Friday, August 1, 2008


There is something about old cemeteries that I find peaceful. I call them antique cemeteries. You know the ones. The ones where people died in the 1800's or early 1900's.

No, I'm not some crazy person who gets a kick out death or dying. I think it's the history and stories that are buried along with the person that gets my interest.

The old headstones are sometimes a tiny peek into their life. Some are pieces of art work. Some are just a marker to let you know someone is there. Some tell a story in and of themselves.

This is an old cemetery in Oceanside, CA. My brother, Gene, lives near here. He has lived in Oceanside for over 20 years and I have always wanted to stop and walk around here. So I finally did.

This woman was only 39 when she died. She was born in 1891 and died in 1930. She was born in Mexico. From her headstone you can tell she was a Christian woman. Notice how her whole grave is covered in concrete.

This is what a lot of people think the old headstones look like. Simple shape, the persons name, date of birth and date of death. We know she had children by the one word MOTHER.

When I first saw this one I thought it was the grave of a father and baby daughter. But if you look at the dates you see it can't be. The baby girl was not born until after the man died. So this must be grandfather and granddaughter. Sadly the baby girl only lived a month.

As I was walking around I noticed this grave had an empty bottle of Gin sitting near it. I wondered if someone had to come to share a drink with a friend or family member. Perhaps it was just someone walking through that threw the bottle out. Though I've never seen anyone here before and it is gated off so not likely someone would cut through here.

This large headstone tells us that the woman here was a wife. Either she was proud of that fact or maybe her husband was someone important back in 1903. Some headstones don't give us any clues. Just the last name of someone buried there.

This is the largest headstone at this cemetery. Perhaps this person came from money. Maybe he had high status in the community when he passed away.

Some people put pictures of their loved ones on the headstones.

This one tells us quite a bit about this lady. She was almost 83 years old. She was born in Cross Hill in Ireland on Halloween in 1839. She was married. The thing that caught my eye on this one was her last name was Martin and her husbands last name was Stoker. Strange that a woman back in those days didn't take her husbands last name.

Some of the headstones were pretty worn down. This one is over 126 years old. This man came to CA from VA in 1843. That must have been a dream that he was able to fulfill.

Some of the old headstones have a line or two of a favorite saying or prayer. Like on here it says "As I am so may you be, Prepare for Death and Follow me." This person was a Christian as can be see from the words SAVED.
Many of the headstones show proof of the person being proud of being in the Military.

Even today, putting the rank of the person while they were in the service is very common to do.

Thanks to these men and women we are free nation! God bless them.

Many people who are married choose to have one grave site where they are buried on top of each other. One deeper then the other. Like this husband and wife.

This one really touched me. These two women were Sisters. The year of there date is the same. No month is given though. I wonder if they died together and their husbands knew the bond they had through out life and let them rest for all eternity together?

The husbands were each buried on either side of the sisters.

This grave just says Mother. I wonder why. I wonder who this person was. I wonder when she died. Was she someone who was like a mother to everyone and that is why it just says Mother?

I don't know. What I do know is it made me think of my own Mother who died over 20 years ago. I still miss her today. I don't think one ever gets over losing a mother.

Some people have a family plot where they will all be buried together. I think this is lovely.

While most of the graves at these older cemeteries don't get many visitors some show signs someone was there. Like flowers that are left behind.

Was it a child who left these little toy cowboy and Indians here? I picture someone going to visit their Grandfather and bringing their own children to meet him.

It's nice to see some of these people may be gone but they are not forgotten.

Yes, I find comfort in walking around the places where people died over 100 years ago. That may be creepy to you. Maybe you like to go there too. I don't know.

There is something about the people who have been here before us and have taken that journey to the next life, that makes me wonder who they were, what their life was like back then and does anyone even remember them any more.

I guess that's why I like I like all things old. China, linens, houses, books and yes, even cemeteries.




Mary Ellen said...

I love cemetaries too.....for the same reason....history, and I like to think of stories that might have taken place with the different people....I will be visiting the cemetary in MA, as I have never seen my parent's headstone.....and want to pay my respects to all of my other relatives too....

Angie said...

hi Joanne,

There are several very old cemetaries near our house that we always drive by. Alot of the markers have cracked or have broken in pieces. It always makes me sad when I see that. I always think...each marker was someone's son or daughter, wife or husband, or child. Before my Grampa died, he bought this huge headstone that looks like a small replica of the Washington Monument..he called it the bullet. My Gramma asked why he picked that one. He told her..I wanna make sure I get shot straight up to Heaven. lol.


p.s. i really find your posts so interesting. i love getting to see all the places in california...what a neat place to live! we have lots of corn fields and cows here..hehe.

