Earth, Stone & Memories – a documentary about our passion with historic cemeteries is now available for sale: http://www.southernmostillinoishistory.com As the website explains, proceeds from the sale of the DVD benefit the Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone and its community and economic development programs.
The documentary focuses on historical burial grounds and cemeteries and their development through time. Historians, archaeologists, and genealogists offer insight into the types of stone used, motifs and cemetery layout and other changes we see when we visit an old cemetery.
My hope is that this documentary inspires and motivates you to learn and do more in regard to historic cemeteries. Maybe you’ll discover an old burial ground in need of upkeep. Or perhaps you’ll find a historic section that needs to be inventoried and photographed and deposited in a local library.
The website also includes classroom handouts and projects. Additional materials will be forthcoming as we transcribe the bonus segments.
Some organizations interested in restoring an old cemetery may want to view the DVD to learn more about the state requirements before they do the work.
After writing and directing this project, I can tell you that historic cemeteries affect all of us in different ways. I know one woman who “feels” and “hears” things when she visits a cemetery and walks among the old stones. “That white one over there was speaking out to me,” she said to me last spring. Another stone projects an evil vibe, she commented.
My cemetery experiences are far less interesting. A deer snorted and stomped in my direction when I walked too close to a wooded area in the Beech Grove Cemetery in Mounds, Illinois. I couldn’t see the animal, but I got the message. A second deer-experience in the West Eden Cemetery – after dark – was a little unnerving because it was AFTER DARK IN A CEMETERY.
To me, the typical historic cemetery gives me a good reason not to think about myself. I find myself reading the headstones and putting that person’s life in context. I am also a visual thinker – so an old cemetery in the middle of the summer with the cicadas vibrating in the trees stirs my soul in ways I cannot express in words. Watch the DVD and hopefully you’ll see what I mean.