Saturday, August 25, 2012

President's Note: "...a snapshot of our culture"

by Norma Kraemer

The Lawrence County Historical Society has been preserving our local history since 1969 through the efforts of its members.  One of its most notable achievements was a history book compiled and printed in 1981 titled Some History of Lawrence County.  The book is out of print and can sometimes be found as a used book in local stores.  

However, thirty years have passed and much has happened in that intervening time.  Public history is thriving with the Adams Museum, High Plains Heritage Center, and the Days of 76 Museum to name a few of the local venues.  However, the members of the Lawrence County Historical Society need to realize that they all need to participate in some way to persevere our history before it is lost. While the activities of one of your family members might seem relevant to only your immediate family, they are all part of the larger history of our area and need to be saved.

Many years ago, my sister took me to visit the main cemetery in Atlanta, GA, when she was living there, for a Sunday afternoon.  While we knew no one there, it certainly gave me an education in the culture of the Civil War, the Victorian Era, and the way people saw death up through the 1960’s.  Locally, Mt. Moriah Cemetery gives a different snapshot of our culture.  The Atlanta cemetery’s overwhelming lesson for me was that women, while cherished by the number of stunning angels gracing their tombstones, were still without historic significance in the view of society.  Most Victorian tombstones with the angels were inscribed “Mother” but she had no name of her own.  Under the moniker of “Mother,” it might say that Susie and Johnnie were her children.
Lawrence County is dotted with small cemeteries, often in disrepair.  Past groups of members have cleaned up cemeteries and tried to keep them from becoming a victim of a mining project.  The future will be more of the same vigilance to keep this most basic of history preserved.  One cannot hope that surviving relatives of the departed can do this job because often, there is no one left in the family.  The larger community must assume that role.  Therefore, if you know of a cemetery that needs attention please let us know so efforts can be organized to preserve those memories. 

If cemeteries are not your priority, there are also other activities that will preserve our Lawrence County history.  Just bring your ideas forward to see if we can collectively keep our history from being lost.