Friday, January 02, 2009

Masonic Tombstones in Ballard County Kentucky

Over the years as I've tromped around cemeteries for geneaology information, I've noticed tombstones with the Mason symbol. Masons seem steeped in mystery and I don't know what they're all about.

But, I'm fascinated that people felt such an affinity with them that they added the Masonic symbol to their tombstones. Sometimes it is given as much importance as the pertinent data about the deceased.

J. Alvis Grace, 1887-1920, gives over most of the informative space on his tombstone to the Masonic symbol. These photos were taken in the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery outside of LaCenter, Kentucky.

Not far away is this stone for George S. Myers, 1847-1918. I was taken by the decoration on the front of this stone. There is no other information on it than what can be seen in this photo and it's like a little box.

George W. Terry, Dec. 20, 1870-May 16, 1926 has the Mason's symbol uppermost on his tombstone.

John Robert Williams, Aug. 7, 1888 to Sept. 19, 1955 makes use of the Mason symbol where others might have used a dash.

W.C. Mitchell Feb. 8, 1878 to Feb. 3, 1941, does the same thing, but with a deeply engraved design for the Masonic symbol.

Robert Hahs, and wife Nancy, are listed on the side opposite the one given to nothing but the family name and the Mason symbol.

There's no indication of Nancy's affiliation.

The stone of William Reesor and his wife Maggie Reesor has the Masonic symbol above his name and a star above hers. I'm assuming the star is for the Order of the Eastern Star, which could be joined by either men or women. The men had to be masons and the women associated with a mason.

I also spotted this stone and wondered if the star on it referenced the Order of the Eastern Star.

One of the really interesting stones I saw on this little trip through the cemetery was this one for Dr. James W. Wallace. The stone is a Woodmen of the World one, which I understand from the wiki was a benefit of membership with Woodmen of the World until the 1920s when it was determined this was too expensive.

Wallace, born Oct. 4, 1859, died Aug. 29, 1915, has yet another monument. You can see the corner of it in this photo. It's a slab behind this headstone.

Of course, this is where the Mason symbol is.

I can only guess he felt enough affinity for the Masons that he wanted to add that to the Woodmen of the World tombstone.

It's curious, isn't it, what we feel such affection for that we want preserved on our tombstones. For many of us, a tombstone is our little bit of immortality. I would guess the most common designation on them is "mother" or "father," but for some an association with a group - a club, if you will - is so strong that they want to be forever identified as a member.

Is there any group you would feel such a strong affinity with? I can't think of anything that would rise to that level for me. I noticed none of these were recent. I'm not sure if that's happenstance, or if fewer people do this anymore. Obviously, the Masons must serve a real purpose in people's lives - or at least did at this time.

Depends on How You Look At It

New Years is a time when we look for a new start. Of course, we could get that new start on any arbitrary day we chose, but we have decided January 1 is it. I haven't been too keen on falling into the trap of making New Year's Resolutions for quite some time. It's a recipe for failure for me, so I stopped doing it many years ago.

I do, however, chose something each year to focus on. I haven't yet done that this year - partially because I haven't spent enough time with pen and paper to figure out where I should put my energies. It is never something like losing weight - while a noble goal, obviously not one I'm likely to carry out. It's usually something more esoteric than that.

I do know that at this time next year I want my life to look different - be better, more calm. The trick is how to achieve that.

I also know I need to have opportunities this year to give into my whims, to meet new people, to see different things. I have become far too staid in my daily life - partially because daily life has required more and more of me in the last few months. I have to figure out how to make daily life work for me instead of me working for it.

This evening I went to the funeral home. Mattie's mother died after a long bout with alzheimer's. Regardless of their condition, we are never ready to let go of our loved ones. I haven't seen Mrs. Scott in many years. Those years can slip away so quickly, although I'm sure they've seemed very long and arduous for her family.  Although my presence was not a comfort to anyone there I'm sure, it was good to be there to honor the grief a family is experiencing at a time like this.

It's a rocky way to begin a New Year. Or, it's a new beginning for Mrs. Scott. All of life - and death - depends on how you look at it.

Next week my brother, Jackie, will go to the hospital for surgery to remove a lung cancer. The prognosis is excellent for him. I wish I could stay and be here to help when he has surgery, but I must return to my job. That's the difficulty of having a life going in more than one location - it's hard to do justice to all of them. I know it's hard to understand for those who are living life in one locale - the way we were meant to.

It's by the grace of God that the lung cancer was caught so early. His last year has been a series of miracle blessings disguised as traumas. Again, all about how you look at it I suppose.

Maybe that is something I need to mull over as 2009 gets underway.