Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Headstone Inscriptions

I am amazed at the number of readers who have visited the Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County during its first week out. If you are reading this post today, thank you for visiting, and I invite you to return often.

Throughout the years, headstone inscriptions have provided some insight into the lives of our ancestors who went unknown before us. While some inscriptions are original, many are well-known phrases or quotes of famous words that may have meant something to either the individual or to the relatives of the deceased. So I have decided that my Saturday posts for this blog will include a headstone inscription. It may be a unique one, lighthearted or even downright humorous, or it may be something in a more serious vein, such as the first one I have posted here today.

An inscription appearing on a gravestone in Attala County, Mississippi.

Remember friends as you pass by

As you are now, so once was I,

As I am now, so you must be,

So prepare for death and follow me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Old Salem Church Cemetery

Today I found a list of "endangered" cemeteries, with names submitted by members of the public.

The entire list can be found at

One of the cemeteries appearing on this list is located in Attala County, the Old Salem Church Cemetery, established in 1875. The location is near Dossvile Road, in Kosciusko Township, and is on rural, mixed use land, that can be accessed only by crossing private property. The newest grave, according to the submitter, is dated 1899.

Also according to the report, tombstones were "toppled," "buried," "disentigrated," and "broken." The report indicates some tombstones may have been removed, and an overgrowth of vegetation, including vines, was a problem at the time of the report. Previous reports of problems have been made with the Mississippi Tombstone Project.

Mississippi is one of those states that has enacted laws that govern upkeep and preservation of cemeteries, including small family cemeteries. Hopefully, the problems with the Old Salem Church Cemetery have been remedied by now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are Burials Becoming Extinct?

Last evening, we had dinner with two other couples who are close friends. It was a lovely dinner, with stimulating conversation that included topics such as our children and grandchildren, the woes of our local sports teams, the upcoming election, and cremation. Yes, cremation became a dinner topic when one of the hosts brought up the subject of her "final plans." Instead of a morbid conversation, it was rather enlightening, and I would like to share a few thoughts here today about that particular topic.

I have seen a trend in metropolitan areas during the past few years that people are now considering cremation their first choice when making those "final plans," and a "Celebration of Life" or a memorial service is held in lieu of a traditional funeral service. Two of the couples from dinner belong to two very large churches near where we live, one Methodist and one Catholic, and these churches have already added a section known as a "columbarium" to their chapels. The "columbarium" is a small space in a wall where families can preserve the ashes of their departed loved ones. Each space is marked with the name of the deceased and the date of death. In addition to the word "columbarium," I also learned another new word recently, "inurnment," which means "to encase the ashes of the deceased in an urn."

One reason for this shift in tradition is the simple fact that large metropolitan areas are running out of room, and in some cases not making room, for cemeteries. Building hotels, business towers, and high-rise condos seems to be of a much higher importance, and sometimes small, old, family cemeteries must be moved to make way for the construction. The availability of burial plots in already existing cemeteries has become scarce and if plots are available, they are very expensive. A single plot in an older, more well-established cemetery can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000, depending on its location, i.e., whether it is in close proximity to a major street, the maintenance barn, or a parking lot. Findng multiple gravesites together is increasingly more difficult.

The prices alone for these burial plots make cremation seem a much more attractive option to some.

What is the future of the cemetaries of our country? Are they becoming obsolete in the cities? Are we facing a change in how our families feel about treating the remains of their loved one?

And what does this mean to us as genealogists and family historians?

How will be trace our roots?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Family Cemeteries

Many of Attala County cemeteries, like others around the country, are often named for the family buried there. Cemeteries of long ago seem to have been located on the family's land or as part of a church's property and finding the graves of one's ancestors in Attala County depends on the answers to these two questions:

What was the family name?

Where did they attend church?

If you have the answers to both questions, you may be off to a good start. And the wonderful thing about these family cemeteries is that once you have found one ancestor, you are likely to find others buried in that same cemetery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gravestones, Tombstones, and Their Symbols

Have you ever wondered why older gravestones seemed almost like works of art? It seems that most of the ornamentation was not just for art's sake, but was actually symbolic in nature. A great list of symbols and their meanings can be found at

Although there have been literally hundreds of tombstone designs and symbols over the years, here are a few examples from a book entitled "Interpreting our Heritage" by Freeman Tilden.

Anchor -May mean the deceased was a sailor or seaman, but it almost always meant hope

Angels - Tombstones bear angels of all shapes and sizes, but the many meanings of an angel include rebirth, protection, wisdom, mercy, divine love

Bird - Often the bird is a dove. Means eternal life, winged soul, spirituality

Chain with three links - Symbol for a member of the "Odd Fellows"; also means faith or trinity

Column - Commemorates a nobel life

Frog - A symbol for worldly pleasure or sin

Ivy - Denotes fidelity, attachment, undying affection

Poppies - Represent eternal sleep

Rope Circle - Simply means "for eternity"

Rose - A symbol for victory, pride, triumphant love, or purity. Often used for a young child's tombstone or for that of one's mother

Tree - Stands for life and knowledge.

