This cemetery post is a little different, because it’s not a Knoxville cemetery we are talking about. Teddy’s friends thought he was kidding when he told them that my favorite site on the tour he gave me when I visited him at school was the graveyard at the gates, but you know me well enough by now to understand.
It was the first time I’d visited and out-of-town cemetery since I started writing about them, and I noticed things that probably seem obvious when you think about it, except I never thought about it before.
What struck me first were the names. Walking through a graveyard in Knoxville is like looking through the phone book (back when we used phone books!). The names are familiar. Our schools and roads are named after the folks in our graveyards. We go to school with their descendants. We KNOW those people, in a sense.
It’s not the same when you are in another state. I saw many names I had never even heard of before, names that left us chuckling sometimes because they were long ethnic names that we couldn’t begin to pronounce.
It makes sense, if you think about it. People came to this country, settled down somewhere, started families, and eventually had descendants bearing their name. At the moment, there are no Shollys in any graveyard in Knoxville. (Pennsylvania is full of them.) A couple of hundred years from now, who knows?
Another difference is a matter of topography–it’s FLAT up there. Our small graveyards are sometimes flat, but a big one like this one would be having a few rolling hills!
Notice, too, that the stones are closer together than what you’ve seen in the pictures I usually post here, and that there seems to be more variation in the shape and style of the stones.
That’s another difference, too–the naming of children and grandchildren–who are NOT buried there, lest you misunderstand–on a married couple’s stone. I found that odd but endearing: it shows what these people are most proud of and what they want to be remembered for.
There are some mausoleums here as well, added recently.
And those ethnic Catholic folk weren’t the first people in these parts:
So we are walking along, and I’m lecturing Teddy about all the stuff I’ve written up above about the unfamiliar names and stuff, when I spotted this:
There’s a sad story behind this one, which I just learned today as I did my research for this post.
Meghan was a Notre Dame swimmer, a freshman, who died when the team bus overturned during a snowstorm, only a couple of miles away from the school. My paternal grandmother was a Beeler, and I wanted to be able to find a relationship between us, so I spent a couple of hours falling down one of those rabbit holes that are surely familiar to any of you who do genealogical research. It was interesting for sure, but if my guess (and it’s definitely a guess) is correct, her family is descended from Christopher Beeler, not Ulrich, so if we are related at all the connection is back in Germany over 400 years ago.
Still, it was a reminder of the surprises in every cemetery, and the stories behind every stone.