Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Copus Massacre

It's time for an Ohio history lesson. Don't get too excited! 

"James Copus
and three soldiers
George Shipley
John Tedrick
and Warnock (From what I've heard, the soldier who lost his life was named Robert Warnick?)
Killed by the Indians
Sept. 15 1812

So, I'm taking a leisurely drive today, and I drive past a well worn sign that is directing me to the Copus Massacre memorial. Needless to say, I was intrigued. I trucked down this little gravel road until I came upon this fenced in obelisk in the middle of the woods. It's a pretty uninspiring spot if you don't know the history behind the events. I'll post a link with the full story, but here's the short version:

James Copus and his family got along pretty well with their Native American neighbors. They all lived in relative peace around the area of present day Charles Mill Lake. However, soldiers popped up one day and wanted the Native Americans to move along and leave their land because the government was afraid they would turn violent. Mr. Copus tried to stick up for them, but to no avail. The only agreement he could come to with the military was for the Native Americans to temporarily move, on the condition that their homes would be left as they were. The Natives trusted Mr. Copus, so they went with the plan. This is the point where the soldiers ruined everything. As soon as the Natives were just a short distance away, the soldiers  stole all the valuables the Natives had and set their village on fire. Mr. Copus was extremely upset because the trust that was between his friends and family and the Natives was shattered. In short, the Natives rebelled as a result of the destruction of their homes, and Mr. Copus and three soldiers were killed in the melee. 

Although these violent deaths are bloody and terrible, I can fully understand the anger of the Natives. Americans have a long history of breaking promises and stealing land/resources from Native Americans. Mistreatment like this is bound to result in some sort of bloodshed. Maybe I'm callous, but I cannot consider these soldiers heroes because they committed such a dishonest, cowardly act, and reaped the consequences of their actions. The Copus family and their neighbors were caught in the middle, so I do feel very sorry for them because they tried to create a peaceful balance with the Native American neighbors. The abuse of Native Americans in our country is truly one of the most shameful acts we have committed as a nation (an act that we often times like to forget happened). 

Full article on The Copus Massacre:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Death and The Civil War

This picture may seem typical or even boring to the viewer, but I cannot help but look at it and be moved.

I have just watched an excellent documentary called Death and the Civil War, which was based on Drew Gilpin Faust's book, entitled This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. We all know that The Civil War was terrible, but I have been floored by how this documentary really brings the death and suffering to your heart. This war shook Americans to their core, and our ideals about religion and death were changed forever. We have never had a war before or since that was so close and personal; where we lost so many young men in the prime of their life. I cannot help but think that, if The Civil War were to happen today, America would not recover. In the 1860s, Americans pulled together and completed the grim tasks of caring the dead and dying, but could we find enough resolve in ourselves today to do this? I just don't think so. We've lost a lot of our ability to communicate and commiserate, be it because of the coming of the digital age or growth of population past the point where we can know our neighbors personally, who knows. I'm amazed and deeply in debt to those who came before me, and lived so bravely during this time.

Looking back at this photo, I think these men are lucky. They survived the war, and not only that, they are buried in their homeland with a proper headstone. So many young men died in the heat of battle, and were rolled into a shallow grave without even their name being recorded. So many families never got to bring their men home. I can't imagine having a brother, friend, husband, son, or father die in battle, and never knowing how they died or where they were buried. There is something so unsettling about that, and that is why I feel that these men are lucky. 

Here is a link to the documentary and book: 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Study in Sculpture - Part 1

This is the first time I've ever seen a sculpture in a cemetery in a rural, conservative area with an exposed breast! I'm not sure if this would have been considered scandalous or not at the time...

After a bit of research, I've come up with a few possible purposes/meanings for this sculpture. The first of these theories is that she is a representation of charity. Charity was usually represented by a statue nursing an infant or getting ready to nurse an infant, so I'm less inclined to think that this was the intention of the sculptor.   Sometimes exposed breasts were meant to be a nod to motherly love, protection, devotion, etc. This may be true, but I don't feel that the statue is entirely motherly in nature. The third option and the most likely, in my opinion, is that this statue was meant to portray a mourner. The woman's hand rests on her face, and her entire posture suggests that she is not meant to seem happy. To me, she looks tired, desolate, dreary; clearly, she was meant to stand as a testament to how much this person was missed. She also holds a funeral wreath that says to me (but I'm not sure) that her purpose is a mourner above all else. The exposed breast may suggest nothing more than the sculptor or family's love of ancient Greece, or the statue may be going a step further to perhaps try to show that the mourner exudes a more motherly and tender approach to her grief. 

I love being able to reach multiple interpretations for the intent behind a sculpture! Hearing other people's perceptions is also very interesting! 


