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Museum Matters: Cemetery walks resume this month

By Peggy Woodlief

 

RANDLEMAN – St. Paul Museum’s September program will feature the popular Cemetery Walk, something we have not offered for several years.

 

This year’s walk, set for Sept. 25 at 2 p.m., will be directed by Kendra Lyons, a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, who not only will give you lots of information but will also answer your questions.

 

Although St. Paul was completed in 1879, the church it replaced was built in 1855, which explains why the cemetery contains graves older than St. Paul itself.

 

Visiting St. Paul’s cemetery is akin to viewing an older Randleman with all the harshness of life before modern medicine. You see the reality of families who buried more than one newborn or very young children. You also find graves of married women not buried alongside their husbands because their husbands chose to be buried beside their first wives. (Taking a second wife was only practical when there were small children to be reared.) There are graves of Civil War veterans, even one or two who fought on the winning side, and also graves of WWI and WW2 veterans. 

 

This cemetery reflects the community that Randleman was in past decades. Here you have both mill owners and the workers they employed and doctors and their patients. You will find plots with stone outlines that delineate several generations of particular families. You will also find grave stones that are almost illegible because of their age. Here you will find people born not long after the end of the Revolutionary War and who died during the Civil War period. 

 

There are varieties of gravestones, some quite conventional, some that  appear to suggest questions that are not answered, some that have elegant carvings, some that appear to represent great importance, many that remind us that until modern medicine, life could be very hard and frequently abruptly ended. 

 

You will be permitted to photograph whatever catches your interest and to wander about as you please after the walk itself. And a suggestion: Wear comfortable walking shoes, because you will be walking on grass, not smooth walkways. We will meet first inside the church for an overview of the Cemetery Walk before going outside.

 

For those who are making your first visit to St. Paul, you will find us at the corner of High Point and Stout Streets in Randleman.