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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Once Abandoned, Now Restored, Williamstown, VT

This is West Hill Cemetery, located off of Route 64 in Williamstown, Vermont.  I believe the earliest death recorded here was in circa 1772 and it was used through approximately 1835.  The cemetery was left somewhat abandoned and very little maintenance was done for a long time.  It is also known as "Henry Road Cemetery."

Only recently the Town's Cemetery Commission has taken great care to restore this neglected site.  The grounds keeper for all of the cemeteries does an exceptional job of maintenance and care.  This dark and dreary cemetery of old is now decorated annually with Veteran flags and markers, the fence is repaired, the lawn is mowed, trees were removed.  The sign "West Hill Cemetery" now marks the road on the highway.  It is a bright and lovely spot to visit, thanks to the dedication of the Commission and volunteers, respectfully.  It is now being utilized for new burials, as well.

About 20 years ago, I ventured into this cemetery with my parents, and was able to record some amazing epitaphs which were rather Gothic in nature.  Most were from the early 1800's.  I am so happy that I recorded them, as today the print is gone and they are not readable.   Had I not recorded them at that time, they would have been lost forever!!!  I have posted a few of the epitaphs at the end of this blog, and I hope that you appreciate the pensive poetry, as much as I do.  

The following 4 photographs are of a grave that a tree grew around.  A very skillful person with a saw was able to remove the tree without harming the grave.  

Tree that grew around the grave of Mr. William Robinson

A very crooked grave, marked only by initials and a star.

The cemetery is now once again, acting as a permanent home to new residents.  This grave memorializes John Clark for his love of auto racing.

Some stones are virtually beyond repair.  As you can see, moss and time has eaten away the letters on this stone, and it is unreadable. 

A lovely, ornate fence surrounds this plot.

Cenotaph for Henry M. Smith, twice wounded in the Civil War. 
Willow engraving - very common through out the world.

"Gravestone carvers created weeping willows alone or with Greek-inspired urns, obelisks, or monuments.  The most obvious meaning of a weeping willow would seem to be the “weeping” part…for mourning or grieving for a loved one.  The saying “she is in her willows” implies the mourning of a female for a lost mate.  And while the Victorians took the art of mourning to new heights, the weeping willow was not just a symbol for sadness."

"A native of Asia, the weeping willow is a fast growing tree that can reach fifty feet high and fifty feet wide.  It tolerates most any soil and roots easily from cuttings.  Because of this, they are often the first trees to appear in a disturbed site, giving them a reputation as “healers and renewers.” In many cultures, the willow is a sign of immortality, and is associated with the moon, water and femininity.  The weeping willow also has connections to Greece as Orpheus, their most celebrated poet, carried willow branches with him on his journey through the Underworld. The Greek sorceress Circe planted a riverside cemetery with willow trees, dedicated to Hecate and her moon magic.  It was common to place willow branches in the coffins of the dead, and then plant young saplings on their grave". - callmetaphy

West Hill Cemetery Epitaphs - many are no longer readable -(recorded around 1989):

"Weep not my friends nor mourn too much
'Twas God that gave the heavy touch
Submit to His afflicting stroke
Nor by your murmurings Heaven provoke
My flesh shall slumber in the ground
Till the last trumpet joyful sound
Then burst the tomb with glad surprise
and in my Savior's image rise."

-Mrs. Jacob Burnham, d) 22 Nov. 1805, age 25

"My friends, my friends,
Don't weep for me
But see that you prepared be
For that great solemn awful day
When heaven and earth 
Shall be on fire, the mountains quake,
Sea's retire
And all creation in dismay."

Ester Walcott, d) 22 Feb. 1810, age 80
"Here sleeps what late was lovely, bright and gay
Closed are those eyes that beamed a cheery ray
The quiet hand of death is on that tongue
On whose accents of we fondly hung."

-Lucy Crane, d) 1816, age 10
"Oh you see me now in death's cold arms
Closing my eyes on all your worldy charms
Oh when my youthful mates you chance to see
Warn them of death, you bid them, think of me."

-Abia Crane, d) 1814
"Weep not for me, but let each falling tear
Drop for yourselves, you yet must wander here
In this dark veil where sins and sorrows grow
But death will find you, God, the hour doth know."

-Joseph Crane, d) 1819
"Read this and reading learn your fate
The aged and the youth must die
How frail is life, how short its date
The sentence sure, the season night." 

- Miss Catey Smith, d_ 1814
"Blessed are the dead which die 
In the Lord, that they may rest
from their labors, and their words 
do follow them."

-Deacon Richard Martyn, d) 1816
"My Savior will my life restore
And call me from my dark abode
My flesh and soul shall part no more
But dwell forever near my God."

- John Martin, d) 1814
Unfortunately, I did not record names or dates of the following - they are some of the best I have ever found:

"Incessant rapid roll the wheels of time
Year after year in swift succession speeds
How short man's infancy to prime
From prime how decrepit age succeeds."

'Life is a journey soon to cease
A race that is not over long
All infants wail an old man's song -
Until the last trumpet sounds
Then he will rise among the blessed
To be in endless glory crowned."

My favorite epitaph - ever:

"The storm that wracks the winter sky
No more disturbs its repose,
That summer's evenings' latest sigh,
that shuts the rose."