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dee_burris: (Default)
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 08:39 am
 photo death_film_landing.jpeg

This excellent PBS "American Experience" documentary, Death and the Civil War, discusses how the war that claimed more American lives than all other wars combined in which Americans fought, demonstrated the national crisis of what to do with all the bodies.

The Civil War was the war that struck the nation's conscience and showed the federal government that it had a duty to identify, bury, re-bury, and send home the remains of American soldiers. That pricking of national conscience was what led to the creation of Arlington National Cemetery and some seventy other national cemeteries.

The war claimed 750,000 lives. Only half of the bodies were identified and given a proper burial.

From the film:
...And everywhere among these countless graves—everywhere in the many soldier Cemeteries of the Nation, (there are now, I believe, over seventy of them)—as at the time in the vast trenches, the depositories of slain, Northern and Southern, after the great battles—not only where the scathing trail passed those years, but radiating since in all the peaceful quarters of the land—we see, and ages yet may see, on monuments and gravestones, singly or in masses, to thousands or tens of thousands, the significant word Unknown. Walt Whitman, 1865.

Little Rock National Cemetery photo aseaofunknowns.jpg
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, August 22nd, 2011 01:45 pm
It's not that I have nothing to do.

I'm thinking of starting another blog, just with cemetery photos.

I already have two blogs.

Have I lost what was left of my mind?

Be brutally honest...I can take it.
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dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, May 23rd, 2011 05:09 pm
This is one of the churches and cemeteries my cousin and I visited on one of the hottest days last summer in Logan County, AR.

Her dad's family settled there in Logan County the last quarter of the 19th century.

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To see other photos of that trip, click here to see Subiaco Abbey.
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, March 26th, 2011 10:37 pm
Before I was the unofficial family historian, I took photos of gravestones.

Cemeteries have never been scary places for me - quite the opposite. I am very comfortable in cemeteries.

I love cemetery art. That's why I can hardly bear to pass up a cemetery when I travel across my state, cameras riding safely in the backseat.

The older the cemetery is, the more I'm drawn to it. The older ones have gravestones full of symbolism.

If you are as fond of funerary art as I am, then Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, by Douglas Keister, is a worthwhile investment. It even has a coated cover so you can take it graving on foggy and misty days...

Disclosure: I took all of the gravestone photos that appear in this entry, with the exception of the ones from Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah, GA. Those photos were taken by a co-worker and her husband who know what a fool for cemeteries I am, and were given to me with their permission to post.


Angels
Some of the most beautiful depictions of angels I've ever seen are in cemeteries.

Angels get special treatment in Stories in Stone, including a very interesting history of angels.

To date, my all-time favorite angel is this one.

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Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


The back is just as detailed as the front.

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Calvary Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR

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Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


This one is interesting to me, because it combines a number of symbols.
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Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR

In addition to the angel, there's a cross, a wreath, a scroll and a crown. The crown is symbolic of triumph over death, the scroll symbolizes written scripture, and the wreath means victory over death.

Children's Graves
Children's graves, even more recent ones, are frequently adorned with lambs.

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Carter Cemetery, Russell, White Co., AR

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Shiloh Cemetery, Pope Co., AR


Couples' Symbols
Probably everyone has seen the modern day indicator of the married couple - a double gravestone, sometimes with entwined rings on it, as well as the date of the marriage.

I think one of my favorite "couple" symbols is the one of clasped hands - one with a masculine cuff on the sleeve, and one with a frillier cuff. It was a very popular symbol in the 19th century.

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Ford Cemetery, Pope Co., AR

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Shiloh Cemetery, Pope Co., AR


The arch symbolizes the passage to heaven for both of them, and joins their stones.

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Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby Co., TN


Fraternal Organizations
I had no idea my g-g-grandfather, James Littleton Burris, was a Freemason until I studied his gravestone. I'm still trying to figure out g-g-grandma's (Elizabeth Adeline (Ashmore) Burris) gravestone symbology, because the star for the Order of the Eastern Star (the women's auxiliary of the Freemasons) should be a five point star with the tip pointing down.


