Wednesday, August 6, 2014

An inscription revealed; J. R. Hudson

This weekend I pieced together the barely readable inscription on the gravestone of J. R. Hudson (1831-1856): Malinda Carroll Hudson Conder's first husband, and the father of J. Riley Hudson who died at the Cane Creek Massacre.

"Tread lightly upon / this soil for beneath / this sod sleeps a / loving father"

It took me a moment but I realized I had read that inscription before, on the gravestone of Malinda's second husband, William James Conder (1832-1911).

The quote was Malinda's! Either she coined it, or she heard it somewhere else and it spoke to her so well that she chose to have it place on the gravestone of both her husbands.

This is part of why I do history the way I do. It isn't the grand scope and the rise and fall of civilizations that pushes me on to dig in the details of people's lives. It is the insight into their soul this gives that memorizing dates will never reveal.

J R Hudson's gravestone

W. J. Conder's gravestone


Ardis said...

Wonderful! You put into words a sentiment I recognize about the best moments of research. Thank you.

BruceCrow said...

Thank you Ardis.

I have since noticed that the markers have more in common than the epitaph. The size, design, even the stone used is the same. The source had to have been the same, even 55 years later. It makes me wonder, could both stones have been ordered at the same time? That would mean John's marker was placed long after his death, but that would not be unusual.

Amy T said...

What a discovery!

Often the gravestone inscriptions and designs came from gravestone design books such as the following, which does not have a similar text:

But Google gives a couple of examples of similar texts including a memorial poem by William Hubbard in Illinois:

"Tread lightly! This is hallowed ground, tread reverently here!
Beneath this sod, in silence, sleeps the brave old
Who never qualied in darkest hour; whose heart
ne'er felt a fear.
Tread lightly, then and now bestow the tribute
of a tear."

BruceCrow said...

I found several poems starting with the words "Tread lightly" in the process of trying the piece together the inscription. Of course none that matched. And not that one oddly enough. Thanks.