One Cemetery, Two Names

I love Ball Camp Pike.  Maybe someday I will write a post in its honor.  It’s a beautiful road, with a rich history and something interesting to see around every bend.  Like this cemetery.
May 1
You can call it Murray Cemetery (its official name, according to KGIS) or May Cemetery (which makes more sense, as its on property that once belonged to the May family).  Either way, it’s a charming little graveyard, especially in the fall.
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My first encounter with this cemetery was exactly 30 years ago.  I wasn’t there to look at graves, though–I’d come to the DMV to take my driving test.  At that time, the little building next to the graveyard was a DMV location.  These days it’s a church, Knox County having sold it to a Methodist congregation in 1990, although it’s changed hands twice more since then.  The county acquired the site in 1930 from the Galbraith family, and judging from appearances, it started its life as a school. [UPDATE:  Lillian A. Pedigo School seems to have been its name at some point.]
May 30
Thirty years ago, the cemetery was so overgrown as to be barely visible.  It’s been nicely cleaned up since then.
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The oldest stone here is dated 1820, but upon closer inspection you can see it was erected in 1856.  The next burial is 1857, so perhaps that’s closer to the time burials began to happen here.  There are many in the 1860s and later, and although the last one took place in 1942, the most active period ended in the 1920s.
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Baker, May, and Murray are the most well-represented names here.  Y’all, I love taking pictures in the fall so much.  Everything is so pretty that I couldn’t crop out all the colors and make these pictures as big as I usually do!  So I have added a couple of detail shots so you can read inscriptions.
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Here are a couple more interesting stones.  Note that in the first picture the footstone is also a stump to match the headstone.  I’ve never seen that before.
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I haven’t forgotten about the babies, although there were not as many here.
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Besides my DMV adventure, I drove by this cemetery almost every day for the first 18 years of my life.  It’s just down the street from Cumberland Estates, where I grew up.  I’m so glad I finally stopped.
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Byrd's Chapel Old and New

Perhaps you’ve wondered how I choose which cemeteries to visit and write about.  There isn’t just one answer.  Sometimes I choose one that I’ve driven by many times and have always wanted to visit.  Sometimes lately I ask my phone for advice on the nearest cemetery!  And sometimes I just happen to see one I’ve never seen before and I stop.
That’s what happened a couple of weekends ago, when I was up early on a Saturday taking Lorelei to a Girl Scout event at St. John Neumann School.  Driving home, I decided to take the back road, a road (Yarnell) I hadn’t driven in many years, and this little church caught my eye:
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And there was a graveyard behind it!  I was so excited!  I couldn’t stop right then, but I went home to take care of my duties there with plans to return before picking up Lorelei.  When I did, I was rewarded with this:
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This is truly one of the loveliest, most picturesque, and peaceful graveyards I have encountered.  I took over 50 pictures here!
The whole graveyard is bisected by a winding drive, with graves on narrow strips along either side.
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The earliest burial in this cemetery was 1866, as far as I can tell–and members of that family (the Marcums) are still being laid to rest here today.
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Yes, this is still a very active cemetery, with several burials this century, and flowers on many of the graves.
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It’s also a very nicely kept place, with only a couple of exceptions:
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Some people might question my fascination with tombstones, saying that our deeds should serve to memorialize us, not monuments erected over our graves.  I think that’s why the baby graves are so important–these little ones never had a chance for action.  If their parents are gone, these stones may be all that’s left to show they ever existed, that they were important, that they were loved.
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Many of these little ones have their death certificates posted on Find-a-Grave, and it’s heartbreaking to read about the ailments that killed children back then.
Like all graveyards, this one has its mysteries, starting with this one:
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I figured there must be a good reason for a Jewish couple to be buried in a Christian cemetery, and it didn’t take much research to discover that Mrs. Kraut was born into the Stansberry family, many of whom are buried here.
Another mystery is the pattern of graves in the cemetery.  Just behind the church are many older graves, most from the 1940s, and the remains of stone pathways.
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As you walk the path away from the church, graves on both sides are much newer looking.  But if you walk all the way to the end, the neat layout gives way to scattered 1800s graves, many too old to even read clearly.
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Byrd’s Chapel Methodist Church was organized in 1934, so the graves directly behind it make sense.  But death records show a cemetery here called Byrd’s as early as 1915.  Did this start as a family graveyard that became a community cemetery and only later a church site?  I have not been able to find out.
Here are a few final things that caught my attention:
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The Living and the Dead: Writing about Graveyards

