Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Your Typical Family Outing

The Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor has been on my list of places to see for a few reasons. It's the second oldest garden cemetery in the country, anyone can be buried there regardless of creed or color, and it dates back to the early 1800's. Cool, huh?

While not as garden-y as I had pictured, it is still a beautiful cemetery set into a lightly wooded landscape. The paved paths wind around ponds dotted with lilypads, over gently rolling hills, past modest headstones and elaborate mausoleums. We spent a pleasant couple of hours walking the paths with the girls, stopping to read headstones along the way. We noted many names commonly seen in Maine today, like Hallowell and Bean.
Frost heave must wreak havoc with the headstones, as many of the older ones were tipping precariously or laying on the ground.
As with any older cemetery there were a lot of children's graves, reflecting one of the many hardships of life in an earlier era. One headstone marked the joint grave of newborn twins who died in 1817 "in their mother's arms." This one I saw just as we were beginning our walk broke my heart:
We found many graves of Civil War veterans. Every veteran's headstone, no matter which war he had served in, was decorated with an American Flag. We saw the side-by-side graves of brothers who died two years apart in World War II, flanked on either side by their parents.
This was one of the most elaborate mausoleums we found. Notice how the roof is covered in turf. You can't really tell in this photograph, but the tomb is set seamlessly into a hillside.
There wasn't a lot of statuary, like you see in some cemeteries, but I thought that this little angel was especially beautiful, with such a childlike sweetness in his expression.


Nana said...

Have we taken you to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton yet? It's an interesting one, too, set in a wooded setting. Lots of statuaries and interesting inscriptions on the really old grave stones. This is the cemetery where the Wright Bros., Erma Bombeck, Paul Dunbar, and some other notables are buried. I'd like to be buried there, but it's quite expensive. They have a gorgeous mausoleum that is interesting to walk through. Cemeteries can be fascinating.

#1quiltinggrandma said...