Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Bells of Quail Hill

One of my personal projects this spring is to investigate the cemeteries of Cortland county. You can follow my progress on my Google map, if you are interested. Over the past month or so, I have compiling a list of all the cemeteries and have been plotting their location as best I can. I've joined the local historical society even. Wow, it has been great to get my history skills honed a bit again (for those who do not know, I am a historian by training). I have also undertaken field research to go out and see these cemeteries. My goal is that part of the SoFoBoMo 2009 project is to create a photographic project focused on these cemeteries. My project will really kick off in a few weeks but I wanted to figure out which ones were photographically interesting before I really got into it. It has also been a great excuse to get out and explore.

This image was taken at the Quail Hill Cemetery and while I had not yet been taking pictures for my project, I really liked how this one turned out. But what really got me on this image was a question. To whom does the Revolutionary War Veteran plaque and flag belong? When I was there checking out the cemetery, I assumed this was for the elder Samuel Bell. But when I processed the image, I realized that they cannot be for him. He would only have been an infant if you do the math based on his headstone. Who whose marker is this?

I am finding out lots of other interesting things:

  • Headstones up until the 1840s are predominately made with a local stone. They have held up really well in most cases. But the fancy white limestones that came into vogue in the 1850s through the rest of the century have not and so it is easier to know more about the older burials than the more recent ones.
  • Epithets went out of vogue in the 1840s when they moved to the white limestones, which is too bad. Many of these are very poignant.
  • Except in the few large cemeteries, there is very little funerary art in these cemeteries.
  • Seems like roughly a quarter to a third of the headstones are for children, and in many cases, multiple children from the same family over a few years time. I am reminded as I look at these markers how absolutely lucky we are to live in a time such as this. I might not mind visiting the past but I would never want to live there.
I'll post more of my explorations in the coming month or so. The SoFoBoMo 2009 project will kick off for me in mid May. Should be a fun exercise and personal project.

Thanks for stopping by.


Earl said...

It sounds like an interesting project as well as a SoFoBoMo '09 book theme. I look forward to seeing you final results.

Beau A.C. Harbin said...

Thank you very much Earl. I will keep posting images from this project as things progress.