My post on Rocky Hill Baptist Cemetery upset someone yesterday.  I am tender-hearted and wouldn’t ever want to hurt someone’s feelings.  I took down the pictures of the grave of that person’s loved one, and I made some clarifications on the original post.  But since I don’t want to stop writing about graveyards, and I don’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings, I thought I would tell you a little about what goes into my graveyard musings.
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When I walk into a cemetery, I don’t arrive with any definite agenda.  I like to absorb the atmosphere and think about what that particular place is saying to me.  What is its story?  I could just take pictures of every headstone, or write the names of everyone buried there, but you can see that at Find-A-Grave.  I’m looking for atmosphere, and also to tie that cemetery into my thoughts on other topics.
For example, in this post I spoke of how lucky we are to have these little oases of peace and beauty in the middle of all the otherwise unbridled development in West Knox County.
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In this one I talked about the importance of names.
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This one was about remembrance.
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If I’m in a smaller cemetery, I try to read every gravestone.  I think about the people there, wonder about them.  Sometimes, especially if they are babies, I pray for them or even talk to them.  I tell them that today, even if only today, they are remembered.
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When it’s a larger cemetery, I try to walk through as much of it as I can, especially the older sections, which are the most interesting to me.  I make notes about when the earliest burials took place and the names I see, particularly if the names are familiar as local place names.  I take pictures of whatever interests me.
After I leave, I almost immediately start doing research.  Not a lot of research, because I am not getting paid for this!  But I look on the KGIS website to see what I can find out about current and former owners of the property.  I look it up on Find-A-Grave.  I Google for the history of the cemetery, and sometimes do a little genealogy research on some of the people buried there.
By the time I sit down to write, usually something, some angle from which to approach that particular cemetery, will have occurred to me.  It would be pretty boring if all I did was describe the place and post pictures without comment.  I’m trying to tell stories, not just document.
But documentation IS part of what I do.  And if a cemetery is in bad shape, I’m going to say so.  I don’t know why it’s in bad shape, and I’m not making value judgments.  I’m wondering, and I’m raising questions.
For example, in the case of yesterday’s post, this was the first thing that I saw when I drove into Rocky Hill Baptist Cemetery, and it stirred up some questions that I raised in my post.
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I wondered:  WHY is a cemetery with the same name as the church, and right across the street from the church, not owned by the church?  WHY is this sign so emphatic?  If the church used to own the cemetery, why and when did it stop?  WHY would a private association take over such a large and active cemetery requiring so much upkeep?  WHO are the people being buried here now, if not church members or family members (there are lots of new graves.)?
Those were just a few of my questions, and my research answered some of them.  The rest I put out there with the post.  I do that with a lot of these posts, and sometimes I am rewarded with answers!
When I write about cemeteries, I am trying to make sure that the dead are remembered.  I’d like to think that if they could see my posts, they’d appreciate them.  But all I have to go on is the opinions (usually positive!) of the living.
If people get upset because I mention that a cemetery is in need of some maintenance, they are being too sensitive.  I’m just reporting a fact, and I’m not accusing anyone of anything.  In fact, I went out of my way in that post to mention that cemeteries require lots of upkeep and that it’s expensive, which is one reason I was wondering why a private association would take that on.  I’m familiar with the financial struggle my own parish has in keeping up the Catholic cemetery, and the assistance we require from the Knights of Columbus and youth groups for periodic cleanups.  The more cemeteries I visit, the more I see what a problem upkeep is–whether because no one is left to care, or people don’t have the energy, money, or time.  Whatever the reason, it’s a tragedy when the last tangible reminder of a human being’s existence is obliterated.
I have had it suggested that if I’m upset that these cemeteries are in bad shape, then I should come help clean them up. 🙂  But see, I can’t clean up every cemetery in Knox County.  And it’s not my job to do that.  It will be my job to make sure my parents’ (who are both still here!) graves are maintained, and I will.  The job I HAVE taken on is to write about cemeteries, and if it raises awareness of the very real problem of keeping them in shape, that’s a good thing.
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Island Home Baptist Church Cemetery

