26 December 2013

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. The Sept-Oct 1864 roll lists Merritt as present, but sick. And the Jan-Feb 1865 roll states he was assigned to conscript duty in Georgia by reason of Surgeon's certificate.

Back to Merritt's tombstone.  Maybe it's because I don't see them often. Quotations from literature, that is. Bible verses (should I consider that literature?) are the usual writings on a tombstone in my neck of the woods. And I would expect to find another one on a memorial dedicated to a deceased preacher, I might add. But whatever the reason, I was made to stop and pause by the last lines of the epitaph for Merritt Jones Cofer, who died in 1912. They are from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

His life was gentle, and the elements;
So mix'd in him that Nature may stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man."


Merritt Jones Cofer
1838 - 1912

Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum

06 December 2013

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" around the house and shares it with me. Recently, he typed up stories of his childhood for all of us. You can imagine how much I treasure that. Two of his daughters would enjoy the photo as well. It would spark a nice memory for Mom, and my aunt loves all photos -- especially those of family.

There are only a couple of my close family members that really enjoy history, and Grandpa is one of them. (I'm working on a couple of others, and they're starting to get into it - I think). I appreciate the attentive ear, interest, and support he gives me whenever I tell a tale of my travels through time. I love you, Grandpa! Merry Christmas!

19 November 2013

John's Not Slothful in Business (Tombstone Tuesday)

John McAfee Hulsey
Feb 8, 1862 - Apr 10, 1950
Not Slothful In Business;
Fervent In Spirit;
Serving The Lord.

Alta Vista Cemetery
Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia

Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum
The last few lines of John's epitaph are from the Bible -- Romans 12:11 (KJV).

12 November 2013

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.

In Memory Of
JANE P. SHACKELFORD
a member of the Junior Class in the Georgia Female College
who departed this life
Jany 26th, 1841
in the 15th year of her age.

Never was there a happier commingling of all the virtues that adorn the
female character, than was to be found in this early victim of the grave.
In childhood's hour she had been taught the precepts of the adorable
Saviour, and in after life she exemplified in her meek and pious
deportment, that those divine precepts had been deeply engraven upon
her heart by the Spirit of God.  Though sudden was the call, yet was she
prepared through the merits of her Redeemer, to enter upon the realition of
the Heavenly World.  This humble tribute is from one, who would ill
become to utter flattery or praise, but who can calculate the measure of that
pang, which strikes the parents heart upon the loss of such a child.
Whither shall he go for comfort.  Let him look up and say,
"Thy will, O God, be done."
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, which the war-worn veteran, who has faced danger and death at the cannon's mouth can never acquire, and a resolution unknown to ordinary intellects, she endeavoured by her own exertions to extinguish them; as calmly as if it was a premeditated act, she strove to arrest their progress, but the advance of the devouring element was too rapid to be subdued, by such means, and in the attempt her hands were dreadfully burned. Assistance was called, and quickly came, but all too late. The fire was quickly subdued, but its progress had been fatally rapid. Every exertion that skill or kindness could devise to relieve the sufferer was put in requisition, but in vain. She lingered in agony until the Tuesday following, when her pure spirit took its flight to another and better world... [Macon Weekly Telegraph (Georgia) 9 February 1841, pg. 3]
Credit: original photo by James Allen. Slightly cropped variation above by S. Lincecum.

06 November 2013

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:

© 2013 S. Lincecum

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.

Mattie Thompson Hulsey
Wife of John McAfee Hulsey
Feb 22, 1866 - Oct 31, 1944
"Her Children Arise Up And Call
Her Blessed; Her Husband Also."

Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum

26 October 2013

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.]

25 October 2013

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 even rows, but I believe some of the markers may already be lost for whatever reason (maybe some graves never had them). This is a very well maintained cemetery, but the markers I saw are in too much of a scattered pattern for me to think what we see today is all there ever were.

Here are a couple of photos of the types of markers found in "baby land."

Now I Lay me Down to Sleep
I Pray The Lord My Soul to Keep
Christopher Elkins
Nov 1, 1962 - Nov 2, 1962

18 October 2013

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 engraven
on the hearts, and will long live
in the remembrance of his
countrymen.

11 October 2013

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 many German immigrants. Their native tongue is found on their tombstones. And even in little Bonaire, GA I came across the German language inscribed on a stone. That's just a few examples of some Southern Graves not in English.

So are we graveyard rabbits supposed to just say, "Oh, well. I don't know what that says," and move on to the next stone or cemetery? Absolutely not! First, we make sure we take great pictures and transcriptions. Then all we have to do is visit a website all of us have visited many, many times before -- Google. From their homepage, click on Language Tools. You will be taken to a page that lets you input the text and with the click of a button, it is translated for you. You can also go directly to translate.google.com.