Leaning Tree - A symbol of a short interrupted life; also a symbol for mourning

Urn - Classic symbol of immortality, death of the body and its return to dust

Wreath on Skull - Means victory of death over life

After you have read the list above, you will understand why I have mentioned to my family that although I really do love frogs, I don't want one on my headstone. I rather prefer an angel, or poppies, roses, or ivy. And always keep in mind, that a trek through an old cemetery and a look at old tombstones there, may help us piece together the puzzle not only of how those who went before us lived, but also how they died

Monday, October 20, 2008

Attala County Cemeteries

As a charter member of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits, I feel it is my obligation to post for my readers the names of cemeteries located in Attala County, Mississippi. Since there are many private family cemeteries in the county, some with graves marked only by natural stones, I cannot guarantee this list to be 100% complete.

If you have personal knowledge of a cemetery not included on this list, please feel free to leave a comment for me with the name and location of the cemetery that was omitted and I will add it to the list.

Ables Cemetery

Newport Antioch Cemetery
Armstrong Cemetery
West Attala Memory Gardens
Bear Creek Cemetery, McCool
Berea Cemetery, Ethel
Bethel Cemetery
Bethlehem Cemetery, McAdams
Black Jack Cemetery
Bloomingburg Cemetery
Bowie Chapel Cemetery

Bowlin Cemetery
Breazeale Cemetery
Brister Cemetery, Hesterville
Brooks Cemetery, Kosciusko
Brown Cemetery, McAdams
Buffalo Cemetery
Bullock Cemetery
Bunker Hill Cemetery
Carr Cemetery
Campbell-Dodd-Steed Cem.
Carson Ridge Cemetery
Cedar Grove Cemetery
Center Cemetery
Chapel Hill Cemetery
Coleman Cemetery
Cummings Cemetery
Daniel Cemetery
Dickerson Cemetery
Dodd Cemetery
Doty Springs Cemetery
Eades Cemetery
East County Line Cemetery
Ebenezer Cemetery
Edgefield Cemetery
Ellington Cemetery
Fletcher Cemetery
Friendship Cemetery
Guess Cemetery
Hannah Cemetery
Harmon Cemetery
Harmonia Cemetery
Harmony Cemetery
Herring Cemetery
Hill Springs Cemetery
Himan Cemetery
Holman Cemetery
Holy Grove Cemetery
Hopewell Cemetery
Hurricane Baptist Cemetery
Hurricane Cemetery
Isaac Cemetery
Jenkins Cemetery
Kelley Cemetery
Kelly Cemetery
Liberty Chapel Cemetery
Liberty Hill Cemetery
Lutheran Cemetery
Macedonia Cemetery
Malett Cemetery
Marvin Chapel Cemetery
Mayo Cemetery
McClain Cemetery
McCool Cemetery
McCord Cemetery
Mitchell Cemetery
Mount Leviton Cemetery
Mount Moriah Cemetery
Mount Pilgrim Cemetery
Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Mount Vernon Cemetery
Mount Zion Cemetery
Mount Zion Cemetery
Musselwhite Cemetery
New Bethel Cemetery
New Hope Cemetery
Newport New Hope Cemetery
New Roby Cemetery
New Salem Cemetery
Newhope Cemetery
North Union Cemetery
Oak Grove Cemetery
Oak Ridge Cemetery
Old Bowie Cemetery
Old Roby Cemetery
Old Sharon Cemetery
Palmer Cemetery
Parkway Cemetery
Patterson Cemetery
Pierces Chapel Cemetery
Pilgrim Cemetery
Pilgrim Rest Cemetery
Pisgah Cemetery
Pleasant Hill Cemetery
Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
Pole Pen Cemetery
Presley Cemetery
Providence Cemetery
Providence Cemetery
Riley Cemetery
Roby Cemetery
Rocky Point Cemetery
Rosamond Cemetery
Russell Cemetery
Saint Mark Cemetery
Salem Cemetery
Salem Methodist Cemetery
Sallis Cemetery
Samarra Cemetery
Sand Hill Cemetery
Sandy Ridge Cemetery
Seneasha Cemetery, Newport

Shady Grove Cemetery
Shelley Cemetery
Shelley Cemetery
Shield Cemetery
Shiloh Cemetery
Silas Grove Cemetery
Skeen Cemetery
Smyrna Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Ridge Cemetery
Springdale Cemetery
Stonewall Cemetery
Stump Ridge Cemetery
Sweet Pilgrim Cemetery
Tabernacle Cemetery
Teague Cemetery
Thornton Cemetery
Union Cemetery
Unity Cemetery
West Union Cemetery
White Plains Cemetery
Williamsville Cemetery
Wyatt Cemetery
Wyse Cemetery

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Welcome to my new blog, The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County, with a purpose of promoting the historical importance of cemeteries, grave markers, and the family history that can be learned from a study of burial customs, burying grounds, and tombstones.

I invite you to follow me on this journey through the many old graveyards of Attala County, Mississippi.