The (mis)Adventures of a Homesteadin' Mama

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Cemeteries… Eerie or Educational???

Maybe I am strange, but I have always loved visiting cemeteries and looking at old headstones. Now some people might find that a little bit creepy, but the history, poetry and artwork on them can be very interesting. For example, we live in the oldest town in our county, so we have some old headstone, like Henrietta’s. She died in 1876 at the age of 21 years, 7 months and 8 days. How many modern headstones do you see these days that list age down to the day?

You can really “meet” a lot of interesting folks by wandering around a cemetery. There are veterans, local figures, colorful characters and more. In a neighboring town they always do a cemetery walk to introduce people to some of the more colorful characters interned there. The get actors to dress the parts of the deceased and share their stories. I think this is such a great way to keep knowledge alive, connect people with the past, and dispel some of the taboo of going to a cemetery.

If you take the time to wander around a cemetery, you will also notice art, like in these sculptures. I must admit, the dog statue made me wonder. There is also art in the symbols on the headstones. It can be very interesting to learn some of the meaning behind the symbols. Many older headstone also have poems upon them, from the sweetly sad to the odd and humorous.

Face it, cemeteries are not for Halloween….. they are for keeping the past alive….

Introducing children to cemeteries…..

1.) You could make up a kind of game by trying to see how many of each symbol you can find. You could make a bar graph out of the information (shhh don’t tell the kids they are learning math skills.) Find out which were the most popular and go online to find out what they mean.

2.) Look for local historical figures (aka civil war, founding father, artist/actors, etc.)

3.) Read some of the poems on older headstones. They used to write a lot more then name, born/died! If you are having a hard time reading a headstone you can always do number 4.

4.) Make a rubbing! All you need is paper and a crayon. It is just like doing a leaf rubbing when you where little. Just make sure to be careful not to get crayon on the headstone. Darker colored crayons work best.

53 thoughts on “Cemeteries… Eerie or Educational???

  1. If the weather doesn't permit a field trip, you can always go over to http://www.findagrave.com It's a virtual cemetery that is trying to get every grave in it. (As in, every grave in the world). There are the big cemeteries (like Arlington National) & single burial plots (one in Jamaica in the split of a road) It started out as a listing for famous peoples graves but blossomed into a graves registration site.

  2. Our town, in the fall every year does a candle light tour in the old historic cemetery. They have actors that are sprinkled around the cemetery and they act out the person buried there and tell their story. It is so great! We go every year, it is tradition. Such a great way to learn about your town and the people in it that came before you. I love History!!!

  3. when I was a kid me, my sis, and my mom would clean the really old gravestones for community service badges (girl scouts).

  4. I love cemeteries. My 19 year old son and I spent a summer a couple of years ago photographing our local cemetery for FindAGrave.com and BillionGraves.com. We then researched the graves and put as much information about the people buried in the graves that we could. My son is a history major in college now. He really appreciated the historical value of the everyday people that the graves held. We were very upset by the destruction we have found in some graveyards. Kids seem to think it is cool to destroy older gravestones.

    I followed you on your social media and I am pinning this post!

  5. Educational for sure. We made a trip to the local cemetery of the last town we lived in. They still have headstones from the 1800s and my daughter noticed the families who lost babies before they had turned a year old, men who died in their 30s, and women buried with their infants the same month and year. It sparked a long conversation about how far we've come in caring for our own health and the losses due to war.

  6. I love walking through cemeteries, and looking for old head stones. I always wonder what type of life that person lead, for that reason I love the thought of people dressing up in character and telling the person's story, what a great idea.

  7. I agree that they are educational. I chaperoned a Choir contest with our school and was assigned the 8th grade boys who were the mostly likely to misbehave. During the breaks and lunch period, I took my group to a large historical cemetery across the street from the College where the contest was being held. We read stones and talked about reasons for some of the deaths. The boys were awed by the number of babies and little children. We talked about that and also the number of mothers' deaths, etc. They read inscriptions and poetry, as you mentioned. They were respectful and interested; I was proud of their behavior. The choir teacher told me she was impressed by how well behaved they had been (she knew I would expect no less when assigned to me), and that she had gotten many positive comments from the students AND their parents.

  8. My husband and I visited Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA on our honeymoon and literally spent hours there. Absolutely educational and interesting, we could have spent a whole day there. Visiting from Teach Me Tuesday Linky Party at 3GLOL, thanks for sharing!

  9. Way back in high school, our art class went to an old cemetery for rubbings. It is one of the most memorable trips I had in school. We too were all amazed at the number of young children and women. Until now I had never heard of other people visiting graveyards. Excellent post.

  10. I agree with you. Cemeteries are fascinating. I love the historical aspect and especially enjoy the artful aspect of the headstones–especially the really old ones.

  11. I think they're very interesting…love looking at the old headstones.

    Thanks so much for linking up to Teach Me Tuesday @ 3GLOL last week. We love seeing what you link up every week! Hope to see you again this week. Party goes live at 8pm CST Monday.

    Have a great week!

  12. I'm sure a lot can be learned by studying how people lived, and then passed away (timing, the time era, their circumstances, etc). You're right, it is an educational opportunity for sure! I think how much I learn from remembering how finite our lives are; makes me want to live differently 🙂
    Glad you were able to link up on last week's "Inspired By Me Mondays"; please come & link up some more posts on this week's (Monday to Friday) http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com We'd love to have you!!

  13. Sometimes my husband and I go to very old cemeteries on our date days. We both really enjoy some of the old sayings, designs, and as you know, you never know what you might stumble upon. Thanks for such an interesting article.

  14. oh do I love this post. My friends and I always have loved going to cemeteries at dark trying to see spirits. yes we are strange, but it is a lot of fun and we take the time to admire all of the old grave stones and I dont know if you see this in your region but we have a lot with pennies left on them. I always love finding a head stone that has a story on it that makes you feel like you knew the person or their story.
    Thanks for linking up this week to Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party!! Remember party starts again monday at 10pm to see who was picked for features and link up new content!
    If you follow me on Google+ I send out a reminder, and I try to follow everyone back that adds me 🙂
    There were so many inspiring links this week, like your post, hope you found a few that inspired you as well!
    Thanks again
    Jessica
    http://www.liverandomlysimple.com

    1. I've not seen the coin thing in our area, but I have heard of it. I'm strange too because I read the obituaries just so at least one person (aka me) acknowledges the deceased's life. I know so many older folks these days who die with no one by their side and I think that is sad. I love reading about how their interests, hobbies, service to our country.

  15. I agree – I see cemeteries as peaceful, not spooky. I think it is a matter of how you look at them. We have done pencil rubbings of old headstones that were almost totally unreadable and were able to barely make out the date that way… others we couldn't. We have been to cemeteries that had more recent graves, but also old ones that were from before the Civil War. It sure makes history more interesting. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  16. I used to love walking through cemeteries. They are always so quiet and peaceful. You've given me some good ideas for introducing my children to them. Stopping by from Life with Garnish. Pinning this under Family Time.

  17. Wow! Funny I run into this post. I just visited my second cemetery ever as a camera date and I loved the peacefulness of it. I enjoyed looking at the headstones and wondering what the people were like. Especially considering some went back to the eighteen hundreds. Great share:)

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On a 1/4 acre in a small town lives a slightly deranged woman who never thought she would be a Farm Girl again, then her son asked for a chicken! Welcome to my (mis)Adventures! My name is Mindie and I'm glad you're here!

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