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Aurelia Lamar Ralston Bozeman: Her Life, & Tombstone Symbolism

[Originally posted at the Rose Hill Cemetery blog.]

Rose Hill - Apr 2009 023Aurelia L. was born 19 January 1825 in Georgia.  She was one of at least seven daughters born to Henry Graybill Lamar and Mary Ann Davis, and sister to Mary Gazaline Lamar Ellis.

When Aurelia was 20 years old, she married James A. Ralston.  The marriage was solemnized 5 March 1845 by Seneca Bragg at Christ Church in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia.  I think James was a son of David (d. 1842) and Anna V. (d. 1836) Ralston.

Rose Hill - Apr 2009 024

The couple had at least five children:  Henry (b. abt 1846), James A. (b. abt 1848), Anna, George, and Davis (b. abt 1850).  Anna and George were twins, born 3 August 1849.  According to the inscription on a tombstone in Rose Hill Cemetery, George died April 1850, and Anna died September 1851.  The date (month, at least) might be incorrect for George, since both he and Anna are listed in the Ralston household for the 1850 Bibb County, Georgia Federal census taken August 12th of that year.

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A little more about James A. Ralston, Sr.:  this was a wealthy man.  According to the 1850 Bibb County, Georgia Federal census, James held real estate valued at $50,000.  His occupation was listed as Speculator.  I dare say at least some of his real estate was inherited from his father, who died November 1842.  The 1860 Federal census for the same location shows James had real estate valued at $120,000, and a personal estate worth $60,000.  His occupation was listed as Planter, and the slave schedule shows he owned 30 individuals.

Furthermore, the Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens or Business Firms, 1861-65 database at Fold3 contains more than 70 images relating to rent payments made to James Ralston for the usage of buildings in downtown Macon by the Confederate Army for office space during the Civil War.

According to his tombstone in Rose Hill Cemetery (image of inscription above), James A. Ralston, Sr. died in December of 1864.  Just over two years later, on 7 February 1867, Mrs. Aurelia L. Ralston married Dr. Nathan Bozeman in Bibb County.  Their marriage service was conducted by a pastor of the Presbyterian Church.  Dr. Bozeman lost his first wife, Mary Frances Lamar, in May of 1861.

By 1870, Dr. and Mrs. Aurelia Bozeman were living in New York.  Aurelia was keeping a home containing at least three of Dr. Bozeman's children by his first wife.  Notably, this household also employed five Irish born domestic servants.

Three years later, Aurelia died at her home in Morristown, New Jersey.  Notice was printed in the Weekly Sumter Republican, an Americus, Georgia newspaper (29 August 1873, pg. 3):

DEATH OF MRS. DR. BOZEMAN. -- Mrs. Aurelia Bozeman, wife of Dr. Nathan Bozeman, of Morristown, N.J., died suddenly at three o'clock yesterday morning, at her home in New Jersey.  Mr. Geo. B. Turpin received a dispatch early yesterday morning notifying him of the sad occurrence, and through him the many relatives and friends of the lady in Macon and elsewhere in Georgia.

Mrs. Bozeman was a daughter of Judge Henry G. Lamar, and, before she married Dr. Bozeman, was the widow of the late James Ralston of this city, and mother of James A. Ralston.  She was a sister to Mrs. N. C. Monroe, of Griffin, and of Mrs. W. L. and Mrs. Hayne Ellis, of this city. -- Telegraph & Messenger, 27th inst.

Rose Hill - Apr 2009

Aurelia Lamar Ralston Bozeman was laid to rest in the Holly Ridge section of Rose Hill Cemetery.  Her tombstone is topped with a large cross covered in ivy, her initials in the middle of the cross (pictured above).  At the base of the cross is an anchor, and there appears to be a crown on top of the cross.

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There is a lot of symbolism in play, here.  According to the go-to source for symbols in the cemetery, Stories in Stone: a Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister, here are some proposed meanings:

  • Cross:  Though the symbol actually predates its religious association, this Latin Cross (shaped like the letter t, as opposed to a + sign) is most commonly connected to the religion of Christianity.
  • Crown:  The crown is a symbol of victory, leadership, and distinction.  The cross with a crown, though not always depicted in this same manner, is a Christian symbol of the sovereignty of the Lord.
  • Ivy:  "Because ivy is eternally green even in harsh conditions, it is associated with immortality and fidelity.  Ivy clings to a support, which makes it a symbol of attachment, friendship, and undying affection.  Its three-pointed leaves make it a symbol of the Trinity." [page 57]
  • Anchor:  The anchor is a symbol of hope.  For more information, see Anchors and the Virtue of Hope in the Cemetery.

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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)