Friday, January 9, 2009

Cedar Hill Cemetery Revisited ... Vicksburg, Mississippi

[Note: This is a re-post of an article I wrote as a new blogger in July 2008, which featured Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I've been organizing pictures on my computer and came across these and would like to share them with my new blogging friends. If you have already seen them, please forgive me for repeating myself. I seem to do that a lot lately.]

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 3, 2008, 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 these 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. [You can click on the pictures to enlarge them and see the detailing].

This 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 photographed it, I kept saying to myself ... "Oh, how precious," and "Oh, my gosh," and "Unbelievable" ... and I wished someone had been there to share the emotion of the moment with me. It stayed with me the rest of the day.

As I left Margaret and her precious 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.

My post for tomorrow will continue my journey through Cedar Hill, and I hope you will join me.



Bo said...

Hi Janie...I found this post so interesting...I also love to visit historical cemetaries and read the markers...some are truly works of art. ;-) Bo

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Those are beautiful monumnets, Janie, and lovely comments to match. I know what you mean about getting teary about little ones. There is a small family cemetery in a remote area in which are buried a number of my ancestors and relatives. Two of the graves were small children, and I noticed on the census records that the children died from Yellow Fever. I cannot imagine the agony of a parent losing a child to any disease, but that one took down older people and children alike. Whole communities were wiped from the earth and became ghost towns. I would wonder, too, if some of those buried in Vicksburg died from that same cause.

I can't imagine how anyone would find it disprectful to photograph graves. Genealogists, who preserve family history, are dependent on the information to help prove lines. So I find it completely acceptable. I've even thought of doing some grave rubbings before of some ancient graves in New England that belonged to family members. I didn't make it to the cemetery to do it, but if I had, rest assured, there would have been photographs if not rubbings! :-)

I look forward to the rest of the tour!



bj said...

I've never seen such lovely monuments anywhere. Thank you so much for sharing these again.
When you do a re-post, how do you keep the old comments from showing? I have several posts I would like to repeat but every time I try, all the comments post, too.
Thanks and love, bj

Picket said...

Morning Janie..I remember this post and it is so worth looking at took some amazing pics of this girl! Thanks so much for coming by to see our little Sofie..Her & Bailey are the two grandkids that live right down the street from us, so I get to see them everyday..she has always been so quick to learn and has talked since before she was one...Jen never talked 'baby talk' to them & that child can talk with more fancy words than I even know! lol Even when she was younger she would come running in the door and look at me & say 'We come to visit you Maw Maw!' lol God really blessed us when he gave us grandbabies! Have a great weekend my friend!

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

Hi Janie,
I remember when you did this post, but it is certainly worth revisiting.

One of my friends was telling me about a site where you photograph graves for a database. People put their requests online and if someone local finds the grave, it is photographed and kept in the archives. Sounds kinda like a fun project to me. She has a couple of requests here that she wants to fill, and I may go with her!

nikkicrumpet said...

Very interesting and touching post. I loved the monument with the mom watching over her boy. I hate it when you see the graves of small just breaks your heart for the parents.

beth at aunties said...

I also posted an early post from July I did as a new blogger. I wish I could say it was as inspiring and beautiful as yours.
The monuments and stories you shared were tender and sweet. The sister who died before her baby sister was even born and the sisters who shared a grave. I can't even imagine the pain of losing one child let alone several.
The details on each monument were so lovingly created.
I research Family History and love to stroll through cemeterys and as I too read the graves wonder about the people buried there.
Thanks for sharing your inner beauty once more♥

Jon said...

Thanks for the replay of this post you did earlier. It is indeed worthy of another look and I believe I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Also, I really like your larger sized photos featured below. So sharp and crisp....and what's not to love about cows' eyes and the delightful sounds of their "conversations"? I miss living out in the country and hearing their lowing.

Jon at Mississippi Garden