Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Cemetery Visit

Yesterday I went to the Village Cemetery here in town again to get some more pictures.  I was trying to come up with some photos of the artwork on the tombstones for a lecture I attended last evening on Gravestones of New England.  The clouds provided for some great shadows in the photos, it was fun to wander around "The Yard", which is what the cemetery was called in days of 'or.    I enjoyed myself, spending some time checking out all the different symbols. 
This shows some of the Acanthus leaves that were common in the 1700's.  They were common and stood for peace in the Garden of Eden.  I found out from the lecturer, Ken Knoblock, that this carver's name is Wight and he did many of the oldest stones in the Chester Cemetery. 


Lots of skulls, which were a sign of mortality...

Likenesses of the person buried beneath....and "Memento Mori" which means "remember death"...just in case you were inclined to forget that death is inevitable...

Wings were added to the likenesses and skulls to signify rising to heaven...and urns became common.  Though they did not cremate people back then, this was what the carvers has seen on Egyptian relics, so urns became popular in the 1700 New England and were a symbol of mourning...
And willow trees became popular then as well.  I learned they can symbolize sorrow, and they were added by the carvers due to their popularity....



And a sheaf of wheat, which signifies long life and passing, harvest of life if you will.  Another meaning I found in research is resurrection and fertility...

I also saw the tombstones of two civil war soldiers, one was a bugler in Company G, First NH cavalry, Mr. Edward J Robie, who was a bugler in his young 17th year....
I found it interesting that he lived 60 years beyond the end of the civil war to the age of 81, and they put on his stone that he was a bugler at 17.  I thought he must have been proud of his service....

And the other one I found was a General in the Civil War, General Louis Bell.  The Bells are part of the founding families of Chester and a member of that family built a beautiful home owned by friends of mine...General Bell had quite an impressive stone which he shared with his wife, who died a mere 5 months after he did. His stone states, "Gen Louis Bell...Fell at Fort Tish (?) on Jan 15, 1865, Killed in battle fighting for the Union of his Country"  and below that is his wife's short and to the point, " Mary Ann P Bouton"  when she was born (Dec 15, 1834) and that she died here in Chester on May 4, 1865.  They were both so young, only 28.  I understand he died in battle, but I wonder why she died so young?  Was it of a broken heart?  Or tuberculosis (which they called consumption back then)?  I wonder about that sort of thing when I see these types of death dates so close together.  Interesting...

The broken sword is a symbol of life ended too short...and in both of their cases, that's quite true...and the harp is a symbol of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians...

I truly enjoyed the lecture last evening and learning many new things I never knew about New England tombstones and graveyards history and artwork.  Some of the carvers of old were truly master artists, and when you consider that they used hammers and chisels to create such exact carvings and writing, it's even more impressive...no machinery then, just good old fashioned skill.  Pretty neat.


And my little pumpkin accompanied me and set up a nice autumn, Halloween-y type feel.

Wishing you a new passion to learn about, ~Peacemom

5 comments:

small farm girl said...

I just love old cemeteries! If you walk through the hills and woods were I live, you will likely come upon a cemetery. They are everywhere in these hills. Some aren't even marked. Just piled rocks. Interesting post!!!!

Dog Trot Farm said...

I love this post, I am also glad to know that I am not alone in the interest of gravestones and old grave markers. The art work on the old headstones is just so interesting. I also enjoy reading the old names that were once so popular so very long ago.I'm glad you brought your pumpkin, a nice festive touch

Peacemom said...

Thank you to you both for your comments. I've had several fun days wandering 'round this plot. Helps me remember what life must have been for them so long ago. Thanks again for checking in!

chris said...

Wow, interesting! I have always loved old graveyards. We used to find them in the woods in Maine while hiking. The lecture must have been fascinating. Thanks for sharing this information with us. And as usual, your pictures were extraordinary! love to y'all!

Loria Schleiff said...

Once in a while, I also visit the cemetery to walk and spend some alone time. I think the cemetery is a place suitable for meditation. I love your photos, and the pumpkin is a great touch!