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Harmony Baptist

November 7, 2010


Harmony Baptist Church

I briefly considered calling this post “Harmony Baptist: A Cemetery in Two Parts.”  Viewing the church from the front, the larger section with a variety of family names is on the right, and the much smaller section with mostly one family name is on the left.  I had not planned on visiting the site, but when I saw a sign along Hwy 117 for Harmony Baptist Church, I hung a right.  The church and cemetery are on Harmony Road.

The large section appears to have been there for quite some time.  The oldest marker I recorded has a date of death in the 1873.  Remembering that finding the biggest/fanciest/oldest marker was not my objective, there may be older markers present.  Marble, concrete and sandstone/limestone make up much of the older materials.

There are several markers with dark stains in this section.

Several graves in this section show signs of staining

Two graves show a filmy green stain in the area where the inscription is on each.  These stains are unlike any others in the cemetery.  I have previously seen a photograph of this type of stain in a presentation by Jason Church, a materials conservator at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.  He told me that it was the result of someone putting shaving cream on the marker in an attempt to read it more clearly.  Something in the shaving cream remained and provided a food source for this type of growth.

Green stains on grave markers

I have seen several ways of designing a coping to provide a defined border around a grave plot.  This is the first time I have seen cinder blocks used for such a purpose.

This grave uses cinder blocks as a means for forming a coping

In the previous post about Hickory Grove Cemetery, I mentioned the occurrence of names not commonly seen today.  Harmony Baptist has a husband/wife combination that I just loved.

Alto and Cicero Roy, both born in the 1880s

Another name-related trend here is how they evolve over time.  For one reason or another, perhaps through choice or error, the spelling can change from one generation to another.  In extreme cases, people may rid themselves completely of their given name.  The following photographs show very similar versions of the same name.


Gottman, with the double t

O.H. Gartman and Family


In the smaller cemetery, I counted twenty named burials.  A total of eighteen of these graves have the family name Brister, either as a middle or last name.  One of these is a Confederate State of America marker that looks to have been added fairly recently.  The two exceptions show the name Izzarelli.


Three Brister graves in a row


The large section showed some possible examples of homemade markers, but none of homemade, personalized decoration.  The smaller section gives us this:

Wooden cross in the “Brister Cemetery”

I was quite intrigued by the fact that there was a small cemetery adjacent to the church that pretty much consisted of a single family.  Even the ground felt different; almost a soft and spongy, bouncy consistency.  It makes me wonder how things like this come about.

See more photos of this cemetery on my flickr page.


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