|Edgewood Cemetery, Pottstown, Pennsylvania|
The main objective of my trip was to see Edgewood Cemetery (on High Street, see map), a twelve-acre property that had been abandoned and recently adopted by a group of concerned citizens, a Friends group. I arrived in Pottstown a bit early so I decided to try out my new Apple iPhone 6 by using it to find other local cemeteries. There were several. The closest one to me was Saint Aloysius Parish’s “Old” Cemetery on High Street on the east side of town. (The Parish has a “New” cemetery in another section of Pottstown.)
|Gold painted marble headstone, St. Aloysius|
|Recent burial, Edgewood Cemetery|
This amazing white marble arch, which stands about six feet high and spans about ten feet marking the entry to a family plot, is inscribed with the words, “In Death They Are Not Divided.” I thought this to be a good motto for the Friends group – in death, the deceased should not be divided from, or forgotten by, the living.
|Elks Club, Pottstown, Pennsylvania|
My third and final stop in the area was Pottstown Cemetery, after grabbing a coffee at the lovely “Potts and Penn Family Diner” nearby, across High Street from the Elks Club (there are a lot of Victorian structures like this in the vicinity). I got the feeling that the Pottstown Cemetery was a factory cemetery, as there is an old factory next to it. Similar to cemeteries next to coal breakers, one can only assume that many who had toiled in the factory in the late 1800s and early 1900s ended up dead and buried next to it. This angel on a high pedestal next to the factory seemed to bear witness to such difficult lives.
|Factory Angel, Pottstown Cemetery|
The simple fact that such fine detail remains on these soft marble grave markers is uncommon in this geographic area – an area of harsh winters and dramatic seasonal climate swings. I was surprised to see, as I walked around, a headstone with this little carved cherub, about four inches in diameter. Such detail, along with most lettering, is usually eroded away. In the base of the factory angel was the three-dimensional marble scene below, about fourteen inches long and eight inches high. Tree symbolism – the weeping willow, along with a burial crypt with cover removed – the symbol for resurrection, and a heavenly afterlife.
The headstones in these Pottstown cemeteries are much more ornate and interesting than most headstones made in the past hundred years. Check out this marble tree stump memorial from 1892, for instance. I saw several examples of this – with the roots of the stump carved out very plainly. The symbolism is intense – not only has the life been cut short (a severed tree), but the stump itself has been torn away, uprooted, from the mortal earth. Reminds me of the Emily Dickinson quote,“To be remembered is next to being loved, and to be loved is Heaven.”