I see dead people….

NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09 ...Patrick gravestones (9)


My mom is into geneology. 



I, on the other hand, am not.



She’s traced back I don’t know how many generations of relatives on her and my daddy’s side of the family.   She’s  found  kin folks of kin folks.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s gotten all the way back to Adam and Eve on one side or the other. 



She really is one smart cookie, my mom.  I’m really proud of her and very thankful she was interested enough in our past to go to the trouble of finding all these people.  I can, one day, show my kids, and eventually their kids, where they come from, who their people are.


 And, I can tell them who figured it all out: their Mimi.  



NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09 ...Patrick gravestones (15)



Well, while in North Carolina, recently, my mom needed to relocate a couple begats’ grave sites.  And, she made me (and my uncle) tag along in search of the dead  people….  You see, when she originally found the grave markers years ago, she did not have the technology that’s now available to her, such as GPS.  So, we  re-traced her steps and entered in the longitude and latitude of a few her long-gone kin folk.



NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09 ...Patrick gravestones



On this particular day, she made us forge our way through bramble and briar to find the Patricks.  Mary and John are, if I remember correctly, my seven-times great grandparents!  (Mother, I apologize if I’ve gotten it all mixed up and confused.  You know I’m not good at numbers and such.  I’m the picture-taker.  The creative one.  The artistic type who doesn’t get logic, or math, or organization.  Remember?  I’m the theatre major.  I can act like I know what I’m doing.  That’s about it.) 



 Anyhoo…However many great-greats they went back, it was a lot!  And, I was impressed.



To say that the Patrick family members are buried in this tiny, little cemetary that’s located WAY off the beaten path is an understatement.  And, might I also add, I was not dressed to tromp through the woods that day.  (My mother is not only smart, she’s sneaky!  I was not told about this little jaunt, until we stopped on the side of some remote road and told to climb up a hill in search of the Patricks.)


The gravestones were so old and worn.  As my mom had said, “Ten more years from now, and no one will be able to read the engravings!”  And, it was true.  


On some, there was nothing left.



NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09 ...Patrick gravestones (10)



You couldn’t tell what had been written, or if there was decoration adorning the markers.  It was kind of sad.



And, then on some, a tree had fallen….



north carolina '09 075



Now, though, at least, there’s a record of the location of the family graves, so in case I want to tempt the poison ivy gods again, I’ll know where to look.  Of course, I won’t know who is resting in what spot, because I was bad about paying attention to that information.  I was there to take the pictures for mom. 


On that same day, we drove drove into Greensboro to find a relative named Mary.  She was lain to rest in the Buffalo Presbyterian Church’s cemetary, many, many years ago.  In 1773, to be exact.


I don’t remember who Mary was or how she is related.  Again, I just take pictures.   But, I liked her grave marker.



NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09...Old Buffalo Presb. Church Cemetary (2)



Her gravestone was amazing, especially for the time period in which it was engraved.   (But, then again, I haven’t done much in the way of studying head stones, so what do I know?….)


I thought it was pretty, in a dead people sort of way.



NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09...Old Buffalo Presb. Church Cemetary (4)



Just look at the details:



NC Wake Forest game, Sept. '09...Old Buffalo Presb. Church Cemetary (5)



A large bird.  The world.  Stars.  The Moon.  The Sun.



north carolina '09 058



I remember thinking it was very intricate and artistic, and interesting, yet simple.  I wish I knew what it all meant.  


 The artist who designed and engraved the stone must have worked long and hard to create such a detailed picture that was meant to honor Mary’s life.   I wonder if Mary had asked for all those markings and symbols.


Whether she asked for the designs or not, it was all pretty interesting, until I got hungry for lunch.  Then, I promptly forgot any and all the fascinating information my mother regurgitated that day.




north carolina '09 059



But, while I may not be able to tell you much about the folks I visited that day, I did take away an important nugget of truth after looking very closely at some of these grave stones…. 



Even with death, one must plan ahead. 



Or, at least find a gravestone cutter who does.



north carolina '09 056

 (Edit:  If you are interested in knowing what all the symbols actually mean, please read the comment sent in by, none other than, my mom.  Told ya she was smart!)




  1. Nancy Franklin

    According to “Sticks & Stones: Three Centuries of North Carolina Gravemarkers,” (yes, there really IS such a book!) Mary Starrat’s marker is attributed to Hugh Kelsey, a stone-cutter who lived & did most of his work in South Carolina. The dove on Mary’s marker “probably symbolizes her soul, flying into the arc of heaven, above the sun, moon, & stars.” The author speculates that Kelsey, in “formulating his surprisingly inventive repertory of symbolic imagery,” might have used a book of engravings as models and points to the patterns on the dove’s wings & tail that particularly resemble engravings. No mention of what appears to be an hourglass below the dove. Nor any mention of Kelsey’s failure to plan ahead in his spacing of “Hunter.” So, now you know. More than you wanted to.

  2. Laura Sneed

    E! I love your blog! When I first saw the decor on Mary’s grave marker, I thought the bird was a phoenix.

    It also reminds me of John Land ~ he’s in a group that finds old cemetaries and restores them… cleans up the grounds, repairs markers, finds old records and preserves them, etc. His people came from Georgia, so that’s where he’s been doing his research. Very interesting stuff.

  3. Launda Jones

    I love this! I can so easily see your mother tireslessly researching “ancient” family history. Of course, my foundest memories are of the library back home. I can still remember exactly how it smells. And because of your mention of the site, Im now addictied to P.W. Thanks alot. I didnt really have anything else to do anyway. Laundry is so overrated. (until the only clean clothes left dont match and arent appropriate. the boys hate that!) enjoying your post!


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