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St Joe Cemetery, Pope Co., AR


Woodmen of the World gravestones are all over Arkansas, although I see fewer Women of Woodcraft stones (below the WoW stone).

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Calvary Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR

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Edgewood Cemetery, North Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


This one combines a drape with the Masonic symbol...
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Atkins City Cemetery, Atkins, Pope Co., AR


Odd Fellows - Friendship, Love, and Truth...
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Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby Co., TN


The Mosaic Templars...

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Robinson Cemetery, Faulkner Co., AR


Religious Symbols
Crosses come in all shapes, sizes, and not all have the same meaning.

A Maltese cross. (It took me quite a while to figure this one out.)

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Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pulaski Co., AR


A German-Russian cross with a sunburst in a Catholic cemetery...

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St. Peter and St. Paul Cemetery, Logan Co., AR


i h s is derived from the first three letters in Jesus' name using the Greek alphabet: Iota, Eta, Sigma. (A variation sometimes seen is IHC, using the Roman alphabet.)

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Calvary Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR

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Edgewood Cemetery, North Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


The hand pointing up to heaven (look at the bottom of the stone)...
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Tate Cemetery, Pope Co., AR


I love the detail in the angel at the bottom of this flore' (floriated) cross:
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St. Peter and St. Paul Cemetery, Logan Co., AR


Mortality Symbols
From my pal at the office, a wonderful example of one of the earliest versions of the death head that was used in the United States, beginning in 1752:

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Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah, Chatham Co., GA
Photo courtesy of Larry and Darla Freeman


The hourglass...
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Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah, Chatham Co., GA
Photo courtesy of Larry and Darla Freeman


Inverted torches...
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Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


Drapes - on obelisks and urns...
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Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR

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Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


A tree, cut short...
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Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby Co., TN


Other Symbols

The mourner, often shown as a weeping woman.

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Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby Co., TN

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Calvary Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR


The weeping willow, a mourning symbol...
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Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah, Chatham Co., GA
Photo courtesy of Larry and Darla Freeman


The dove, universally known as a symbol of peace.
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Alpine Cemetery, Clark Co., AR


Stones placed on top of a gravestone come from the history of many cultures, including Native American tribes and nomadic Jews, who tended graves marked with mounds of stones in their travels.

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Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, February 21st, 2011 08:16 pm
I've met a lot of family historians, genealogists and gravers* who grumble about large cemeteries.

You know the big honking ones with paved streets and street signs - the kind you *need* a map to get around in.

If it has more than 20,000 burials, then I call it a large cemetery.

Some of them say they find the big ones, especially the corporate big ones, cold, impersonal and dismissive.

I think those are probably really the (very small) minority of the tens of thousands of cemeteries all over this country where people are dying to help you (pun intended.)

And every once in a while, you run across a stellar operation.

I think that should be acknowledged.

*graver. Noun. A person who photographs funerary art for the sheer joy of it and is catapulted into a state of bliss when the stones are damp with a recent light rain.


Dear Board of Trustees and Staff of Elmwood...

I’ve been to Elmwood twice in the past six months. Before then, I am ashamed to say, I didn’t even know it existed.

I am a “graver.” I have loved and photographed funerary art for many years. So Elmwood should have been on my radar for that reason alone. It is a stunning presentation of funerary art that has evolved over decades, and is immaculately maintained.

I found Elmwood because I was searching for my g-g-g grandfather’s date and location of death, and his place of burial. It took me two years of looking off and on until I finally mis-spelled his surname badly enough for a Google search engine to give me some valid results.

Nathaniel C Callaway (1819-1862) went off to fight in the CSA on 6 Mar 1862. He enlisted in his home town of Arkadelphia, in Clark County, AR. His youngest child had just celebrated his fourth birthday. Nathaniel and his wife, Julia Ann, had just buried their second child nine months earlier.

And he just never came back.

None of the descendants at the annual family reunion knew when or where he died or was buried. No one’s parents knew what happened to him.

And I finally found him at Elmwood. Not only that, but one of his cousins. They were buried in the section called Confederate Soldiers Rest.

