Don’t Fence Me In: When Even the Beyond Has Boundaries

In our older cemeteries you see a few graves or family plots enclosed by a fence. When you think about it literally, enclosing a grave with a fence might seem odd. After all, those folks inside the fence ain’t goin’ nowhere, and most folks outside the fence are in no hurry to get inside. But when you think about it figuratively, after death levels the playing field, and the rich man is as horizontal as the poor man, maybe such fences are like obelisks, mausoleums, and other vertical monuments: just a way to show elevated (literally and figuratively) status, to show that, yes, you can take it with you.

But every century or so it’s gonna need a coat of Rust-Oleum.

Six seen around town:

cemetery fence oakwood fence1The grave of murdered merchant B. C. Evans at Oakwood Cemetery.

cemetery fence polyPolytechnic Cemetery.

cemetery fence PR detail 2Pioneers Rest Cemetery.

cemetery fence detail oakwoodDecorative rail coupler, Oakwood.

cemetery fence corner oakwood wilderOakwood.

cemetery fence oakwood 2Oakwood.


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4 Responses to Don’t Fence Me In: When Even the Beyond Has Boundaries

  1. Sally Campbell says:

    Your photography is superb and I’d wager your interest in cemeteries is not “more than most” for anyone who loves history. The first cemetery that fascinated me was the IOOF in Denton, close enough to walk to from the dorms I lived in in the mid 70’s. Reading the stones was a study of tragedy and demographics–so much child mortality, so much childbirth mortality! There were a few really large monuments that I dubbed “First Wife Guilt Trip” tombstones–the dates showed several births and deaths; then finally a wife and newborn with the same death date; other stones in the plot marked subsequent wife[ves] and the paterfamilias.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Sally. I was at NTSU in the ’70s and remember prowling the cemeteries up there–the two men supposedly chained together for all eternity, etc. That is also where I first saw the word “consort” on a tombstone. Lots of history.

  2. Ramiro says:

    Mike, when is your first memory of being interested (more than most) in cemeteries?

    • hometown says:

      I think the first old cemetery I came across was Arwine in Hurst when I had my first newspaper job at Mid-Cities Daily News in 1968. I remember being struck by how many of the graves were of children. As I came across more old cemeteries—some of them paved over now—I realized that a cemetery is often the oldest part of a neighborhood or city—older than the houses, older than the schools and churches that have grown up around it. Fort Worth has few buildings surviving from the 1800s but hundreds of tombstones from that time. So, tombstones, taken purely as carved stone, are antiques. Only later did I come to see cemeteries as history books printed on pages of marble, with each tombstone’s Sergeant Friday “Just the facts, ma’am” name and dates of birth and death condensing the human story underneath.

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