Here are some examples of text from gravestones from Bethany Cemetery (mentioned above) I was able to translate from German to English.

Hier Ruhen In Gott [Here Rest in God]
Claus Diedrich
12 Oct 1873
18 May 1886
Anna M. C. A.
2 Nov 1885
19 May 1886
Kinder von [children of] H. F. Bittesohn and Meta Geb Meyers

Below this angel atop the tombstone for Henry & Elizabeth Knee is the phrase "Zur Erinnerung An." This translates to "As a Reminder to."

Darius Gray Ornston, Jr., M.D.
September 13, 1934
November 19, 2003
Die erde hat mich wieder! [The Earth has me again!]

Hier Ruhet In Frieden [Here Rest in Peace]
Meine Geliebte Gattin [My Beloved Wife]
Meta C. Hastedt
17 Oct 1820
Wulsdorf, Hannover
17 Nov 1880
Charleston, SC

Here is transcription of a stone from Bonaire Cemetery:

Franziska S. Kunz
May 11, 1907
Jan 23, 2003
Hier Ruht Unsere Liebe Mutter [Here Rests Our Dear Mother]

04 October 2013

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, John, William, Sarah, Camilla, Amelia, David B., Mary, and Louisa. According to an 1867 will abstract for William "Buck" Hudson from Book E, Jones County wills, these were his children: John W. Hudson, William Hudson, David B. Hudson, Benjamin Franklin Hudson, Barnwell R. Hudson, Matilda Lipsey, Sarah Rice, Louisa Hudson, and Mary Felts.

A search of a great website for Jones County, Georgia cemeteries -- www.friendsofcems.org/Jones -- lead me to the Hudson / Felts Cemetery. It is located off of Fawn Court near Gray. This cemetery contains many of Benjamin Franklin Hudson's immediate family, including his parents:

William "Buck" Hudson [father] (1800-1867);
Mary B. Moore Hudson [mother] (1810-1870);
Mary S. Felts [sister] (1845-1905);
Robert L. Felts [brother-in-law] (1841-1898) *Co A 54th GA;
David B. Hudson [brother] (1840-1900) *Co A 54th GA;
Pvt. John W. Hudson [brother] (1841-1900) *Co A 54th Inf GA;
Sarah E. Rice [sister] (1835-1895);
Sgt. James M. Rice [brother-in-law] (1834-1862) *Co F 38th Tenn Inf;
Pvt. William J. Lipsey [possible brother-in-law] (1834-1864) *Co F 45th GA.

Interestingly enough, I did not find out for sure if Benjamin was a soldier during the Civil War.

Benjamin Franklin Hudson married Martha A. before 1880. I found them in Jones County, Georgia then as well as in 1900. Their children listed in 1900 were William H., Andrew L., Ora B, and Otis M.

I did not find out any more about Otis M., but I did find his brother William's World War I draft registration:

William was living in Walden, Bibb County, Georgia at the time of registration in 1918. He was farming for his father B. F. Hudson, and he was listed as having blue eyes and dark hair.

Martha A. Hudson died 4 March 1919, less than one month after she buried her son William Havis Hudson. Her funeral notice from the Macon Telegraph:
Mrs. Martha Hudson
The funeral services of Mrs. Martha Hudson, wife of Frank Hudson, were held from Sardis Church yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock. Elder Walter Heard conducted the services, and the interment was in Sardis cemetery. Mrs. Hudson lived at Rutland and was ill several weeks. She died at 3 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Benjamin Franklin Hudson lived less than five more years before being laid to rest next to his wife.

Sources inlcude the following:
- Tombstone Inscriptions
- US Federal Census Records
- World War I Draft Registration Card
- Will Abstract
- Tombstone Transcriptions
- Funeral Notice

01 October 2013

Schoolmates Almost Idolized Her (Tombstone Tuesday)

Mary's Angel
© 2013 S. Lincecum
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]

Mary Octavia
Nov 14, 1892
Nov 11, 1906

Daughter of W. H. M. & Anna S. Weaver

Of Such Is The Kingdom Of Heaven

How Many Fond Hopes Lie Buried Here

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia
© 2013 S. Lincecum

An item in the same newspaper, published 10 November 1906 -- likely just hours before Mary passed away, gives the illness from which she had been suffering:
Miss Mary Weaver Ill
Miss Mary Weaver, the 14-year-old daughter of W. H. Weaver, manager of the local Bell Telephone Exchange, is reported as being critically ill at the City Hospital with peritonitis. A large number of both young and old friends wish her a speedy recovery.

