Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chapel of the Cross Cemetery

This is Chapter Two of my story featuring a little country church in Madison County, Mississippi, called The Chapel of the Cross. If you missed Chapter One, I suggest you click on the link and read it before you read this post.

When I visited the Chapel last week, the sun broke through the clouds as I entered the churchyard, and I was able to capture several pictures with blue skies as a background.

But the blue skies didn't last long and by the time I visited the Chapel cemetery, its huge old magnolias, cedars, and oaks cast shadows over the gravestones.

The Johnstone family graveyard is enclosed within a beautiful ornate iron fence, and you enter through a gate with an iron arch over it.

The final resting place of Helen's beloved Henry lies in the Johnstone plot, his gravestones embraced by the twisted roots of a centuries-old magnolia tree.

The graves of Helen's parents, Margaret and John Johnstone, are beside Henry's grave ...

The oldest monument I found in the cemetery (and the most beautiful, in my opinion) is the marker for James Burroughs Yellowley.

I googled James Yellowley and discovered that he was the founder of what was to become the city of Ridgeland, Mississippi, which is a suburb of Jackson.

It is amazing what you can discover from people's grave markers about the lives they led.

This marker is for S.A.D. Greaves and his wife, Sarah Lowe Greaves.

Upon researching S.A.D. Greaves, I came across some genealogy records and discovered what I think is an interesting story about Mr. Greaves.

Stephen Arne Decatur Greaves was born January 30, 1817, in Sumter, South Carolina, and died November 17, 1880 in Madison County, Mississippi. He served as a lieutenant during the Mexican War, and after the war, he married a rich widow, Sarah Lowe. They lived on her plantation, "Sunnyside," in Livingston, Madison County, MS — and lived lavishly, by all accounts. It seems that Mr. Greaves changed clothes completely for each meal, had 90 pairs of hand-made boots, and was spared complete destruction of the property by Sherman's forces because of his war record.

Here are a few more markers and stones that caught my attention as I walked around the cemetery:

I love to read epitaphs on cemetery markers, and noticed two, in particular.

To angel form thy spirit's grown,
Thy God hath claimed thee as His own;
In Paradise thou sharest bliss,
Ne'er to be found in worlds like this.

The next epitaph was engraved on the base of the large cross shown in the following picture. Unfortunately, I overlooked getting the name of the person buried there.

And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.

I have always admired the lovely little Chapel of the Cross from a distance, but in the short time I spent there that Spring afternoon, I loved seeing it up close through the lens of my camera.

I was not only awed by its physical beauty, but was also reminded of its history and the story of its endurance and survival.

May those who brought it to life almost 160 years ago rest in peace in that beautiful little cemetery, knowing that their legacy lives on ... in the sermons and hymns and prayers and fellowship enjoyed today by the parishioners at The Chapel of the Cross.

The following is a slideshow presentation I created featuring a few of the pictures I captured of the Chapel and the Cemetery. To view it, click on the arrow and be sure your sound is turned on.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow


Marlene said...

This has to be the most beautiful and touching post I have ever seen...and then to see and hear Amazing Grace along with the pictures. I am so in awe of your talent in seeing the spiritual in everything. Thank you so very much for an uplifting start to this day.

Ladybug said...

I am a member of Chapel of the Cross and I thank you for this beautiful presentation.


The Quintessential Magpie said...

This is gorgeous, Janie! I love old cemeteries so much.

It really is a small world. Mr. Greaves is the direct ancestor of a friend of mine. Greaves is her middle name. :-) So I particularly enjoyed both the story and seeing the Greaves' graves. Sorry, I couldn't resist!


Sheila :-)

BUD said...

As chairman of the Gravediggers Guild for Chapel of the Cross I must commend you for a most inspiring post. May the Peace of our Lord be always with you...

Bud Phelps

racheld said...

Thank you so much for the sweet message---I picked most of the post out of a WORD document I'd had for a long time.

I especially love the monument still proudly standing despite all the magnolia roots---it's as if they entwine and engulf and topple others, but they honor a Cross which looks like wood.

Carolyn said...

This is one of my favorite posts. Your pictures not only honor the beauty of this place, but the lives of those who are represented here. Thank you.