Monday, October 11, 2010

Countdown To Halloween Day 11

It's not Halloween without a graveyard or two, so on Sunday, October 10, 2010 I visited the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Waynesboro, Va.

This wasn't the first time.

Way back in the 'Sixties when the country (or, at least, the South) and I were both in the grip of Civil War Fever (it was the Centennial, after all), I heard that Confederate soldiers were buried in the town's "old cemetery." Confederate soldiers! I promptly started a nagging campaign to convince my parents to take me there (Mom probably would have said "unleash," but she was a girl and didn't understand the innate Coolness Factor of battles 'n' stuff). Eventually, they gave in and one Sunday afternoon I spent a glorious hour wandering among the tombstones while my father smoked cigarettes and stood guard. Technically, we were trespassing, though who, exactly, would ever press charges was... confusing. In one of those Progress trumps History moments the town had allowed some local developers to build a shopping mall at the base of the cemetery hill; in fact, they were digging into the hill and relocating bodies with some frequency. It seemed as though no one was particularly concerned about an old graveyard.

As the years passed the cemetery fell victim to neglect and vandalism, which was (and is) a sad state of affairs except for one little thing...

It's a spooky place even in daylight.

And as typical Monster Kids of the 'Sixties we loved it! In fact, we even used the place in our Super 8 magnum opus, The Ring (warning: testosterone-charged teen boys, stolen plot lines and musical tracks, but nifty make-up and lighting). Of course, >>>I<<< always dreamed of hanging out there at night, especially Halloween night, but there was no way to get away with that back then.

Anyway, I happened to be in Waynesboro and figured I grab a few pics while I was there.

Some years ago these gravestones had been stacked neatly beside an ancient oak tree. Whether they fell because of vandalism or natural causes (i. e., neglect) I have no idea. I also have no idea who laid them out like this. If I were to guess, I'd say the local historians/genealogists in order to compile an archive of who's buried here (see text archives here and here).*

"Lt. J. A. Burns. Fell at the Battle of Winchester
Sept. 19. 1864."
The Waynesboro Paranormal Research Group has a similar picture with Confederate battle flag on its web page. See also here.

"Sarah J. Wife of Rev. W. T. Richardson and mother
of the three children who lie here beside her.
None ever labored harder from necessity
than she from the desire of doing good."

"William Eston Richardson. Adopted Son of W. T. and S. J. Richardson
Also by Grace a child of God. Died in the Service of his country
June 16, 1862."
See also the Waynesboro Paranormal Research Group's picture of this site.

I am intensely curious as to who it is leaving (artificial) flowers at these gravesites.

"Dear Doctor."

The grave markings have been lost.

2 yrs. 7 mo. old.

Along with folded hands, the finger pointing heavenward is a common gravestone device here.

The lower right corner of this pic can be seen in a WPRG photo.

Need story inspiration? Wander through any old cemetery and you'll be overwhelmed by the number of personal tragedies represented therein. I find this place particularly poignant because (1) I know it, and (2) despite the age and disarray and neglect there are still people who come and commemorate those buried here.

*Oops! I AM correct! This just in as of this morning: "The Old Presbyterian Cemetery."

1 comment:

Elizabeth Massie said...

You do your visit to the cemetery justice! Cort and I think it's incredibly sad and short sighted that the city has let this cemetery fall into such awful disrepair. What we need is a rich person to decide it's worth fixing up (though that might cut down on the cool, creepy factor, though!)