Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of Grave Importance

If your tastes tend to run toward the macabre in October, this entry is for you.

Still arguing about whether the guy who played Gilligan is alive or dead? The answer is Bob Denver died several years ago at the age of 70. There is a website wholly devoted to answering your celebrity mortality questions. You can find it here.

In the latest issue of Kentucky Living, there is an article about a cemetery preservation group. These "History Hunters" or "Cemetery Sleuths" have taken on the often arduous task of restoring and documenting neglected burial grounds in Kentucky. They repair, restore and occasionally raise funds to replace missing gravestones. The whole story can be found here, but below is an excerpt which provides a key to understanding symbols often found on gravestones from the work of Gaylord Cooper, author of "Stories Told In Stone: Cemetery Iconology":

Anchor/ships - Hope or seafaring profession
Angel - Rebirth/resurrection
Bird - Eternal life
Full-Blown Rose - Prime of life
Columns and Doors - Heavenly entrance
Corn - Ripe old age
Hands Clasped - Goodbyes said at death
Ivy - Friendship, immortality
Oak Leaves and Acorn - Maturity, ripe old age
Open Book/Bible - Teach, minister, etc.
Thistle - Scottish Descent
Tree - Life

Sometimes a visit to a cemetary is a research endeavor. A few years ago, I plunged into genealogical research on my family. I walked through my paternal side's family cemetery with notebook in hand writing down dates of bith, death and marriages. It was a revelation. My maiden name is Dean, but my ancestors' names were Dean, Deane, Deen and Dane. Seems literacy and uniform spelling wasn't as common in days of old as it is now (and when you add in a southern accent, it's easy to see how the variations came about).

I was fooled into thinking discovering your family tree would be simply by coming across both my maternal and paternal grandmothers' lineages on line going back to the 1500-1600s. I would soon learn the Denton and Parmley branches were the exception, not the rule and that genealogical research is rarely simple.

If you have an interest in genealogy, here's a good place to start. Here are message boards associated with Genealogy.com which are usually very helpful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We read the article about the gravestone markers and thier symbology also and found it very interesting. You have a great blog. Hope to see you on the 31st at CPC.
Rick and Dawn