Since I’ve been spending so much time in South Knoxville lately, it made sense to make a stop at Island Home Baptist Church Cemetery. IHB 4
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The church and cemetery were established in 1860, although this is not the original church building.   Many South Knoxvillians of renown (meaning that streets and schools are named for them, even if you don’t know anything else about them!) were charter members.
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South Knoxvillians will recognize many names in this cemetery.
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This is a picturesque, nicely kept cemetery, with a minimum of breakage and brush.
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There were an unusual amount of stones with memorable epitaphs and ornamentation.
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Y’all know how the baby graves get to me.  Especially note the last in this series.
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I found this stone amusing–I suppose her name is a corruption of Perdita.  I have a great-great grandmother named Perlina, which may be a corruption of Paulina.
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This is a good cemetery to explore because it’s attractive, and not tiny but not so big that you couldn’t look at every stone, if you wanted to.
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Finally, it’s always a good surprise to find a relative where you least expect one!  I only spent a few minutes checking, but I’m pretty sure this lady was my fourth cousin once removed. Update:  A reader sent me the link to her photo and obituary.  She sounds like a lovely person.
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And now I am caught up and can visit a new graveyard this weekend to share with you.

An Afternoon at Grassy Valley

When you start paying attention, cemeteries start popping up EVERYWHERE.  Seriously, just take one day to pay attention to how many of them you drive by.  You know how it is, when you see something every day you sort of stop seeing it at all.  So last Saturday I decided to visit two cemeteries that I pass on a regular basis.
First stop was Grassy Valley Baptist Church Cemetery, which is located at the church of the same name at the corner of Lovell Road and Kingston Pike.
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This isn’t your secluded, peaceful location, as you see above, though I suppose it was way out in the country when it was founded in the late 1880s.  Here’s the original sign:
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You know what they say about East Tennessee–there’s a church on every corner.  And most of them look more or less like this one:
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This is a nicely kept cemetery, especially given its proximity to a major road and businesses.  It’s trash-free, the grass was mowed, and the broken stones were minimal, although there’s always room for improvement:
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This cemetery is full of Kirbys and Llewellyns.  Wow, there were a lot of them.  Which made sense when I looked it up afterwards and found that the Kirbys donated the land for the cemetery and the Llewellyns donated the land for the church.
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Woody, Gray, and Grady were other common names.  The church was founded in 1880, and I think 1890 was the earliest burial I saw, with the latest being in 2003.  That one was the spouse of someone who had died a long time ago, though.
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I saw no evidence that this is an active cemetery.  Most of the burials took place from the 1890s through the 1940s.  But people are still visiting the graves:
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Every graveyard I’ve visited has baby graves.  Every graveyard is the final resting place for people who lived long and happy lives and people who met with tragic and early ends.  I wonder about the stories behind some of the stones I saw in this one, and feel so bad for parents who lost their children:
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Also notable here are ornate stones with long and unusual inscriptions.  I wish I had been able to decipher them all.
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Grassy Valley Baptist Cemetery is a pleasant and beautiful oasis in the commercialized ugliness of Kingston Pike, a reminder of what this area must have been like in earlier (and not that much earlier) times.
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A Visit to Third Creek Cemetery

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My original plan for Saturday involved a graveyard I pass near frequently in my current location in Northwest Knox County.  And I did visit it, but it just wasn’t that interesting. (Oh, I will tell you about it later–don’t worry.) But I felt unsatisfied and then Third Creek Baptist Church Cemetery crossed my mind.
I grew up in Cumberland Estates, and this cemetery sits right on its border, so I rode past it on a daily basis for about fifteen years.  My cemetery obsession having arisen in my adult years, it had never occurred to me to visit.  Isn’t it strange how places you pass every day are so much a part of your landscape that you don’t even think twice about them?  Just look at the above picture–that church has been in the same location for going on 200 years.  What a wealth of history has taken place there and I never even realized it.
I have mixed feelings about this graveyard and maybe part of that is flavored by the difficulty I experienced parking!  For whatever reason Third Creek Baptist has their parking lot shut up like Fort Knox.  There are two entrances and both had those gate things locked across them.  I pulled into one drive thinking it connected with the back lot, but I was wrong and had to back up down a hill, and I ended up parking in one of the spaces out front and walking to the back lot, where I was informed I was under camera surveillance.  Not exactly the welcoming and peaceful atmosphere I usually get when I go on these graveyard pilgrimages.
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There’s a driveway off the back lot that goes to the adjoining property, which until a few years ago was home to an ancient blue relic of the Victorian era, long empty.  They also have a picnic area up there, and I’m going to be charitable and assume that they are locking the place up to prevent hijinks from occurring.
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This is a pretty cemetery, hilly and with mature trees.
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Someone is faithfully mowing the grass, but that’s apparently all the maintenance anyone cares to do.  I couldn’t read most of the stones.  I’m definitely going to have to start wearing my glasses when I do this, but I also need to look into ways to make the stones more readable.  I’ve learned that some cleaning can do more harm than good, but many of these were just muddy.  And I hate not being able to read them.  That it was a sunny day made it harder because of the glare.

