Friday, July 11, 2014
The Stories Behind the Stones
Walking through the cemetery with my grandfather was far more fascinating than opening a storybook.
Growing up, I spent part of every summer at my grandparents' farm in Oklahoma. At some point during each visit we would make the rounds to area cemeteries where family members rested. I knew stories behind each name in the family from my grandmother telling me (sometimes exaggerated) tales about them. After decorating each grave, my grandmother often wanted time alone with them to talk, so I would wander off to other rows of gravestones with my grandfather.
Then the fun would begin.
My grandfather was left to live on the streets of the small town when he was only a few years old. My best estimate from records show that he was only seven. Although it was a horrifying thought to me, he never complained or bemoaned his early life. He made his way doing odd jobs and taking shelter where he could, until he became established. Because of this and his wonderful character, he knew everyone in town.
As we passed each stone, he would slow his pace, point, and say, "Oh, now there's old man so-and-so. He owned the livery stable in town and let me sleep in the loft in exchange for me cleaning out the stalls. His wife was so kind and always made sure I had a biscuit in my pocket to start the morning."
I would follow him down the rows, fascinated by these peeks into his history until grandmother would say that it was time to go.
Over forty years later, I'm still curious to learn the stories behind the stones I find in my cemetery-seeking adventures. Some cemeteries I visit to work on genealogy, but many I stop into just to find the stories and artwork of the stones.
Some may think it's a creepy, or at the very least…strange hobby. But I've learned and photographed some amazing things. I've also found that there are actually others who share my love for old cemeteries.
So here we go…a new blog to share some of the things that I find. Hoping that you will enjoy the journey as much as I do. Happy hunting!