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Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

Our Dear Will

James Edward Goodell

Our darling Allie

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Arthur R.

As I’ve posted about before, lamb statues in cemeteries are usually on top of children’s graves. To me, a lamb clearly symbolizes a life ended too soon. If you look at the final inscription on this side of this marker, the Christian symbolism of the lamb is emphasized with the epitaph “I am Jesus’ little lamb.”

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Our Baby

Grace

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Babyland, as some cemeteries call it, is a section reserved for the graves of babies and young children. Some cemeteries don’t have this section at all, while in others there are multiple smaller sections. Euclid Cemetery is one of those, however, that has a very distinct babyland. There are rows of tiny graves near the flagpole at the center of the cemetery. The markers for those graves hint at dozens of tales of accidents and illnesses stealing away young children before their parents’ eyes.

Some stones contain only a name and birth and death dates, leaving the viewer to do the math and realize that a young child lies here.

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Most express the grief subtly, with an epitaph about “our boy” or “our darling.”

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On some, we learn a nickname. “Little Pete” lived to be only about ten months old.

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A few have lambs, a common symbol for the graves of children.

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Adults die tragically too, of course. We grieve even those who have lived full, long lives. But with a children, there is something added – I think it is because we all can remember being children and are conscious of how little of life we had experienced at that time.

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Our Little Charles

Walking through a cemetery gives you a peek into a world that is now gone. I think most of us go through our day to day life assuming that people who lived a century or so ago were pretty much like us. It takes a bit of a jolt to realize that those people’s worldview was radically different from our own, to the point where it would probably seem alien to us. We are shaped very much by the world we inhabit.

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We generally assume today that a child is going to outlive his or her parents. We have eliminated childhood diseases that once ravaged populations. We have treatments and adaptive devices for many illnesses and impairments that cannot be cured to allow people to live full lives.  Infant and child mortality have been so radically decreased by modern medicine that it is a shocking tragedy when someone dies in childhood.

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Yet all the children’s graves, often topped with lamb statues, remind us that for our people just a few generations ago, death in childhood was much, much more common. Still tragic, still devastating, but a tragedy repeated over and over in home after home.   And so today, when I walk through the cemetery and see the stone lambs, I think of my friends and family and especially of my healthy nieces and nephews, and I am so very grateful.

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For whatever reason, I am looking more at lambs lately when I visit cemeteries.

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Lambs are always sad for me, as they are a commonly accepted symbol of a child’s grave in American culture.

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But even in the most well-maintained cemetery, you will find lambs like these. There is something about the particular shape of lambs (and probably the materials they are carved from) that makes them very susceptible to damage.

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In my walk of Harvard Grove, that covered about 1/3 of the graves, I didn’t find a single intact lamb sculpture.

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As I wrote about last week, lambs often signify the grave of a baby or child. During my tour of Union Cemetery in Columbus, I found a number of lambs.

First, we had very traditional lambs, like this one for Emma Elizabeth Long.

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Other memorials integrated the lamb as part of the engraving, rather than a separate piece. This is probably going to help with preservation in the future, as we have noted the tendency for lambs to lose their heads.

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It may just be erosion, but Carrie Wiedemann’s lamb seems to still have some texture left.

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This style of monument, where there is a small lip behind the lamb, seems like it might provide a little more protection, but in my experience it doesn’t seem to.

Mildred V. Ferguson

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Willoughby Village Cemetery has its share of lambs, too. The first stone I photographed when I visited there was a little lamb for Lowell H. Bigley.

Lowell H. Bighley

Both of the lambs I found there were in fairly good repair.

George B. Ellis, Jr.

Unfortunately, lambs, due to their somewhat slender necks, seem to lose their heads rather often. These two seem to be faring better than a large number I have seen.

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In yesterday’s post, I referred to lambs as a funerary symbol heavily associated with children, but I realized I haven’t shown many of them yet. We already looked at the sadly decapitated and deteriorating lambs for Fern and Wanita Robinson, victims of the Lake View School fire in Collinwood, Ohio, in 1908.

Fern and Wanita Robinson

This lamb is in even worse shape – I am not sure I could even tell you the name that is on it.

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You can also find a lamb for little Frieda in Euclid Cemetery, worn with age but holding onto its head. Frieda’s marker suffers from a second common problem. A significant portion of children’s markers contain only first names. They are often placed near larger markers with surnames, but over time the delineations between family plots are not as clear to us as they were to the people who originally placed the memorials.

Frieda

In the best condition of the lambs in the cemetery is the one for baby Arnold Miller.

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Apologies for the more superficial posts this week. We are preparing for a vacation and I am trying to put some content up every day, but I am too preoccupied to put together some of the more thoughtful posts that I usually manage. Instead, I’m going to present you with things I find beautiful or which intrigue me.

First of all, we have this monument from Fort Meigs Cemetery:
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So far, most four-legged animals sculpted in stone that I find are lambs, but this seems to be a dog. If it is a dog, the symbolism associated with that animal would be faithfulness and loyalty.

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The only reason I am doubting my impression of it being a dog and not a sheep with odd ear flaps is that the monument is for children, a group with which lamb imagery is heavily associated.

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I did this scavenger hunt that was posted to the Association of Graveyard Rabbits, although I didn’t get the post written before the deadline for the carnival itself. I twisted my ankle walking around Union Cemetery doing the carnival and then limped my way around Origins gaming convention for four days.

All scavenger hunt photos were taken this past Wednesday morning at Union Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Below I’ve listed the scavenger hunt item and then a photo of the grave marker that fulfilled that requirement.

Cross – The Birk monument culminates in a cross.

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Heart – This very worn marker for a baby named Paul is heart-shaped. I can’t even make out his surname.

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Fraternal symbol – For the fraternal symbol, we have the marker for Frank P. Walters, a Marine who served in the first World War and has a Masonic symbol on his tombstone.

Frank P. Walters

Monument – This seemed so general that I decided to feature the Gaddis family marker. A metal sundial sits atop the center column.

Gaddis

Flower
– A carved flower decorates the top two corners of the Hagans’ stone.

Hagans

Hand – The gravestone for Amanda Evans includes a single hand holding the stem of a flower.

Amanda m. Evans

Angel – The names of the two Cooper children are flanked by praying angels.

Iris Lee and Rose Mary Cooper

Bird – A bird, likely a dove, is carved into baby William Wiedemann’s tombstone.

William Wiedemann

Tree – A weeping willow grows on the tombstone of John Lisle, whose 1808 burial must have been one of the earliest in the graveyard, which was only founded two years before.

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Star
– I wandered around looking for a star for while before it dawned on me that the Civil War veterans’ markers contain or are stars, like these two for George Lakin.

George W. Lakin

Obelisk – This obelisk memorializes the Lakin family.

Lakin

Four-legged animal – The marker for little Mildred Ferguson, who sadly did not live to see her 2nd birthday, is topped by a lamb – a four-legged animal.

Mildred V. Ferguson

Photo – Dorothy Price Walsh’s tombstone preserves her likeness for us.

Dorothy Price Walsh

Military gravestone – For the military tombstone, I found the memorial for Medal of Honor recipient Joel Parsons, a Civil War veteran.

Joel Parsons

Mausoleum
– Amaranth Abbey is a giant mausoleum.

Amaranth Abbey

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