Saturday, October 1, 2016

Elmwood Part 2: Odd discovery and what I learned


Last week, I visited Elmwood Cemetery for the first time. It is filled with history, from Civil War graves to the Memphis Yellow Fever epidemic in the 1800s. But during my first trip I didn't find those spots in the cemetery.  This week was different.

Like I mentioned last week, the road forks as soon as you enter. This week, I turned left. As it turns out, that's the trick to finding those historic markers. The first thing I came across was a small area filled with headstones from the mid 1800s, some entire families, presumably victims of one of Memphis' multiple Yellow Fever epidemics. 

I also stumbled upon a mystery to me...




Rows and rows of markers with the words "odd fellows" etched into metal placards. Different names, but the same words and an unusual emblem. A quick Google search later, I learned that "odd fellows" are basically an insurance co-op that started in Great Britain in the 1700s. Members would pool their money and take care of each other in cases of sickness, death, etc.
The chain link and the letters F, L, and T often show up on grave markers. F, L,T meaning Friendship, Love and Trust. This might be the coolest thing I learned all week! Thanks to cemetery blogger CallMeTaphy for the lesson! Also for more info, check out the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.


Then, there's No Man's Land. Hundreds of bodies. One simple stone. This is the area where approximately 1,400 people rest in a mass grave because the Yellow Fever epidemic swept through the city so quickly that victims began...to be crass...piling up faster than they could be buried. Rich or poor, they were all laid to rest alongside each other in this small corner of Elmwood Cemetery.  The stone tells the full story.



Further up the path, shaded by magnolia trees, stands the Confederate Soldiers Rest.


Flags wave peacefully at the base of the obelisk that honors the Confederate dead. Dozens of markers surround the towering monument to those who served the south. I thought it was interesting that the last Confederate soldier was buried here in 1940.


This is the only airborne angel in Elmwood Cemetery. The bronze statue stands over Max Rose, a Memphis teen killed in a car crash in 2009. It is also surrounded by stones with the words of some of Rose's poems etched in them.




Not as new...