Category Archives: Symbolism

Pine Forest Cemetery-Wilmington, North Carolina

Begun in 1860, the Wilmington Board of Commissioners purchased and set aside land next to the white cemetery, Oakdale Cemetery, for the burials of the enslaved. After the Civil War, the cemetery was incorporated as Pine Forest Cemetery to serve as a cemetery for the Black citizens of Wilmington. The cemetery was officially incorporated in 1871.

Priscilla Burney, 1827-1855, and Solomon Burney, 1855-1856

During the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, where violent white supremacists killed 60-400 people and burned the offices of the Black newspapers, many citizens hid in the cemetery for safety. The massacre was the only successful overthrow of a government in the United States. The Reconstruction-era elected officials were all thrown out of office.

Charley Williams, 1861-1898

Many of the older markers have been painted in blue or pink paint. I am not certain why.

John King, 1885-1948
Solomon Nash, 1779-1846
Markers in the public ground section
P. W. Spruell, 1862-1908
Better Morris
George Cleapor, Lt. Thomas Bullock, and Cleopatra Bullock
George and Rose Walker

Oak Hill Cemetery-Newnan, Georgia

Oak Hill Cemetery started in 1833, but it didn’t get the name Oak Hill until the local newspaper ran a contest to name the cemetery in 1887. As an active cemetery with over 15,000 burials, the different markers represent funerary art over the years.

There are many notable people buried, many of whom were early settlers of the area. Several Victorian monuments grace part of the cemetery. I’ve visited the cemetery twice, 2014 and 2016. In that time, a major restoration has been done on several monuments. Photos of the changes are shown below.

The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Green K. Davis, 1817-1869
This is one of the most delicate works on a marble monument that is still fully intact I’ve ever seen. It can represent triumph over death.
The Bigby-Parrott family plot is the grandest in the cemetery. It also had the greatest amount of restoration work.
According to Newnan friends, this marker was on the ground over the years before it put back on its pedestal.
Thomas Noel Berry, (1870-1870).
Captain. Tom Owen (1834-1862) died in Civil War battle near Richmond. His marker contains the Georgia state seal.

Marshall Family Plot at Laurel Grove North Cemetery-Savannah, Georgia

I was searching through public domain photos and found this Laurel Grove North Cemetery stereograph of the Marshall Family Plot. Stereographs consist of two nearly identical photographs created to produce a three-dimensional image to be viewed through a stereoscope. Frequently, the images are mounted on paper about the thickness and flexibility of modern-day card stock.

I have photographed one monument in this plot many times. According to the details included on the photo is that the stereograph was taken sometime between 1860-1890. Margaret Marshall Barclay is the daughter of Mary and Colonel James Marshall. For those that know Savannah’s history, Mary Marshall was the founder of the Marshall House.

I’ve always found it difficult to photograph this plot due to the plants surrounding it. I do not know if the ironwork was removed due to deterioration or to help with World War II efforts when iron was in high demand.

The obelisk is the marker for Mary and James Marshall. I do not believe the marker that looks like a small child exists in that plot. The next time I am in Savannah, I will need to double-check.

If you are familiar with the Taliaferro Angel in Bonaventure, Margaret Barclay is Marie Taliaferro’s mother.

Margaret Marshall Barclay, 1841-1866. The rocks under the sculpture’s base mean a life built on a firm foundation.

Behavior Cemetery-Sapelo Island, Georgia

McIntosh County

Behavior Cemetery is an active cemetery believed to have been in existence prior to the Civil War. It now serves as a burial ground for the descendants of the earliest Black families who have called Sapelo Island home.

Boston Gardner’s grave features a clock. The clock likely represents the passing of time.

The cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The cemetery features many handmade markers that span several decades and more recent granite markers. Burial patterns are not in rows, and the older burials towards the middle and back of the cemetery.

Vases can be seen in many cemeteries, especially coastal ones.
Liberty Bell, 1900-1912
A fleur de lis next to the grave of Isabella Robinson, 1858-1889. In religion, it can represent the Holy Trinity. Additionally, some enslaved men and women were branded with a fleur de lis as punishment for trying to escape bondage.
Glasco Grovner, 1856-1928
Mary Lemon, 1906-1919. The star motif can be seen in many coastal cemeteries.
Deacon Grant Johnson, 1892-1956. The letter stamping is common method to mark headstones.
A modern memento
I believe these are giant checkers.
If you look closely, you can see the rebar and the mesh. It gives an idea of how some of these markers were made.