Glenda said...

Well I guess if I come down there sometime. You and I will have to visit these places. I get the strangest feelings when I go to a graveyard.


Cindy@Cutepinkstuff said...

Such a unique post, Joanne! Makes one ponder about this life and the next. Love the song, "Imagine." One of the most beautiful, thoughtful Christian songs EVER! Rates right up there with "Amazing Grace." Love all the songs on your sidebar. We have the same taste in music!

Unknown said...

As I was looking & reading these diverse gravestones, I was trying to remember where you lived. I wouldn't have expected so many stones that were so old in CA. I live in MA, in the town that was once known to have the most graveyards in the state! It's amazing to see stones from the 1600s, all the way through today, how the styles & sayings have changed, etc. Some of them have no family or church to take care of them anymore, so they become the responsibility of the town & the scouts, veterans, etc. keep them up. I had been thinking about doing a post in the fall about some of our graveyards; now I definitely will!

Gone said...

I've ALWAYS loved the old cemeteries! I haven't been to one in quite a while. I guess it was the history...I don't think I really thought about it back just was getting to "know" who these people were...and what happened to them.

The last apartment I had in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before coming here to Michigan and marrying Tom...was one I'd lived in for 3 years prior to my move to Tennessee and returned to 9 months later, when I came back to Wisconsin. It was on the first floor and right next to a cemetery...not an older cemetery either. Some people thought I surely must be "nuts" to have taken an apartment there...some of the other residents in the building HATED being there and said they would be moving when they were able to find something else.

The interesting part is, one day, while I was outside tending my little garden I'd planted next to my patio...I heard voices and what sounded like someone crying. I looked around and saw a woman, I figured couldn't be more than about 35-40 years old...sitting at a grave, just beyond the chain-link fence, separating my yard from the cemetery. She was talking and crying and no one was there...just the person who had been buried there only a few days before. When she left...I went over there and found a 42 year old husband's grave. I wondered if she was the wife. Several days passed and again, that woman was there...talking and crying. It was VERY HOT out that day...and she was there a LONG time...probably close to 2 hours. I was going in and out of my apartment again tending the garden and decided I'd take her a glass of Iced Cold Lemonade. I didn't want to intrude and the right time came up. So, over I went. Up to the fence.

Her face brightened when she saw me and suddenly the pain and anguish left her face and there appeared a smile. She shared that her husband had been diagnosed with cancer just a short 3 weeks before he died. He'd only been sick about a week before that. She couldn't believe how quickly he went. She said since he died, she was coming to the cemetery just as often as she be with him. She also said she hoped she hadn't disturbed me. I assured he she hadn't. I was simply concerned about her.

She and I became friends over that cemetery fence...and I met her 3 teenage sons over that fence. We even kept in touch when I moved away to Tennessee, by email.

When I returned to Wisconsin, I would occasionally see her and her boys, but not with any regularity. Then, one day, when I was off from work...I saw the cemetery crew digging a grave, preparing for a funeral...and the grave looked close to her husband's grave. Then, the next day, I saw the 3 teenage boys, without their mother...they were there for the funeral. I went outside, up to the fence of the cemetery...and 2 of her sons came over and shared that their mom died suddenly...she was riddled with cancer, too. They said she'd never appeared anyone! What a shock!!!

A woman I'd befriended through a cemetery fence and got to know her sons that way...was dead and I was there for her funeral.

Several weeks passed and then one day her sons were at her grave...they saw me and came around the fence...for the first time. They hugged me and thanked me for all I had "done for mom", befriending her like I had. They cried and so did I.

Thanks for the memories that have flooded back to me...after reading your awesome story.



Hi Joanne,
You have such interesting posts. Thanks for the cemetery story. It was very interesting. You are welcome and yes I made the card. Why did you stop making cards? It's my creative outlet !!! Have a great weekend.
Warmly, DEb

Tracie~MyPetiteMaison said...

Hi Joanne,
I'm here from Pearl's blog. Your post caught my eye while I was there at Pearl's.

I love cemeteries. I was brought up with my great-grandparents and grandparents, cousins, etc. walking through the cemetary in my home town. They would all share stories of who was buried there and what their life had been like back sharing time with that family memory. I love thinking back to those cherished times that my great grandparents and their children took the time to share with us way back when.

I don't think it's creepy at all. Loved this post, glad I found your blog too.

Renee said...

