Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sunbury Grave Markers
Sunbury, Georgia was a Colonial seaport that once rivaled Savannah, which is about 40 miles north. Sunbury is now a tiny town, but in early 19th century America it was important center for cotton and rice, and later timber and turpentine. It remains important for the grave markers to be found there, especially those adjacent to the Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church, an African American congregation. The markers there may be unique in the United States, incorporating handprints, mirrors, shards, seashells and unique inscriptions. At one time there were wooden markers as well, but they are long gone. The WPA-era Georgia Writers' Project documented the greatest of those, a sculptural installation by local man named Siras Bowens. The last scan above is from a photograph of that monument taken in the late 1930s. There's a book titled The American Resting Place by Marilyn Yalom, and you can see some relevant parts of it on Google here.
I was lucky to have a chance to go there some years ago and take some pictures of my own.
Last summer I was in Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery, and the memorials there may be more grand, but not any more impressive than these.