Monday, October 31, 2011

Dia De Los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos,  Cemetary Number One
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. 
 On October 8th of this year, my sister Lauren and I set out on a different kind of outing, a day documenting and visiting cemeteries within two counties.  In a conversation shared one day, Lauren, a serious, family tree researcher, said that our great-grandparents rested locally. 

“Really? I said. I want to go see…where are they?”

So, she mapped out a day and we set out to visit four local cemeteries.  We only made three, but plan on a second outing in November. 

Beautiful places to visit, one can really enjoy the scenery and take in some of the history and peace of these gardens of rest, when you are visiting on a day that is not sad. Most impressed by the Olivewood Cemetary in Riverside, it is there where I will begin my picture blog and share a smidgen of family history. 
Besides my own family headstones, this cemetery, tucked under the rolling Riverside hills, displayed well-aged markers from turn of the century (the 19th) Californians.  I snapped away at the carved and worn tombstones. 

 My sister finds things out through research,, and family history stories, letters and many documents.  The internet helps immensly of course.  She has a accordian folder where she keeps many documents like death certificates.  

This is my mother's, father's, mother: Lydia Minerva Harris Greer Gillespie. Her first husband, my Great Grandfather, Lacy Greer, a real cowboy in the old West, (St. John, Arizona), was crushed to death in a cattle stampede.  He left her with seven children. Lydia Minerva remarried, and had three more children with William Gillespie.  They moved to Calif. in 1908. Wm. Gillespie worked for the County of Mojave, building roads. 

Below are unique, and what I found to be interesting tombstones I captured in my photo-taking.  I particularly loved these two crosses.  One a simple, rugged design, the other very intricate with the Celtic scrolls and knots. 

                      Here is someone with Japanese heritage. 

The cemetery is right off the 91 freeway.  There was a lone, elderly proprietor there that helped us.  Giving us the location by lot and row number, we set out to find our family. 
This person,  a woodsman, his headstone recognized him as such, with a log topping his grave marker. 

This is the hills directly behind the cemetery, no fencing,  very simple and so beautiful.  

This gentleman was a pastor.  I loved his epitaph rolled out on a scroll. The Scripture at the bottom is Hebrews 11:4 which reads (NAmS):

"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks". 
The chapel at Olivewood Cemetary, Riverside CA.