Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Laurel Grove Cemetery: Grave Marker Symbolism

Lillies are commonly associated with funerals in the United States - they are said to represent purity, but offer the practical aspect of being strongly scented. In the case of Lillie Martin's marker, the use of lillies may have been in reference to her name, rather than a symbolic gesture. Not only is the marker topped with a large bouquet of stone lillies, but the verse etched on the tombstone refers to the flower:

Lillie M. Kennard devoted wife of B. P. Martin, Sept. 26, 1875 - Oct. 6, 1900 / The angels gather such lillies for God.

Flowers also appear on H.N. Pettit's marker, which has evening primrose etched around the base. According to Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, by Douglas Keister (New York: MJF Books, 2004), the evening primrose represents "eternal love, memory, youth, hope, and sadness."

H.N. Pettit, born at Kaskaskia, Ill. Aug. 29, 1822 died July 13, 1893

Pettit's tombstone also features a hand pointing to the clouds and the bible verse "In my father's house are many mansions," which continues in the King James version: "if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Again according to Stories in Stone, "a hand pointing up is usually an indication that the soul has risen to the heavens."

Urns were popular graveyard symbols in the nineteenth century, even though cremations were out of vogue. The urn symbolizes ashes, and is a classical decorative element.

Thomas M. Cauthen May 4, 1838 - Dec. 6, 1923

Grave markers in the shape of tree stumps are found across the United States, due largely to the Woodmen of the World. Woodmen of the World is a fraternal organization that provided burial insurance and pledged that no Woodman's grave would be left unmarked.

W.V. Paschall Jr. July 26, 1881 - Nov. 16, 1918 Gone But Not Forgotten

Monday, June 29, 2009

Main Street Daytona, More Than a Century Ago

A circa 1895 cyanotype of Main Street Daytona
(photograph courtesy Paul Jones)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laurel Grove Cemetery - William Gadsden Green

William Gadsden Green
Co K
2 Regt
Fla Inf

This headstone is the type authorized by the federal government in 1930 to be placed on graves of Confederate soldiers, with a pointed top and the Confederate Cross of Honor inscribed above the soldier's name, rank, company, and regiment.

William Green's Confederate pension application (on file at the Florida State Archives) reveals some tidbits about his and his family members' lives. He was born April 7, 1839, in Nassau County, Florida. At the age of 23, on May 16, 1862, he listed in the Confederate Army, serving in Company K, 2nd Regiment, of the Florida Cavalry. Three years and one day later, he was discharged in Baldwin, Duval County, because the war was over. He and his wife Mary raised ten children in Bradford County, Florida. When he grew older, he applied for a pension from the State of Florida, claiming that his service had given him "piles" (hemarrhoids) and rheumatism.

After William's death on December 1, 1918, Mary applied for a Confederate widow's pension; however, she encountered difficulties in proving that she was actually married to William. The Bradford County Courthouse had burned in 1865, destroying the county's records. In her application is a letter from Mary Green, dated February 22, 1919, to the Hon. Ernest Amos, who served as State Comptroller from 1917 until 1933. Included with her letter were five affidavits from people who knew William and Mary Green to be married, along with two pages from the Green family bible recording William's birth and marriage. (Mary Green requested that the bible pages be returned to her, but as the scanned images are online with the rest of the pension application paperwork, this apparently did not happen.)

From these affidavits we also learn about Mary Johns Green, particularly from her cousin M.L. McKinney (their mothers were sisters): "...that the said mother of Mary Johns died while she was an infant and his mother raised Mary Johns, that affiant was five days old at the birth of Mary Johns, that Mary Johns was one of twins and his mother raised all three of them."

The Florida State Archives has scanned approximately 14,000 Confederate pension applications, and made them available online (http://www.floridamemory.com/Collections/PensionFiles/index.cfm). While some files have little information, others - such as that of William G. Green - reveal personal histories that might otherwise be unrecorded.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Waldo's Laurel Grove Cemetery

An impulsive right-hand turn down a narrow and flooding side street in Waldo, Florida, led us to the Laurel Grove Cemetery. This country cemetery is modest, peaceful, and eclectic. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, the graves of veterans were decorated with flags. The cemetery is surprisingly large, covering gentle hills and encompasing a pond full of quite vocal frogs. The air was cedar scented.

The Laurel Grove Cemetery dates to 1883, with an expansion in 1897, on land owned by Idella and Samuel J. Kennard. A native of England, Kennard came to the United States in 1847. By 1860, he was a grocer in Waldo, and soon thereafter he served in the Confederate States of America Army during the Civil War. Kennard later was Waldo's postmaster, and his son was mayor. (For a more complete biography of Kennard and the original plat of the cemetery, visit the Laurel Grove Cemetery's webpage).

The cemetery is still in use today, and over the past 125 years, it has accumulated a great variety of grave markers, from elaborate marble statuary and ornate iron fence work, to handmade vernacular concrete memorials.

The Champion Iron Fence Company manufactured this fence.

Hands down, no questions asked, the most curious marker at Laurel Grove Cemetery is a homemade concrete elephant, complete with nails as tusks. This marker, unfortunately, did not include a name that I could see, so I have no way of knowing why an elephant (?!).

One of the most touching markers was also handmade, found on the grave of Caroline Kathleen Larson (October 12, 1949 - December 21, 2005), which reads simply "CAROL My Love."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Caladesi Lookout Tower

From a February trip to Caladesi Island State Park...

"The concrete foundation before you once supported a 60-foot observation tower. The steel structure, donated to the park by the Florida Board of Forestry, was erected by park rangers in 1969. For almost 15 years it served as an observation point for park visitors and staff, offering panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph's Sound. The tower gradually deteriorated in the harsh condition of the island environment and was dismantled in the early 1980s."