The day I interviewed for my job in Denton, I was driven through the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery. It wasn't on purpose, but there's a city street that goes through two sections of it. I stopped what I was saying to my host and exclaimed, "Oh, wow! Look at this great cemetery!"
Fortunately, my host was a person with a sense of humor, and I was hired.
I love my city and its quirky history, and I love the I.O.O.F. cemetery. One of the streets that borders it, across from apartments and rent houses, is named "I.O.O.F. Street." I once was picking up a friend who told me that she lived at "a street called One Hundred F street." Once I figured out what she was talking about, I explained the real meaning of those initials to her. She'd had no idea. "I always thought that was a weird name for a street," she said. (Do you know about the Odd Fellows? Want to learn more? )
Sometimes I walk and look at graves. Today I went there with a purpose. I've reinvigorated my work on my family tree at Ancestry.com, and I was searching for birth dates of some relatives. I found my way to FindaGrave.com, an interesting site where you can search for pictures of graves of famous and ordinary folk, and share your own. In making an account, I gave my zip code, and quickly I got a request from the system asking if I could go to the I.O.O.F. Cemetery and take pictures of five graves, as requested by other members. Two gave the specific section, block, and plot, so I was sure I could do those easily. I was looking for two members of the Farris family who died in 1890.
After work today I headed over to the cemetery. I picked up a map at the front and headed back to block B...what is clearly one of the four oldest sections in the cemetery, mentioned above. From newspaper stories, I knew that there had been a lot of vandalism in this area, and it was readily apparent. Many of the stones in this area are unreadable, but in the section where I was headed, there were only two graves. Some similar sections had 10 graves in them. And this is the area that was full, full, full.
Somehow, over the years, these gravestones have gone missing. Where? Who can say? I once spotted two old gravestones sitting in the yard of a house on the street behind mine. I was furious, and called the police. But they are still there.
I have always loved cemeteries, but I don't have a history of going to them to "visit" people in them (except my grandparents, who are buried in possibly the coolest cemetery ever, in Tallahassee.) I plan to be cremated, and my parents do, as well. So why the big love for them? I think it's the same thing that keeps me reading obituaries...every single person there had a life. Had people who loved them, wept when they died.
I knew that the Farrises were there today, whether or not their headstones were, and I said "hey" to them. And then I came home and told you this story.
PS 1: There is a geocache in this cemetery. Just in case you wanted to know.
PS 2: There is a semifamous sign there, too:
This is by the front gate...you can only get in the one way. And you can never leave.