My daughter and I set off on an impromptu adventure yesterday, a road trip through rural Washington County, NY.
The big white church caught our eye first.
Across the street was Bethany Cemetery, Truthville, NY.
My initial thought was to take a few pictures of some graves, presumably of veterans, which were decked out in patriotic colors for the Fourth of July. But it didn't take long for my interest to broaden.
The shared headstone of Cora and Harold Douglas celebrates their long life together: "Whither thou goest I will go". Little Tanya Susan Cain was only on this earth for two days; a tiny lamb graces her resting place.
The older stones bore their own truths. Most of the women were either "the daughter of" or "the wife of" someone, having surrendered a part of their identity to their male relatives.
Many females died in their late teens or early twenties. Did childbirth carry them off at so young an age?
What tragic chain of events claimed the life of Eliza Corbin "who was drowned at Whitehall Landing, July 26, 1825, aged 18 years & 8 months, leaving a sorrowful husband & many weeping friends."
Sally Baker's large stone is elaborately decorated. Does her anchor symbolize faith, or was her husband or a family member involved with ships or the Navy?
Jeremiah Brownell was born in 1731 or 1732. Did he bear arms in the French & Indian War, then pick up his musket again in middle age to join the Colonials in their fight for independence? Was he a Loyalist? Or did he arrive in upstate New York after the battles were done?
What manner of person was Chapin, whose irregular rock bears a single name, with no other information?
The little cemetery at Truthville reminded me of Spoon River Anthology. Edgar Lee Masters recreated an entire community by sharing narratives of the departed residents of a fictitious town.
We can only guess at "truths" of Truthville. These crumbling inscriptions give no sense of the fire and passion of the people who once bore these names. Perhaps that is exactly what they would have wished.
"Truthville" set on Flickr