Friday, October 10, 2014

Photo Essay: Remembering the Civil War at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery

I tend to find larger, more popular (and populated) cemeteries a bit overwhelming. Unless I'm there to visit someone specific, or to see a specific building, I find myself wandering aimlessly, taking photos of the faces that keep me company as I wander.



Angelus Rosedale is one of LA's oldest cemeteries, and relatively large but not that well-known.



Situated on 65 acres in the West Adams neighborhood, it was the first of the "lawn" cemeteries...



...not associated with a particular church...



...and, back in 1884, one of the first to be open to both all races and all creeds.



Every year, Angelus Rosedale hosts a Living History tour with the West Adams Heritage Association...



...to help visitors navigate the cemetery's rich history...



...and the real historical figures that populate it.



This year, the grave sites came alive with the ghosts of those who witnessed the Civil War...



...including wives and other family members of those who fought...



...those who actually fought...



...all he nurses who took care of the wounded...



...all in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States.



Four hundred fifty Civil War veterans are buried in an area dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic...



...but the cemetery is also where plenty of early LA pioneers and former mayors are also buried.



In fact, as people continue to be buried here, space is at a premium, and a palm tree-lined, paved street was torn up and filled in with dirt and grass...



...to make more room for more graves.



Not just the palms...



...but all of the many varieties of trees...



...really stand out in the meadow...



...as do some of the more unusual monuments...



...and larger tributes to those that have passed...



...including a couple of Celtic crosses.



The cemetery is a bit unusual in its policy of upkeep:



...the families of the deceased are responsible for taking care of the area surrounding each plot...



...including watering the grass, removing debris, and keeping the headstones from becoming consumed by the earth below.



So the cemetery isn't uniformly neglected (and is actually in pretty good condition)...



...but you find the occasional leaning marker...



...or one that has toppled altogether.

Other visitors might prop them back up, have them lean against something so they can actually be seen, but somebody's got to come fix that in a more permanent way, because the cemetery's not going to do it.

And if they don't have anyone left to take care of their above-ground reminder of their underground resting place? Perhaps the memory just disappears.