I love going to old cemeteries. James thinks I'm a little wierd but I love the history. I do a lot of geneology work and visit cemeteries take pictures of different peoples ancestors headstones and send the pictures to them. If you need a headstone in their area they will do the same. It's kind of fun. Call me if you want to find out more. Also, that first headstone you talked about (the one from Mexico) that's a woman. Ysabel is Isabel in spanish.

Kim's Treasures said...

At one time I was not a fan of cemetaries until I got married. Our first apartment neighbors were very quiet...we lived next to a cemetary. It was the view out our living room, bedroom and kitchen...our only 3 windows! I got comfortable really quick with our neighbors and then we began to tour the cemetary. It was an old cemetary in Houghton, MI (in the upper peninsula). The only thing I found creepy was way too cold and the ground way too frozen to bury anyone in the winter...the bodies would be stored and brought out in the spring, on big wagons, to be buried.

Thanks for reminding me of our first neighbors! And thank you for your kind comments on my posts!

Have a great night!

Renee said...

I have done a ton of family history. You should see the stuff I've found. If you come over one day I'll show you all the websites and search engines that will help. Also, the Mormons have the biggest geneology records. They have a website and they transfer all documents found to this website. Plus its free. I love doing family history and I would love to help you!!

Lisa's RetroStyle said...

I love old cemeteries also...and I like to think about the people that were here before us and what their lives were like. My parents worked for years restoring an "antique" cemetery in their town. It's a beautiful place! I've even visited old cemeteries on vacation in Puerto Rico and on St. John's. How weird am I?

Joyce's Journey said...

Interesting post, Joanne. When I was a kid, I was petrified of cemeteries. Did you ever see that movie, "Night of the Living Dead"? Ugh. Couldn't drive past a cemetery for months after watching that. Now, it is interesting, as you have shared, to see the lives and histories of those that have gone before us. I also enjoy reading the obituaries. I feel it's a person's last hurrah and they deserve the recognition. How long will we be remembered or thought about? An interesting thought to ponder.

rachel said...

you really always have such neat posts! i always enjoy looking at each post you have for the day. This one today, is very interesting and creative. I love going to cemetaries because i love all different names, and at a cemetary, I can find recent names, but also names from hundreds of years ago. thanks for sharing (:

Lorilee said...

My mom loved to go to old cemeteries. I have inherited that love. My husband thinks it is a strange fascination. Our local Preservation Society does a fall cemetery tour with people dressing up and acting the parts of some of the deceased members of the community. I have not had the time to attend one yet. October is such a busy month for me.

Linda ★ Parker's General said...

Again, my friend, you have transported me with your words and photographs. My DH's parents are in a really old cemetary and we go out there twice a year to bring fresh flowers and tend the ones planted on their beautiful red, double heart marker. It means alot to him to have things of beauty for his Mother. My grandparents and several other relatives are in a different old cemetary in another state and we visit it regularly, also. There is so much history there including the respect people show for their loved ones. Society today is becoming lax about these treasures that mean so much. We will keep gooing to visit and tend the places where our loved ones rest.
Thanks again for taking me to that place of peace in my heart and mind.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love old cemeteries too Joanne! My husband and I are volunteers at one researching the Civil War veterans who are buried there so thta we can mkae sure they have headstones. In 6 years our volunteer group has found over 3,000! I blogged about it once and you can find it under my "Brooklyn, NY" labeled posts if you'd like to read about it.

I loved all the unusual and old headstones you posted here. Such history!
Hugs, Pat

Judy said...

I was into geneology a few years ago and visted old cemeteries to take pictures of my ancestors. It was really quite interesting.

LaVon Baker said...

Your pictures of all the grave markers reminded me of "The Dash." If you've never seen this webpage, you will enjoy this:

Frugalious Living said...

Hi Joanne,

I truly love your blog! You write about the things I find most facinating. Pennsylvania is steeped in history and its not uncommon to see very old cemeteries erected where once must have been a quiet spot, is now center of main street. Tombstones that are so close to be erroded its hard to see the names.

I actually want an old fashioned tomebstone, nothing big or fancy for me. Wouldn't you love to go back in time, undisturbed, and just see what it was like? I think of all the people that walked this earth before we did and how their lives must've been.

There is a gorgeous Catholic church in New Hampshire where my great grandparents married, grandmother was baptised then married and mother was baptised. I've seen the outside but not inside. I am planning on taking a trip there to just walk through the old church and feel the history.

Thanks for the great post!

Jennifer said...

There is a name for people who love cemeteries, (and stuff related to death), I believe they are called "taphophiles"
I am in the northeast, where our cemeteries have graves dating back to the 1600's. I have several in my town, which is a historic old Quaker village. I love cemeteries, and often paint and draw in them.