27 September 2013

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. The meaning there was given as devotion to God. OK. So symbolism might be back in play.

Keep in mind, these meanings were referring to sunflowers carved on gravestones. I found no mention of sunflowers when looking for information about cemetery landscaping and symbolism there.

I guess, in the end, I can't say for sure. It might just be the planter liked sunflowers and thought they would beautify the plot. Or, maybe Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were fond of sunflowers.

I think Joel Gazis-Sax says it best on his site, City of the Silent:
Here lies the problem of symbol interpretation. Just as with a work of literature, we must understand the point of view of the reader as well as of the author. Cemeteries exist in societies. When we walk in them, we are walking amongst members of our own community. What it all means depends as much on us as on what the stonecutter or the patron wanted to convey.
Maybe the fondness for sunflowers is more about me than about the Johnsons.

20 September 2013

Flashback Friday: God Forbids Her Longer Stay

Clara Emma Dunlap (1852-1854)
(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.

13 September 2013

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 Freemasonry." Predominantly in the United States the Knights Templar is the final order joined in the York Rite. Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in the Knights Templar is open only to Christian Masons who have completed their Royal Arch and in some jurisdictions their Cryptic Degrees.

From KnightsTemplar.org:
The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization that was founded in the 11th century. Originally, the Knights Templar were laymen who protected and defended Christians travelling to Jerusalem. These men took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were renowned for their fierceness and courage in battle.

Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in other ways. They organize fund-raising activities such as breakfasts, dinners, dances, and flea markets. They support Masonic-related youth groups and they raise millions of dollars for medical research and educational assistance.
Note: I saw this emblem on three gravestones in Evergreen Cemetery. The first two granite markers were in the same plot. The third was a ledger marker in another part of the cemetery.

Elmer L. Waits
1899-1949
John T. Cass, M.D.
1851-1937
John C. Boney
July 30, 1850
Sept 9, 1930

06 September 2013

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 you haven't read it before, it's one of the most popular posts in my almost six years of blogging.

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you.

Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here."

Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. However, even if a tombstone has been erected, we can participate in the mitzvah of making a marker at a grave, by adding to the stone. Therefore, customarily, we place stones on top of a gravestone whenever we visit to indicate our participation in the mitzvah of erecting a tombstone, even if only in a more symbolic way."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says this, "In former days one did not mark a grave with marble or granite with a fancy inscription, but one made a cairn of stones over it. Each mourner coming and adding a stone was effectively taking part in the Mitzvah of matzevah ("setting a stone") as well as or instead of levayat ha-meyt ("accompany the dead"). Of course, the dead were often buried where they had fallen, before urbanization and specialization of planning-use demanded formal cemeteries...Therefore in our day one tends to stick a pebble on top of the tombstone as a relic of this ancient custom, and it is still clear that the more stones a grave has, the more the deceased is being visited and is therefore being honored. Each small pebble adds to the cairn - a nice moral message. This has become slightly spoiled by the cemetery authorities clearing accumulated pebbles off when they wash down the gravestones and cut the grass."

Finally, Rabbi Andrew Straus offers the following: "Ritual is a way of expressing our emotions and spiritual needs. We need physical acts to express these things for us, to make them concrete. Placing a stone on a grave does just that...(1) It is a sign to others who come to the grave when I am not there that they and I are not the only ones who remember. The stones I see on the grave when I come are a reminder to me that others have come to visit the grave. My loved one is remembered by many others and his/her life continues to have an impact on others, even if I do not see them. (2) When I pick up the stone it sends a message to me. I can still feel my loved one. I can still touch and be touched by him/her. I can still feel the impact that has been made on my life. Their life, love, teachings, values, and morals still make an impression on me. When I put the stone down, it is a reminder to me that I can no longer take this person with me physically. I can only take him/her with me in my heart and my mind and the actions I do because he/she taught me to do them. Their values, morals, ideals live on and continue to impress me - just as the stone has made an impression on my hands - so too their life has made an impression on me that continues."

So do all these explanations mean placing a rock on a tombstone is only a Jewish custom? While I would consider it likely when visiting a gravestone with rocks placed on it, it may not always be the case.

Cemetery symbolism author Douglas Keister reminds us, "In Christian lore, rocks are a powerful symbol of the Lord." There are many places in the Old Testament Bible that compare God to a rock. One being Psalm 18:2 -- "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my strength, in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."

So the placing of a rock on a tombstone could represent a belief that the deceased is with God.

