Red House Presbyterian Church Cemetery

Red House, founded in the mid-1700s is one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations in the state, although the current structure is its fourth physical incarnation. Reportedly British soldiers camping on the property during the Revolutionary War burned the original building and desecrated the grave of the church’s first minister Hugh McAden. Fire consumed the second structure in the early 1800s, and the third was eventually replaced.

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On a sunny March 2014 afternoon I visited Red House Presbyterian Church in Semora, North Carolina during the melting of a recent snowfall.

There were a number of pleasant surprises in the graveyard behind the church in terms of epitaphs and structures.

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Lines from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem on the back of Betty Rainey’s obelisk

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"Flung Himself From a Tower" (1894)

On the morning of August 23, 1894 banker Col. James Monroe Winstead sedately climbed the stairs to a balcony tower at Richmond’s City Hall, “threw his cane and shoes down” and then jumped to his death, landing on the iron fence over 90 feet below.

As I dug deeper into the circumstances surrounding this gruesome death, I found two additional pieces of information that in some ways shed more light on what happened that day and other ways only open up more questions.

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The Berger-Dickenson Family Cemetery

In 2013 I trekked to the northern part of Pittsylvania County to visit the graveyard at Siloam United Methodist Church. On the return trip I noticed a small family cemetery that looked too old and interesting to ignore. What caught my eye were the shapes of the markers and the symbols decorating them.
Because the Berger-Dickenson cemetery is on private property I parked on the side of the road and took a few photos from a distance. There were many other graves that I would’ve liked to have seen up-close, but I didn’t want to risk trespassing.
Mabel Berger was the intended focus of this entry, but over the years I haven’t been able to find out much about the the infant’s brief life in Oklahoma’s Sac & Fox territory or how she died. For that reason I held off on posting all of the photos of this graveyard…until now.
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A Stranger In A Strange Land

I first noticed Francois Thomas’ tombstone several years ago  in a promiscuous section of Danville’s Green Hill Cemetery. (Promiscuous here meaning that the area is populated by single graves rather than family plots.)

This particular section is far from the entrance, near the chain link fence that separates the burial grounds from the railroad tracks. Extended distance between tombstones likely suggests that unmarked graves outnumber the marked.

I can’t say with certainty that this is a pauper’s lot because in all my time researching Green Hill I haven’t determined which lands were designated for the poor or unclaimed bodies.

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W.W. New & Family

Several years ago I wrote about 1911’s Pinnix Murder-Suicide, which took place in Danville and involved Fannie New Pinnix and her husband William Gunn Pinnix.

Both parties rest in Green Hill Cemetery in unmarked graves according to burial records, however; there are monuments in the plot designating the graves of Fannie’s immediate family.

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Christ Church Burial Ground

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to make it to the fifth Death Salon event at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. While in town I planned to visit Laurel Hill Cemetery but time constraints and exhaustion prevented me from following through. (Excuses, excuses.)

Christ Church Burial Ground was about a half an hour’s walk from the hotel so one afternoon I ventured out in that direction knowing that there was only an hour or so for exploration.

Additionally cutting into time, Google Maps sent me to the church instead of the cemetery so I wandered around aimlessly before someone told me that my destination was three blocks away on 5th and Arch.

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Spring Break at Oakdale

Oakdale Cemetery has been on my radar for awhile due to several notable or unusual residents, the close proximity of the grounds to the ocean and its roots as part of the Rural Cemetery Movement.

I recently took a whirlwind trip to Wilmington where my dog and I spent several hours exploring only part of the nearly 100 acres by foot and car searching for particular graves, Victorian motifs (my favorite kind of symbolism) and unique inscriptions.

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More From Danville National Cemetery

In November 2013 I wrote about Civil War prisoners who died in Danville’s prison camps or military hospitals. While I’m far from being finished with the task of photographing and researching these Union and Confederate soldiers’ backgrounds, here are a few more of their stories. The majority of the men in this post also died in Danville’s military hospitals from diseases caused by or worsened by their deplorable living conditions and medical care.

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February At Oakwood

Recently I took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to return to Raleigh, North Carolina’s Oakwood Cemetery. Because I have so many photos of graves that I haven’t researched or posted yet, I concentrated more on landscape shots with a few exceptions.

This was the first time I had the opportunity of seeing Elizabeth Edwards’ 8 foot tall white marble grave marker, which features a pair of hands underneath 27 flying doves. I wrote about her son Wade’s impressive marker some time ago.

John Dolson was a Minnesota Civil War soldier who died in a federal hospital and mistakenly buried as a Confederate soldier after officials mistakenly recorded his name and other demographic information. Decades later his true identity was revealed but he remains a Union soldier buried amongst his battlefield enemies.

There are plenty of other fascinating micro-biographies to be written about those interred at Oakwood, but sometimes it’s nice just to take a stroll and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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