Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Urned Interest ...

I've been spending more time than usual lately in the Chariton Cemetery --- admiring the fall color. Sugar maples are leading the charge right now, but other varieties are beginning to turn, too, so it's a lovelier place than usual to take a walk.

These photos were taken to showcase a few of the urns that top some of the taller tombstones out there, a finial device that's both decorative and symbolic.

If you care to play etymological games, the word "urn" derives from the Latin "urna," a jar to contain the ashes of the dead, and that word perhaps can be traced to the Latin "urere," or "to burn."

So an urn atop a tombstone is a symbolic container for the ashes of the deceased interred somewhere in its vicinity. This happens to be the urn adop the tombstone of my great-great-grandmother, Isabelle (Greer) Redlingshafer.

The urn upon which this lovely lady is resting her hand at the grave of Benjamin Franklin and Emma Bates is my favorite at the cemetery, but this view (scanned from a non-digital snapshot taken several years ago) is no longer possible. The huge sycamore tree that once formed a backdrop reached the end of its lifespan and had to be taken down.

One of the cemetery's Sugar Maples right now is serving as a colorful backdrop for the "English Cottage" shelter house in the heart of the cemetery and someone asked the other day, "just what is this building?"

The short answer is, it's something for you to enjoy. Take your coffee out to the cemetery some morning, sit on one of the porch benches and absorb the peace.

The longer answer is that it was added to the cemetery in 1928, probably designed by William Lee Perkins, architect and, at the time, city engineer. The cemetery maintenance shop (since expanded westward) was located on its lower level, but the top floor was designed for cemetery visitors and contains a small restroom and wicker furniture installed by the Chariton Womans Club in 1930.

It also may have been intended as a chapel or committal shelter --- a cross is incorporated into the west face of the fireplace chimney.

Currently, it's open over the Memorial Day weekend as a joint project of the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission and the Lucas County Genealogical Society and also during the commission's fall cemetery heritage tour.

1 comment:

terri bland worley said...

as i kid i didn't care but i am loving the history of the town i grew up in, thank you!