So I rounded up a Callaway cousin and we came to see.

We discovered that Nathaniel C and Levi A Callaway’s graves were not formally marked, but had the numbered concrete markers installed on all the Confederate graves in 1886. So we ordered their military markers from the VA.

And waited.

From the very beginning, our experience with Elmwood has been marvelous. We have now been to Elmwood twice, and enjoyed the hospitality and professionalism of your staff – from the front office all the way to the cemetery superintendent, Todd Fox. In addition, I’ve had perhaps a half dozen telephone conversations and email exchanges with your staff that expedited setting up a date to watch Mr. Fox install gravestones on our Callaway ancestors’ graves.

Nearly a century and a half after they died, we now have photos of their properly marked graves, in the shade of wondrous southern magnolias. I am grateful that our Callaway men who died so far from home have such a lovely resting place. Almost next to each other.

Please share this letter and my thanks and appreciation with everyone who works so hard to make Elmwood the fine cemetery it is.

Sincerely



Sent it by email this afternoon and the hard copy will go out in the snail mail tomorrow.
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, November 28th, 2010 09:05 am

Two years ago, my youngest sister asked me if I knew about the graves on the side of the road. She and her son had seen them as they drove down Arkansas Highway 5 to run errands in a growing town that has almost swallowed up the countryside.

I went to go check them out.  )
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, November 20th, 2010 07:15 pm
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I wanted to go to Elmwood ever since I found out last summer that my g-g-g-grandfather, Nathaniel C Callaway, was buried there, in the section called Confederate Soldiers Rest.

This week, one of my newly found Callaway cousins and I had a Nike moment, and said let's just do it.

So we went today.

We found Nathaniel's grave, with the help of a map with tiny little plot numbers on it, and a very enthusiastic office staffer with a magnifying glass. We also found Levi Callaway's grave - he was a fourth cousin to Nathaniel.

Neither grave was marked, apart from the little concrete markers with the plot numbers, 652 and 140, on them. But now we know where they are, and we can order markers from the government, pay the cemetery to set the stones, and then get our photos.

Elmwood is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is huge, and tours are given by advance request for groups of ten or more. You can take an audio driving tour solo, but we just decided to meander on our own.

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I took 202 photos. It was very hard for me to pare down the number to post.

Click here to see 30 more... )
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, November 15th, 2010 06:36 pm
The old Callaway family cemetery in Clark Co., AR is now abandoned. The pine woods of Clark County have reclaimed it.


A few of the stones are still legible, including the one for Laura "Isibelle" (Holder) Callaway.


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Isibelle was the daughter of Andrew Jackson and Elvira (Huckleberry) Holder, born on 6 Nov 1858, probably not far from where she was laid to rest on 6 Oct 1900.

She married Thomas Nathaniel Callaway on 13 Dec 1876 in Clark County. My great great granddad, Allen Mason Lowery Callaway, who was Thomas' older brother, signed the marriage license giving his underage brother permission to marry Isibelle.

Although she preceded Thomas in death by 33 years, they raised eleven children together, most of whom lived to adulthood, and who loved, married, and died in Clark County, too.
dee_burris: (Default)
Thursday, November 11th, 2010 07:15 pm
This is one of my favorite monuments at Calvary, not just because of the incredible workmanship, but also the colorful history of the man who is memorialized by it.

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Remember the old Southern manse featured in the opening credits of Designing Women? Angelo Marre built the Villa Marre in Little Rock in 1881 for his bride, Jennie, who had left her first husband (and uncle), James Brizzolara and her six year old son, to be with Angelo. Jennie never bothered with the formality of a divorce from Brizzolara, but managed to avoid being charged with bigamy by saying that her marriage to Angelo was not legal, because it had not been performed in a Catholic church.

For his part, Angelo got his start as a saloonkeeper in Little Rock after leaving the Memphis police force with the proceeds of an inheritance he had received from a Memphis madam - "in remembrance for my and his love for each other" according to her will. Angelo Marre died of blood poisoning in 1889, and Jennie lived in the home until her death in 1905.