Friday, August 31, 2007

Elmwood Cemetery Full Moon Tour

Tuesday night Donna and I attended the monthly full moon tour of historic Elmwood Cemetery in downtown Columbia. It is a beautiful cemetery, which is home to 20,000 bodies, 400 of whom were Civil War soldiers. We had previously visited the cemetery during the day, but this nighttime tour was something new for us.

Three historians dressed in historic clothing led our group of 40 around by lantern and pointed out the graves of several interesting people. There was a woman who was very prominent at the time who unfortunately died on the eve of her wedding; she was buried in her wedding dress. There was a gentleman who was buried right next to four of his slaves, which was quite uncommon. We saw the grave of Maxcy Gregg, a general in the Civil War, who despite usually making good judgement calls, erred badly at the Battle of Fredericksburg and lost his life and the lives of many of his men. We heard the story of a gentleman who agreed to fly in a hot-air balloon only after consuming a large volume of liquid courage; he was so inebriated that he fell out of the balloon and landed in the cemetery. He was not hurt, and vowed that day never to touch another drop. :-)

Our guides also explained the meanings of some things that are commonly seen on tombstones, such as an obelisk tombstone is significant because it points to Heaven; an urn on a stone recognizes the finiteness of life; and an inverted torch signifies a life that was cut short.

It was a very neat tour and definitely worth the $10 fee. It is handled by the Historic Columbia Foundation, and is held on the full moon night each month; call them ahead of time to register, as they do cap the number of participants at 40.


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