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Looks like someone visits besides me–at least every few years or so

Y’all, this place made me sad.  Take a look at the condition of the tombstones below and the palpable lack of concern by . . . someone.  Descendants? The church?
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Love the pointing finger–too bad about the broken stone

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One of many Ferguson stones

Creepy headless angel
Creepy headless angel

Too heavy to lift so I couldn't even turn it over to read the name
Too heavy to lift so I couldn’t even turn it over to read the name

Weeds abound
Weeds abound

Had to dig this one out
Had to dig this one out

Apparently this used to be a fence--but why?
Apparently this used to be a fence–but why?

I don't even know what to say about this
I don’t even know what to say about this

Many of the unbroken stones are askew, although I don’t suppose I have a right to complain about the settling of the ground.  This graveyard is one long hill and which possibly is not the best situation for burials.
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I know this is far from the worst cemetery out there.  I’ve heard horror stories about some around town that are completely hidden by foliage and strewn with garbage.  I don’t know the resources that are available to the church for taking care of the cemetery, and I don’t intend to found a society for the preservation of historic graveyards (at least not any time soon!).  But having issued all those disclaimers, it still seems a shame to me that the memories of the people who lie here are obscured by the condition of the stones, and so much history is less available than it could be.  We all lose out when that happens.
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A lot of the stones have inscriptions that look like they’d be interesting if they were readable.  Or maybe some of y’all can read them.  (The ones above were actually some of the most readable.)  As I may have mentioned a time or two, my eyes are not what they used to be.
The majority of burials here seem to be from 1870 -1930 or so.  There was one 1959 burial, but that was beneath a stone shared with someone who had died in the 30s.  So despite remaining space, this is no longer an active cemetery.  I was surprised by the lack of earlier burials, but I have a sneaking suspicion they are here, just not marked any more.  Or perhaps some of the stones I couldn’t read have earlier dates.  Below are a couple of shots of the oldest grave–1843–I found, which happily has a memorial stone that was added later.  I live right off Hickey Road and I wonder if this is the man for whom it is named.
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If you looked closely at some of the inscriptions above, you’ll have seen Weavers, Fergusons, Keiths, and Warwicks, all familiar Knoxville names.  Weaver’s Funeral Home is right nearby.  Keith Avenue isn’t too far away.  One of my paternal great-great-grandmothers was Perlina Warwick McNabb.  This is part of what I love about old graveyards.  I also saw Nickle (Nickle Road and Nickle Lane are on the other side of Cumberland Estates), Lowe, Osborne, Mays, Minton, Matlock, and McClain.  There were others, of course, but these were the names I saw repeated over and over, the families whose roots are buried deep in this area.
I can’t end this post without a baby gravestone, this one a little unusual:
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I can make out the names–Pearl and Jewel–and the word “young” but that’s all.  With those names and buried under one stone I’m assuming they were twins and ended life together just as they began it together.
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And This Is Why They Call It Gallaher View

Oh, I’m so terrible.  It’s so nice of everyone not to mention that I claimed I was going to blog every day during Lent.  That didn’t last long.  I have GOT to figure out a way to carve out the time to blog every day.  Trust me, my silence does NOT indicate a lack of things to tell y’all about!
I’m still trying to make a graveyard visit every weekend, and except for one soggy Saturday, I have accomplished that.  Yesterday I checked out Edgewood Cemetery.
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It’s a newer graveyard, having been established in 1928, but it encompasses an earlier burial ground:  The Gallaher View Baptist Church  Cemetery, which is still the property of the Church it sits directly behind.
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I first became interested in this cemetery a few years ago when I happened to be driving up Kingston Pike and took my eyes off the road long enough to notice the graves up on the ridge.  This is a pretty large cemetery, and the long expanse of silent graves offers an interesting counterpoint to the unbridled commerce just below.

Gallaher View - get it?
Gallaher View – get it?

