Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: cemeteries

An Overgrown Grave

I’ve been going through old photographs, cleaning out the closet. This is from sometime late in 1992. I was in college, taking a photography course. I chose graves as my subject matter. I spent the semester tromping around all the local cemeteries, graveyards, boneyards and gardens of eternal rest.

Two Cemeteries in Missouri

Hillside cemetery in Lanagan, Missouri

Hillside cemetery in Lanagan, Missouri

We spent the weekend in the southwest Missouri Ozarks visiting some of R’s relatives and extended family including the ones that are in the ground. We looked for relatives in two cemeteries: one in Lanagan and the other in Pineville, both maintained by volunteers and donations. The one in Lanagan had flowers on every grave and flags for all the veterans.

These were surprisingly social places, and R’s parents found that the people there often knew of them and their kin. Surprisingly, these cemeteries were full of life, and not just of the avian variety, though I did enjoy watching a pair of Broad-winged Hawks circle ever higher over the Lanagan cemetery.

W.P. Jeffers' grave

William P. Jeffers' grave in Pineville, MO

It’s odd how much I enjoy wandering around graveyards. When I was in college, I took a photography class in which we here assigned to shoot found objects. I spent a semester exploring cemeteries, graveyards, boneyards and gardens of eternal rest. I read tombstones and imagined the lives and stories they commemorate. Graveyards are great places to let the imagination wander while listening to birds and the wind.

Cemetery in Pineville, Missouri

Cemetery in Pineville, Missouri

I came across a grave for a young man in his twenties who died on November 11, 1918. The last day of World War I. He wasn’t marked as a veteran so who knows how he died, but for someone, I guess that was an unhappy day.

I especially like looking for the oldest person. I didn’t check them all, but this was the oldest I found.

Dr. Duval's Grave in Pineville, MO

Dr. Duval's Grave in Pineville, MO

I don’t know anything about this person. Only that he probably served in the Civil War. He would have been in his ’30s, and he was a doctor. I wonder what he saw, how many limbs he may have amputated. It fascinates me that he lived through the end of the frontier and the inventions of movies, electric light, the telegraph, automobile and airplanes. Whoever he was, someone cared enough to place a flag near his grave.

An assassination victim's grave in Pineville, MO

An assassination victim's grave in Pineville, MO

This was another one that fascinated me. R’s aunt found it and led us to it. Dr. Chenoweth was almost 48 when he was assassinated, “a martyr to the cause of temperance and religion.” The Latin inscription beneath says, ‘the truth will prevail.’ There’s not enough to know anything about what happened to him, but just enough to let the mind wander down the dusty lanes of invention and imagination. Such is the wonder of old cemeteries.

One Way

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