Friday, March 7, 2008

Thornton Cemetery

I had never heard of the Thornton Forbes Washington Cemetery until I happened to notice it on the website. And I had no idea where it was until I saw the sign for it while making a stop at Carl’s. So last weekend we followed the sign to the tiny cemetery at the end of Hunter St., across the street from Carl’s, and sort of behind the George Washington Executive Center. My attraction to the city’s historic cemeteries is that each one is a little (or not so little) oasis of quiet in the middle of the town, a park-like patch of grass that has to be preserved. And the Thornton Cemetery is in a part of town where you’d really least expect to find a graveyard, completely overshadowed by the office buildings, apartments and townhouses around it.

The historical significance of this cemetery of 19 grave sites is that it is the final resting place of some of George Washington’s relatives, as well as members of Fredericksburg’s prominent founding families. If you’re interested in local genealogy, check this webpage for all the info about who’s buried here.

Below: I like these sorts of markers, where the original stone is there, but because it has become illegible over time, the family has added a modern headstone with the same epitaph. This one, for a 2-year old, ends with "She came forth like a flower and was cut down. She fled like a shadow and continued not." Hmm, not very comforting.

Below: The cemetery's most elaborate monument, to James Henderson Fitzgerald (b. 1786, d. 1852). If I could have a fancy monument like this one, in a cemetery in the middle of town that all my friends could visit when they got ice cream, I might reconsider my preference for cremation.

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