Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Not Dead, Just Sleeping


St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Easton, PA

This blog is a rewrite of one I did in 2011, with new photographs.  It's dedicated to a friend, a Quester, who passed away today.  Rest in eternal peace, Marty.



The 19th century may not have coined the term “eternal rest,” but that society truly raised the commemoration of death to a an art form.  They spoke in more gentle terms, when they said “she entered into slumber” or “our son is not dead, but sleeping.”  And they illustrated this concept of gentle eternal slumber with bed tombstones, or grave cradles.

The 19th century bed tombstones joined together the headstone and the smaller footstone (placed at the foot of the grave) with “bed rails.”  Children's and infants' bed tombstones were sized appropriately.  These configurations were made for plantings in the bed frame, and I have found a few examples of how beautiful this can look.  Many of the bed tombstone rails have been broken, but some excellent examples remain. 
 
I especially like the family plots of bed tombstones, where the entire family “rests,” each with their own “bed” for their eternal rest.  Late 19th century society softened the idea of death as just a temporary separation of family members.  The family plot in the graveyard will contain all their bodies in death, but their souls will be reunited in the heavenly afterlife.  When they were all planted with blooming flowers, that must have made a beautiful sight.  

 As the 19th century progressed, bed tombstones were “filled in;" that is, the “bed” was actually a solid shape (more like a real bed, less like a flower bed).   Sometimes the footstone was eliminated.  
 
You can still buy a bed tombstone today from monument companies.  My parents are getting bed tombstones.  They don’t know it yet.  They think they are going to be buried in a memorial park with those nasty flat metal markers.  I am having them dug up and reinterred in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, marked by two beautiful bed tombstones, carved with lots and lots of 19th century symbols.  And I am going to plant lots of flowers in their “beds.”  It’s going to be great---their eternal slumber will be lovely.  Enjoy these photographs and contact me at tschane2@verizon.net.


Calvary Fellowship Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery, Cold Spring, NJ

Kellers Church Cemetery, Bedminster, PA

These two headstones have been laid down in the "beds," probably by the maintenance staff to keep them from breaking, Nisky Hill Cemetery, Bethlehem, PA

Man, I love this one, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

An example of a planting in a bed tombstone, Edgewood Cemetery, Pottstown, PA

Effort Cemetery, Effort, PA

These "bed rails" are not in line anymore, Forty Fort Cemetery, Forty Fort, PA

A broken lamb at the bottom, Heidelberg Union Cemetery, Slatington, PA

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Tamaqua, PA

Handmade bed tombstone made from concrete and stone, Italian Cemetery, Jessup, PA

Handmade bed tombstone made from concrete and stone, Italian Cemetery, Jessup, PA

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

The rusted metal sign to the right is the corps badge of the Second Corps in the Union Army during the Civil War, Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mt. Joy Lutheran Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA


Neshaminy Presbyterian Cemetery, Warwick, PA

New Goshenhoppen Union Cemetery, East Greenville, PA

Nisky Hill Cemetery, Bethlehem, PA

Old St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Ottsville, PA


The bedrails are missing, but you can see the holes for the connections, Pennepack Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA

Salford Mennonite Cemetery, Harleysville, PA

I believe this was handmade of slate, Bruch's Cemetery, Wind Gap, PA

St. Paul's Episcopal Cemetery, Elkins Park, PA

St. John's Cemetery, Bangor, PA

St. Peter's Episcopal Cemetery, Lewes, DE

Stone Church Cemetery, Stone Church, PA

Tinicum UCC Cemetery, Tinicum, PA

Trinity Great Swamp UCC Cemetery, Spinnerstown, PA

William Penn Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

I do not know the significance of all the conch shells placed in the bed.  Perhaps the deceased loved the shore, Trinity Christian Cemetery, Skippack, PA

Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Flourtown, PA

Zion's Stone Church Cemetery, New Ringgold, PA

Zion's Stone Church Cemetery, New Ringgold, PA

Forty Fort Cemetery, Forty Fort, PA

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Kellers Church Cemetery, Bedminster, PA


Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mauch Chunk Cemetery, Jim Thorpe, PA

Nisky Hill Cemetery, Bethlehem, PA

St. Paul's Cemetery, Stone Church, PA

St. Peter's Episcopal Cemetery, Lewes, DE

St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, Lafayette Hill, PA

St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, Lafayette Hill, PA

Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Flourtown, PA

Zion's Stone Church Cemetery, New Ringgold, PA


Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

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