Monday, August 18, 2008

St. John's Church Cemetery

After over a week away from home and this blog, I'm back with camera full of photos that includes cemeteries, views from an Amtrak train speeding south to Virginia and back to New York City, as well as views of Brooklyn shot from an elevated subway line. Although the trip was nice, it's always a relief to get back to New York City. For those of you who don't appreciate urban living, it might be hard to understand the appeal of Manhattan as a permanent resident. But having grown to enjoy the city after a decade in Greenwich Village, I can take pleasure in its vibrancy and diversity - as well as the convenience of walking to whatever I need.

These photos are from one of my favorite destinations near my parents' home - St. John's Episcopal Church, which I've previously featured on the blog. Although the parish was founded in 1643, this building, the second on the site, was constructed in 1755 and is now on the National Register.

I had glanced at the headstones before but hadn't really taken note of their inscriptions, having usually been in a hurry to photograph the building itself while anxious kids waited in the car. Look closely at the second photo below and you'll see the reference to a Confederate "patriot" who died in the Civil War "to save his country's honour." The third and fourth photos tell a different story. With three members of the same family, including a five-month-old son, dying over an eight-day span in 1836, one suspects they were victims of some sort of illness, in a scenario so typical of the period. (The top left photo I selected because of its Masonic symbol, not something often seen on local stones from this period. If you click on this image and view the larger version, notice the detail in the carving, as well as the small spots of lichen starting to grow on the stone. The second photo (above right) stands out because it's the marker for a three-year-old, a detail my younger son noticed while marching through the rows of stones. He's now accustomed to seeing the graves of small children in our cemetery travels and I've tried to explain that childhood mortality was a common thing in previous centuries. One has to wonder if this child's death was caused by illness - or was a result of the war.)

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