Friday, February 27, 2015

First Post - Two Funeral Photographs

Welcome to the Russell County, Va History blog. This blog is an extension of my website on Russell County, Virginia During the Civil War. Occasionally I come across interesting tidbits of history related to Russell County that don't fit on my Civil War website. I plan to post small articles on this blog every couple of weeks. The posts will cover not only the Civil War history of Russell County, Virginia, but other topics such as historic photos, World War II letters, census facts and more.

The inaugural post covers the following two photos:

Family history thinks the first photo was taken at the Campbell family graveyard, a few miles south of Lebanon. Here are a couple of photos from 1993 that I took of the cemetery:

The location does not look too similar to me, but who knows.

What I find interesting about the first two pictures is the staged nature of both images. Notice in the first photo how several men are holding shovels (appropriate for a funeral) but one man (far right) is holding a hammer and another (far left) is holding a draw knife. I'm pretty sure they didn't make the coffins on location, so I'm not sure why they're holding building tools.

I suspect that the older gentleman in the black hat and cane is the preacher and his wife. I further think that the two men to the right of the first image are brothers and that both are Campbells.

The second image appears to show the same people in a different locations, but possibly taken the same day. The original photo has suffered some damage, which I think accounts for the white cliff on the right side of the photo. However, it could be a real location, anyone know where it is?

Back to the first funeral image, you can actually make out part of one of the gravestones inscriptions. I can read "June 15th, 1876" and "85Y, 7M, & 14D" and "...a member of the [...] Episcopal...". Calculating backwards with that data, we get a birthday of October 30, 1790. That inscription does not match anything I was able to read from the Campbell family cemetery. However, looking over the Russell County death records for 1876, I find Margaret Martin, died June 16th, aged 86 years. Margaret Price Martin married James G. Martin before 1822 and had at least six children. I am descended from the oldest son, John Wesley Martin (1822-1891), who married Caroline Campbell, daughter of Henry and Cynthia Elliott Campbell. Unfortunately, we don't know where Margaret Price Martin is buried. More research needed!

Update 3/31/15 - A credible suggestion has been made that the people in the first photo are actually building a fence around the cemetery. This would account for the wood working tools scattered about, and for the two fresh locust posts; one being leaned on by a gentleman, and the other behind one of the ladies. It's also been suggested that the work was being done on a Sunday after church, which would account for the nice clothing.

Update 4/16/15 - So, I'm an idiot. On the back of the second photo is written "Elbert Campbell. This is the one that fenced the graveyard." So they're fencing the cemetery in. Perhaps William Elbert Campbell is in the photo.