Friday, June 30, 2017

Port Republic, New Jersey

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  Don't let the form of the marker fool you. St. Paul's may be a historical cemetery, but this is not a historical marker. Instead, it's a lament for the dead, from Mom. A list of "I miss you's" and "I thank you's" is joined by: "I can still hear you like it was yesterday. The last time you sang a solo at the Sony E-Center, your voice was so powerful and commanding....Happy tears were streaming down my face....I was so proud." St. Paul's United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Brewton, Alabama

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  There are "union cemeteries" all across the United States, and most have nothing to do with Union troops of the Civil War. So, why is the name Union applied to so many burial grounds? Perhaps to set them apart from the sectarian cemeteries that were run by (and often adjacent to) churches. Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist: all could be buried in a union cemetery. Some folk, however, may not have been welcome, and that is the type of information never mentioned on historical markers. Union Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, June 26, 2017

Brunswick, Georgia

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  The nineteenth century saw the rise of industrial economies and the concomitant expansion of city populations. That meant more people were dying in cities, too. So many, in fact, that the old church yards soon ran out of space. Voila! The rural cemetery, or garden cemetery, was born. The first was on the outskirts of Paris. By 1838, the rural cemetery movement had reached Brunswick, Georgia, making Brunswick a little more like Paris! Buried here were "over 100 Civil War Veterans," including Capt. Douglas Risley, who went on to found the city's first school for African Americans. The next question, however, is not answered by the historical market: How many of the students who attended his school were actually buried here with him? Oak Grove Cemetery. [2010]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Richmond, Virginia

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  Six cemeteries (associated with different burial societies) are to be found on Barton Heights. The earliest dates to 1815. Compare that date to the year this historical marker was erected:1998. It took until the late 20th century for historical markers to begin commemorating the peoples and places of African-American history. Before that, the only history worth noting was what happened during the Civil War! Whit Monday is seven weeks after Easter Monday; it is the second day of Pentecost. Barton Heights Cemeteries. [2014]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Franklin, Tennessee

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  With the American and French Revolutions as his models, a slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture led the rebellion that resulted in Haiti's independence in 1804. Of course, he is not buried here, but his memory is kept alive by virtue of a Tennessee historical marker. Who is buried here? People of African descent, many nameless, who, by virtue of the segregated society in which they lived, needed a burying place of their own. Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery. [2010]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Austin, Texas

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  People buried here may be of historical significance, but so is the cemetery itself. That's why it has a historical marker of its own. This plot of land was acquired in the 1920s by a private cemetery corporation, then by the city of Austin. Since then, chunks have been sliced off for other purposes, like the building of a rec center. Who's the most famous person buried here? Author James A. Michener.  How would we know such things if it were not for the historical marker? Austin Memorial Park Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace: "Your paws left prints on our hearts." Yes, they did, Stretch! In fact, we still make sure there are flowers at your grave. What a Christmas present you were! Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Merrill Fisher wrote the verses that welcome visitors to the pet precinct of Floral Hills: ". . . He is sadly missed, but we are so much better for his having shared his life with us. We can think of nothing, and perhaps no one, that has better taught us to give and receive love openly, unselfishly, and unashamedly, as this one small furry friend." Mr. Fisher must have had Tobby in mind. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  A cat with a first, middle, and last name: Another example of anthropomorphism. And, if you ask yourself if pets have souls (anthropomorphism once again!), the answer here would be yes. The butterfly is usually employed to symbolize the soul. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Meet Moonpie! Or, at least a life-sized effigy. "Our Angel" must have been very much a part of the family, so beloved his masters couldn't quite let go. Now, imagine a cemetery for humans where life-sized statues of the deceased stood at the foot of every grave. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Squint a little bit and you might discern that this is no human grave. Rather, two beloved pets are buried here. Ever hear of anthropomorphism? Here's an example. A section of the cemetery has been set aside for pets. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, June 9, 2017

Charlton, Massachusetts

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor:  That doesn't mean send him or her off to the cemetery; it just means that your old pastor may have to move on this month to a new charge. In the United Methodist Church, ministers serve at the pleasure of the Bishop. They are assigned to churches, not hired by them. The minister buried here would have served under the same rules, even though he served the Methodist Episcopal Church. Itinerating is a deeply-embedded Wesleyan tradition. As for the medallion: It proclaims the preacher buried here to be a Veteran of the Cross. Union Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor: Horses helped the early Methodist church in America adapt to a rapidly expanding rural frontier. Horses gave circuit riders the mobility they needed to become more like their mentor, John Wesley, who famously said:  "I look upon the whole world as my parish." See the grid of latitude and longitude in the medallion's background? It symbolizes the world. Rosewood Cemetery. [2016]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Macon, Georgia

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor: The Methodist year ends this month. That means a slew of United Methodist churches around the country will be saying goodbye to their old pastors and welcoming new ones. In the past, they would have departed and arrived on horseback, and on Sundays the circuit-riding preachers would have galloped from sanctuary to sanctuary bringing the word of God to multiple congregations on a single "circuit." The symbolism of the circuit-riding preacher is deeply embedded in Methodist tradition. Riverside Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Laurel Hiil, Florida

Defined by the Regional Economy ~ Logging:  Here's a  logging truck made of a log. This one isn't on the road in Florida's Okaloosa County, however. It's on a "short haul to heaven." But, if the truck doesn't quite get him there, a pair of boots is on call for a sprint across the finish line. Almarante Cemetery. [2017]