Saturday, July 5, 2008

In the Arms of the Angels ...

I have always loved old cemeteries and recently discovered Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The City of Vicksburg served as a major hospital center in the early years of the Civil War, and a section in the Cedar Hill Cemetery was set aside to provide a fitting burial place for Confederate soldiers who died of sickness or wounds. Known as "Soldiers Rest," the plot in Cedar Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for an estimated 5,000 Confederate soldiers.
I visited Cedar Hill on July 3rd, with the intention of taking pictures in the Soldiers Rest section of the cemetery. However, as I drove through the gates, I saw row after row of some of the most beautiful monuments I've ever seen. Needless to say, I was sidetracked from my original plan.
As I drove down the lanes between the markers, I realized that "Soldiers Rest" would have to wait for another time. I was captivated by the haunting beauty of the old monuments. And haunting they were.
I was absolutely in awe of the artistry and masonry skill involved in the creation of the statues. The meticulously ornate detailing, the expressions on the faces, attention to proportion ... each monument looks as if it was created with love and is truly a work of art.
I was especially drawn to the monuments of children, and I was overcome by emotion as I photographed them. Some people may think it's weird or disrespectful to photograph graves, but to me it's a way of preserving the memory of the loved ones whose final resting places were marked with such exquisite and loving memorials by their families.
I'd like to share with you a few of these wonderful old memorials.
The first monument is one of the most beautiful, and also one of the most heartrending I have ever seen. It just took my breath away when I saw it.

Yes, that's a mother and her baby boy lying below her who died when he was five months old to the day [August 27, 1880 - January 27, 1881 (notice how January is abbreviated)].
As I left Margaret and her little John B., Jr., I thought I'd never find another monument as pretty or as sweet. But I didn't have far to go until I discovered this mother and daughter.

Notice the detail of their shoes and the trim on their clothing ...

But the most poignant thing to me about this exquisite monument is their hands. They brought tears to my eyes when I first saw them because they look so real ...

It's amazing to me how something made of stone can evoke so much emotion. But these monuments spoke volumes to me, not only about the people who were buried there, but also about the artists and masons who created them.
Here's another sweet one ...

And this is Linka, who was seven when she died ...

This precious little angel marks the resting place of two little sisters who were buried in the same grave ...

I found it ironic that Lena, who died in 1905 at the age of one year died before her sister Lillian was born in 1906. Lillian was five when she died in 1911.

This is Dorothy, who was seven when she died in 1910 ...

I would dearly love to know the stories of these sweet children who were immortalized by their loved ones through these beautiful and heartrending monuments.


Anonymous said...

What a loving tribute to those who have passed away, and a reminder to cherish our loved ones while they are with us. The artistry that captured such poignant moments is amazing. How touching, thank you for posting.ksarra(rms)

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

I got choked up reading your post! We are so blessed this day and time...we have so few infant and child mortalities!
This reminds me of a book I here that I need to read... The Angels of Lockart by Thomas L Wiley.
It is about a family that lost several of their children and a cemetary in Lauderdale County.
Ths author lives in Jackson and is a practicing physician.
I really enjoyed your post this morning!

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Janie,
It's me again. I noticed a typo in my post...guess I am in too big of a hurry!!
I meant to say:
This reminds me of a book I have that I need to read... The Angels of Lockart by Thomas L Wiley.
Didn't want your readers to think that I'm ignorant! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi Janie! I am in absolute awe of the workmanship in these monuments especially considering the year they were created; the mother and daughter unbelievable - you are right the hand detailing is incredible. I've dabbled with polymer clay to create a santa and gave up. I cannot begin to imagine the time, and labor that went into these, especially stone, how did they even get such large pieces transported?! An amazing post - thanks! Enjoy the rest of your weekend - Jeannette