Saturday, March 3, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, Week 9, Cemeteries

Cemeteries are not often featured in my heritage scrapbook pages. However, I’ll share a couple of ways I’ve included them. First, I invite you to join me on a trip to my favorite cemetery.

A Visit to Kansas

You’re standing on a rise in south-central Kansas on a warm September day. A sea of golden-brown flows to the horizon in all directions. Trees dot the landscape where distant farmhouses rise from the empty fields. The unfettered prairie wind tugs at your hair and whistles in your ears. In the distance, a freight train rolls westward, while cars scurry along the state highway that divides the small town below you. Suddenly deer appear, bounding through nearby fields, and you watch them until they vanish in the distance. Some local farm boys drive past, hauling a load of hay. They wave and call out a greeting, leaving a dust cloud hanging over the dirt road.

Slowly you enter the tiny cemetery, admiring the intricate metal crosses that adorn the top of the fence rail. The grass is calf-high, but dry and dormant. You fervently hope there are no snakes as you walk towards the few visible markers, drawn to a double marker with the inscriptions Mother and Father. You trace the words, reading “Sarah died in 1892 and Aaron died in 1909”. Staring out across the endless prairie, you realize this is the very land they walked, the view they saw, the wind they felt. Little has changed in 120 years. The neighbors have exchanged their wagons for automobiles and a few roads have been paved. This place is unchanged and you feel their closeness here, as nowhere else.

You turn to leave, acknowledging the rest of the family: John with his Civil War marker and Effie and George with their large double stone. You bid them good-bye, along with the rest of the permanent residents of this little piece of the Kansas prairie.

Kansas background by Scrapbook Customs
Cemetery Thoughts
I haven’t shared the name of the family, the cemetery or the town. The vandalism that happens in cemeteries is unconscionable and I do not want to put this small and precious place at any more risk than it already faces.

This cemetery and other small rural cemeteries are a part of the fabric of the lives of the nearby residents. When I visit such a cemetery, I feel grounded in the place. A large or city cemetery feels to me less connected to the locality and more like any cemetery in any place.

Scrapping Cemetery Photos
I prefer to put photos of people in my heritage scrapbook pages, rather than places or things. I’ve used cemetery and tombstone photos in only two ways. One is to document a trip or visit to a cemetery, as I’ve done with the cemeteries in this Kansas county. The second is as a substitute for a photo of a person.

My grandfather’s elder brother died at age 16. There are no known photos of his face other than as a young boy. Even his marker displays his little-boy photo. This layout shows the faces of the people who appear in the group photo, but in later years of their lives. Gilbert Allee is instead represented by his marker.
Club Scrap Autumn Splendor paper kit

They Made the Markers
Digital Collection, Fall Carnival blog train, Sep 2010

I also have an unusual reason to feature grave markers on a layout. My fourth cousin's ancestors were the premier makers of monuments in their area of northwestern Pennsylvania. I commemorated our visit to their family plot and other cemeteries. The most memorable monument we visited sits in the town square of Clarion, PA, to commemorate the Civil War.

I hope this has inspired your own thoughts about whether and when to include cemetery photos in your heritage layouts.

1 comment:

  1. You are making a lot of good points, Beth!
    Each post is full of useful tips. Thanks