Cemeteries. Every city has one. They are mysterious, historic, haunting and, to me, fascinating. I developed a fondness for cemeteries as a boy.
Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.
Chances are you’ve visited one at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.
My travels take me to all over the South and Midwest, so I’ve decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a new Sunday feature.
While city cemeteries are important and significant, small family cemeteries — especially ones off the beaten path — are hidden treasures worth jumping up and down over. (And yes, my feet did leave the ground a couple of times!)
I made this discovery when I got lost on some back roads during a recent visit to Glasgow, KY. While driving along Harry King Road, I spotted some trees in a field standing guard over a small cluster of headstones. Once I found the cemetery and deemed the coast clear (one can never be too careful about trespassing on private property in the south — it’s a good way to get shot!), I began documenting mmy find with my trusty Sony digital camera.
Most of the headstones belonged to the families of Chapman and Jackman. I also saw the names Harlow, Bishop, Emmitt and Byrd. Some of the stones were weathered, making it difficult to read the inscriptions. One of the oldest stones I found belonged to Nancy T. Chapman (b. 1876, d. 1877), daughter of J.T. and Mary E. Chapman. Although this stone was one of the oldest, it was one of the more well-preserved likely because itwas located under a tree. There was a metal marker for Judge J. Jackson (b. 1901, d. 1976) who served in the Navy during World War I. However, my favorite headstone belonged to Homer L. Jackson (b. 1891, d. 1944) – what a catchy name! I decided to take a self-portrait alongside Homer; hopefully he didn’t mind.
While walking around, I couldn’t help but notice the bottom half of a headstone propped up with a sturdy piece of wood. The top of the stone had broken off and was leaning against the base. It belonged to Eliza Chapman (b, 1864, d.1892), who was no doubt one of the original family members.
When I have more time, I’d like to visit the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library in Glasgow to do more research on the Chapman and Jackman families. I’d also like to talk to some neighbors in the area. Many of the surrounding farms look like they’ve been in the same families for generations. Certainly there’s a farmer or two who can shed some light on this fascinating family cemetery.
Until next time….