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Showing posts from August, 2014

Is Man Different From Fish or Hogs? (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Schroeder the Fisherman (pg 124)
I SAT ON the bank above Bernadotte
And dropped crumbs in the water,
Just to see the minnows bump each other,
Until the strongest got the prize.
Or I went to my little pasture,
Where the peaceful swine were asleep in the wallow,
Or nosing each other lovingly,
And emptied a basket of yellow corn,
And watched them push and squeal and bite,
And trample each other to get the corn.
And I saw how Christian Dallman's farm,
Of more than three thousand acres,
Swallowed the patch of Felix Schmidt,
As a bass will swallow a minnow.
And I say if there's anything in man --
Spirit, or conscie…

Ignorantly Accidental Overdose (This Time It's Personal)

Leslie Lee Lancaster was my (half) 2nd great grand uncle. But he never made it to adulthood. You see, when Leslie Lee was a little over a year old, having a bit of a hard time while teething, someone gave him a tad too much morphine. Overdosed while teething. Ouch. I cannot imagine how his parents felt -- whether one or both were "the cause", or not.


The official cause of death was listed as "Ignorantly accidental (overdose morphine)". The secondary factor was "Teething."
Leslie Lee Lancaster was laid to rest in Hickory Grove Cemetery at Morley, Scott County, Missouri. I've submitted a photo request via FindAGrave. Fingers crossed for a marked (and labeled!) grave.

Dr. Holtzclaw Suicides (This Time It's Personal)

When conducting any kind of historical research, coming across a suicide always gives me pause. Even though it's not always a conscious act, I know I'm taking a brief moment to mourn the loss. A loss I don't pretend to understand. With the recent passing of Robin Williams, I'm reminded that those who seem to "have it all" sometimes are wrestling with demons unseen.

In 1922, two days after his 63rd birthday, Dr. Henry Macon Holtzclaw, Jr. took his own life. Why? Heaven only knows. Following from 22 January 1922 edition, Macon Daily Telegraph (Georgia) -- via GenealogyBank:
DR. HOLTZCLAW, PERRY, SUICIDES

Prominent Physician Shoots Self in Head With Pistol.

REASON FOR DEED UNKNOWN

Found in Bed Dying By Brother; Funeral Will Be Held Today.


PERRY, Ga., Jan. 21. -- Dr. Henry M. Holtzclaw, 63, prominent citizen of Houston county, died tonight at 8:30 o'clock from a bullet wound in the right temple, it being self inflicted between the hours of 9:30 o'clock…

Peasant Girl and Her Son (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Elsa Wertman (pg. 79)
I WAS A peasant girl from Germany,
Blue-eyed, rosy, happy and strong.
And the first place I worked was at Thomas Greene's.
On a summer's day when she was away
He stole into the kitchen and took me
Right in his arms and kissed me on my throat,
I turning my head. Then neither of us
Seemed to know what happened.
And I cried for what would become of me.
And cried and cried as my secret began to show.
One day Mrs. Greene said she understood,
And would make no trouble for me,
And, being childless, would adopt it.
(He had given her a farm to be still.)
So she hid in the house and sent out rumor…

Life Without Meaning is Torture (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

George Gray (pg. 49)
I HAVE STUDIED many times
The marble which was chiseled for me --
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one's life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desi…

Irresistible Disgust, and Unspeakable Regret (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Harold Arnett (pg. 37)
I LEANED AGAINST the mantel, sick, sick,
Thinking of my failure, looking into the abysm,
Weak from the noon-day heat.
A church bell sounded mournfully far away,
I heard the cry of a baby,
And the coughing of John Yarnell,
Bed-ridden, feverish, feverish, dying,
Then the violent voice of my wife:
"Watch out, the potatoes are burning!"
I smelled them...then there was irresistible disgust.
I pulled the trigger...blackness...light...
Unspeakable regret...fumbling for the world again.
Too late! Thus I came here,
With lungs for breathing...one cannot breathe here with lungs,
Though one must…

Silence Poisons the Soul (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Dorcas Gustine (pg. 35)
I WAS NOT beloved of the villagers,
But all because I spoke my mind,
And met those who transgressed against me
With plain remonstrance, hiding nor nurturing
Nor secret griefs nor grudges.
That act of the Spartan boy is greatly praised,
Who hid the wolf under his cloak,
Letting it devour him, uncomplainingly.
It is braver, I think, to snatch the wolf forth
And fight him openly, even in the street,
Amid dust and howls of pain.
The tongue may be an unruly member --
But silence poisons the soul.
Berate me who will -- I am content.

War, Jail, and a Woman (Spoon River Epitaphs)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Knowlt Hoheimer (pg. 26)
I WAS THE first fruits of the battle of Missionary Ridge.
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I wished I had staid at home and gone to jail
For stealing the hogs of Curl Trenary,
Instead of running away and joining the army.
Rather a thousand times the county jail
Than to lie under this marble figure with wings,
And this granite pedestal
Bearing the words, "Pro Patria."
What do they mean, anyway?[Pro Patria is a Latin phrase that translates to 'for one's country.' Apparently, "Knowlt" had other reasons for joining the Army. But is the reason typed above, or …

Poisoned Benefactions (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Constance Hately (pg. 15)
YOU PRAISE MY self-sacrifice, Spoon River,
In rearing Irene and Mary,
Orphans of my older sister!
And you censure Irene and Mary
For their contempt for me!
But praise not my self-sacrifice,
And censure not their contempt;
I reared them, I cared for them, true enough! --
But I poisoned my benefactions
With constant reminders of their dependence.

Proclamation From the Dust (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Amanda Barker (pg. 15)
HENRY GOT ME with child,
Knowing that I could not bring forth life
Without losing my own.
In my youth therefore I entered the portals of dust.
Traveler, it is believed in the village where I lived
That Henry loved me with a husband's love,
But I proclaim from the dust
That he slew me to gratify his hatred.

Graven By a Fool (a Spoon River Epitaph)

A sweet co-worker recently introduced me to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-form poems written as epitaphs for deceased residents of a small town. S graciously lent me a copy of the book, and I have since found out there is an online edition. Though these epitaphs are fictional, I hope you'll permit me to share some of my favorites with you here.

Cassius Hueffer (pg. 14)
THEY HAVE CHISELED on my stone the words:
"His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him
That nature might stand up and say to all the world,
This was a man."
Those who knew me smile
As they read this empty rhetoric.

My epitaph should have been:
"Life was not gentle to him,
And the elements so mixed in him
That he made warfare on life,
In the which he was slain."
While I lived I could not cope with slanderous tongues,
Now that I am dead I must submit to an epitaph
Graven by a fool!


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)