Oak Grove in Winter

(Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep sung by Ben Crawley, with Boys Choir Libera, text below)
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in snow,
I am the sunlight and ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn rain.Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
When you awake in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Advertisements

The Ladies’ Comfort Station

oakgrovewaitingroom.jpg For many years, the small, tiled-roof building directly opposite to the office inside the main gate was used as a lavatory and lounge for the lady visitors to the cemetery, and a convenience during funerals for attendees.  Currently it is a break room for cemetery staff.   It once had the dubious distinction of being the space where the grisly autopsies of Abby and Andrew Borden took place under the eye of medical examiner, Dr. Dolan, city doctor J.H. Leary, Clerk of autopsy, D.E. Cone, and Dr. F.W. Draper of Boston who was called in by Attorney General Albert Pillsbury.

The stained glass lancet windows have been broken and are currently boarded up, but the original deep wainscotting, moldings, and lavatory tiles with a Greek key pattern are still intact.

comfortstation.jpg

 waitingroom.jpg

Click on thumbnails for enlargements of wainscotting and tile

wainscotting.jpg  comfprtstationlav.jpg

Holding Tombs

Long before the backhoe, the six-foot deep hole for the coffin had to be dug by hand with pickaxe and shovel.  In the nineteenth century, during the iron cold winters in New England, sometimes it was necessary to store the coffin until the January thaw or Spring when the frost was out of the ground.  There are several of these Egyptian Revival style holding tombs which were built into hills or mounds, each containing shelving on either side of the interior to hold 6-8 coffins.  Today this particular tomb houses lawn mowing equipment.  This holding tomb, which is at the west side of the cemetery near the main entrance, housed the two coffins of Abby and Andrew Borden for a week while city medical examiner, Dr. Dolan, arranged for a complete autopsy on the bodies to be held at Oak Grove in the Ladies Comfort Station.  It was there that the two skulls were removed and held for trial evidence on August 11, 1892.

holding-tomb.jpg

Zinc Monuments

One type of monument especially popular from the Civil War through 1900 is the white bronze or zinc monument.   White bronze is a misnomer, for the monument is not made of bronze, but rather zinc or more rarely, iron.  The final patina is whitish to pale blue to darker blue, and the great benefit of this type of monument is that the embossed metal panels and ornaments hold epitaphs and images in sharp relief for a very long time. They seem to take the weather, moss and lichen growth and acid rain exceptionally well.  The only drawback is that attached elements, such as a top urn, can be easily snapped off, and seams, especially at the base, can separate.  With the proper method of repair, however, this is not much of a problem, but trouble results when concrete is used as a filler.  The zinc monument offers a good crisp image for monument rubbing using rice paper and soft heelball wax. For more information on zinc monuments, visit these two links below.  Oak Grove has many beautiful examples of this monument type.

http://www.si.edu/mci/english/research/conservation/zinc_sculptures.html

http://www.tngenweb.org/darkside/white.html

Mausolea

n. pl. mau·so·le·ums or mau·so·le·a 1. A large stately tomb or a building housing such a tomb or several tombs. 
There are three mausolea built in the favored classical Grecian style at Oak Grove and one in a distinctly Gothic Revival mode. 
 The Turner Mausoleum can be found near the main entry , slightly to the center behind the Civil War obelisk and cannon memorial.
 
  
turner.jpg
 
(west facade)
 
Typical triangular pediment (south facade)
 
 
 
turner2.jpg
 The Sears and Charlton Mausolea are quite close together in the south end.
 
mausolea.jpg
 Earle Perry Charlton became a Vice President of Woolworth’s dimestore chain, a position he held until his death in 1930.  Charlton Hospital, just down the street from Oak Grove is named in his honor.  Mr. Charlton was a great  philanthropist and benefactor to the city.
  
charlton.jpg
sears.jpg
 The Gothic Revival Mausoleum
 
 
 
gothic.jpg

Symbolism in Stone

scrollanddove.jpg

Oak Grove is a non-denominational city cemetery. The majority of burials here could be classified as Protestant-affiliated. Saint Patrick’s cemetery in the north end of the city as well as several Roman Catholic church cemeteries within the city contain the remains of most of the city’s Catholic population. So it is not surprising that saints, angels and crosses are very few within the walls of Oak Grove. Tablet-shaped stones and obelisks are the favored shapes to be found, even among the stones from the 1855-1900.

madonna.jpg

The only figural madonna at Oak Grove

Granite, marble and the very durable metallic monuments compose the majority of markers. The great beauty of Oak Grove lies in the landscaping of the grounds and the intricate carvings and symbolism on many of the older stones. Although there are sections of contemporary, fairly nondescript markers in the northeast end, the great majority of grave markers in this cemetery are from the golden age of monument carving when hand tools were used and artistry and pride of workmanship were the key elements of the craft. The Fall River area was famous for granite, especially pink granite, and this ready resource is much-evident in use.  The slide presentation above contains many of the symbols associated with fraternal orders and particular Victorian sentiments and virtues.

Anchor- Steadfastness, Hope, a maritime career

Bellflower-Constancy and gratitude

Calla lily- Majesty, Beauty, Marriage

Daisy- Innocence, grave of young child, the “day’s eye”

Fern- Frankness, Humility, Sincerity

Laurel (wreath) Victory, Immortality, Eternity

Lily of the Valley- Innocence, Purity, one of the first Spring flowers

Lyre- References a harp, heaven, angelic music, occasionally used on the grave of a poet.

Madonna Lily- Purity

Rose- Univeral symbol of Love, queen of flowers, used most often on graves of women

Wheat or wheat sheaf- Long life, the reaping of years, productive and abundant

Oak leaves- Strength, Endurance, Faith and Virtue

Open Book- Book of Life, List of St. Peter, life of the deceased as an open book, a pure  life

Tree or log stones- These could be ordered from Sears and Roebuck catalogue, and were used for the Woodsmen fraternity as well as carpenters, builders, lumbermen, or to suggest by their height as short life cut off in its prime, head of the family, and occasionally contains a nest with birds suggesting children of the deceased.

Dove- Most popular animal seen in cemeteries, symbolizes Peace, Holy Spirit

Hands Clasping- An earthly farewell, a heavenly welcome or matrimony

Curtain, Drapery, Veil- Passing from one existence to another, an ending

Hourglass- Fleeting Time, Tempus Fugit, inevitability of earthly Death

Door, arch, gateway- Passing from one existence to the next

Ship- Seafaring life, a journey, or symbol for the Chirch universal with the mast as the cross

Torch-  Upside down position has the meaning of extinguished life.

Pine Tree- Evergreen, Eternal

The Funeral Card

funcard1.jpg

 

Victorians liked keepsakes of all kinds.  The idea of some sort of printed memorial which could be tucked into family Bibles, placed on mantels in the parlor, and kept for the future generations found great favor in the nineteenth century. The custom of funeral cards is still observed today although the size and intricacy of the funeral card has changed.  Today we often find the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, or a contemporary poem along with the deceased’s dates, name and age.  The Victorian and early twentieth century cards were on very heavy stock and featured the symbolism Victorians understood, such as the opening gate, cross and crown, dove of the spirit, laurel wreath etc.  Suitable mourning poetry was nearly always included below the name and dates of the departed Loved One. Early cards were generally in either black or white with gold or silver lettering.  (Examples from the blogger’s collection).

 

 

funcard21.jpg

funcard31.jpg