Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Confederate Cemetery of Pewee Valley

The 4th of July weekend ended up being pretty much a wash due to heavy rains. On Sunday, we had plans to visit the botanical gardens, but most of it is outside and the rain just kept pouring down. On the way, we detoured to briefly visit a new-to-me Confederate cemetery before calling it a day due to the rain.

The cemetery was founded in 1874 as a community cemetery and the Confederate part of the cemetery was added in 1904. Most of the veterans buried here lived in a Veterans' home before succumbing to their wounds and age.

The tombstones are laid out pretty much like most veterans' plots. Some had a little flag next to their stone. Despite any controversy about the side they fought on during the U.S. Civil War, most of these soldiers would have been the sons of poor farmers and Appalachian mountain folks. In other words, like most wars, those fighting were already far removed from the reason for war in the first place. I thought about my own great-great-great grandfather who joined the KY Confederate army and fought at Gettysburg. Did he feel that connected with the stance of the grey or did he join to escape poverty and help his family? We will never know.

The rest of the cemetery houses typical Victorian resting places. albeit a bit more modest than some I have visited. This angel was one of the more elaborate stones and she overlooks the men resting in the Confederate part of the cemetery. A raindrop on my lens added a touch of mysticism to the photo.

Many of the tombstones have been disrupted by time and nature, but, overall, this cemetery has been well cared for by someone. 

I have loved cemeteries since I was a child for not just the peacefulness and contemplation of our place in history, but for the large trees allowed to grow and prosper in these quiet resting places. Older cemeteries are some of the best arboretums, full of old growth trees and creatures that make these trees their homes.  This is Sassafras and smells wonderful. 

For me, a life-long Taphophile, I go to the cemeteries to find a quiet mind and observe nature. To think about the incredible odds and mercy that allowed me to have my brief moment on Earth; to wonder about the people who lived and lost someone they loved. On this day, I thought about the mother and father that lost their little boy John on August 13, 1872. I thought about how they must have felt when on July 18, 1874 they lost their little one month old baby girl Ideal. I noted that the parents were not buried near their babies and I wonder did they leave Pewee Valley. carrying their belongings and heavy, broken hearts to escape the grief.

It seems really vogue to be a Taphophile* these days and this makes me happy. I love reading blog posts about cemeteries and seeing the lovely photographs. As more people find themselves wandering around the forgotten graveyards of our past, the more the ghosts of those who walked before us will be put to rest in a place that is befitting to house the dead, the more old cemeteries will be saved. I, myself, have been wandering around cemeteries since I was a little girl. I have so many stories of places I've been and cemeteries I discovered along the way. 

*Taphophile: otherwise known as a "cemetery enthusiast", cemetery tourists or "grave hunter" or "graver" describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries.