Friday, January 25, 2019

The vanishing grave houses of Appalachia

In pioneer days, settlers' burials were often hasty affairs, but as time went on Appalachians developed and adapted burial customs that reflected their values and the realities of the terrain around them.

"I remember reading about a someone who had to carry a coffin up a steep mountain," Hope Thompson writes for Candid Slice, a digital storytelling blog based in Raleigh, N.C. "When he finally arrived at the top, he stated, 'If John don’t make it to heaven, it ain’t my fault! I’ve already carried him halfway there.' Burials on top of mountains and high places provided comfort to the family that water would not seep into the grave and disturb the departed. Most communities never willingly chose areas that were subject to periodic flooding or standing water. It also served as a symbolic gesture that our loved ones were closer to heaven and even better if the burial site was facing the east to have a better view of the coming Resurrection."

Click here for a fascinating look back at how these rural residents honored their loved ones.

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