Guess where Honey and I went yesterday? To historic Magnolia Cemetery! This is a photo I took of the marsh area right off one section of tombstones, statues, and grave markers. The sight was just beautiful…peaceful and serene (and very cold!)
I knew some famous people buried there…lots of governors and politicians (Legares, Rhetts, Maybanks, Simmons)…but discovered others…closer to home. We also discovered that Magnolia Cemetery, rich in South Carolina history, was surrounded by other cemeteries equally fascinating….Bethany…filled with German heritage….and St. Lawrence…with Irish. (Magnolia seemed to be open to everyone -regardless of their home country…but mostly upper middle and elite)
Magnolia cemetery was constructed in 1850 and today contains just under 100 acres…I was about to say it really is a “living” museum…but somehow it sounds inappropriate. I think I will change it to an ‘outdoor’ museum of fascinating facts and tidbits.
Yesterday I read an article on cemetery decorations from different periods of history and their symbolism…so I looked for these different motifs (representing numerous time periods) and found several examples while touring the cemeteries..
But before I show them to you…here are a few trivia factoids that you might find interesting…
“History of Gravestones”
The term gravestone emerged from a Jewish custom in which the visitors to a grave used to place stones at the head as a way to honor the deceased.
Gravestones are also known as grave markers, headstones, and tombstones. In earlier times when there were no cemeteries, people used to have burial plots near their family homes.
These graves were usually marked with rough stones, rocks, or wood, apparently, as a way to keep the dead from rising.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that public cemeteries came into acceptance. (Colonial markers were rather scary since the Puritans believed in pre-destination… as far as who was saved and who wasn’t…)
By the Victorian period public cemeteries had come into their own and were very ornate…the more ornate…the higher the social status.
Here are some pictures I took from several different cemeteries visited yesterday depicting symbols from this period.
“The Hand” was a popular motif and if placed downward represented God’s Hand plucking us from the flowers symbolizing the brevity of life.
Angels stood for rebirth, a guardian, or messenger from God
The urn (besides being convenient as a flower holder) was a popular symbol of mourning and indicated the person had lived a long life.
…Whereas the shortened/cut off tree trunk stood for a life cut short.
At the Bethany cemetery-filled (with German immigrant ancestry…) adjacent to Magnolia-…
Honey had just told me about her German origins from her great-grandfather when lo and behold…we saw a marker with the family name and on the back it was her great grandparents. A God’s Wink. (She thinks she remembers that at one time they lived in the Elizabeth Arden home in Summerville)
Before we left Bethany to go to Magnolia cemetery we quickly hurried to get a photo to prove that we were there….you can see I was holding onto a limb from a tree…that limb was so cold..it felt like I was holding a block of ice….unbelievable! ( Honey was smarter…standing in from of a camellia bush….they were all over the cemeteries…so beautiful…with their red and white blooms.)
One interesting tidbit that I didn’t know about…( was an unique building located right beside the church )….called the Receiving Tomb. It was here (in olden times) that bodies were taken until burial….their early version of the “funeral home.”
It was in Magnolia that I really felt the presence of the past…and began wondering about the “voices from the past”…what they could tell us about life during their short sojourn on earth.
We saw the Hunley crew’s grave site, the Gettysburg memorial section, volunteer firefighters memorials…and numerous other noted people’s graves….but it was just the cemetery itself…that was so beautiful. (I was about to say “drop dead”gorgeous…but you get the idea.)
And hey…Honey didn’t have “no” flies on me…look what I found in Magnolia! (Doodle is checking on the connection.)
This marker was in the Gettysburg section…the rose is real and had been placed inside a vase with water days before and it survived the wind and temperatures of the last few cold nights. Perhaps a lesson here….flowers might represent brevity in life…but they don’t go down easily!
Grave markers of the Hunley Crew
I thought this iron-wrought gate and shaded area of the cemetery under the Spanish moss was lovely and serene.
This last marker might have been our favorite after freezing in the cemeteries…California Dreaming with the yummy house salad and hot potato soup!
So until tomorrow…let us all hope this epitaph can be placed near us for eternity….voices from the past still echoing the present and future.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* Fran….I had no idea one of my favorite authors and column writers Frank Gilbreth, Jr (“Ashley Cooper“) was buried here…(I know he and your mother must be having a “taradiddle” good time in heaven!)
(I always showed the original movie (not Steve Martin) “Cheaper by the Dozen” each year when we studied the 1920’s! The students loved it!!!)
Please say a prayer for our little Rutledge…When Mollie went to pick him up yesterday from day care…his ears were bleeding, one tube had come out and the ear drum was compromised/bone exposed around it….he has been in terrific pain.
Mollie is taking him to his ENT doctor tomorrow…so we will see what we will see…he’s on antibiotics for all the infection….Mollie said she would send a funny picture because that is what she wants to see Rutledge act like again…not suffering in pain.
Honey is amazing as all of you already realize who know her… we got lost in Magnolia looking for the Hunley Crew grave site. We saw some men raking and cleaning up around some grave sites….so stopped to ask directions. One worker called for his son…who, in broken English, produced a map he had used to locate work raking areas that day and gave it to us.
The young bi-lingual boy was so proud we could understand the directions. While I was following them on the map I heard Honey get out of the car and then get back in.
As we rode off she told the boy to check his jacket pocket and we could see the expression of joy as he pulled out a five dollar bill. She is the “charming human being” Elliott describes so eloquently. (She gives more “surcies” away than any one I know!)