Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Field Trip, Oh My!

One of the best things about homeschooling is all the field trips we're able to take. One of the worst things about homeschooling is all the field trips we're able to take. Sometimes, a homebody just wants to stay home! Of course, then we would miss all the amazing things we have the opportunity in which to take part.  This opportunity was a last minute find. I found out about it just hours after taking Xavier out of school, and two days later, we were walking among the dead.

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First, we stood at a small memorial on the side of a road, while our guide told us a story. He told us the story of a Union Calvary that was made up of former slaves that got ambushed by a group of Confederate guerillas. The part that amazed me was the way the story was found out about.

This man, our guide, had been doing genealogy research on his family. While doing the research, he came across a diary of a headmistress of a local girls' school. The headmistress mentioned a bloody battle. Since he had grown up in the area, and never heard of the "bloodbath," he became curious, and started making inquiries. He found two other men who were also researching this battle. Through the research, they came across a cemetery for African Americans. This cemetery had been in use since at least the civil war, and the last known burial was in the 1970s. Yet, this cemetery went uncared for. It was dismissed. Very few people even knew of its existence. The land the cemetery is on is currently owned by no one. The group is trying to get someone to claim ownership so that they can clean it up, perhaps put walking paths and a picnic area. It really is a beautiful place.

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We crossed an old stone bridge.

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And followed the old hearse road to get to the cemetery.

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The graves ranged in adornment from an elaborate headstone with a wall and gate (no longer standing)

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to an indention in the ground that collects leaves, with a river rock for a footstone.

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There were several military headstones,

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including this one for a man whose father died the same year, and is buried beside him.

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This was an unusual headstone. It was for the first wife of a man who was buried above her. His second wife was also buried there, but had no headstone. We think she probably died after he did.

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After we looked around the cemetery, we helped do some general cleanup.

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I found it interesting that they can only speculate about where the two mass graves of the soldiers are. The townspeople took the time to bury the dead, even though they were all former slaves, and it was not a safe time. (The town had just been robbed by the confederate soldiers.) The group that put up the memorial is not sure whether the cemetery grew up around the two mass graves or if the graves were put there because of the cemetery. They tend to think the cemetery grew up around the two graves, especially given the proximity to the battle site.

So, this is what come from missing a day of school, responding to a late email, and taking the opportunity to explore the community around you. You learn so much more than you could possibly ask to learn.

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