This modest procession of urns marching off toward the woods caught my eye Sunday at the Derby Cemetery, where I'd stopped to admire another tree --- then stuck around for a while. More interested in pattern than people, I neglected to note who rests under them.
This is the tree, outlined against the afternoon's beautiful blue sky --- an aspiring but less accomplished sister to the giant pine at Confidence noted earlier. It has tried to pull the same stunt, throwing out a branch that then turned up to form a secondary spire, but failed to achieve the horizontal panache of its more confident sister.
This tree is damaged, too, split down the middle --- so perhaps is more endangered than its Wayne County counterpart. Admire it while you can.
The Derby Cemetery, carved from the farm of Tom and Nancy (Lazear) Throckmorton, who brought their family in 1856 to what became the Derby community, begins high on old prairie near the road, then descends to woodland.
Ten of the 11 Throckmorton children reached adulthood and three of their sons became physicians, launching what in its heyday was a major Lucas County medical dynasty. The Throckmortons reserved for themselves a circle at the edge of the woods in the cemetery's southeast corner within which many family members are buried. Others are buried nearby. Tom and Nancy continue, however, to have pride of place within the family enclave.
This handmade monument not far from that big pine, although not as impressive as many of the store-bought stones at Derby, certainly is the most interesting.
There must be significance to the seashells embedded in concrete, but there's not even an inscription on it to tell who is buried here let alone the reason for the shells.
A somewhat enigmatic note in the Lucas County Genealogical Society's 1981 compilation of county tombstone inscriptions suggests that Richard Dodson is buried here. He reportedly was born on March 16, 1855, in Kentucky, and died Jan. 11, 1934, in California. Beyond that, you'll have to try deciphering his story from the shells stuck in concrete here in Union Township, Lucas County, Iowa, a considerable distance from the sound and sight of the sea.