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….
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.