Do you know the stories or histories of interesting graves in your areas? Perhaps there are local legends you'd like to share.
There are plenty of books out there with the well-known stories of cemeteries out there. But what about the lesser-known stories? They're often the ones that are even more moving ... and likely more true!
Share your stories with me, and you may be part of an upcoming project. You will receive full credit for any submissions that are used.
Email your stories or questions to me at:
Today time is going slow. My dad is in an operating not too far from me having triple bypass open heart surgery. Time is only inching along.
But last night, time flew. Time visiting with my dad, the time between seeing him and going to bed, the time between finally falling asleep and getting up at 4 a.m. to get ready to be at the hospital at 5 a.m.
I don't often feel time is on my side.
As you know, I have a website and a pretty popular Facebook group (4,263 members and 25 more I need to approve ... and do my best to weed out the spammers, though sometimes they fool me). I'm mom to a wonderful-curious-precocious 7-year-old girl, wife to a super busy artist, daughter to the best parents ever, and niece-cousin-granddaughter to a huge family that all lives in the Quad-City area (the family gets together for lunch at the same restaurant every Saturday ... anywhere from 6-20 or so people any given time). And I work full-time in marketing for a college.
So like a lot of people, I'm busy. And I don't really know how to relax. I love to read, but unless I reading a fiction book, I'm reading non-fiction and can't help but do research and take notes. I feel like if I'm not actively doing something, I'm wasting time. Part of my mind (the rational part that exists somewhere) knows that's a bunch of bunk. The other part of my mind (that rules the mental roost) tends to run around like a maniac streaker shouting, "GO! GO! GO! MORE! MORE! MORE! NOT ENOUGH! DO SOMETHING MORE! GO ... NOW ... SKY ... IS ... FALLING ...!!" And this is why God created anti-anxiety medication.
I recently finished writing a children's book on cemeteries, and I'm super excited about it. But it's sitting in a file on my husband Bill's computer, waiting for him to have TIME to focus on it. His time is taken up by his full-time job, freelance projects (see DrawMeBill.com) and events (he draws caricatures). He's been so busy this summer, and he's barely had a break. So we are hoping to get this going soon. I think you're really going to like it.
I'm working on another book, too. I'll be posting more about that soon.
So what about you guys? Is there enough time in the day for you to get things done? How do you manage your time?
TheCemeteryClub.com is seeking ACEO (Art Cards Editions and Originals) or ATC (Artist Trading Cards) art by cemetery-inspired artists. ACEO or ATC art is 2.5 x 3.5 inches (trading card size). They're pocket-sized masterpieces!
If you would like to promote your art for pennies, donate an ATC print of your work (prints only; keep your originals) to TheCemeteryClub.com to be given away to a random winner (one per month or more often, depending on how many we get). Learn more about Artist Training Cards here.
Donated ATCs will be showcased on this website as well as on our Facebook group with information about each artist, including a link to the artist's website, Facebook page or contact information.
- The art must be original to the person submitting it.
- The art must be cemetery-related.
- Send only reproductions for the give-away. (Keep your originals)
- Email an electronic version for use on the site and Facebook group. You are encouraged to add a watermark to the electronic version.
- Include your contact information, website, Facebook page URL, etc. We want to be able to promote you!
- Your artwork is yours, and you will get full credit for it. We just want to promote artists and other inspired souls.
- You don't have to be the most skilled artist in the world--or even consider yourself an artist. ATCs are about expressing yourself through painting, drawing, collaging and general creativeness. Primitive/folk or outsider art is welcome.
- Deadline: First run of submissions must be post-marked by June 30, 2014.
- Email for mailing information: email@example.com
The ACEO above was created by ebay user acatnamedfrank. I purchased the original a couple months ago. Love it!
On Sunday, June 22, I marked off my number one cemetery on my Bucket List: Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles. It did not disappoint. It's actually even more beautiful in person. And my expectations were high. I'd been wanting to see it for years.
First stop, the Fairbanks memorial. It's larger than life and made of gorgeous marble. It has a reflecting pool in front of it. It didn't have much water in it and it was green and a bit mucky, but it's still impressive and stately. Surrounded by palm trees and sunshine, I was able to pay my respects to silent film star Douglas Fairbanks and his actor son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
The stars abound in this beautiful cemetery at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard. But even if there weren't Golden Era Hollywood celebrities buried here, it would be worth a visit to see this amazing park.
It was established in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park. For many years, it was the place to be buried. According to Interment.net, the cemetery had 100 acres, but 40 of them were sold to Paramount Pictures for their expansion in 1920. By the 1990, the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and was an absolute mess. Enter Forever Enterprises and the Cassity brothers; the cemetery was restored to its former glory starting in 1998. Now they show films projected on the side of a large mausoleum, host concerts and a large Day of the Dead Festival each year.
If you visit L.A., make sure Hollywood Forever is on your list of places to visit. Make sure you stop by the flower shop inside the gate (to the right) and purchase a map of stars' burial places (currently $5, and it's totally worth it since there are SO many stars). They also have a book about the cemeteries and the stars on sale for $20, and it includes maps of the stars' locations--so you can save the extra $5 by not having to buy a map.
I'll be posting soon about other cemeteries in the L.A. area, including Inglewood Park Cemetery, Westwood Village Memorial Park and
You can learn about many of the stars buried Hollywood Forever at Seeing Stars.
How long have you been interested in cemeteries and why?
My interest in cemeteries started when I was a young child, I'm 34 this year. I cannot tell you why, but the stones with their chiseled names and dates always intrigued me. I would find myself wondering about the people buried beneath those very stones. What their lives where like, what they did for a living and whether they knew their earthbound neighbours in life as well as death, how they died and who was left to mourn them.
What are your favorite cemeteries? (we all have more than one!)
My three most favourite cemeteries are All Saints Maidenhead Cemetery in Maidenhead, Berkshiure UK, a large local cemetery dating from 1888 to the late 1970s, Bray Parish Cemetery in Holypory Berkshire UK, again dating from the 1880s. Bray Parish Cemetery is the small village cemetery that I first explored as a child and my obsession began and Holy Trinity Churchyard in Cookham Berkshire. This churchyard has burials dating back to the mid 1700s and it one of the most beautiful and better maintained village churchyards I have ever been in.
What are your favorite monuments?
There are two large monuments at All Saints Maidenhead Cemetery, one is the large Angel monument of the Finch family and the other is a large statue of a lady looking out over the cemetery. In Cookham my favourite monument is the Angel of Cookham, a famous monument in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church that was subject of one of Sir Stanley Spencer's paintings. At Bray it's the large angel monument of the Wolff family that used to terrify me as a small child. I was convinced it was haunted and used to move when you weren't looking.
What is the farthest you've traveled to visit a cemetery?
So far I haven't really travelled far out of my local area, this is due to me having young children, they of course come before my hobby. The farthest I have been is All Saints Churchyard in Bisham Berkshire, but I plan to go much further afield when the children are older.
What has been the most surprising thing you've seen in a cemetery?
Unfortunately the British seem to be a conservative bunch when it comes to burying the dead or leaving offerings. I have to say that the thing that surprised me the most was the wording on Vivian Charlotte Lewis's gravestone, 'Died in her racing car at Brighton speed Trials'.
What do you tell people if they think your cemetery infatuation is weird?
They can think what they like, they'll soon end up in the cemetery somewhere and I'll be sure to take a picture of their gravestone when they do.
What cemeteries are on your bucket list?
Most definitely the magnificent seven cemeteries of London, Kensal Green Cemetery, West Norwood Cemetery, Highgate Cemetery, Abney Park Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Brompton Cemetery and Tower Hamlets Cemetery.
Hey, everyone! I've got a few of my books on hand that I want to get rid of, so I'm offering my blog readers FREE shipping and a FREE "I Dig Cemeteries" sticker with the purchase of "Translating Tombstones." This is a great book to have with you during your cemetery quests to help you decipher the symbols on the gravestones.
This offer is good while supplies last. Plus, if you order my book, I'll personally sign it for you if you like.
The books are $15 each with free shipping. To place your order, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may pay via PayPal or money order by mail (sorry, no personal checks).
I also have two "I Dig Cemeteries" tote bags and one size XL T-shirt. They are $12 each, including FREE shipping!
