Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goats on the cemetery

Goats in the cemetery, what is next? Actually I think it makes sense being a goat owner knowing how fast they can clear a piece of any living vegetation and anything else that looks yummy.
In North Carolina there is a cemetery according to Dick Eastman's newsletter that used goats to clear up to 30 grave sites. The owners of the site said they aren't even sure what they have the site was so badly over grown with brambles and underbrush it was hard to see anything so the goats helped out. It was free labor the goats got a full belly out of it and as any goat owner knows a goat with a full belly is a happy one, its just so hard to fill them up!

Monday, December 21, 2009

What a sad day that this allowed to happen

Reading Dick Eastman's newsletter today there is a article about a judge who ruled in Chicago that the O"Hare Airport can expand to where Bensenville Cemetery is. The judge ruled Friday that they can acquire the 6.3 acre St. Johannes Cemetery that stands in the path of a new O"Hare International runway.There are over 900 known graves that will be transferred in a "orderly transfer". The cemetery dates from the 19th. century.
There seems to be more and more stories in the news about cemeteries being moved, paved, not properly cared for. The worse was grave sites being emptied to make room for new occupants while the previous tenants were just dumped. It is so sad to hear this news it seems to be sacrilegious to me. When I bury a loved one I don't plan on them being dug up moved around so we can expand a building, runway or make room for a housing development. OK I know I get on my soapbox on this subject but it just seems wrong.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Postmortem Photography

Since my co-worker started the subject I think I will just continue with it. I have started a small collection of postmortem photography as many people have. I am often shocked at the price these photos are sold for at swap meets, eBay, and many other places. They even are showing up at photography shows all matted and framed with huge price tags. I remember my art professor telling us that we see art not only through our eyes but with all of our senses including emotions, so maybe that is part of my fascination with it. I also collect cemetery art photos if that explains anything.

The hardest part in this type of collection is looking for the clues. Some are obvious such as the family gathered around the coffin or loved one as they appear to be taking a nap on a sofa. While this seems creepy to us today we have to remember the times. In the second half of the 19th century and first part of the 20th century when this was widely practiced it often was the only time they could get a photo of the whole family together. The middle class was the largest group to take part in this custom so don't always assume only the wealthy took part as many people do.

The primary reason that it took place was because the mortality of young children was so high it was sometimes the only chance the relatives living elsewhere had to see them. It also may of been the only opportunity to get a photo of the person. Grieving also came into play here it was felt that by having a last photo of the deceased could quicken the grieving process and pay tribute to them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is He or Isn't He?

Dead I mean.
Many portraits taken about this time (late 1800's, early 1900's) were taken of individuals and families who may have only gathered in their best clothes for a funeral. We do have one family portrait here in the library where the descendant proudly proclaims that his grandfather is dead in the picture.
I have not such family stories about Great-great-great-grandpa Jacob Gilbert here. But consider these points raised by my co-worker/blogger.
  1. His eyes appear rather fixed and glazed over.
  2. His hands are firmly placed on his legs, but not supporting any weight.
  3. He has a stiff appearance.
  4. His head appears slightly forward on his neck, but pointing straight ahead.
  5. GGGGrandpa Jacob died in 1915. This was within the time frame where such photos were common place.

What do you think? I have no problems with this idea, but it never occurred to me.

What had occurred to me was this picture of the family that married Jacobs grandchildren. The Samis family lost their father, James Henry in 1899, after he suffered an accident and died "attempting to board a freight train." Family story--tried to hop a train to find a job in a nearby city. Fell beneath the train. Lost a limb and died. In this picture, James Henry does not appear, but the whole family is here. Looking somber and mostly dressed in dark colors, was this taken when they gathered for his funeral?

I double checked some of the dates. If this was taken about the time of James' death, the youngest daughter would have been only 9 years old. In this picture, the girl in white is clearly younger, but 9 years old? I'm not sure.

Sure people had to stand still and stiff for pictures then. They often dressed up for the occasions. Fashions made children look like adults.

So tell me--is he or isn't he? Dead I mean.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just because there is snow don't forget the cemetery

As I sit here trying to put together my don't forget list for Christmas I remembered I have to get a wreath to put on my Grandmas gavesite. There have been years I must admit I forget until it is to late. They look so pretty a spot of color in a white landscape. Some years I have put a poinsetta or a gathering of evergreen. I have noticed some people even put a blanket of evergreen down. They are very pretty but costly. My style is something more simple but enough to say I remember and miss you.
But as with all times make sure your cemetery allows them and pick them back up if they start looking weathered.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Foot Stones

Foot stones are usually about 6 inches wide and only have initials on them. Usually they were not set like the head stone since they were moved to the next burial. The foot stones were generally used more as a marker than a monument.

Head Stones

Markers called head stones are placed at the west end of the burial but can be read from either direction. Most of the older cemeteries have burials East and West burials. Due to tightening spaces many city cemeteries have burials that are going in all directions. Sometimes there is a cement curb around the whole family burial plot. Or fencing would designate where their lot ended. Those who could afford it would have stones carved to designate what family owned the lot.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Forgotten Cemetery

One of my favorite area cemeteries is one that is closest to where I live. Just down the crossroad a couple of miles, it is invisible during the summer. But winter, when the grasses die and the leaves fall, its a different story.
When I was first married and new to the neighborhood, I often noticed this stand of sumac and wondered about the fact that it just stood there, taking up a small patch of a field. In winter when I drove by, I could see something in amidst the brush. It was just too far away to make out what it was.
I finally discovered, with the help of my hubby, was was born and raised in the area that it was indeed a small family cemetery. Just a few stones barely visible from the road.
There is no direct access, except cutting across the field. The family who owns the property discourages visitors.
Such a sad forgotten little cemetery.