It’s a great title but I’m hoping that just because Google cannot tell me much about the graveyard I visited this afternoon it doesn’t mean that my local readers won’t be able to share some of its history with me.
I would never have found Lebanon Cemetery at all if it weren’t for Siri, who helpfully included it in a list of nearby cemeteries when I asked her this morning. On this grey rainy day, I couldn’t go walking on muddy steep trails, but it seemed like a perfect day for a visit to a graveyard. I didn’t have anywhere specific in mind, and this one turns out to be only a couple of miles from my house, but it is on a road I’d never driven down and would never have had any reason to.
Lebanon Cemetery–whose name I know only because Siri told me so, as there is no sign on the premises–is located on Garrison Road in Byington, if you want to get super-specific. Broadly, it’s between Middlebrook Pike and Western Avenue, pretty close to Karns. It’s surrounded by woods, and fields beyond that. There’s a chain link fence, which has the kind of gate you’d open to get grave-digging equipment in. There’s nowhere to park and the road doesn’t have much of a shoulder.
What I know about its history after an hour on the internet isn’t much at all. It was founded around 1885, and the most recent burial occurred in 2011. A church once stood here–Lebanon Church, which was a Methodist congregation. I don’t know exactly where it stood, or when or why it was demolished, or what happened to its parishioners, or who the people are who are still being buried here, although I suspect it has to do with family ties.
Because like so many of these old cemeteries, names are repeated again and again. Here we have Hackneys and Cowards, Smiths and McHaffies, Kellys and Crosses. When we left the cemetery we didn’t have to drive far to reach Hackney Road and Coward Mill Road, and a quick search of directory assistance shows that many of these folks still live nearby.
This is a nice-sized cemetery with plenty of room for more burials. The grass was mowed and the place looked cared-for. There were some broken stones, but some were repaired and those that were not at least bore signs that someone attempted to straighten them up.
The epitaph above reads “There was an angel band in heaven/That was not quite complete./So God took our darling Hugh/To fill the vacant seat.” That’s just one of many picturesque legends I found there:
“How sad it is not to hear his voice any more, but God knows best.”
“He was beloved by God and man.”
“In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forest cast a leaf/And we wept that one so lovely would have a life so brief.”
“Earth’s brightest gems are fading” and “Having finished life’s duties he now sweetly rests.”
I like those obelisk-like stones. Like all old graveyards this one has stones in all shapes and sizes. Also like all old graveyards, there are the babies.
On the lighter side, there were some amusing . . . footstones, I guess you call them? These are small stones that go at the food of the body, and usually say something like Wife or Mother, but in this case they used them to show people’s nicknames:
The earliest burial I found was 1888. There was one row of older-looking stones that I couldn’t read.
Fall seems like the best time of year to explore graveyards somehow. I’m excited about finding more, learning their secrets, and sharing them with you.
October 11, 2014