Old City Cemetery’s Scatter Garden for Pets

Originally posted on The Dead Bell:

This is the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology which stands amidst the ashes of a number of pets in a special section of Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery. From the hill where the scatter garden is located one has a lovely view of the pond and a dovecote. It’s a very serene spot  to be located so close to the downtown area.
view of the pond

Our trip to OCC was last minute, so I wasn’t even aware of the Scatter Garden for the Ashes of Beloved Animals but upon finding it I was especially moved. People who don’t live with animals probably roll their eyes at the notion of planning special send-offs for pets or for doing more than flushing the proverbial goldfish down the toilet, but for many people a pet is another member of the family. When such a…

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Hollywood’s Black Iron Dog

The Iron Dog who watches over Florence Rees‘ grave in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery is one of the most curious and beloved features on the grounds. When I took these photos over a year ago the bedstead-styled grave was decorated with coins, jewelry, toys and other grave goods, a sight which always warms my heart.

Florence, a daughter of Thomas B. and Elizabeth S. Rees, only dwelled amongst the living for less than three years according to her death notice below. She died from scarlet fever, an all too familiar cause of death for children in the 19th century in my research.

Her obituary from the Richmond Dispatch on February 8, 1862 reads:
DIED, On the morning of the 7th inst., of scarlet fever, FLORENCE BERNARDIN, an infant daughter of T.B. and E.S. Rees, aged 2 years, 7 months, and 14 days. The funeral will take place this (Saturday) afternoon, at 3 o’clock, from their residence on Main, between 9th and 10th streets. Relatives and friends are invited to attend without further notice.

IMG_0002In Hidden History of Richmond Walter S. Griggs describes the various legends surrounding Black Dog Hill. In one story the statue was placed at the grave by an anonymous benefactor. This mysterious person had remembered how much Florence loved the dog when she and her father walked by the shop where it was displayed on Main Street. Two other possibilities are that either the dog’s owner gave it to the family to spend eternity with Florence or that Thomas purchased it for the same purpose. Another tale passed down through the decades is that the dog was taken to the cemetery to save it from being melted down for bullets during the Civil War. Even when needed materials were in short supply, no one would dare destroy a sacred grave statue.

How the statue landed in the Rees plot is shrouded in mystery but regardless of its origin, if not for the black cast iron Newfoundland Florence Rees might have faded into obscurity along with so many others.

February At Oakwood

Recently I took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to return to Raleigh, North Carolina’s Oakwood Cemetery. Because I have so many photos of graves that I haven’t researched or posted yet, I concentrated more on landscape shots with a few exceptions.

This was the first time I had the opportunity of seeing Elizabeth Edwards’ 8 foot tall white marble grave marker, which features a pair of hands underneath 27 flying doves. I wrote about her son Wade’s impressive marker some time ago.

Another interesting story from Oakwood is that of Henry K. Burgwyn Jr., the “Boy Colonel” who died at Gettysburg.

John Dolson was a Minnesota Civil War soldier who died in a federal hospital and mistakenly buried as a Confederate soldier after officials mistakenly recorded his name and other demographic information. Decades later his true identity was revealed but he remains a Union soldier buried amongst his battlefield enemies.

There are plenty of other fascinating micro-biographies to be written about those interred at Oakwood, but sometimes it’s nice just to take a stroll and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Continue reading February At Oakwood

Ouida Hood’s Majestic Marker: A Love Story


Another one of my favorite cemeterial love stories…

Originally posted on The Dead Bell:

A pink Victorian house overlooking a cemetery: I’m in love.

Raleigh, North Carolina’s Oakwood Cemetery is well worth a visit if you get the opportunity. This well-maintained cemetery covers just over 100 acres and boasts stunning examples of graveyard architecture spanning 140 years. I’ve been to Oakwood twice and still haven’t explored all the grounds, which means I’ll be going back soon (hopefully).

As I was leaving during my last trip I saw a very unique monument and stopped. I didn’t realize how close I was to the grave of Elizabeth Edwards, although the fact that other visitors were taking pictures of a nearby statue should have been a clue that I was close to one of Oakwood’s famous burials. (There’s always next time, right?)

Ouida Estelle Emery Hood’s grave is marked by one of the most elaborate memorials I’ve seen throughout all of my grave travels. I  think you…

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A.G. & Rachel Blythe Bauer: Love, Discrimination and Tragedy


Valentine’s Day is approaching…

Originally posted on The Dead Bell:

Last Saturday in Raleigh was characteristic of a typical southern summer afternoon: hot and miserably humid. It was so uncomfortable that it forced me out of the graveyard. Just before leaving Oakwood Cemetery I spotted a monument down the hill from where I was taking pictures that looked different from all the others. The base was brick with what looked like a replica of a building on top, so we drove over to check it out. I’m really glad that I decided to investigate further because not only is this marker incredibly detailed, it comes with a stirring and tragic story of racism, a woman’s life cut short, and the downfall of a promising architect’s career, family and sanity which ended in suicide.

The marker which initially caught my attention belongs to Rachel (Unaka) Blythe Bauer, who was born in October 1870 to a prominent Cherokee tribe family in Swain…

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