Sometimes I picture some frontiersman living a life on the road, never settling down, just trying to live day by day. He has a mother and father who live in some small town and when he passes away his body is sent home and he is buried in the family plot. He never made history, never had any papers, and all that’s left of him is a name and pair of dates on a tombstone somewhere. Sometimes that is all there is.
When I walk through a cemetery I say the names I see inside my head and run some mental math so I can get an idea of how old the person was, and I try to picture the time they lived in. Were they the lone traveler? Did they accomplish anything? Sometimes I hear their voices saying, “Hey, I was here.”
In my years of visiting cemeteries I have seen things in many states. When I first visited the Dudly cemetery in Mitchell county there was not a single stone visible, as all were buried with the passage of time. I started researching cemeteries in the area and found, sadly, that this happens far too frequently.
Some places were completely forgotten. The stones had fallen to ruin, never to be read again. We mark the places where our loved ones were laid to rest, but sometimes these places are lost.
These stones once stood in a field, at some point a farmer moved them into the woods so he would have more acreage to plow on. From Mitchell County, Iowa. We may never know where the real graves are.
Also in Iowa, an abandoned cemetery near Buffalo Center.
Near St Ansgar there is a haunting little place where some restoration was attempted.
Just a year old…
Sometimes the thing that haunts me are stones that have faded. No longer do they have family to take care of them, and these people are completely forgotten.
The earth tries to take back the stones that were pulled from it.
Sometimes it’s the elements that take the toll.
I think saddest of all are those that never had a name…