Friday, April 17, 2009

The departed

I have always had something of a fascination with cemeteries. I think it has less to do with the fact that I grew up in a house on the top of Cemetery Hill and more to do with the feeling of peace I've always found in a cemetery. When I was in high school, I'd go for walks and sometimes they'd take me through the cemetery. I'd stop and look at the gravestones and wonder about the people they were.

Today, I was headed to my cousin's in Dayton and was a bit early, so decided to stop up the road in Virginia City for a little while on my way. Virginia City, as far as I can tell, is much like Tombstone, Ariz. - it has a lot of historic buildings and an old west feel, was once a boomtown but now is packed with touristy stores and attractions. Not wanting to pay to go to the Mark Twain Museum, I went to the cemetery instead. I walked around and looked at the headstones, some dating back to the 1800s and one as recent as 2001. Some in very good condition, and others dilapidated. Some opulent, others simple. The graves seemed to have been buried at random, the layout didn't make a lot of sense. But I liked the feel of it. I like to walk through and imagine the lives of the people there. Like Catherine L. Noel, died May 20, 1896 at age 48. Her husband Solomon Noel, died just four months later ... Sept. 22, 1896, at age 58. Did he die of a broken heart? Or James F. Brown, died June 12, 1882, aged 38 years, Native Ireland. Was it mining and a dream of striking it rich that brought him to Nevada in the first place, or was it something else? And did he ever find what he was looking for?

If I don't find another news job, these might be the kinds of stories I'd like to dig up ... it's just a different kind of journalism is all.


Drea said...

I love these kinds of stories. More please.

Marina said...

I love cemeteries too! I could spend all day just wondering around them. A nice place to reflect and think quietly to yourself. Especially old ones. Love you!

villette1 said...

Tammy, just a thought. You wouldn't believe the amount of money genealogists pay to have people take photos of gravestones. One woman was going to charge my mom $25 a grave to do the family ones in St. Louis (there are 15 people, all in the same plot). It might be something worth looking into.