Keister further states, "In almost all cultures, rocks represent permanence, stability, reliability, and strength."

All in all, placing and finding rocks on a tombstone is a nice tradition. Whatever the culture or religious faith, the rocks represent an honorable memory of the deceased.

Note: the photo above (© 2009 S. Lincecum) is of the gravestone for Robert H. Sanders (28 Apr 1920 - 8 July 1998) & Mary A. Sanders (24 July 1919 - 14 Jan 2006) at Roberta City Cemetery in Crawford County, Georgia.

One last item; a little link love. When researching this article, I came across a website that offers paintings on river rocks to be placed on the gravestones of loved ones. I thought it was a neat idea, so here's a link to Judaic Stones.

16 July 2013

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.

Altar complete with knee rest, bearing the book
of law (or Bible?) with the common square and
compass on top.

Probably best if I just link you to H T W S S T K S -- Huh?

All seeing eye of God, or Eye of Providence, Masonic symbol dating
back to 1797. A reminder that one's thoughts and deeds are always
observed by the "Great Architect of the Universe."

This one is a bit controversial. Some say it is a
double headed eagle. Some say it is a double headed
phoenix. Some say it's proof the Masons worship
Satan. All I will say is it represents a 33 degree Mason.
And the Latin phrase Deus Meumque Jus translates to
"God and my right," the principal motto of Scottish Rite
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.


11 July 2013

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 describes the cemetery:
The Gandy Cemetery is a short distance from the house, something less than a mile.

According to the descendants of the Gandys, Malcolm Gandy, a brother of Daniel, selected a spot and began the construction of a house. He fell over dead while at work and was buried on the spot. This was the beginning of Gandy Cemetery and Malcolm was the first person to be buried in the plot.

This little graveyard is well fenced and fairly well maintained. A number of large cedars grow around the grounds.

The oldest marked grave is that of Daniel Gandy who died March 12, 1874. The latest two burials are those of Letha Gandy Lincecum, who died Dec. 22, 1959, and her husband Dr. A. L. Lincecum, deceased on Dec. 6, 1965. Dr. Lincecum has a government grave marker as he was a capt. in the Army in World War I. His headstone has an arrowhead embedded in the stone to honor his Army division.
Since I'm roughly 920 miles away from this sacred spot, I'll take what I can get.

06 July 2013

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

William Hudnall Morgan Weaver
And His Wife
Anna Stephens Corry
Married Crawfordville, GA. January 21, 1892

W. H. M. Weaver
Born Greensboro, GA
February 25, 1867
Died Macon, GA
September 28, 1936

"A good name is rather to be chosen than great
riches, and loving favour rather than silver and
gold."
[Proverbs 22:1]

Anna Stephens Corry
Born Greene County, GA
September 9, 1867
Died Macon, GA
January 5, 1935

"Her children arise up and call her blessed,
her husband also, and he praiseth her."
[Proverbs 31:28]

"Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord from henceforth:
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours:
and their works do follow them."
[Revelation 14:13]

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum


05 July 2013

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

Alexander Hamilton Smith
Born April 29, 1843
Died September 11, 1916

Capt. Alexander Hamilton Smith
A Brave Confederate Soldier; A
Successful Farmer; An Able Representative
Of Greene County In The
Legislature For Four Years.
He Was Cautious, Practical And Independent,
Commanding Confidence
By The Frankness Of His Manner, The
Purity Of His Words, And The Wisdom
Of His Course.
A Truer, Nobler Heart Never Beat
Within A Human Breast.

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum

27 June 2013

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.

Signer's Monument
Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia
Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum

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.

26 June 2013

Meet Me in Heaven (Wordless Wednesday)



© 2013 S. Lincecum

25 June 2013

His and Hers Park (Tombstones Tuesday)

Anna Poullain Park (Nov 4, 1856 - Feb 18, 1936)

James Billingslea Park (Feb 28, 1854 - Apr 10, 1943)

HIS:  Judge of the Ocmulgee Circuit 1911 to 1939
He filled with fidelity and courtesy other offices of trust
Sincere Friend
Polished Gentleman
Learned Lawyer
Courageous and Able Jurist

HERS:  Her life was as beautiful as the flowers she loved

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum

22 June 2013

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

Edward Young
Born in Lexington, GA June 26, 1860
Died in Greensboro, GA May 26, 1898
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Sleep on Dear Darling!
May Angels guard they sweet repose!

We'll catch the broken threads again,
And finish what we here began!
Heaven will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah then, we'll understand.

Peace to his sacred ashes.

Greensboro City Cemetery
Greene County, Georgia
Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum

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.
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