I recall years ago when my mom and grandmother would take us kids along to decorate the graves. Whether it was Mount Olive or Green Ridge cemeteries or further afield, those trips might of been a bit more than we understood, but the respect in remembering the dead became a palpable and thoughtful learning experience.
This post is simply a quickly put together thing, a sudden impulse as an occasion approaches that stares me in the face, really making the ease and flow of an article that much more obvious. Taking the kernel from the holiday and shaping this around those that meant so very much to me and my family over the years. Surely many of you can sympathize in relating this to your own circumstances.
Traditions with a nudge of encouragement
The origins of the holiday are intrinsically associated with the end of the Civil War and the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR) on the principles of "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty initially growing out of the hardy and tough years of the re-constructionist movement of 1865 to 1877. Without broaching too closely the depth of the political situation of the late nineteenth century, the context behind some of our indelible traditions were often touchy stuff indeed. Yes, occasionally, even riots were a reality and as in the later mining days, violence and turmoil could be and was a side issue of the differing factions between the intent of the radical, moderate and conservative Republicans and the Democrats concepts affecting policies and relating directly to the Presidents themselves. Even though such an undertaking might be a bit beyond our normal scope, the material behind these factors could be addressed in a future post, especially if there appears to be enough grass roots interest to help guide my busy and possibly flawed decision making processes.
Maybe some of you are aware, I had once promised more material on veterans of various wars at one time and still would like to hear your families stories and experiences in this emotional and sometimes overwhelming subject. Such an appeal to viewers naturally includes the broader meaning that no matter where you are from or call home, regardless of how sad or tragic those tales would be, thik about sending information in of your own family's experiences. This is our unique story, and so let us always keep that in mind, while many others, even in various countries with their own internal background and holidays, not necessarily personally connected to regional history, do find this kind of thing interesting and could contribute in a good way too.
Eventually to better round out this earlier purpose, I will have at least one more post on the subject that is connected to my personal ancestry as a reflection and a microcosm of the Union celebrations and the continuation of a larger yearly get together. These battle reenactments and such were a popular entertainment for the public and a way of reliving and blowing off some healthy steam for those that were actively involved after the Civil War in times past. Of course in the South, the formulation of observances followed other avenues and developments including what was termed, "Confederate Memorial Day". Those that visit here from time to time, as well as loyal followers, might find this informative and worthwhile. But the concerns of many of our wars could be studied and looked into in the macrocosm of a more formal manner of genuine examination which is not being ruled out for further consideration.
In the mean time, using my own background as sort of an example, a little history is always a good thing in a day when much that is meaningful seems to be ignored, or just plain given less attention for any number of reasons.
By the late 1860's, particularly on May 5, 1868, General John Logan made a call for a national day of remembrance. and James Garfield, another General, held services at Arlington Cemetery on May 30 and later, by 1968 this became official as the last Monday in May and was also a federal holiday to allow a three day weekend. (Well in actuality, the federal government is always thoughtful when it comes to itself!) Thus Decoration Day gradually morphed into Memorial Day and in many sircles all dead are taken into consideration in some form out of the origins of the traditional ideals while Veterans Day of Nov. 11 marks the observance of honoring those who exclusively partook of military duty. This grew out of World War One and Arimstice Day and was renamed in 1954.
Photos and Info
The following photos may not be of the finest quality, (obviously you are not dealing with a professional photographer with Histbuffer!), but represent only some of the graves to be visited, that being if I get to all of them by Monday. I'll see how far I get around in the amount of time left, considering the threat of thundering skies and heavy rain on my camera. But the first batch of these are the dead that were closest to me in life, therefore influenced me so deeply and there loss is felt so keenly. I will fondly think of them often until the day that I too am a memory and a passing shade on the wind.
|statue of St. Luke near my two dear maternal aunts and my grandmother's graves|
The above photos were taken yesterday at the Green Ridge Memorial Cemetery
On the afternoon of Saturday, the28th of May I decided to revisit the old "Slonecker"- apparently sometimes spelled "Stonecker" - family graveyard where my extra great grandfathers are buried as well as few distant ancestors and my 4th great grandmother, Susanna Miner, possibly known as Susan who, interestingly, has the larger headstone. The details of the reasons behind these plots are not known to me. Does anyone know more about this? Then, please let me know. Were all these people related to eaxh other? George Hatfield married John Miner's daughter,Maria, hence one of the closer ties within these two families that lived practically next to each other. John had another daughter, Nancy, who married David Etling and he is also buried at Slonecker. There is a serious likelihood that since John Miner, a justice of the peace and a blacksmith, donated or sold property for the Mt. Olive church and the adjoining cemetery, there were no more burials that took place at this site. This theory does make some sense.
|My arrival inside Slonecker graveyard|
|John and Susanna Miner|
|George Hatfield's headstone|
|A view of some headstones at the back wall|
One or two oddities of the old burial place are that her headstone has somehow been removed from its original stone base and the pegs to receive the headstone are quite obvious, while a piece of wood was inserted in front of it so it could be propped up from the front; another would be the fact that George Hatfield's heavy and thick headstone has been moved to the side for whatever reason.
The stone walls are very much still intact. It also appears there are markings near the front end of the cemetery that could of been for an old gate, since removed. Almost immediately after I arrived with flowers and flags in hand it began to thunder, and before I left, started to rain. There are more minor, (no pun intended), issues I won't bother to mention here.
|possible gate markings from Slonecker cemetery|
The next are taken from Mt. Olive Cemetery and include a few distant relatives while some are left out because they are already included in the two posts below.
Above is my g, great grandfather and grandmothers' gravestones
|Lily Miner means was a great aunt|
|Elizabeth Rice was another g, great aunt|
|Revenia was a great aunt that I had the honor to know|
More details and photos are to be found about these people and my relation to them on Relatives and Ancestors Chapter One where much on my discovery of the Slonecker cemetery is covered in depth, and Relatives and Ancestors Chapter Two has information that includes other branches of the family tree.
This is a special weekend, allowing us precious moments to ponder those that are no longer with us physically. A time to maybe shed a tear and look back into the past.
As we celebrate this Memorial Day with attending a local parade, hot dogs and burgers on the grill and a few beers with friends and relatives, God forbid we let the true core of the holiday become forgotten family history. Honor and treasure the memory of the lives and passing of those ancestors that held us on their knees, raised and cared for us, even those that are only known from old photos and stories. May they remain a part of our busy days and may we give a word of thanks in prayer that together these people not only enjoyed many of the same simple pleasures and landmarks as well as the difficult experiences many of us deal with daily, but also held such a great piece of who and what we are today.
May they all Rest in the Peace that is eternal. Amen
Have a good holiday folks!