This is a cemetery that is currently being used (there was one grave only a week old), and it is beautifully kept–nice to see after some of my recent jaunts.  The grass is cut, the space is clear of broken branches and debris, and all the stones are in one piece!
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Given its location, the most memorable feature of this graveyard is the view, and it’s impressive in all directions.
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Y’all, I might have gone just a little bit crazy taking pictures of the view!
Another item of note:  the grave markers.  I have never ever seen such massive ones.  I didn’t have anything with me to show scale, so you’ll just have to trust me or go see for yourself.
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The Knoxville history buffs among you will appreciate the array of family names:   Walker, Gallaher, Lones, and others.  Visiting graveyards brings Knoxville history alive for me. When I was a child, Vanosdale was a road we took to drive to the Mall.  To old-time West Hills residents, I think it’s the name of a farm.  But when you are in the graveyard, it’s the name of a family, and I will think about them the next time I drive there.
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Those stones are from the original cemetery, and that’s where you’ll see more ornate and unusual markers.  The rest of the place is fairly standard as modern cemeteries go, with a lot of large markers with family names and then the in-ground plaques to commemorate individuals.  There were a few creative ones though, that let me “get to know” the people who lie there (or in the case of this one, who will eventually lie there):
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Entering a new graveyard is always a little adventure.  There are almost always surprises, stories, mysteries.
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You will see stones that make you sad.
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You’ll see stones that will make you want to know more.
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And you may even see some that make you wish you knew less.
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If This Stone Could Shout!


Can you guess what this is?  If you were at Immaculate Conception Church this morning you probably can, but I’m guessing everyone else is going to be puzzled.
It’s slate.  A slate roof tile from the church, as a matter of fact.  With a new roof being installed, some bright person thought that parishioners might be willing to donate to the roof fund in return for this little piece of history.  My husband said that the minute he saw these sitting in the corner of the basement, where the fall craft fair was in full swing, he KNEW I was going to be thrilled.
And I was.  I did make some other purchases but nothing could have delighted me more.
Just think–this tile was placed on the roof in 1886.  Someone nailed it up there, and that someone is long dead.  About seven generations have worshiped beneath it.  Just think of the way the world was then and the way it is now, all the changes that have happened, while that tile stayed up there doing its job.  If only it could talk.
It was pretty dirty, that’s for sure.  I scrubbed it and put it through a cycle in the dishwasher, and now it’s all sparkly.  It came with a cardboard print out of some of its history.  I’m thinking I will mount that on the bottom of it and maybe put one of my best photos of the church on it, and turn it into art.
I wonder, when they put a new roof on the church in 2126, will there be parishioners who will cherish the ancient pieces of slate from 2012 and wonder about the people who worshiped beneath them?

photo of a picture taken last year in honor of the 125th anniversary of the church building

 
UPDATE:  Does anyone else see a face on the slate?  My sister spotted it earlier.  Pretty cool, huh?

Hidden Mothers

I don’t remember how I happened to run across my first hidden–or even better, invisible–mother photograph.  But I’ve been haunted by the pictures ever since I discovered them.

There’s really nothing sinister about them.  The shrouded mother was never meant to be featured in the photograph.  Here’s how it was supposed to work:
I can remember my mother being asked to do something similar at my baby sister’s first portrait session when she was four months old.  They wanted the baby to be sitting up, so they had my mother put her hand under a rug and prop her up from behind.  When my own kids were little, I was asked to sit right next to them just out of view while they were being photographed, for safety reasons.  Remember that not only did these Victorian photographers not have access to fancy baby-propping devices, but that pictures were not instantaneous back then.  The kids needed to be kept safe, and STILL.

But even knowing the history, these pictures still speak to me.  Whatever their intention, the result is that we have pictures of these little children, but not of the mothers who bore and raised and loved them.  Even without knowing the names of these little ones, we can see they existed.  The mothers, on the other hand, are just gone.   Disappeared.  Nothing of them is left.

The shrouded figures signify to me the death of self that takes place in every woman who becomes a mother–because once you have a child you just aren’t the same person anymore.  You aren’t separate and apart from your children, either before birth or after.  And isn’t it the way of many mothers to sit back while their kids stand in the spotlight? To hide their own light in favor of their children’s?

Sometimes when I walk in cemeteries and look at the graves of little babies, I will say to them, “I see your names.  Today someone remembers you, even if everyone else has forgotten.  Today someone cares that you were here.”  And I find myself wanting to say the same thing to these faceless mothers.

Because I know what it’s like to feel like an invisible mother sometimes.  Do you?

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I’ve linked this up to the great #WorthRevisit series hosted here and here.  Check it out for some especially thoughtful posts.

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