Old graves, lost stories at Oak Street Cemetery

Somewhere in this house there is a reporter’s notebook and in that notebook are the notes taken on Election Day while I was wandering around the Oak Street Cemetery.

Now, reporter’s notebooks are pretty common objects around here. I stash them in the cars, I carry them in my jacket pockets, I have them on the desk for when I need to take notes. The first rule my children ever learned was this: never draw, never touch, mommy’s long and skinny notebooks, because she needs them for work.

That rule was more or less hard and fast for 11 years and then I got laid off. I now have a finite number of reporter’s notebooks and my children seem to consider them fair game. I suspect my notes are in a backpack or perhaps forming a stylish Barbie table.

Oak Street Cemetery

(Oh. My. God. That was the fastest photo upload I’ve ever had. I love this new Word Press software!)

The Oak Street Cemetery is Grafton’s central cemetery, located across the street from Grafton High School and Lake Ripple. The oldest stone is marked 1731, according to a pamphlet posted here.

Oak Street Cemetery

The material used for most of the gravestones in the oldest section here is slate, which doesn’t turn black and spooky like the stones in Riverside Cemetery.

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Some of the carvings on the stones are pretty detailed. You’ll see a lot of winged skulls and lovely epitaphs here.

Oak Street Cemetery

And then, there’s this tomb. This is the reason why I was searching for my notebook, because there’s an entire story carved on its top. This is the final resting place of Mr. Gardner Secretary Leland, third son of Major David W. Leland, who died on July 22, 1821 in Nice, Italy “after a lingering illness of fifteen months which he bore with resignation and Christian fortitude.”

Oak Street Cemetery

The carving just goes on and on. You can imagine that he was a favored, yet sickly, son, sent abroad for his health. And you uncomfortably wonder if the reason why he’s encased in stone is because the body’s trip back home suffered from the preservation methods in use at the time.

And then you uncomfortably notice that the ground at the side of the tomb is rather eroded and you quickly step back, fearful of the hand that may reach from the grave to grab your ankle…

Oak Street Cemetery

The tree seen on a lot of stones from this period is the tree of life, which symbolizes God’s family in the new land.

Note to my husband and kids: do not refer to me as a “consort” on my tombstone.

Oak Street Cemetery

You’ll see many historic Grafton names here — Willard, Brigham, Prentice, Rand — as well as tributes to the Hassanamisco Indians.

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And a little lamb, all alone.

Oak Street Cemetery

There are worst places to spend eternity.

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