After visiting Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking of another old cemetery:
Hanging Out at the Cemetery
In touring the cemetery, it is helpful to undertand how Victorians viewed the cemetery. In Victorian culture, the cemetery was more like a park and families would promenade in their finest on the way to their family plot where they would picnic. At the time, death was a routine occurrence, often even young children and mothers giving birth would pass away, so spending time at the cemetery was a way to spend time with both the living and the dead.
As cemeteries became a place to hang out, the grave markers became more beautiful, replacing the symbols that had previously adorned gravestones that were meant to scare people into living a good life. The beautiful images and statues that reminded the living that their loved ones were in a better place. Families would plant flowers to enhance their own familial plot.Bonaventure Cemetery near Savannah is an outside museum of sculptures of the departed, natural oak trees and Spanish moss, that showcasing Victorian beliefs of death. Click To Tweet
Statues That Resemble the Dead
There were many statues in Bonaventure designed in the
One of the most famous is that of Gracie Watkins, a 6-year-old girl whose death left her parents heartbroken. The monument includes a tree cut in half, which symbolizes a life cut short, and ivy climbing toward heaven. Her eyes look upward toward heaven, which reminds the mourner to forget the worries of the current world.
The grave of Corrinne Elliott Lawton is another beautiful and heartbreaking statue. She died while she was engaged after an illness and the likeness shows her sitting draped in a loose dress that hangs off her shoulders, a wreath of flowers has fallen out of her hands, and she is wearing shoes. Her eyes are sad and blank.
There are many stories about Lawton and the symbolism of the statue. Some say
Bare feet on statues mean that the person is walking with Jesus, so the shoes on Corrinne’s feet seem to say she is not walking with Jesus. A large Jesus statue stands behind her and she sits with her back to him, which also
But no matter what the symbolism says, documents such as her mother’s journals have proven that the stories of her throwing herself to her death are a lie. You can read more about Corrine on Atlas Obscura.
There were many of these marble likenesses throughout the cemetery and it along with a slightly overcast day and the Spanish moss, made the atmosphere a little eerie. The statues were beautiful, but I wondered what it would be like to have my likeness living on without me in a place like this I’ve included some more pictures below from Bonaventure Cemetery.