Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gone but not forgotten

Drew fixed my DSLR for my birthday a couple weeks ago.  My favorite thing to do is photograph old cemeteries and I have this grandiose vision of finding old cemeteries in Mississippi, taking lots of pictures, and making a coffee table book.  It's a good goal, but for now, they go on my blog.  I love any old cemetery, from enormous marble headstones to tiny illegible cement markers. As long as they're old and I don't have to expose myself to ticks, I'm there.  I'm especially interested in segregated cemeteries, slave markers/stones, private home cemeteries, and secret Union graves.  Whatever insider information you have, let me know.

We decided to get out today and find some old places in Pelahatchie.  We found Antioch Cemetery, Shiloh United Methodist Church Cemetery, and Walter's Grove Cemetery, a segregated cemetery that's home to 2 graves of slaves.

I'm always struck by the graves of infants and children.  They're always so small to me, and most of the infants are just memorialized as "infant son/daughter of...," not even names.  It strikes me because we really live in a completely different world than 150 years ago - we have a reasonable and realistic expectation that our children will outlive us.  In the 1800s, they didn't.  The deaths of children were expected and commonplace  This, to me, is reflected in the nameless tiny stones that mark infants'/children's graves, whereas I can't imagine if Ace died that I'd demand any less than a 6' marker.

Antioch Cemetery is the final resting place of the Thames children.  6 of the children had the measles, went out to play in the cotton field, and came home wet.  They all died within 18 days.  What fresh hell those parents had to be in.  Incomprehensible.  Here are their graves:

A lot of graves say "Gone But Not Forgotten."  This is something we tell ourselves; that we'll never forget our loved ones. Well, someone's gonna forget them. It's nihilistic, but unless you make a drastic change in humanity, in 175 years the only memory of you may actually be something like this:



Walter's Grove: 

Walter's Grove had several plastic markers, indicating that the survivors don't have the money for a stone marker. These make me incredibly sad - if I had to mark my parent's or husband's grave with something that a medium-strength thunderstorm could take out I'd feel awful. 

Although the last one had some pizzazz:

Finally, Walter's Grove was home to the graves of two slaves, a man and wife, Luke and Grace Patrick. I've seen slave graves before; marked with wooden crosses or a small cement marker emblazoned with the word "slave."  This was not at all what I expected. 

Fences are generally markers of exclusion in cemeteries - for families or the very rich or well-connected.  This fence didn't even have a gate, which tells me (the eternal optimist) that someone wanted these graves protected and respected.  The inscription on Luke Patrick's stone said "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see The Lord."  I couldn't read the inscription on Grace's.  These were beautiful and I was incredibly touched that two people who were so dehumanized in life were venerated in death.  I have to research more on this.

Others from today that I kinda like (but am criticizing myself about because my skill isn't what it used to be):

Anyway, this was my first outing so I'm a little rusty. Hope to have more for y'all soon!

No comments: