Category: FieldReport3 (Page 1 of 3)

Knowing the Unknown

Richmond National Cemetery—methodical, uniformed, subdued. Puzzling. Identity seems fickle in this federal burying ground. Along the single road leading into the cemetery, two headstones, side-by-side, form the start (or the end?) of one of the many rigid rows. Both are designated for unknown soldiers. However, there are surprising stylistic differences to these two unknown burials where one expects none.

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The first has the designation nestled within an indented shield—proclaiming the soldiers’ allegiance, or perhaps eternal belonging, to the army. In a sense, the shield consumes the soldiers’ identities—even in death, they belong within the shield and within the walls of a soldier’s cemetery. The material of the headstone is consistent with the others, except for its pronounced striations. The pattern elicits a visual sense of weathering, the kind experienced in war. Immediately upon view, this tombstone conditions the minds of the passerby to envision the arduous experience of battle and the continuous struggle for recognition.

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The next tombstone reads, “Three Unknown U.S. Soldiers.” The combination of the additional attribute of United States and the corresponding cross on top is no accident—after all, “God bless the U.S.A.” The United States, as a nation, is necessarily entwined with religion despite the rise of secularity. This tombstone, then, pronounces these three American soldiers’ ultimate affiliation with God. The marble used to construct this stone is more pristine, more homogenous, more united.

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These two headstones are temporally and spatially close to each other, yet they deliver divergent messages. Nonetheless, they have a known final place despite being “unknown.” In the Richmond National Cemetery, anonymity prevails (without the reference records, even the named stones seem nameless.) In spite of that, each stone commands a known plot in a nationally recognized space.

Calling on the Dead in East End Cemetery

Conch shells – put one up to your ear and you can hear waves lapping upon the shore.  A hundred miles inland from the Atlantic, the City of Richmond is not typically strewn with seashells.  Amble through the underbrush of historic East End Cemetery, however, and you’ll notice a few of these unusual, if not charming decorations resting on some graves.

This conch shell sits at the foot of the Van Jackson family grave in East End.  While other shells on surrounding plots are real, the Van Jackson conch is actually a concrete cast, dirty white and rough to the touch.  It’s rather substantial as well, about the size of a human head and heavy enough to require two hands to pick it up.

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Conch shells are not only admired for their beautiful colors and massive spiral shape; they are also useful tools.  Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America have used them for centuries to make powerful horn sounds by blowing through the tip like a trumpet.  A skilled blower could communicate messages over large distances using conchs.

To place a shell on the grave of a loved one could be a comforting symbol of communication – it reminds visitors that while the dead may seem distant, they’re still, in a way, contactable.  It encourages mourners to “call” their lost loved ones, reach out to them and their image as they were in life.  This outlook on death preserves the memory of the loved one in a way that is not so much lost in death as simply gone for a while.

A major reason East End has fallen into disrepair stems from its prominence as an African American cemetery and the history of racial tensions in the South.  When examining these gravesites, it is vital to remember that enslaved people were not only Africans, but were people of color from multiple regions of the world, including the East Indies and Caribbean islands.  These people kept their culture with them as they migrated, preserving it even in death.  The Van Jackson conch possibly highlights a narrative of traditional coastal Afro-American or Caribbean American communities by honoring the custom of conch shells as a means of communication with those who have passed on.

Flashy Matriarchs

Walking a few plots past the President’s Circle, a specific group of gravestones caught the eye of many of the students. One families plot held a couple of stones that were not only extremely large, but also extremely unique in their shape. This plot and the two stones with unique shape attracted my attention to the plot. Surrounded and marked by a cast iron fence and closed to visitors besides am small rusted gate One of the stones in the plot, the oldest looking (not pictured) was tall, thin, and worn. In contrast to the other 4 around it, the traditional and eroded stone seemed to be from long before the others, indicating an ancestor of significant age and distance from the others. Most notable about this stone was the last name “Caskie” and birth date in 1821 for the man, John Samuels.

Fewer questions came to mind when looking at the next two stones. Despite a great height and thickness, these were more traditionally shaped, with a curved top, image of a cross engraved in the top, and a solid base, one of which had the name “London.” The material was a more solid granite (or something like it) with exact, crisp lettering for the names. The stone that included the name “London” had the husband with the name “Daniel London” and his wife Mary with the last name “Caskie.” Mary Caskie was born 8 years after Samuel Caskie on the older stone. The stone next to them held a single name, also a London. He was born 46 years after the other London had been born, but only 35 years after his wife, the younger Caskie had been born.

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At this point, the family tree seemed pretty straight forward. Mary had been the sister to John Samuels. She had married Daniel London and then given birth to Guy Reeves London. Mary had been the key person to tie all of the people together in this plot, with both her brother, husband, and son present.

The larger, more interesting stones added to the family tree. While identical in shape, the stone facing the river was larger. It had a pyramid shaped base with a large circle on top. With a cross on the very top, there were three identical circles that met together in their centers carved out of the circle on the top. The rectangular base held the name “Ficklen.” It marked the graves of Ellen Caskie London (1866-1934) and her husband Joseph Burwell Ficklen (1848-1907). The smaller stone was identical in shape and wording, facing into the plot and directly opposite the other stone. It held the name Joseph Burwell Ficklen III (1892-1978) and his wife Irene Poole.

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It seemed that Ellen Caskie London must have been the daughter of Mary Caskie and Daniel London, and the sister to Guy Reeves London. Her husband’s grandson was Joseph Burwell Ficklen III, and he had likely been buried in the plot years after the first four stones.

As I searched the names and dates, it felt obvious that all of the family wanted to memorialize each other in a big way, and that the stone for the elder Ficklens was obviously meant to be seen. The iconography and shape of the stone was unique and bold, but, most importantly, it caught the eye of passersby, as was evidenced by the number of students that stopped to take a picture. The person that added onto or designed this plot wanted it to be noticed and seen.

The most interesting thing was the matriarchal influence in the plot. In this time period, since men were the dominant figures in a family, I would expect the family to be buried according to the men in the family (and thereby maintain a last name for the plot). However, this plot is most strongly influenced by the women, specifically the Caskie women. Mary Caskie and Ellen Caskie London are the two figures mention that create the most connections within the plot. It is Mary Caskie’s brother and son and daughter that are marked by four of the five stones, and then Ellen Caskie London’s brother, mother, uncle, and grandson throughout the plot. In this family, the women connected the family that was buried. This explains why there are three different last names present.

Ultimately, I think this plot indicates that, while the male side of the family was undoubtedly important, when it came to being buried and having gravestones (maybe considered artistic and therefore feminine) and deciding who was put into the plot with this family, the women were more influential. Since Mary and Ellen both outlived their husbands, they might have had more of a say on where they wanted him buried, and they may have picked the plot with their own families. Or, as other family members buried them all, they may have recognized the Caskie bloodline to have a stronger influence within the family, and therefore be more important for the burial placement.

Hollywood Cemetery: Tree Stump Tombstones

Compared with other cemeteries, both that we have visited and most people’s general idea of what a cemetery looks like, Hollywood Cemetery stands out from the rest. There are such a wide variety of tombstone shapes, sizes and styles that visiting the cemetery truly is an enjoyable event. The most unique tombstones that caught my eye, however, were the tree stump tombstones. There are a number of them spread throughout the cemetery, but the most striking were the ones marking the lot of the Lloyd family.
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The Lloyd family burial plot here contains the mother and father and their six children, all whose tombstones are in some tree form. The tallest tree stump is the most extravagant, with many different leaves and vines winding around the tree. The smaller ones are simpler, yet they appear to be very realistic. Even the aging of the stone has made the tombstones look more like trees, not losing their natural look over time. Each of the tombstones is made to look as if the tree had been cut intentionally, both at the main trunk and at the branches. This could signify the ending of the person’s life, with the tree being a representation of their life in full. The shorter tombstones could show that those people lived a short life, whether that means short according to the life expectancy during that time or short to the Lloyd family because the death was unexpected.

Taking a look at the details on the shorter tombstones themselves, one can sense a sort of peaceful memorialization of the dead.

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As I mentioned before, the stone is carved to show a deliberate cutting of the tree, with the trunk and the branches having been eliminated. Yet there isn’t a feeling of finality that many tombstones express. Trees are just about as natural as one can get. They give us life, they give us shade, and they give us comfort. Yes, the tree may have had to be cut down, but much of it still remains and will for a long time. Minnie, and the rest of the Lloyd family here, is “At Rest,” a phrase which carries much more peace and hope than “Here Lies the Body of…” The tree is adorned with a few simple flowers and a sign identifying whom the tree represents. It exudes natural life, which I think is the reason it attracts people. The creativity of carving a tree stump tombstone lines up with the creation of Hollywood Cemetery in general. The cemetery feels like a park, somewhere to spend an afternoon in peace and calm, and what feels more like a park than trees? These tombstones were made as trees to bring peace and comfort to those visiting the cemetery, just as the cemetery itself was designed.

Hollywood Cemetery: A Welcoming Repellent

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As I wandered through the hills of Hollywood Cemetery on the chilly second day of March, I found that the structures that intrigued (and simultaneously repelled) me the most were the mausoleums. These mini buildings drew my attention because they were relatively foreign to me. I knew of their existence and that they were a type of grave marker, but I never walked up to one- nor felt so minuscule next to a memorial of the dead. My family was buried with simple, non-ornate headstones. To be honest, approaching a mausoleum made me more fearful than the headstones. When I peered through the front doors of one of them to admire the stained glass window on the other side, I felt like I was violating the privacy of the dead inside. I sensed that there would be some sort of spirit-mystical-ghost-force that would approach me and warn me that I have come too close to the memorial. This made me wonder if the large, imposing burial sites were designed to frighten and ward off graveyard visitors more than draw them closer. Of course, the design welcomes the family of the deceased; but for all others the sheer size and structure of a mausoleum holds an air of importance and unease. This combination is not exactly inviting.

The edifice that stood out to me among all of the mausoleums was that of L. H. Jenkins. After circling the grave more than once, I was surprised to find no information aside from the name. I do not even know if a man or a woman lies in this plot. The anonymity and mystery of this burial site add to its air of imposing significance. In my mind, the man (or woman) was too important to have any more details. It reminded me slightly of the Robert E. Lee monument on Monument Avenue in Richmond. The only word on the whole statue is “Lee.” The viewer of the memorial should just know who the structure commemorates. If you do not know, you should not bother approaching.

Jenkins’ mausoleum has two distinctive icons: the cross and the flower. The matching crosses that adorn the front of the mausoleum, which are the primary focus when approaching the grave, exemplify the religion of the deceased. This obvious Christian iconography denotes that religion must have been an important part of Jenkins’ life. Upon a closer look, flower blossoms frame the copper doors into the building. Also, there is a beautiful stained glass window located on the back, depicting a bouquet of white flowers. Flowers can have a plethora of meanings, but these two different representations made me think of eternal life. As these particular flowers are artistic creations, they can never die. This could reveal that Jenkins lives on forever through the memorial.

By far, Hollywood Cemetery has been my favorite visit to date. The wide range of grave markers scattered across the scenic area of land made me feel welcome in a way that I have never before experienced in a cemetery. However, the contrast between the inviting landscape and the haunting mausoleums created a startling dissonance in my experience. My inability to feel fully at peace around the buildings changed the way I look at cemeteries, diverging from the not-so-scary commemoration of my family’s dead.

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The lore and legends surrounding Hollywood Cemetery were the most fascinating aspect of the cemetery to me, exemplified by the legends of the Black Iron Dog, and the Richmond Vampire’s tomb. These stories and urban myths exemplify the popular perception in the public imagination of cemeteries as sort of nexus points of otherworldly and supernatural phenomena, a place where the rules of reality break down and the impossible becomes possible. This view of the cemetery as a sort of liminal space between the world of the dead and the world of the living, reveals the human fascination with the mystery surrounding death and the power it has on our imaginations as we seek to understand this often bewildering  fact of human existence.

The legends surrounding the iron dog and the vampire’s tomb, both center on the notion of these supernatural occurrences happen at night, transforming  and revealing themselves under the cover of darkness.  The notion of darkness has always been associated with death, in contrast to the light of life,  and it seems that as night falls the world of the dead, enters the world of the living through the darkness and absence of light. The transformation of an inanimate corpse and a man made object that was never even living, into seemingly living, or at least inhabited entities speaks to the human notion of the soul, or spirit world, where incorporeal yet conscious entities  exist in a sort of ether that surrounds the living world.  The persistence of human belief in ghosts around the world, through out time and across cultures speaks to the persistent need we feel to project aspects of our own living experience unto the dead.

It is interesting to note that both of these prominent urban legends center around tragic events, the death of a child and a calamitous accident.  The iron dog’s protective visage and role in legend of keeping watch over the grave of a  young child, shows how this legend is used as a comfort in the face of the grim reality of a life taken too soon. Through this legend we see the child safe and secure even in death,  protected and accompanied by a faithful companion, which is so many ways is a comforting notion. Similarly in the legend of the vampire and its association with the collapse of the Church Hill tunnel, the urge to link the supernatural to tragedy is shown. Given the horror of the event, and the disfiguring injuries that were reported surrounding the “creature” that ran from the tunnel, one can view this legend as a sort of separation between society and a traumatic event,  creating explanations that distance themselves from possibility of meeting a similar fate themselves.

The  continued fascination and enduring interest that these legends have cultivated in Hollywood Cemetery, shows the attraction we have to these places, not just as resting places for corpses but as unique places in our reality where we suspend our disbelief when confronted with the awesome visage of death and our own mortality.

Post Script:

While writing this  field report and thinking about the human fascination with ghosts, and supernatural phenomena occurring at cemeteries, I was draw back to an experience I had as a teenager which I have never been able to fully explain.

When I was in high school, my best friend’s father worked at a local cemetery located in the middle of a state park. It was a large clearing in the middle of a dense expanse of woods, down a long secluded drive. It was quiet and peaceful and isolated from the sounds and rush of the outside world and often populated by deer and turkeys that lived in the surrounding forest. As we grew older and became increasingly familiar with the property, we began going there at night. What was initially a one time fun adventure became a fairly regular occurrence, as we knew no one would bother us there. It became a reliable get away from home, our own private late night park for getting into the kind of less than reputable activities that teenagers excel at. Though I must say we were always extremely respectful of the nature of the space, though some might beg to  differ, we saw no harm in spending our time there among the dead. We didn’t think they would mind, even if they could.

Then one evening we went to the cemetery with my best friends older brother and his girlfriend at the time. We had barely been there five minutes when an ominous sound began rising out of the woods, seemingly surrounding us in all directions. It was like nothing I have ever heard before or since, seemingly infinitely low and infinitely high at once in its pitch, screaming with the ethereal intensity of a hurricane wind moving through the trees and the primal energy of a thousand wolves crying out into the night in unison. Only there was no wind, and the flags and markers and tree tops surrounding us were completely still, and no animal that I know of could produce or sustain that noise for so long, as we listened to it for nearly 10 minutes as it roared around us continuously. As we listened I was overcome by a feeling of something being very angry with me, an unbound rage that was projected directly at us. My friend’s older brother, one of the toughest men I have ever known, was the first to urge us to leave, as the noise grew louder, and greater, and I felt a presence bearing down on me with an almost palpable atmospheric pressure. We drove out of there very fast, the noise only disappearing as we exited the grounds of cemetery and headed down the long dark drive.

To this day I have no idea what that could have been, especially as I later worked in the state park and got to know the surrounding woods better. We returned there regularly after that without incident, except for on one occasion roughly a year later  when we were overcome by a similar feeling of dread and unwelcomeness. That was the night my best friends mother died, who was like a second mother to me. Within the year I knew three people buried there and we stopped going.  I try to rationalize these things but I have never been able to completely rule out the least plausible explanation according to science, that of the supernatural.

Field Report 3: Hollywood Cemetery

Underneath a tree, on the corner of a family plot is the grave of Kate and Charlies Burr. They died years apart, Kate at 2, and Charles at 3 in 1849 and 1858 respectively. Their grave has several elements to it, starting with the monument to the children resting on top of a chest tomb. It depicts a boy and a girl embracing each other lovingly, having been laid on the top of their sarcophagus, anchored together with a wreath of buds, and surrounded by interspersed leaves and foliage. It depicts the life of these two children cut short and reminds the viewer of both the beginning promise of life and the fragility of that promise. It also implies a connection between the siblings, despite their separate deaths, indicating that the family believed they were together in the afterlife.

Below the sarcophagus are two beds, perhaps for planting flowers, that are surrounded neatly in stone. They stretch behind the grave, morphing with the slope of the hill. The first bed carries an inscriptions reading, “And he took them up in his arms and blessed them Mark 10:16.” Sitting on the ledge is a platter carved with dying flowers and leaves, perhaps representing the feelings of the parents as they placed flowers on the grave of their children. The second ledge extends further out and it unadorned, although it’s not entirely clear whether it is the location of the children’s burial, or if it serves a purpose for the family. The grave itself doesn’t have a clear-cut front or back, only the children have any direction at all: head to the east, feet to the west, orienting them, rather than the face of the grave, in the traditional direction. Oddly, the text on both sides is oriented north and south, aligning with the path beside it.

The grave itself has a flow from earth to heaven. It starts displaying the ground, collecting the dead leaves from the tree it’s planted under, square, dark, and earthy. At the top sits the children, inclined upwards, looking eternally healthy and peaceful, carved in a lighter stone.

The grave displays both the feelings of loss of the parents, and the religious promise of life, using not only the carvings to depict it, but the land itself.

Field Report 3

Shockoe Hill Cemetery and Hebrew Cemetery offer more diverse examples of grave markers than what we had seen at previous cemetery visits. I seemed to pay more attention to the iconography and epitaphs after the readings from Seeman. The blending of Christian, Jewish, and cultural imagery on some of the markers were very fascinating, but what stuck with me the most was the amount of children graves there were, the position, and displays of their markers.

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Walking through the Shockoe Hill Cemetery, the first tombstone I walked past was mostly illegible, but what stood out the most was the image of a laying lamb on top of the stone implying their innocence. As I walked more, I noticed more and more of the lambs. All of the markers containing the lamb iconography, that I could read, were those of children. The stones were usually smaller than the others around it. For some cases, the family plots with an Obelisk, the child markers were either in the form of small headstones near it or they were included with one of the parent’s markers on the Obelisk. For others, the child’s name was added the mother’s stone and mentions the child towards the bottom. There were also stones that included someone’s child, but also next to it was a separate marker just for the child. In some instances the children from a certain family were grouped together. IMG_6016

Shown above is one of the family plots that grouped the children together, but oddly faces a different direction than the other plots in the family. There were several family plots throughout the cemetery that was similar to this style. The children’s stones, for many family plots, are aligned together in front of the plot. Many of the same epitaphs inscribed on the child tombstone can be seen reiterated on other child markers.

One in particular that I found interesting was in the Huet family section where there was a small stone that did not have any dates, but simply “Emile, Son of Emile and Catharine Huet” with the more unique imagery of a child laying on a bed of flowers. I had seen this imagery before at Hollywood Cemetery throughout the grounds, but this was the only one at Shockoe Hill Cemetery I could find.

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Like Shockoe Hill, the first marker that caught my attention at Hebrew cemetery was that of one remembering a child. The stone was craved into the image of a small tree that had been cut down and revealed that the body buried was that of a four-year-old girl. The guides assisting our group suggested that the stone markers of cut trees represented “a life cut short.” This use of imagery can be seen in different and elaborate forms throughout the grounds not only for child, but young adults too.

Children were represented just as much at the Hebrew Cemetery as they were at Shockoe Hill Cemetery. The child markers at Hebrew Cemetery were more clearly belonging to a certain family at Hebrew Cemetery due to the distinct stone borders around the plots. Another difference was that at Hebrew Cemetery, there were fewer tombstones that a parent and child shared a marker, but rather the child would have their own stone or marker. A strong possibility is that the families at owning plots at Hebrew Cemetery seem to have been wealthier and had the means to provide a separate marker for the children, where as the stones at Shockoe Hill are less elaborate and adding a child to parent’s stone would have been cheaper than providing them with their own stone.

As child mortally rate was higher during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it makes sense that there would be more children buried at Hebrew Cemetery and Shockoe Hill Cemetery than what would be seen at newer cemetery grounds. Death rate for children were even higher in the more urban areas in the early years of the United States. A large factor to the high child morality rates was that the advances in transportation increased faster than increase in medicine. Children were exposed to more diseases in higher traffic areas in which medicine at the time could not aid in reducing early childhood deaths.

SHOCKOE HILL CEMETERY/HEBREW CEMETERY FIELD REPORT

Although both burial grounds had their own shares of architectural intrigue and historical significance, the experience of visiting Shockoe Hill Cemetery and the Hebrew Cemetery on the same day served to remind me of one particularly significant aspect of cemeteries. The fact is that these two cemeteries, while doing so in very different ways, both show the importance and necessity of specific organizations in maintaining a cemetery’s honor and esteem. As the group Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery would tell anyone, the visible state of repair (or disrepair) of a cemetery is indicative of its relevance and importance to a community.

The Hebrew Cemetery provides a strong example of what is possible when a cemetery is seen as culturally significant to the community, especially a certain part of the community. Being one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the United States, it is evident how the cemetery’s relationship with Congregation Beth Ahabah has helped it to stay a place that maintains deep respect for its buried. Clear,  deliberate, and well-documented organization of the cemetery helps visitors to visit and notice the unique and satisfying architecture and artwork among the headstones and grave markers. Obviously the cemetery also stands out in the way that many of its graves feature written Hebrew. One area of the cemetery with particular historical significance is the plot dedicated to Jewish members of the Confederate Army. Surrounded by a fence deliberately designed with many features of Confederate iconography (including crossed swords, caps, and rifles), the area serves to commemorate a group of people that are very likely to be swept under the proverbial rug of history. To further note the importance of Beth Ahabah’s work in preserving the state of the Hebrew Cemetery, one only has to visit the northern side of the cemetery, overlooking a steep a hill. In this location, where the extreme and gratuitous damage committed by a 2004 storm was efficiently addressed and repaired in a timely manner, there remains a calm, respectful condition in 2016.

On the contrary, Shockoe Hill Cemetery tells a very different story. Spanning a much larger area, the city-owned cemetery has a variety of visual features. A highly romantic statue of an angel stands out among the rest of the architecture, while enormous trees and an expanse of land give the cemetery a very imposing presence. The state of Shockoe Hill Cemetery in 2016, however, does not reflect its entire history. In fact, the cemetery’s current condition is largely due to the work of the non-profit group Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery. Supported by and depending entirely on volunteer hours, Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery have worked for years to repair the cemetery in order to save it from what they saw as a previous state of pure disrespect. Before the group worked on the cemetery, forgotten graves of families long past would break under the forces of nature and vandalism, while overgrowth would obscure any signs of identifying many of the cemetery’s graves. Thanks to their work, the cemetery now undergoes a variety of upkeep and hosts different events that bring attention to the cemetery’s historical significance, which includes the graves of John Marshall, Peter Francisco, and important members of Edgar Allan Poe’s family. Most significantly, the near future will see long-abandoned plots in the cemetery put up for sale and thus opened for new burials. This will in turn provide the state with new funds and therefore draw interest to the cemetery as a source of revenue, only furthering its status as a place of relevance for the community. Upon visiting the cemetery, it was clear to me what the work of a group like Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery can due to a cemetery, regardless of its level of disrepair.

Thus whether a cemetery is maintained by a group like Beth Ahabah, which holds a strong cultural connection to the cemetery, or volunteers like Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery, who simply wish to preserve a historical landmark’s dignity and respect, a dedicated, faithful organization is integral to the upkeep of a cemetery’s physical state. As a visitory, the level of work put into a cemetery’s physical state is clearly evident, and both the Hebrew Cemetery and Shockoe Hill Cemetery displayed signs of careful, faithful attention by their respective organizations.

Shockoe Hill/Hebrew

When we walked into the Shockoe Hill and Hebrew cemeteries it was easy to determine that these two burial grounds were constructed in a later time period than the cemetery located at St. John’s. I was also easy to see that they were built within a few years of each other because of the similarities in which they shared.

For instance both of these cemeteries were  produced at a different location away from the church building. The Hebrew cemetery has a building attached to the land it is on but it was used in order to get the bodies ready for burial. This mostly likely became a new process due the limited space within the city, it would be more easier to have a larger land dedicated to the dead rather than having one on a smaller piece of land which would soon reach its capacity.

Another aspect that both the Shockoe Hill and Hebrew cemeteries shared was the use of more icons on the tombstones, this also is a change we see in shifting from St. John’s to these two cemeteries. The more elaborate tombstones within the cemeteries had pictures depicting religious artworks. This iconography included angels, urns, hands, lambs, and willows.

We saw a big use of hands and images places on markers in the Hebrew cemetery this is because in traditional Judaism there was an emphasis on some hand gestures that would have been important to some of its people. In the Hebrew cemetery there was a use of the sign on the high priestly which would have been made when the Kohen (priest) was blessing the congregation. These would usually be placed on tombstones of descendants of a priest or on a priest’s grave.

Because Richmond was such a big producer of iron during this time period we saw a huge surge in the use of iron works within the cemeteries. Although there was not as much left in the Shockoe Hill cemetery because of issues such as vandalism and natural causes there is still evidence of were it used to be. We also see a great use of iron works within the Hebrew cemetery such as the fence that is standing near the building depicting willow trees and lams or the fence that encloses the monument of the Jewish Confederate soldiers. The iron fences would usually be put in to show the public where the family plot had been laid out. Many wealthier families would want the iron fences out in to show off their on wealth.

Something that struck me when we visited the two cemeteries was that there were monuments or areas within the land that were solely designated for fallen Confederate soldiers. Because the Jews of Richmond were a proud part of the Confederacy it was important to them to memorialize the fallen Jewish men that had fought alongside the Confederacy during the Civil War. Although there were only a few recognized it was still something that was well thought out by the people of the congregation. In Shockoe Hill cemetery there was a place for the fallen soldiers but most of these soldiers were not identified or had their graves marked when they were buried. Even though it was not the best they were still memorialized within the cemetery.

Both Hebrew and Shockoe Hill cemeteries came up around the same time and it is easy ti spot the similarities within the two, even though the Hebrew cemetery was designated for the Jews within Richmond we can see that most religions were influenced by the same things when it came to building up the cemeteries.

 

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