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Posts Tagged ‘book’

Long Room

One of our destinations in Dublin was Trinity College. Trinity College is home to the famous Book of Kells, a gorgeously illuminated Gospel book. Trinity College has an exhibit that combines a display of information, “Turning Darkness into Light,” on the making of the Book of Kells and other manuscripts like it; viewing 4 pages of the Book of Kells and two other medieval manuscripts, and then exiting through the old library, with shelves and shelves of rare books that go all the way to a arched ceiling. Treasures of the old library are displayed in glass cases down the center of the library. What is displayed depends on the particular thematic mini-exhibition the library has decided on. While we visited, the theme was Drawn to the Page: Irish Artists and Illustrations.

One of the books on display was Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard.  By that point, I had already seen a dozen country churchyard from the windows of the bus and strolled the one famous as William Butler Yeats’ final resting place, so I felt compelled to share this with you.

Elegy written in a Country Churchyard (2)

Elegy written in a Country Churchyard (1)

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Ely

The bibliophile in me loves cemetery statues holding books. As I’ve described before, the book as a funerary symbol can represent the Bible or the Book of Life. The above statue tops the Ely monument in Lake View Cemetery. Below are more examples from Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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I grew up on a rural cul-de-sac, surrounded by farmland. If you leave my father’s house, the first main road you come to is called Old Stonehouse Road. I don’t claim to know which of the aging gray stone farmhouses along its length gave the road its name, but you see enough of them to understand how it might have come about. Old Stonehouse winds down past an alpaca farm, plenty of fields, and the Bricker farm on the corner where my mother used to pick strawberries in the early summer. If you head south, through the tiny village of Allen (better known as Churchtown) that is little more than a crossroads, you come back out into more farm land. Just as Old Stonehouse intersects with State Route 74, on the left hand corner, there is a tall set of trees with a row of tombstones in front of them. The sign says that it’s Bethel Cemetery.

Bethel Cemetery (2)

Gensler

The years have not been kind to Bethel Cemetery. All of the remaining stones were at some point reset onto a single, long concrete pad. It’s a jumble of headstones and footstones, many re-broken since being set on the concrete. Some of them are barely readable and others are only recognizable as grave markers because of their location.

Bethel Cemetery (3)

Bethel Cemetery (13)

Bethel Cemetery (10)

Rachel (2)

Bethel Cemetery (5)

There are 5 intact, still standing headstones.

Bricker

Sibbett

Genzel (2)

Hockley (2)

Reed

I suspect it is the cemetery’s relative isolation and proximity to the road that has contributed to its deterioration. There is no fence, no wall, and no house close enough to it to keep an eye on it. It’s right along the road, a convenient target for would-be vandals. It clearly hasn’t had a lot of maintenance work done in a long time. But someone cares, as evidenced by the four or five scattered GAR markers and bouquet of flowers that adorned the central marker when I visited.

Bethel Cemetery

Shopp

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A small number of monuments have two statues upon them. On the Cooper family monument, the seated female statue seems to be comforting (or perhaps educating) the younger kneeling figure.

Cooper monument

The Chamberlain monument has an even more striking representation of the older hopeful woman comforting the kneeling figure. In this one, the seated woman gazes into the skies, but keeps her hand on the figure who has buried grieving sobs in the folds of her dress.

Chamberlain Monument

The statues atop the Morris monument seem to have blended aspects of many other individual statues – one stares upward into the heavens while the other casts her eyes down in grief. The one looking up holds an open book, while the one with downcast eyes holds a closed book, often symbolizing a life ended, along with a memorial wreath.

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The statues I’ve written about recently have been holding anchors and looking towards heaven, but some statues hold books instead. The meaning of the book is not as universally agreed upon as the anchor – perhaps it represents the Bible, perhaps the scribing statues are angels at work recording the good deeds of the deceased in the book of life…

The Hatch statue in Lake View Cemetery has been captured in a pensive moment – she sits with a book and a cross in her hand, but she has just glanced towards the skies and pressed her hand to her breast.

Hatch

Other figures with books include the previously visited Erkenbrecher scribe.

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This angel has paused in writing with her quill pen just long enough to be carved.

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I had heard of Vicki Blum Vigil’s Cleveland Cemeteries book before I ever saw a copy. John Stark Bellamy II has referred to her book in more than one of his publications. The book has its strengths and weaknesses.

One big point in the book’s favor is the extensive listing of cemeteries. For every cemetery listed, Vigil provides the address, caretaker, office and gate hours (accurate at the time of publication, of course), cemetery size, and number of burials. This information is really helpful for planning a trip. Of course, the sheer number of cemeteries listed in the book translates to only a few pages for each one. My one caveat of the book is that it feels very cursory for this reason. Most cemeteries have information on fewer than 10 of the residents buried there, and there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of consistency in what kinds of graves merit note. Revolutionary War veterans generally receive mention, and sometimes Civil War veterans as well, but after that it is unpredictable. I noticed this after I explored the Euclid (Township) Cemetery. In Blum’s book, she mentions the grave of Raymond Gould, victim of the Lake View School fire of 1908. But seven victims of that fire have markers here – in addition to Raymond Gould, there are three double-gravestones: Fern and Wanita Robinson, Lillian and Otto Rostock, and Erma and Rose Buschman. The Rostock and Buschman markers mention the fire specifically. The inconsistency combined with the limited space means that you might not find information on a lot of the graves. This does, however, keep the book small and light enough to toss in your bag and keep with you. The information the book incorporates on address, hours, and size make it worth owning for anyone looking to explore the many cemeteries of Cleveland and the vignettes included will appeal to any history buff with an interest in Cleveland, but it’s a beginning rather than a comprehensive guide.

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A few notes before we begin are in order. Sometimes I will use this blog to comment on media that pertains to cemetery research and visiting. Most of these are not likely be full-scale, professional reviews – I’m planning to tell you what I liked and found useful to me as a cemetery visitor, researcher, and blogger. I’ll also let you know if there were any flaws that I noticed.

I just finished reading Marilyn Yalom’s The American Resting Place, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in United States cemeteries. Using a sampling of cemeteries (approximately 250) from across the U.S., Yalom traces uses cemeteries to trace American history, particularly attitudes toward death and dying, shifts in religious sentiment and observances, and the migration of ethnic groups. One of the things I appreciated about Yalom’s work is that she did not pretend to be comprehensive – in the opening pages of the book, she acknowledges that staggering number of cemeteries that dot the United States. The graveyards she highlights are examples of larger trends she wishes to illustrate, but retain their distinct individual eccentricities and personalities. Yalom narrates the book with a passion for cemeteries and a tenderness towards the deceased the cemetery buffs will appreciate and recognize. The photographs, stunning in the starkness of black and white, are the work of her travel companion and son, Reid S. Yalom. They alone are worth the price of the book.

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