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Jerusalem Cemetery

December 12, 2010

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As I searched through Google Maps looking for a cemetery to visit, I was very excited to see one called “Jerusalem Cemetery” because I thought it might be a Jewish cemetery hidden away somewhere.  The only local Jewish Cemetery I knew of is on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.  When I got a little closer, I saw the sign that tells me that the one on MLK is still the only local one of which I am aware.

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Ah, well.  Baptists are nice, too.

Jerusalem Cemetery is located on the south side of New Hope Road.  The turnoff for the road is on Highway 6 between Many High School and the Town of Many.  The year on the gate leading into the site indicates that it started in 1883.  There are several older graves that fit in with this timeline.  Overall the area is more empty than filled, with most of the graves concentrated in the central portion of the site.

This person has a question for the visitor:

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I suspect I would be where he is.

Most of the time I don’t go on cemetery visits looking for anything in particular; I’m looking for something at the site that stands out to me.  In some places it is decorations or inscriptions.  Sometimes it is the landscape or setting of the site.  In the case of Jerusalem Cemetery, I am sad to say that what stands out the most is the number of fallen, growth-covered or otherwise damaged headstones.  Many of these–if not most–are among the older headstones and are in the same general area.

Why is this?

Perhaps the work done when putting in the markers was not the best.  There may have been a storm or tornado that knocked over markers already weakened by weathering and erosion.  Unfortunately, the idea that kept popping into my head was that these markers had all been damaged or knocked over on purpose.  I can’t prove it, but the instances of markers flat on the ground next to the base on which they are supposed to rest keeps leading me in that direction.

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This marker sits atop another broken marker.

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Markers on the ground and an empty base:

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I love the carving on this headstone, which evokes a “City of God” kind of feeling.  I do not love the fact that it’s broken in half and lying on the ground.

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Two more broken headstones:

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In addition to those that are fallen or have suffered mechanical damage, there are several markers that are covered with biological growth or show signs of having been cleaned improperly–then covered with biological growth.

This marker is snow-white beneath a covering of growth.  It sounds strange to say, but no marker this old should be this white.  The stone has a sugary appearance to it that indicates a weakened state.

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White marble markers aren’t the only ones that attract biological growth.

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I’m curious about Jerusalem Cemetery.  The site doesn’t appeared to be abandoned.  There are recent burials there.  There is contact information posted at the gate, so somebody has assumed some sort of responsibility for the site.  In spite of all this there are shattered and growth-covered headstones that indicate either neglect or vandalism.  It just seems to me that the condition of the older markers does not fit with the rest of what I see.

See more photos of this cemetery on my flickr page.

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