Monday, December 10, 2007

A Good Place To Put All Your Dead People

During our travels while she was in town, my girl and I discovered an old cemetery north of Salt Lake. Being from the South, where we pride ourselves on our old cemeteries, we headed in to see if they could do it up like we do.

It's a big and rambling place. The first person was buried there in 1847, right when the Mormon pioneers got there, and I have since read that there are 120,000 people underfoot in the place. It's also got a great view... you can see the entire valley from up there. That is, if you're alive.
There are some old folk in there.

There are also several family plots containing a mother, a father, and several less-than-one-year-old kids, reminding one of the harsh life of a pioneer.

Apparently there was a centennial-and-a-half of some sort, because a lot of the markers for very old dead people are newer, and have a gold plate affixed to them. On this place is a picture of two pioneer-looking folk pulling a handcart (Mormons seem to obsess over handcarts even though they are seldom used today), and inscribed on them is 'Faith In Every Footstep 1847 - 1997.' You can see one of these things on the stone below. You'll also notice that a) this pioneer traveled a long damn way, and b) travel directions are exceedingly simple in Ireland.

No cemetery would be complete without a spooky legend, and here's this one's: the first caretaker was a guy named Jean Baptiste (Being from the Southland, my brain pronounces this name Zhawn BapTEEST, but I suspect that if I asked a local, hes would say Jeen BAPtist). After a robber was shot and killed by police and then buried, one of his relatives decided to move the body to family-owned ground. Upon disinterrment, the relatives discovered the corpse was, in fact, naked. A suspicious visit to Baptiste's house revealed that he had in his possession several boxes filled with over 300 graves' worth of pilfered clothes.
After Brigham Young assured the Mormon townfolk that their loved ones would not rise up the face the judgment trump nude, the city decided to exile Baptiste to an island in the Salt Lake, because everyone he'd share a cell with in jail was related to someone whose grave he'd desecrated. Under cover of night, police waggoned him out to Fremont Island, and though he was never seen again, his legend creeps on. Several years later, some farmers checking their cows on the island found evidence that someone had built a raft, and then in the 1890s some hunters found a ball-and-chained skeleton in the Jordan River.
Why you'd want to build a raft to cross a lake you can stand up in is beyond me. But then, I think we've established what kind of deck this guy was playing with.


Post a Comment

<< Home