Old Cemeteries

I never outgrew the teenage goth phase.
I still have the boots and the clothes and I’m not entirely sure where my black lipstick went, but Halloween is in two months and I’m sure I can get another tube pretty easily.

Naturally, in a really stereotypically teenage goth fashion, I love old cemeteries. I’ve been out to Elmwood cemetery in Memphis several times and it’s one of my favorite places in the city, oddly enough. Well, maybe not that oddly, if you know me.

In any case, the area my parents live in hosts a neat old old cemetery. I didn’t really know how close it was, or I might have spent a lot of time there when I still lived with my family and loved to drive the narrow country roads. I went to see my family early in the month, and on an unseasonably pleasant morning, I got a stroller for the baby and took a trip with my mother to visit the place.

If you aren’t a fan of cemeteries, I suggest you stop reading now, because I took lots of pictures and I’m about to share them. I know not everyone finds them as interesting as I do, so I’ll forgive you if you bow out now. You can always come back closer to Halloween when you’re looking for something to spook you. If not, then keep going, and share the experience with me!

Despite being small and extremely secluded, down a narrow country road traveled only by the people who live there, the cemetery is very well kept. Sadly enough, what this picture doesn’t show is the big “No Trespassing” sign nailed to the beautiful old tree shading the entrance. Since the cemetery is so secluded, it’s a popular spot for local teenagers to sneak out to so they can do things they probably don’t want their parents to know about. The problem comes in that they aren’t particularly respectful, and a large number of headstones have been knocked down or shattered by people climbing and sitting on them.

I actually would have been out to visit the cemetery a lot sooner, but my Dad scared me out of going by informing me that the groundskeeper made a practice of running said teenagers off with his shotgun if he caught them. I figured it would be best to wait til I could visit with my family, who said groundskeeper would recognize.

To get to the place, you have to cross this very questionable little bridge that goes over the creek. Then, once you get to the other side, there’s the wrought iron fence.

I’m not sure if it used to surround the whole cemetery or if it ran to the treeline or what, but there’s a bit of fencing left, some of it wired to stakes that have to hold it up.

 It’s rusted and tarnished, covered in moss and lichen, and absolutely beautiful. There’s a wide double-gate at the top of the hill, with  just a little of the original posts remaining. You can tell they were fastened to tall wooden posts, but I’m not sure how high they went. The smaller gate is framed by big iron posts.

 

There’s not a whole lot of grave markers. I saw one as recent as the 1950s, but most of them are from the late 1800s, and most belong to young women and babies.

A baby’s shoe, carved into a headstone

 Some of them are simple, but some are very interesting, and many had engraved poems that were so worn it was almost impossible to read. I saw more than one headstone that had been so battered by weather that, while still standing, there were no remaining signs of anything that had been carved into it.

Quite a few headstones were so damaged that they had been laid down and anchored in concrete. It prevents them from falling and breaking any further, but it exposes their faces and any carvings, like the angel above, to erosion from rainfall. Some remained crisp and readable despite their age.

While most of the grave markers were small, some no taller than halfway to my knee, some were enormous – With the decorated base and topper displaying a broken branch of the family tree, this grave marker was around seven feet tall and carved on every side with words from the family.

 One was accompanied by a planter, which someone had added silk flowers to. It’s hard to tell who might have put them there – The groundskeeper, or descendants of family?

Most of the epitaphs were too worn to read without assistance. I tried to photograph as many as I could, figuring they could later be adjusted in Photoshop to determine what they used to say. So far, the only one I was able to read belonged to a young woman named Emma.

Remember friends, as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As we are now, so you must be
Prepare for death and follow me.

As creepy as it is, I have to say I like it.

2 Replies to “Old Cemeteries”

  1. I've always been a huge fan of old cemeteries myself. I've got some interesting photos from my photography class last winter that I think you might enjoy.

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