Friday, February 13, 2015

Mount Holly - cont.

A few weeks ago in a post I promised I'd show a little more of a walk through Mount Holly Cemetery. Mount Holly Cemetery is the burial place of many notable Arkansans, including governors, mayors, military heroes, supreme court justices, newspaper editors, physicians, and attorneys. As we walked I found myself drifting back in time, imagining what it would be like with no sky scrappers in the distance or automobiles buzzing nearby. There would be only quietness and peacefulness in this cemetery; maybe a horse drawn carriage would arrive on the narrow paths.

In the center of the cemetery sits a pretty little building - the bell house. Years ago when the sexton lived on the cemetery property, if you needed his services you stopped by the bell house and rang the bell. 

There are so many stories here. Some filled with hardship and sadness, yet ending in happiness like "Uncle Nase" who was freed from slavery and founded an African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Others would be heart breaking like the story of David O. Dodd who was hung as a traitor when he was only 18.

It was very evident that the gravestones were created to make certain people standout and was often an indication of a family's wealth and social status. Certain individuals were acknowledged by the size of the gravestone or the amount and sophistication of the art.  The one above is the gravestone of Augustus Hill Garland who served as a governor, senator, and attorney general of the United States. 

The opposite of Garland's tall gravestone is this one. Which is the gravestone of  Elizabeth (Quatie) Ross, wife of John Ross, chief of the Cherokee Tribe. Elizabeth was born in the Old Cherokee Nation in 1791. During the forced removal of the Cherokee people, Quatie and John Ross began their journey west aboard the steamboat Victoria, which was owned by John Ross. Elizabeth died of either small pox or pneumonia near Little Rock while traveling the "water route" of the Trail Of Tears. Elizabeth has two markers, one a reproduction of her original stone (above). The original stone is in the Historic Arkansas Museum.  The second stone was placed by the General George Izard Chapter of the United States Daughters of 1812.

On the top of the second stone, visitors leave rocks, coins, and other items as a sign of remembrance or respect to Quatie.

The gravestone above of a fireman holding a fire hose was erected by the Volunteer Firemen of Little Rock. It memorializes Henry C. Brookin who was killed March 11, 1891 while responding to an alarm fire. As you can tell from my angle, his marker was extremely tall. The fireman was sculpted of zinc by J. Weisse, who inscribed his name on the right side of the "roof."

I did a little research to find out what the different symbols on the stones mean. A rare sight was the double draped columns. The columns represent mortality and the drape represents the break in earthly to heavenly life. You can see how tall this is by comparing it to the smaller gravestones directly to the left and barely in the picture. Those are about the size of what I call a normal gravestone.

The urn represents the soul.
The flame from the urn represents eternity.

My sister and I wondered about the hand pointing down. We could understand the hand pointing up toward heaven, but, pointing down?  I was rather relieved when I learned the hand pointing down represents the hand of God descending from Heaven. 

Musical notes were usually found on the graves of musicians. The music carved can be from a song the musician wrote or it could be the deceased person's favorite hymn. In this case these notes are on the stone of Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner who wrote the "Arkansas Traveler," the state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963. Since 1987 it has been the state historical song.

I think flowers are the most popular symbol on gravestones. Each one has it's own meaning. The poppy represents eternal sleep.

I cannot imagine how many hours were involved in creating the intricate engravings and carvings on the gravestones. Gravestone carving in the U.S. began in the 19th century until in the 1920's. Cemetery stone carvers became a well-respected profession in America. Gravestones presented carvers a means to express themselves artistically. Not only is a cemetery a place of burial, but it is a place to see art and learn history.


  1. The gravestones and carvings certainly tell a story. It looks like each step brought you another interesting scene. The patina and lichen on the gravestones is lovely.

  2. I love old cemeteries, too. So many personal histories are literally buried there. Sometimes the tombstone tells a wee portion of the story, more often it doesn't.

  3. So much history in this graveyard and so many stories of those gone before us. I enjoyed hearing about the meanings of the sculptures and the happy ending to the story of Uncle "Nase" when he obtained his freedom. Thank you for this inteststing visit.

  4. I am with Dotti, I love old cemeteries, does that make us a little weird? I think not,I like to think the people there are pleased someone wants to walk among them. This really does look like a good one, which I could go there with you.

  5. Thank you for the tour- I have always wanted to visit this cemetery. It's not that far, so I hope one day to plan a trip there.

  6. So much history - so many happy and sad stories of lifetimes lived.

  7. Cathy, you're a wonderful tour guide. I enjoyed all the background information. That last gravestone was lovely - so intricately carved.

  8. I have never seen musical notes on a gravestone. Those are great. I don't I seen poppies before either. Love the tall double draped one as well.

  9. Fascinating. Yes, I wondered about the hand pointing down too. I really enjoyed this post very much.


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