What a Rush!

My fifteen minutes of blogging fame are over.

Thank you to everybody who stopped to “like” or comment. Special thanks to all of you who decided to follow “I Dig Graves.”

I love sharing my passion for all things burial, but it’s especially great exchanging thoughts with all of you.

My blog’s not only a place for me to show off all the great cemeteries I’ve found, but a place to learn, from you, about other fabulous spots around the world. 

Your comments got some excellent speculation going about why people put little fences around graves.

Marking territory was the most common thought followed closely by fulfilling an impulse to continue protecting lost loved ones. I think both of those are true.

The best explanation for the origins of the practice came from VLS. She postulates that it all started when folks buried their families out on the prairie. “Oh give me a home…where the buffalo roam…where the deer and the antelope play.”

If you didn’t want a cow or bison leaning on the tombstone that you’d put a lot of care and money into, you put a fence around it. This idea made a great deal of sense to me and explained why the practice is most prevalent in the Southwestern U.S. Thanks, VLS!

I’m not a genealogist, though I admire those of you who are up to the challenge. I’m not a photographer. Mostly I just point and shoot in beautiful places. But for reason’s I’ve never been very good at articulating, cemeteries provoke and ground me at the same time.

I invite you to share your fascination too.

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Grave Site Fences

I’ve wondered, and maybe you have too, why people put little fences around graves.

I understand fences around the cemetery itself. You’ve got to define the property somehow. But what’s up with the little grave-yards?

I’ve never seen them in the Northeast or Midwestern United States, but they’re common when you travel south and west.

The closest things I’ve come across in the Midwest are these symbolic front steps leading into a family plot.

  I’ve seen gorgeous iron work, beautifully laid stone, concrete, wood, brick, and even humble piles of rocks. Is the point to keep something out or keep something in?

Or is it just a need to fully claim the space?

Sometimes the fence is more substantial than the grave marker.

Virginia City, Nevada

Do you live somewhere where it’s traditional to fence in the family plot? I assume the practice was brought over from Europe or maybe up from Central America. Any ideas?

 

Saint Genevieve, Missouri

I visited this 150-year-old cemetery over a decade ago and got a harsh reality check recently when I went back.

Granted, it was 104° F, a far cry from the balmy spring weather of my first visit. But, that didn’t explain the lack of shadowy, Victorian pathos that I expected.  

I had kind of a Planet of the Apes moment – you know the Statue of Liberty scene? I KNEW I was in the wrong place until I found two graves.

A simple epitaph: John B. Valle, May 3, 1827, August 22, 1869.

Here’s some insight into my taphophelia. Over the decade, I’d elaboratly decorated my memories to make a more appropriate set for the tragic romance I’d invented for John Valle and his consort, Mary St. Gemme.

In Memorium of Mary M. St. Gemme consort of John B. Valle, born February 9 1832, died March 6, 1853, 21 years, 6 days.

The cemetery I “remembered” was crowded with statues and tipped stones all carved in French. Moss hung from the branches of ancient trees and brushed my shoulders as I wandered narrow, winding paths among the graves.

No kidding. That’s exactly what I expected.

Monument to Mary St. Gemme with the simple grave of John Valle at her feet.

Instead of  telling you the story these two graves inspired in my obviously overactive imagination, just look at the pictures and the dates yourself. If you come up with a tale too, then you and I are kindred spirits…or similarly obsessed at least.  Let me know.