Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Spirited Post. Part 2

The cemetery to the north of our house is Mt. Gilead Cemetery. 
The road that it sits on is Mt. Gilead Road.
I've found that Gilead can be defined as: a memorial site or forever (when split into "gil" and "ad") in Hebrew and can also mean a round (memorial) for eternity. 
In Arabic, it is used in the strict sense of the mountainous land extendng north and south of Jabbok, the area east of the Jordan River.*    
So, in how I see it, if a cemetery is named Mt. Gilead, it makes sense that it conjures up the idea of all of the above...a memorial, a forever, and a land.

We have a book of land deeds for this property and the surrounding properties that dates back to when it was first handed over to the white man in 1834. 
James Ward bought the land from the federal government (the deed states "The United States of America by Andrew Jackson, President) and received 90.12 acres of land.
Our house and Mt. Gilead Cemetery sit on that land.
Mt. Gilead Cemetery was formed from land that was sold around 1852-1858.
This is a bit confusing...the cemetery stone says it was founded in 1852.  
The land deeds we have state that the owner at that time (William Martin) sold a parcel of land to the County of Macon in 1858 and it was to be soley used as "a cemetery for the use of the inhabitants of the neighborhood and for no other purpose."
I think it was being used a graveyard prior to the official 1858 land parcel sale and this transaction made it official.

Many of the headstones date back prior to the official arrival of the cemetery, which is rather odd to me.
Were family members brought here after they had passed and had been buried somewhere else?
People used to bury their family in the back yard.

The condition of some of the headstones is quite phenomenal.
They are white marble and you can still read the writing quite well.
Some have fallen over and are about to be devoured by the earth.
I guess that that is fitting.
I don't know what keeps a few of these up and still visible.
It certainly isn't the work of the groundskeepers.
Just a bunch of guys working for the man who lives in the house my Uncle built.
They don't seem to care enough to try to fix these old stones. 

I think someone should care.
Someone once cared enough for these people to spend money on a marker honoring the fact that they had resided here on earth.
Someone loved these people.
130 plus years later and this child's headstone, about to be swept under the dirt, is on a blog on the internet. 
Unfathomable ideas in those times, but our reality.
I think it's okay to hold onto the past while embracing the future.

The cemetery used to have a small area that we were told were "paupers graves."
Graves for the poor.
Small, sometimes unmarked of any letters or numbers.
The cemetery has changed a bit from when I was a child and the paupers graves seem to me to have been disturbed.
More like forgotten about completely.
When I went looking, I found only two.
Broken and barely visible. 
I know there used to be more.
The paupers graves were set back a bit into the woods. 
I guess the poor didn't get such marvelous views. 
Just bury them and be done was the name of the game back then. 
But I think where they were situated was the most ideal spot. 
Hidden amongst the wildflowers, the falling leaves of autumn.  
Again, I am certain that the paupers graves have been buried under the fallen tree branches and leaves of yesteryear to be forgotten about.
I haven't forgotten.
I'm going to start looking for them.

I'm a firm believer in karma.
If a good deed is done selflessly, good things will come.
Maybe if there are some spirits still looming in the cemetery or in the woods, they will notice me.
Notice me hunting for a clue as to where the paupers graves are.
And leave me a sign.
So I can uncover the past and let the light in.
Everyone deserves to be recognized.
Not to be discarded and forgotten for an eternity.
If that were the case, there wouldn't be a cemetery on the other side of my fence.
Where stories and spirits and legacies live on in the hear and now from the hereafter.  

  *Gilead references: Wikipedia

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