Thursday, September 16, 2010
Cemetery gates restored to original splendor
Voila! The beautiful cemetery gates are beautiful again! The artisans have restored the gates to their original splendor and we are so thankful for this. Now we can be proud again of our cemetery.
Our Hill Crest Cemetery is more than a cemetery. It is our sculpture garden. The memorial tombstones are works of art. The one for the martyred yellow fever nuns is very unusual as it is made of metal. It is a spire molded as one piece. Many of the intricately carved marble tombstones were sculpted by the local artist Adam Preher. His stones were works of art with lilies and climbing roses and are exquisite. The Prehers had relatives who were circus performers who came to visit them periodically.
Buried in Hill Crest are seven bona fide Confederate generals and seven adjutant generals and hundreds of Confederate soldiers. There are two Confederate monuments; one down the hill is homespun and built in 1890, then later another one was built on top of the hill and is glorious with bowed soldiers on each side and used to have cannons on each side until a vandal or thief took one. There are veterans from many wars in the cemetery, including the Spanish Civil War in 1939. However, there are no revolutionary veterans buried here, but there are four buried in the county. There is an imposing tombstone erected in the memory of a hero killed at the Alamo by the west gate.
The original cemetery was located in the back part bordering Center Street. The front part of the cemetery bordering Elder Street was a baseball field and the catcher in a game there was killed by a back-slung bat and he was the first person buried in the new part of the cemetery.
The movie “Heart of Dixie” was filmed partially in the cemetery. I was in that one. There was a Hollywood food vendor at the gate with free food so we wouldn’t starve before lunch. Allie Sheedy and I sat under the spreading oak tree and had a delicious snack.
A living tombstone is the majestic yew tree ordered from England to commemorate the Rev. Ingraham. In England, the yew tree is huge like our oaks and they don’t usually grow here because the climate is too hot. However, this tree is over the underground river that flows underneath the city and it is still thriving here 144 years later.
Also, more beautiful artistic gates of our sculpture garden are the memorial Wynne gates on the west side by Center Street. They were designed by esteemed Dudley E. Jones from Memphis in 1938. The gates were given in memory of Captain and Mrs. Jesse Wynne. The Wynnes were an impressive family who lived here since the beginnings of Holly Springs. They have owned this cemetery lot since 1861.
There’s more about the cemetery in my book, “Windows to the History of Holly Springs,” that everyone from here needs in their libraries. We sell these at the Marshall County Historical Museum.
Last week at the museum, we had a visitor from England who said he was from Cottingham, England, the home of Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom. He said the mayor raised taxes so high that Lady Godiva complained to him about it. He told her he would lower the taxes if she would ride through the town naked on a white horse. To lower the taxes, she agreed. In respect to this heroic deed, everyone closed their shutters while the lady was riding through, except one. He was Peeping Tom and he was flogged for it.
Dorothy Warren sent me this great photo of the cemetery gates in 1939. Standing in front are, from left to right, Eleanor Seale Ragsdale, Dora Ellen Green (mother of Shep), Virginia Wynne Bonds, and Elizabeth Harris (sister) in their Pilgrimage attire.
Sam Gholson of Holly Springs of long ago has given the museum 18 of his beautiful paintings and three of his sculptures. Sam was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Norman Gholson. They lived in the corner house of Chulahoma and Craft. He graduated from Holly High in 1937, then went on to Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Va., Pennsylvania Academy of Art and Maryland Institute of Art. he settled in Washington, D.C., and was a portrait, painter there. He taught art, also, and has written a book on art to be published, which we hope to sell at the museum.
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