As we have gone about our explorations, now with our eyes wide open, we are aware of and now see, in the most unexpected and odd places, old and mostly forgotten family cemeteries. It is a strange and peculiar phenomena that once you have seen one these 19th century cemeteries they pop out all over the place. As kids we must have trudged past this cemetery hundreds of times to get to the best sledding hill in four counties but we never even noticed it sitting there in it’s silence.
Then again as a teenager doing what teens do, we must have cruised right by this cemetery hundreds of time (it was “the country back in the day) to engrossed in girls and partying to notice it at all.
Then as young adults on business or out for a round of golf we still did not see it. Makes you wonder why? Was it hiding from us? Did it not want to bee seen, or were our minds and hearts just not ready for it? Do certain places have consciousness? All of the old cultures of the world believed so and they were much more in tune and much wiser than we are!
Now later in life as you have read in our earlier posts we became hunters, seekers, and explorers of the odd, the strange and the eerily beautiful. And then one day we saw a sign on the road, that led us to a small suburban cemetery, The Schuff-Meyer Pioneer Cemetery (see earlier post), and just like that our eyes were opened and we saw all around us what had been hidden or was hiding from us (HINT: If you don’t want to see and become aware on a whole new level don’t go looking). We opened ourselves to the possibilities and really for the first time “saw” what a mysterious and wonderful world we inhabit.
Since our first experience, as me and Marsha now drive around scouting interesting places to “see” and explore, we almost always come across the unexpected and the bizarre. This trip we happened to be looking for an old barn I had heard about and since we were in the vicinity I thought I would take Marsha to the top of the sledding hill and show her the view and how cool the hill was for sled riding. Just driving around we hit a dead end and had to turn around and go back. As we did the Seward Family Cemetery finally decided to show itself to us, for some reason or other it had deemed us ready. I turned to Marsha and said, “you’ll never guess what I just saw?” and to her credit she was not surprised at all. All summer things had been making themselves know to us, objects and places that we swore were not there or at least not visible before.
As you can tell it is small with very few headstones, they ranged from melted by the elements, fallen and returning to the earth (theses are my favorites) and just a few that could still be deciphered. It seemed to me a sad little place and all but forgotten but for some reason, that day it decided to let us come in a take a look at it’s silent and strange atmosphere.
The plot extremely small and it was hard to find any information at all on it when doing a search (HINT: always do your research preferably before you visit but if not definitely after, you might learn something if you are not careful…lol).
The few items I could find told a brief tale of a family from Roxbury, New Jersey that emigrated to the Ohio River Valley to acquire some breathing room and farm the land well before the Civil War in the early 1800’s. As Ohio opened up and became a state in 1803 people back east realized that the rich soil was perfect for growing crops, mainly corn, and raising cows and pigs was easier with the plentiful the feed that they could grow themselves. It must have been a different world, more prosperous and less crowded than the rapidly industrializing east coast, where the soil was poor and rocky from generations of overuse.
Of course they met other hardships such as wild Indians that still roamed the area and diseases that they had no experience with, not to mention having to clear the land of the mighty old growth forest that stretched from the Smokey mountains to the central plains of the Midwest. So they and their families came in droves, staking their claim to the virgin land and living and dying on the farms the created from the wilderness. They buried their families close to where they lived so they could watch over them and vice versa, here they could honor the generations that had come before them. Unlike today, where cemeteries are places people visit only on special occasions these pioneers had cemeteries that they saw, lived with and visited on a daily basis. Its hard to imagine how this must have comforted them, unlike today where cemeteries are portrayed as frightening and taboo places.
I liked this place even though it had a sadness to it. I felt privileged that it had reveled itself to me and Marsha after being invisible to us for so long. As we read what we could on the gravestones and cleaned off the tombstones that were laden with winter debris I could not help but wonder who these people had been and how they had lived their lives? As we saw familiar motifs such as the way they engraved the birth and death dates and the now familiar “tree of life” it caused us to pause in wonder, once again, why we had not seen these places, that are now so obvious before? This is what I mean when I say (and the title of this blog) “once you have seen, you can never unsee.” It seems now that we have opened our minds to the possibilities and know that these places exist in multitudes all over our urban and suburban environments, they welcome us by allowing themselves to be seen. Some in innocence and some in malice, this one the Seward Family Cemetery, being of the former. It was great to visit and wonder at these things and as our adventures continue I know they is more of both in store.
What I am not to sure of and what I would really love to know is, do the people that live and play next to these hidden treasures see them or do they allow themselves to be seen to people so caught up in their daily routine that the meaning and beauty of these hidden places would be lost on them? One day I am going to walk up to one of the home close up and ask them, have the visited their neighbors, do they know their names or do they even realize that they are there? Maybe once they see, they will be unable to “unsee” their quiet (hopefully) neighbors next door…….