Saturday, October 31, 2015

Singleton recounts notable epitaphs from old cemeteries throughout area

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Cemeteries can be good teachers” was originally published in the Nov. 10, 1983 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

Much can be learned about certain areas by visiting the old cemeteries that are always to be found. One can learn a great deal about the wealth of the departed and the well-being of the community by just observing the headstones on the many graves that date back to yesteryear.

I, for one, believe that all the old final resting places of our early settlers should be preserved. We in our society know little enough about our past as it is, but there are some who delight in defacing and destroying the old graveyards scattered throughout the area.

Most of us take death and dying seriously, but there are some who have made jokes about their last moments on this earth and have written their own epitaphs with all the humor and deviltry of a joyous party.

I will not disclose the locations of any of these final resting places, but I would like to share with you some of the epitaphs that I have found during my excursions throughout the area.

I mean no disrespect in any way, but after seeing these epitaphs and reading them, I feel that the ones for whom the epitaphs were intended, would not mind or raise a fuss if I shared them with you.

This one I found a few days back:

Here lies our darling baby boy;
He never cries or hollers.
He lived for one and twenty days
And cost us forty dollars.

Then there was this one:

Reader, pass on, and ne’er waste your time
On bad biography and bitter rhyme.
For what I am, this cumb’rous clay insures,
And what I was, is no affair of yours.

Then there was this one, who departed this life in the late 1800s:

He was sweet to my repose,
Now has become a stink under my nose.
This is said of me,
So it will be said of thee.

This one was of a man who died on his wedding day:

The wedding day
Decided was,
The wedding wine provided,
But ere the day did
Come along,
He’d drunk it up
And died, did.
Ah, Sidney! Ah, Sidney!

The epitaph of one Mrs. Wood, age 45, read this way:

Here lies one Wood
Enclosed in wood –
One Wood
Within another.
The outer wood
Is very good;
We cannot praise
The other.

And finally, the sad epitaph of the 46-year-old man whose family had hastened his demise:

My wife from me departed
And robbed me like a knave,
Which caused me, brokenhearted,
To descend into my grave.
My children took an active part
And doom me did contrive,
Which stuck a dagger to my heart
Which I could not survive.

These are a few of the many that I have collected down through the years. Some were written in jest, others perhaps to tell a story. Some were probably written to give a clue as to the murderer of the victim.

Then there were those written by other members of the community, to tell the world of their contributions or their shortcomings. What better way could one voice his last tragic laments than on a tomb, through time immortal?

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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