Exploring & Thinking

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I went exploring historical sites and cemeteries with some friends on Saturday. We checked out Civil War and Revolutionary War sites and cemeteries. A lot of the graveyards were on the rivers as that was how people traveled in those days. While wandering through our third cemetery of the day we were each exploring different sections lost in our own thoughts. My one friend was focused on the historical figures buried in the cemetery and the different headstones people had. Another friend was marveling at the age of the trees growing among the headstones. Some trees were well over 150-200 years old. My mind wandered to what life must have been like back in the 1700’s and 1800’s. So many headstones that I walked by had whole families gone within a year of each other or a mother and father outliving all of their children-many who did not make it past two years old. I was drawn to the beautiful sayings and passages on the headstones and some of the carvings. I found one that had a beautiful dove with fruit. I loved being next to the river and among the old stately trees who I am sure could tell some stories. I could have spent all day wandering through the cemetery. It is a family quirk on my Dad’s side. We all do it and are fascinated by the history in graveyards. As my friends and I were leaving the cemetery a man pulled up in a van with Arizona license plates. He got out and asked if we knew where a particular gravesite was. We did not but directed him to the oldest section of the graveyard where we thought it would be. One of my friends thought it was odd he traveled so far to search out a gravesite but I fully understood. I would do the same thing.

Do you ever explore cemeteries? Have you ever found anything that caught your eye-a headstone? A tree? A carving? History? A Person you didn’t know was there?

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10 thoughts on “Exploring & Thinking

  1. Visited a graveyard in Tennessee while on vacation there one year and saw the sweetest little stone lamb on the headstone of a child.

    Saw Arlington National Cemetery on vacation there one autumn which really brought to my attention what our freedom costs. I think we sometimes take that for granted. Witnessed the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier which was very impressive, the respect that is given to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to this country.

    The above-ground tombs in New Orleans are quite impressive (I live in a semirural area nearby), many with intricately carved statues. I have seen Marie Laveau’s gravesite (voodoo priestess of the 1800s) with handwritten messages and offerings left around it by visitors; rather spooky. I have also seen quite a few of the older graves that have small photos of the departed in frames attached to the headstones. Very interesting to see the clothing and hairstyles of the different bygone eras depicted in those photos.

    Interesting topic, Becca!
    Cheryl
    Pearl River, LA

    • Thanks for sharing Cheryl. I too have been to Arlington National Cemetery. Very impressive reminder of the sacrifices the military and their families make.
      I have always wanted to see the above ground burial sites of New Orleans. I have heard of the Voodoo priestess grave and the messages and offerings left to her. What made it spooky for you seeing it? Was it a vibe? Or something else? I am just curious. Sometimes I get funny feelings walking by some parts of cemeteries and others I can walk through all day no problem.

    • Yes, a lot of the Jewish cemeteries have something similar to a “locket” with a picture in it that you can open. I saw something on TV the other day about smart phones being used to “scan” an info box on the gravestone and you can view info about the person online. Technology. What’ll they think of next?

      • Wow there is a lot of customs I was unaware of but find very interesting. I leave a crystal on my Dad’s grave when I visit as no one steals the crystal. My family and I have had flowers stolen that we have left on his grave. I try to find crystals with meaning to what I feel or what I am remembering like an amethyst for love or a rose quartz.
        I imagine technology at the gravesite will help a lot especially with genealogy.

  2. Yes! My daughter and I love to explore cemeteries! When we visit back East we look for the Revolutionary War graves, it’s hard to believe that we can still find them. There are some fascinating places in the Pittsburg, PA and Alexandria, VA area. Here in Colorado we usually only go back as far as the mid to late 1800’s. In Grand Lake, Co there is a beautiful cemetery with many interesting stones. The saddest one there is of a young mother, and it is decorated by her children. I cried when I read it. One that makes me smile has skis incorporated into the memorial stone! There is so much history and emotion in these places.

    • Thank you for sharing. I’m happy to find out that others explore cemeteries too. Where I grew up in New England there were a lot of cemeteries from the Revolutionary War and some from before the war. Where I live now on the eastern shore of Maryland I often pass little family cemeteries that are under huge trees or off on the corner of land.
      I love that someone put skis on a memorial.

  3. And here I thought I was one of the few that enjoyed exploring cemeteries. I would take my niece and nephew when they were learning how to read. They would sound out the names and we would talk about how old someone was or what year they died.

    There’s a cemetery not too far away from where I live that has some Civil War graves that had been moved there years ago to make room for a park in town. One thing that caught my eye was that some of them were “Saddlers”… men who were responsible for saddling horses during the war.

    We also looked at a piece of property in Kentucky that had an abandoned cemetery on it… complete with Civil War graves. It was completely overgrown and forgotten, not taken care of at all. The property owner told how some people had come through searching for an ancestor and had made pencil shading copies of some of the head stones. I tried to walk into the thicket where the gravestones were, but it was so overgrown and dense that I couldn’t even pick my way in. What a shame. It would have been a treat to see it.

    In the meantime, I stop at the little out of the way, country cemeteries and wander around, imagining the people that once lived and died nearby. So cool to know that others enjoy it as much as I do.

    • When I posted this I feared people would think it was morbid but it has been wonderful to hear from others who enjoy wandering cemeteries and graveyards too. I am so happy you shared your wanderings. I had not heard of saddlers in the Civil War. I will look more into their history. Where I live on Maryland’s eastern shore there are many small family cemeteries on forgotten pieces of land. Sometimes they are under a huge old tree. For the most part they are cared for with love.
      I love that you taught your niece and nephew how to read by the names on the stones. My Dad used to encourage me to look up history and genealogy after going through the cemeteries. Thanks again for sharing. I too am happy that their are others who understand cemetery wanderings.

  4. Hi, I love the tone of your blog! I used to write songs in a woodded area next to a graveyard when I was very young! And you could almost taste the history! Marker’s, every generation leaves some with some larger than others! Thank you for the follow! This is a fascinating subject!

    • Thank you for checking out my blog and your kind words. I truly appreciate it. Not until reading your comment about writing songs by the cemetery did I really remember that I would sometimes do my homework in a cemetery at college as it was a quiet place to work with lovely benches for sitting. College was a long time ago. Thank you for sharing. I am glad to follow your blog also. I do enjoy it!

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