Tuesday, July 14, 2009

a walk in the "park"

Bordering our apartment to the west is a large, mature, beautiful parkway. Okay, maybe a little less parkway and more a memorial site of sorts. Okay maybe not a parkway at all, but simply an old graveyard. When describing places of enjoyment, I tend to romanticize a bit.

Yes, it's true...I enjoy old cemeteries. When I was younger my family went to DeSmet, South Dakota to visit the final resting place of the Ingalls family (as in "Little House on the Prairie"). We spent an entire afternoon driving around to different cemeteries and staring down at the descendants of Ma and Pa Ingalls. I loved it. So I guess I'll chalk my continued pleasure in marble town's up to childhood encouragement to delight in the dead.

Poor Teddy is destined to travel down the same path. A gleeful graveyard stroll in the afternoon seems to have become our norm. I can't help it, I'm fascinated by them and now we have a booming necropolis right in our very own backyard. They are so full of history and mystery. For example......

Exhibit A:

Look at this gravestone with an entire family on it! Everyone passed away in 1882. What happened? Perhaps a devastating fire that destroyed the family farm and its inhabitants? Maybe illness? If so, what kind? Malaria? Yellow Fever? Dysentery? Influenza? Worm Infestation? Goodness, the possibilities are endless. Here is the real mystery though, the wife/mother of the family is not listed among the dead on the gravestone! Is she only one to have survived? That poor, poor woman, to lose so many children and her husband.
(Side Note: Can I just say I love reading the names from the late 1800's. All the Margarets, Marys, Thomas', Williams. Classic. Beautiful. Timeless.)

Exhibit B:

In most shared spousal stones from the 19th century the females maiden name was used for the marker. Why? Peculiar. It seems so contrary to the times. I must praise the practice though, how very convenient for piecing together lineage. I wonder why graves today rarely state maiden names?

Exhibit C:

And how about all the "no name's"? Oh course, it is probable the name wore off with time, but how very mysterious. What happens when the names are not only washed away but the graves themselves are engulfed back up by the earth. How many hundreds of years will the ground remain sacred when the physical fragments are gone?

So you see....saturated with stumpers and secrecy. Fascinating, I tell ya'. Fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post so much. You are such a good writer Katie. My mom has always loved old cemeteries. When she came to visit we visited an old civil war graveyard. I noticed how the women's maiden names were added too. I really appreciated that. That gravestone with the whole family on it is so tragic. Such short lives were lived.