Depleted Texas lakes expose ghost towns, graves

BLUFFTON, Texas (AP) — Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later.

Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882, which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas’ largest lakes.

Across the state, receding lakes have revealed a prehistoric skull, ancient tools, fossils and a small cemetery that appears to contain the graves of freed slaves. Some of the discoveries have attracted interest from local historians, and looters also have scavenged for pieces of history. More than two dozen looters have been arrested at one site.

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Cemetery Art

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Walking through your local cemetery is always a peaceful way to spend time. Even if there are people around, they are always so reverently quiet. But as you walk along, you might notice the standards of a tombstone:

name of deceased
date of birth and death
an epitaph

What often gets overlooked, though, are the symbols which are also typically found on a person’s tombstone. I decided to search for a listing of the meanings of various symbols found on a tombstone and share them with you so that next time you find yourself in a cemetary or graveyard and notice these symbols, you’ll be a little more enlightened about their meanings.

  • anchor/ship – hope or seafaring profession
  • arrows – mortality
  • broken column – early death, grief, loss of the head of the family
  • caterpillar – time or metamorphosis
  • column – noble life
  • dove  –  innocence, gentleness, affection, purity
  • eye – humility
  • frog – worldly pleasure, sin
  • grim reaper – inevitibility of death
  • handshakes – farewell
  • orb – faith
  • rope circle – eternity
  • shepherd’s crook – charity
  • sun setting – death
  • winged effigies – flight of the soul

The full list from which these were taken can be found at this website.

Weird Louisiana: Cemeteries, Part 1

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There are many things that are weird, strange or just plain ol’ different about Louisiana, but one thing that makes New Orleans stand out more than anything else are our cemeteries. Because of the water table for the city, in most areas, burial is not possible in the ground as one expects of a typical burial. Digging the requisite 6 feet into the Earth results in water seeping into the hole. When the city was first being settled, this resulted in many dead literally rising in their graves whenever there was a flood. After a time, crypts were built above the ground – massive single (and occasionally multi-) family structures were built to accommodate the dearly departed. As the cemeteries grew with these small structures, which often resemble houses, the cemeteries began to resemble a small city. So if you visit New Orleans and hear of our cities of the dead, don’t be too concerned; we’re only speaking of our cemeteries.
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