Archive for April, 2012


I love the name True on this tombstone.  It’s not a name you see very often.


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The epitaph on this stone, “We shall sleep, but not forever” is the title and first line of a Christian hymn that appeared in print in the late 19th century. The lyrics were written by Mary Kidder and the music by S. George Sibley. The full lyrics are below:

We shall sleep, but not forever,
There will be a glorious dawn!
We shall meet to part, no, never,
On the resurrection morn!
From the deepest cave of ocean,
From the desert and the plain,
From the valley and the mountain,
Countless throngs shall rise again.


We shall sleep, but not forever,
There will be a glorious dawn!
We shall meet, to part, no, never,
On the resurrection morn!

When we see a precious blossom,
That we tended with such care,
Rudely taken from our bosom,
How our aching hearts despair!
Round its little grave we linger,
Till the setting sun is low,
Feeling all our hopes have perished,
With the flower we cherished so.


We shall sleep, but not forever,
In the lone and silent grave:
Blessèd be the Lord that taketh,
Blessèd be the Lord that gave.
In the bright eternal city,
Death can never, never come!
In His own good time He’ll call us,
From our rest, to home, sweet home.


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Henrietta Coterrius died at the age of nineteen in 1937 and was buried in Big Spring Presbyterian Cemetery. Her husband William outlived her by sixty-three years and was laid to rest beside her in 2000.

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We had a weeping willow tree in the backyard when I was growing up. It was an old tree, probably left standing in the yard when the rest of the woods were pared back because it was so distinctive and pretty. I loved it – it was one of my favorite places to play during the summer when the arcing branches and leaves created a little canopy, their leafy fingers stretching almost to the ground. We would pull the last foot or so of the leafy tendrils and use them as whips or ribbons – we did a lot of damage to that tree, even as we loved it. It’s just a stump now, but the yard I see in my mind’s eye still holds it. It’s probably why I’m so drawn to willow carvings in cemeteries even now.


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Joseph Scudder D.D.

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The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them who fear Him and delivereth them.

This epitaph was just different and unusual enough that I thought it needed its own post. It’s such an archaic-sounding epitaph that it seems odd that it is on the tombstone of someone who lived into the 20th century. Part of that is the old-fashioned suffix “-eth.” The other thing that makes it sound strange to our modern ears is the word “fear.” This was one of the words that I had the hardest time wrapping my head around when reading older texts. Fear doesn’t mean terror, like you feel when you are really scared. There may be an element of trepidation in it, but it’s more a matter of awed respect. Much of this connotation of fear has been lost to us, other than the adjective “God-fearing.”

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Sometimes, I think about completely random things when I look at a piece of statuary. I’ll be walking around the cemetery, photographing things and considering what I might want to write about and – WHAM – out of nowhere, my train of thought will derail completely. I was reviewing my photos from Gettysburg, thinking deep weighty thoughts about bloody battles, when I suddenly realized what fabulous mustaches many of the statues had. I need help. But so do all of you, because you’re still reading. Anyway, since you’ve come this far, check it out and I think you’ll agree with me.

West Virginia (2)

84th New York Infantry (2)

74th Pennsylvania Infantry (2)

1st Pennsylvania Cavalry

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Pratt (18)

Sunus (3)

One of my favorite things about visiting cemeteries in the spring are the flowers – not the cut ones that are brought by family and friends, but the ones that bloom every year in a place that most people associate only with death. Maybe some of them are descendants of flowers planted there years before, but often they seem to be a gift from Mother Nature to those who rest below the ground.




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This statue sits in part of Markillie and St. Mary Cemeteries in Hudson, Ohio. It’s rather small – no more than a few feet high. (I wish I had photographed something else next to it for scale. It is also extremely unclear what family plot it is supposed to go with.



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