These offers are only good for a limited time, so order now!
It's not the best quality, but the subject matter is good. I stopped by Davenport Memorial Park in Davenport, Iowa, today after work and on my way to meet my husband, kid and parents to see "Godzilla." (Opening night, whoo hooo!)
I wasn't sure whether my iPhone and YouTube would allow for me to record a video filmed "sideways" and post it in a watchable way. While worrying about that, I neglected to switch the photo setting to video. So I wandered around talking about stuff for nearly five minutes before I realized all I had done was take a couple pictures. And this is why I'm in charge of social media for my day job ...
Anyway, I recorded another one that actually did what I hoped it would do--and I turned on the recording. The result is a bit jerky (motion-wise, not me ... at least I hope not!) and not very smooth. For a spur-of-the-moment video, I guess it's okay. At least I did it.
I also took a pic of the tower in Davenport Memorial and will post that and a postcard image of it I discovered on ebay on my cemetery/postcard blog.
I hope you enjoy the video, for what it's worth. I hope to do more this spring and summer!
Cemetery: Holt Cemetery
Location: New Orleans, La.
Style: Underground burials, paupers cemetery
Active or inactive: Active
Good to know: The grounds are very uneven, so watch your step. The cemetery is still in use, though no plots have been sold for years. Families who own plots are allowed to continue to bury family members in their plots. Many graves are the final resting places of multiple family members. Graves are dug by hand in this cemetery. (Learn more about Holt from an old blog post of mine.)
Notable graves: Buddy Bolden, Jessie Hill
Remarkable markers: Most of the markers in Holt are remarkable because they are homemade. Many are made from materials that were on-hand (yard landscaping items and decor, wooden planks, etc.).
What else you can do in town ...
What else to see: There are so many wonderful things to do in New Orleans, you won't have a problem keeping yourself busy.
Plan to visit other cemeteries? Make sure you go with a group to any of the cemeteries in the French Quarter. It's easy to get lost in them (the tombs are really tall), nad
Where to eat: Cafe du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets, Acme Oyster House, Corner Bar for oyster po' boys, Pat O'Brien's for hurricanes, Absinthe House for absinthe drink (if you like black licorice flavor), Muriel's for a fine dinner, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (bar) ... there are oh so many places to eat and drink!
You can't really see it well, but the Mississippi River is in the distance, and beyond that is Iowa.
Cemetery: Granary Burying Ground
Location: Tremont Street (between Park and School streets), Boston, Massachusetts
Style: Burying ground established in 1660, mostly slate markers
Active or inactive: Inactive
Good to know: Self-guided tours are easy in Granary because there are informative placards throughout the grounds; for more information, check out the Wikipedia page
Notable graves: Paul Revere, three signers of the Declaration of Independence (Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine), Peter Faneuil, victims of the Boston Massacre, Benjamin Franklin's parents, Mary Goose (aka Mother Goose)
Remarkable markers: Beautiful slate gravestones depicting winged skulls (death's heads), winged effigies, urns, willows, skeletons, skulls and bones; obelisk marking the graves of Benjamin Franklin's parents' grave
What else you can do in town ...
What else to see: It's Boston--what can't you do in Boston? Definitely follow the Freedom Trail.
Other burying grounds: King's Chapel, Copp's Hill, Central (in Boston Common),Phipps Street, Eliot, Westerly
Cemeteries: Forest Hills, Holyhood, St. Joseph, Evergreen, Baker Street Jewish Cemeteries; Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge
Where to eat: Where to begin ... During my recent trip, I went to the Union Oyster House (oldest continually running restaurant in America--since 1826), Empire Garden Restaurant (Chinese dining in an old theater in Chinatown), Fajitas & 'Ritas (Texas cuisine at a great price in the Theatre District), Dunkin Donuts (I had to mention them because there are DD's on every block in Boston and beyond in Massachusetts). These are just a few of the restaurants you'll find in the city, so I really can't begin to tell you about the wonderful places I haven't been to yet. So here's a list of Boston Magazine's Best Restaurants & Food in Boston 2013.
I'm the founder and editor of TheCemeteryClub.com and Epitaphs Magazine. I love cemeteries and sharing the art and history of them with anyone who will listen!