The Georgetown Cemetery is a ghostly but tranquil place at dusk. It has about it the magic of old things fallen on hard times, but there is a beauty in all of it. Two cypress trees, brought from New Orleans by a packet captain one hundred-fifty years ago, stand sentry at what was once the formal entrance. Imagine the stone steps and iron handrails from the turnaround to the main path. It is both grander and more rundown than professed.
My grandmother and grandfather, and many other ancestors, rest in peace there. The uplifting, hilltop setting looking out over the Ohio River perfectly served that end. If such a place could ever be described as charming, this cemetery surely could. The whole area takes on the appearance of a well-kept park. Small American flags flying from their holders in front of headstones denote the graves of Revolutionary War or War of 1812 or Civil War or Spanish-American War or World War I and WW II veterans. The townspeople have always been deeply patriotic.
The oldest stone is dated 1795. It marks the life of a child named Abrillar Blackmore. The inscription states that Abrillar Blackmore was born August 14, 1793 and died Mar 30, 1795. Local lore points out that Abrillar was scalped and killed by Indians. Abrillar was a victim of the brutal frontier life at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion. To be sure, my ancestors did not subscribe to President George Washington’s theory of taxation.
Stand quietly for awhile, high on the hill, above the markers for Capt Thomas Stevenson Calhoon and his wife Harriet Amanda. Georgetown lay glittering like a jewel beneath them. Directly below is the ferry road and the old steamboat landing that years ago buzzed with the trade of packets and showboats. Now, only diesel driven, screw propelled tug boats pushing coal, oil, and other commodities up and down the river pass by. A sad song for the once proud rivertown.
As the sun sets, the graves seem to merge into one long field of silvery marks – counters in the play of time from one generation to the next. The epitaphs mark stories of lives long and short, full and not so full.
Some stones mark the lives of steamboat captains and pilots. Could they break their silence, it might be to tell stories of river adventures unrivaled. The masters and pilots disappeared more than one-hundred years ago. Yet telling their stories make them now. Stories are the way the past is linked to the future. Their stories are eternal. They are history.
Certainly anyone buried in the Georgetown Cemetery was at least half-way to his or her reward. When the darkness of night does come, the Georgetown Cemetery is a deeply quiet place.
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