah then, we’ll understand.

We’ll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun;
’Tis there, some time, we’ll understand.

God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Some time with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, there, up there, we’ll understand.

Then trust in God through all the days;
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise,
Some time, some time we’ll understand.




blog.SouthernGraves.net

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)