Tuesday, May 20, 2008

regret, Captain Bartholomew and our little village






Tink's weekly word challenge is for photography depicting pure and regret. I would like to live life with no regret, so that as I could say today "I have lived well, and have no regrets". No, I don't want to skydive or climb Everest, I don't regret not having done that, and I am proud and happy of my little dog and cat family, my work and my sweet and beautiful wife.
BUT, a fellow my wife works with, 40ish, was standing at the bus stop with his two kids and dropped dead Friday. Just like that! I hope he was happy and cracking jokes with them, it had been a good day, and he had no regrets in his life.
I do not want to sound morbid, but this thinking took me and the camera to our village cemetery, which, like the village of Etna, is about 200 years old, with Revolutionary War (begun-1776) heroes buried in the back. It is not used much or at all. I think it is full and ignored and a bit overgrown, a goth's paradise really, and only 200 yards down the road. Although there is a fantastic nature preserve next to it, and both make superb walking with dogs, I hadn't been over there since CM visited nearly two years ago.
In the far corner by the road is Civil War (end-1865)Captain Bartholomew, curious because he died in The Wilderness, and he has a beautiful monument. He was 28 when he died, but his wife lived forever! She was a widow over 50 years after he died in his twenties! There were no children. The Captain was a hero, and it was easy to find out this information about him online. He enlisted as a private at the start of the war, and rose to captain after a few years and key battles--very unusual!
Interestingly, in the back of the cemetery is a very old fellow, veteran of the Revolutionary War (1776) AND the War of 1812, Jesse Bartholomew, who I later discovered had 15 children, who was the Captain's grandfather.
Sadly, I saw this strip of six connected stones--5 of which are for children of the same family, the Sherwood's, all of whom died on different days of the same week in the 1850s, aged 4-20. God, what was it? Flu? The parent's stone is of a different material, and so worn I cannot read when they died. In the map of the village from 40 years later, 1895, 2 households near the church have Sherwoods. So the whole family was not wiped out.
I walked out of the cemetery and bumped into a neighbor, who has lived here his whole life, and in his family's house which they built 130 years ago. Naturally, he has stories about many things, then I went to the town PO and asked to see the folder that holds the collected town history. There I copied the map, which I think shows our house as either the shoemakers place or the Van Horns (41), and then these 2 pics showing our house in the 1890s.

18 comments:

denis said...

last week in our little town a high school teacher fell down the stairs in her home and died. she was only 52.

i love cemeteries. the more unusual the better. i remember seeing a tombstone in new ipswich, nh that said, "he was killed by an axe" it was so ed gorey/tim burton - esque.

gr said...

Denis is one of these creepy-crawley types...

Tink said...

I love this post Gary. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities (yes, that's really their title) St. Augustine is full of old graveyards. Most of the stones are too worn now to even read. But I always wonder what the people were like and how they died and if they were happy.

celeste said...

I love that about him. ;-)

gr said...

Celeste! In your corner, now!
St Augustine is pretty darn cool, Tink.

Kate & Jim said...

Didn't Celeste have permission to stay until Wednesday??? ;)

Lovely cemetery, Gary. I saw some absolutely stunning ones on-line in Paris. Breathtaking monuments.

CM said...

Paris cemeteries are fabulous! I love the sepulchres. And not just because it's such a great word to say.

As for celeste, I haven't seen her since she left here yesterday, so she may be posting from d's.

kcinnova said...

Wow. The dad who dropped dead at the bus stop? I hope those things for him and his kids, too. How awful.

And then, 5 kids lost in one week. Bet those parents felt like Job. I don't know how a person could go on after a tragedy like that.

Funny you should mention the Civil War - my dad & I just finished watching the entire video documentary series by Ken Burns.

I love to walk through an old cemetery. So much history would be lost without them. We lived close to one in Germany. The cemetery up on the hill above Harper's Ferry, WV, has a tombstone for the Butt family. Really! One big Butt monument and then smaller stones for the lesser Butts. (How does one go through life with a name like that?)

gr said...

I may not live a grand life, but no regrets and plenty of pride and happiness! That is wealthy!

ML said...

Can't help wondering if it might not have been scarlet fever that did all that family in. It was truly an awful scourge back then and did take whole families. The pictures are great, Gary. And how very well looked after that ver pretty cemetery seems. It always makes me so sad to see some that look so neglected and forlorn, as if nobody ever bothered to visit or clean up. We sure did take a quick turn here, didn't we? But very interesting,

Fortune Cookies said...

what a fabulous post! live life like there's no tomorrow, no worries, no regrets. great motto. i love to visit old cemetaries and ponder what their lives must have been like too, were they happy, were they fulfilled, were they living their dreams?

Kate & Jim said...

"Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching."

I don't know who wrote it, but it's my motto! ;)

Reb said...

Great post Gary, love history and old cemeteries! There should be some record of an influenza outbreak or as ML said, scarlet fever, in your town archives. You have to remember though that back then there was little in the way of medicine and they didn't know as much about cleanliness as we do now. They probably had other children who lived through it, families of nine or more were not unheard of then.

Too bad about those kids with Dad dropping in front of them! I too hope they were having fun. Anything else would be too horrible to think about.

Good for you wanting to live a life with no regrets. If more people aimed for that, we would be a happier society.

The Internationalist said...

I thought the prose style for one of the linked biographies (Bartholomew) was a little purple. Poor guy, what did he do to deserve this: "without an excess of flesh, his erect, manly form, dark eye, dark brown hair, and light complexion, with an easy carriage and ever-buoyant air, placed him early among the most active and gallant officers of our patriotic army."

gr said...

I know, but it was written for the regimental record 2 years after the war.

The Internationalist said...

It's Monty Python-esque that passage.

ML said...

And, my goodness, he _WAS_ an extremely attractive young man. Very handsome and dashing, at least according to that picture!

ML said...

Yeah! Pretty gaggy stuff, but durnit, he WAS a good-looking, I want to say kid, but he really was. So I will.