Monday, February 16, 2009

Resting Places

Difficult as it is to imagine, people have lived in these mountains for centuries. Native Americans wandered through these forests hunting and gathering. Hardy settlers arrived here and somehow made a living for their families in this harsh land.

Scattered throughout Pisgah National Forest are small cemeteries. Some have unmarked graves or simple rocks, the names of those lying there long forgotten. In the summer months, they lie hidden from sight, obscured by grasses and saplings. While most of the cemeteries are unmarked, there is one cemetery that is well known. The McCall family history is legend in Transylvania County. They were among the earliest settlers to live here and their family cemetery lies deep within Pisgah National Forest.

It is difficult to determine the exact size of the cemetery, since many graves are marked by simple stones, or not marked at all. The writing on most headstones washed away many years ago.

The barely visible date on this larger stone is 1873.

Rachel McCall died in 1881. What an incredibly difficult life she must have led in this isolated rugged area.

Whenever I am out in these mountains, I wonder about the lives of these hardy individuals. Nothing brings them closer to mind that to stand in the cemeteries that are their final resting places. I try to imagine their lives and honor their deaths.
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Kahlil Gibran


troutbirder said...

Very interesting. I have been thinking of doing a similar post and took some pictures last fall. However "old" in a cemetary here goes back to only the 1860's far newer that the ones I visitied year in Boston.

Cedar ... said...

Interesting post. If I could pick a final resting place for my bones I would pick a place like that. Just me and nature,.... forever.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh My---Seems like the McCall family relatives would clean up that cemetery and keep it cleaned--even if the stones are not marked. BUT--I guess it's hard if nobody lives in that area anymore. I know that some of my family are buried in a small cemetery in VA which they say is in horrible shape.

When we were in Cosby in November, we came upon a small cemetery on the top of a mountain.. The only way people could have gotten there was either by walking or by horse. Like you, it made me think about all of those pioneers and the tough lives they had back then.

Thanks for a great post, Carolyn.

Jayne said...

We can only imagine the hardships they faced. I love seeing old cemeteries like this and contemplating the lives of the people there.

Carol Murdock said...

Carolyn, as a young girl I would go to cemetaries and sit and look at the names and dates on the stones. I would create stories about them and bring them to life.
I am still fascinated by and love old cemetaries!Great post!

Shelley said...

Amazing to have a family cemetary still somewhat standing after so many years! i would love to see these headstones, read them and wonder about their lives back then.

HRN Host said...

That is amazing and beautiful. It's neat that these "monuments" still exist, just faint reflections of the lives these people must have led. thank you for sharing!

Jane said...

I enjoy looking at old grave stones as well, although as you said, they can be hard to find. Have you by chance ever read the Foxfire series?


robin andrea said...

You remind me how much I used to like to walk the old cemeteries in New England. Some of those stones went back to the 1600s. All those lives and all those stories. It's always good to walk on those grounds and reflect.

I love your Valentine's Day post, too. How very lovely that you and your husband gave each other matching cards. Very sweet synchronicity.

Thank you so much for stopping by Dharma Bums and leaving us such a thoughtful comment.

NCmountainwoman said...

Troutbirder - I would love to see your post, no matter that they aren't as old as Boston.

Cedar - It is a beautiful and natural area.

Betsy - The cemetery is off one of the trails in Pisgah National Forest. It is actually cleaned up every spring by the volunteer trail maintenance crews. Obviously, nature takes over very quickly.

Jayne - I can't help wondering how on earth they managed a living back then.

Carol - My husband grew up very near Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, NC. He and his friends spent many hours wandering and playing around there, making up stories about the people resting there.

Bird Girl - Thanks. I often wonder about the number of little cemeteries that have grown over so much they are forgotten.

Shelley - Yes, it is amazing. There have not been any burials in that cemetery in the last century.

HNR - Thanks, and thanks for dropping by.

Jane - Yes, I read and loved the Foxfire series when it was first published. I should revisit them.

Robin - Thanks for dropping by. I love your blog and have been a regular reader for quite some time.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Carolyn: What wonderful captures of a sacred place.

Margaret Cloud said...

My relatives are from the hills of Ohio and West Virginia. I know they had hard lives, we use to listen to my grandfather tell all kinds of stories. I had an aunt when I was a kid in the 1940's she lived down the hollow, very scary road.

Ruth said...

I love old cemeteries and the history hidden in their spaces.

George said...

I am often amazed at some of the cemeteries we stumble across while hiking in the mountains. They seem to be in the middle of nowhere, but the fact that they are where they are means that there were once people living nearby. I often wonder how they did it.

PJ said...

I love old tombstones...I know a little odd, but I think about the same things.... I think your card incident is so funny! (we've only done that once with a Christmas card..19 years) I think at 20 we should pull out ALL our cards and start over instead of buying new ones..I think that would be neat to revisit instead of spending more money on new ones! Your babies are beautiful-loving your fridays!

Karen said...

Have you been to the cemetery in DuPont? It's a lovely, peaceful place.

Unknown said...

This is the cemetery of my ancestors. To get to it one has to turn by the fish hatchery and continue up the mountain several miles on a gravel road to reach the trail head. It is quite a hike out to the cemetery and one I may not be able to make many more times. There is an area on the trail that seems as though it may have been cleared as though for a homestead. I can't imagine how they got those caskets up to the top of that mountain! Family and other groups do clean it and at least one head stone has been replaces, leaving the old headstone lying there for all to see. This cemetery was lost to a couple of generations until Rangers came across it.