Posts Tagged ‘James Renwick’

Gravestones, Early and FolkI have always been attracted to cemeteries, which is probably why they have been popping up in several of my recent landscapes.  Even as a child, I found the stones in cemeteries irresistible.  There were several old family plots around our home, small groupings of  stones set in the edge of the woods where early settlers in our area were laid to rest.  Most had death dates, when you could make them out on the weathered slate, that dated from around the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

One small plot across the road from us was reportedly the family of a coach driver that had resided in the home that had once been attached to an old stone chimney that still stands there to this day,  almost like a monument in itself.  It was rumored that the family had been killed in an Indian massacre, although I believe it to be just that– a rumor.  I found the small graveyard tucked on the edge of a forest hidden from the road a very serene place.  It had a calming  air around it that I found appealing, even as a child.  Plus it played to the imagination, the stones conjuring up the names of those  that I would try to envision and bring to life in my mind.

This fascination has carried through my life.  I am always eager to walk in cemeteries, to look at the stones and read the names.  I sometimes wonder, as I walk through with a name on my lips, if that name has been spoken in years.  I somehow imagine that I am conjuring their spirit, their memory of their life,  back into form by virtue of simply saying their name.  It seems like their is a power in this simple act, even if is a mere act of respect.

Grave, Lion GardinerAs I have done more and more genealogy, this interest has continued as well.  There are numerous sites where I have found images of  ancestors’ graves.  Some are unique, like this elaborate monument to Lion Gardiner that was designed by architect James Renwick, famed for his design of St. Patrick’s Cathedral  in NYC, when Gardiner’s body was re-interred in 1886.  Others are crudely simple, a slab of stone with the name crudely carved with what looked to be a nail.  Many have no stones at all, which I find sad because there will be no possibility that someone will walk through the graveyard one day and read their name aloud.

Eleazer Mulford- Lindley NYThere’s a great site online that has the entire Farber Collection available for viewing.  The late David Farber and his wife, Jessie Lie Farber, were even more enthralled than I am with cemeteries.  They amassed a huge collection of images of the sculpture and carvings on early American graves, most dating before 1800.  It’s a treasure trove of imagery and a great site to spend a few moments browsing, especially if you have anything like my interest in how cemeteries relate to our history.

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