This quote is remarkably well preserved and readable, even though it is around 180 years old! 

"O come, sweet Jesus, quietly come,
And ease my acheing breast;
I long to reach my heavenly home,
To be with Christ is best."

I wonder who wrote this poem, or where it came from?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our pets

Have you ever seen a marker for someone's pet that is this old? I assumed that memorials for pets were a relatively new thing. It would appear that considering one's pet a part of the family isn't a totally new thing, but I've never seen anything like this before.

I didn't write this poem, but I wanted to re-post it since I'm an animal lover. Losing a pet can be really difficult, and this poem is a pretty heartfelt way to cope with the loss:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... 

-Author unknown...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Adena Culture

This ancient mound has overlooked the surrounding valley from high top its hillside perch for more than 2,000 years. It's hard to believe that this structure was built and saw many seasons before the birth of Christ ever occurred. The people who presumably built this mound belonged to the Adena culture (for early Native Americans, we have names for their cultural patterns rather than the actual tribes/groups). They built many mounds all over Ohio, for ritualistic and burial use. We don't know what this mound was used for, but it's pretty interesting that even the earliest of settlers to the area saw the significance and sacredness of the mound. They could have leveled the mound or done any number of things to it, but they buried their dead in its midst and left it alone. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Light and dark

The use of light, darkness, and shadows in photography is really an amazing thing. They are a bit like adjectives for pictures! Light can suggest hope, life, truth, warmth, new beginnings, and all things good. All things hidden and unknown come to mind in the shadows and dark; death, fear, and all kinds of macabre things can come to mind. It's all about perspective...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Something to ponder...

Have you ever been saddened or sobered by the sight of an unreadable tombstone that marks a (presumably) long forgotten grave?

It was a rainy, cool day when I came across these well-weathered headstones. They were both pretty much unreadable, and covered in moss, since they were in a shady part of the cemetery. I couldn't help but feel bleak upon looking at them. As I thought about it more, I realized I was sad because these people had lived, died, and been forgotten. No flowers marked their graves, and even their names no longer existed for others to read. To take away someone's name is a powerful thing, at least to me. I didn't know their history, contributions to the community, etc. It was almost as if they had never existed. 

As I look back at these pictures tonight, they no longer make me so disheartened. I've come to the conclusion that the weather-worn tombstones are a mark of something other than sadness. It is undoubted that the people who rest under the aging tombstones in cemeteries everywhere were much loved and cherished by someone. It can also be imagined that these people came to their gravesite to visit and wished they could be together again. Therein lies the answer to why I don't feel sad anymore. The unadorned, forgotten grave means that the mourned and the mourner have been reunited once again. My ideas about death lead me to believe that we have souls that reunite with people we love after we die. So, now when I see an old tombstone, I'll just remember that the only reason its so worn and seemingly abandoned is because this person and the people they love have all passed on and are together again. The fact that their grave is aged and over taken by the elements does not matter as long as the person was loved, and is spending eternity with the people who loved them. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Anchors, ivy, and tree trunks, oh my!

I got really excited when I saw this particular monument because it is so rich with symbolism. For starters, the big anchor in the middle was a common representation of hope (usually hope in the eternal life of the soul) in the 19th century. The symbolism is derived from Hebrews 6:19-20 in The Bible, which states: "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of the Melchisedec."

The big tree trunks that make up the bulk of the monument can mean a couple of different things. Sometimes, they were simple a decorative choice when it came to a tombstone, since there was a big rustic revival going on in the decorating styles of the country at this time. Also, tree trunks can symbolize the loss of someone young. If the tree trunk is obviously a stump who has been cut down before its time, it can also indicate someone dying before their time. 

It is hard to see, but there is also ivy "growing" on the tree trunks. Ivy is hard to kill and remains green and lively even in the harshest of conditions. It has come to represent the immortal soul and undying love and dedication because of those qualities. 

The combination of all of these symbols makes me wonder who this person was, and why their monument was created in such a way...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Appeal to Heaven

Hands in cemeteries can mean many different things. For instance, the hand pointing upward suggests that the person's soul has risen to Heaven. The two hands clasped represent a marriage between the two people buried there. The sleeve on the left looks fuller and more feminine, while the hand on the right is gripping the other hand (a sign that the man in the head of household and in control; typical male dominated societal antics, even in death, sheesh!) and the sleeve is more close to the arm and masculine; that is how you can tell that the two hands are that of a husband and wife. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Japan's Surrender

On September 2nd, 1945, Japan formally surrendered, and thus brought an end to World War II. I just wanted to observe this occasion by asking everyone reading this to remember the great sacrifice that was undertaken by the brave men and women who fought in World War II.