I’ve always had a fascination with cemeteries, especially old ones. As I walk through looking at the headstones I often wonder what they did in life, if family members still visit them, if they would be happy with the inscription on their tombstone. I know I’m not alone in this, as my family enjoys it as well. AND…if you’re thinking that my family is just weird, Edgar Lee Masters published a book (one of my favorites…not so oddly enough) basically written the by answering the same questions I ask myself. While visiting with my family in NC, we stopped by the Riverside Cemetery. Talk about gorgeous!
They have some beautiful mausoleums. Some have stained glass windows, others have items sitting on the stone tops (inside) as a tribute to the person. This was one that I thought was pretty because of the life growing around it.
Then, signs of Spring were popping up. There were these beautiful purple flowers sprouting up everywhere!
My Sister-in-Law and I agreed that things would be more interesting if people would put cause of death on the tombstones. We saw one that had the cause of death a railway crash.
We did see some interesting statements on the tombstones though. My favorite of which was:
There were soldiers from all different wars buried here. For example, there were a few from the Revolutionary War:
Some from the Spanish-American War:
There were also some famous North Carolinians that you may recognize. First was O. Henry (AKA Sydney Porter…think Gift of the Magi):
I’m not sure why people were putting pennies on his headstone, but I assume it probably has something to do with him being accused of embezzlement when he was a bookkeeper in Austin, TX (yes really…). However, it may have some other meaning as well.
The other famous writer was Thomas Wolfe. He has a couple of quotes from his works on his headstone. People put little rocks on top of his headstone as a tribute:
One of his more notable writings is Look Homeward, Angel which is an autobiographical account (although it is a fictional work, many of the characters are built on his family and his experiences in NC) of his life in Asheville, North Carolina and the death of his brother (who was only 26).
Since Thomas Wolfe was an Asheville native, his home is now a memorial site and for a dollar, you can tour his home. We drove by it but didn’t get a chance to do the tour.
The information center at Riverside Cemetery has a walk through tour print out that you can use as you look through the cemetery to learn about some of the other famous individuals there. Some of them are just famous North Carolinians and some are national figures. If you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping by and taking a look.