Saturday, April 28, 2012

March 31, 2012
The Life Expectancy Of Cemeteries
Concerning cemeteries in general and ours' in particular:
Findagrave lists 195 cemeteries in Jackson County, Illinois. I don't know about you (all) but I find that number astonishing.
Most people are unaware that cemeteries are mostly unregulated. There are almost no laws pertaining to them. In most locales it is legal to bury a dead person anywhere. In the back yard, or behind the barn or under the garage floor. And a lot of our neighbors did exactly that. How does findagrave know about the 195 cemeteries? Because a findagrave volunteer has recorded that a person, by name, is buried at a particular spot and named the spot. Thus, the spot became a cemetery. Findagrave's primary function is recording burials. Without this organization, knowledge of most of these burials would be lost. I happen to believe that this knowledge is important. Burials get forgotten because we humans have short memories. And because we tend to believe that some-one-else is taking care of the problem. Time moves on.

Without constant vigilance entire cemeteries just fade away. The process is so slow that no one notices. That process is already in progress at Glenn. The permanent population of Jackson County has been shrinking since 1917. That fact has been obscured by the growth of the mostly transient population at the university at Carbondale, which gets counted by the census -takers. The emigration from the rural areas to the cities is unabated. The Grosvenors and the Sauls have departed the Glenn area in my lifetime, leaving behind only a hundred tombstones to remind the world that they existed. Is it reasonable to assume that future residents of the area will happily shoulder the burden of maintaining the cemetery when they don’t recognize the names of those buried there? Again I point to Houge, the Jones Ridge cemetery. It is seven acres of brush with tombstones jutting out of the leaves and weeds here and there. We have ancestors there.


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