Cultural beliefs, symbolism and Greenwood Cemetery’s permanent residents

By Rick Hinton

There is a belief circulated among various cultures that until the mortal body completely disintegrates, the soul is not fully released; it waits and bides its time. Some theorize that the spirit remains behind to reconnect and “energize” with their bodies. There are also theories in paranormal investigations that align with spirits freely choosing to frequent residences and other locations: they don’t know they’re dead and can move on. Or, perhaps, they have some association to a particular location – yes, even a cemetery, in a former capacity as employee, caretaker or director?

Maybe some souls just can’t let go of their mortal shells; vanity, or longing for the way things used to be? Possibly a premature or sudden death? And then there’s family and friend’s visitations to the cemetery – at least initially – putting out waves of emotional energy that “imprints” the ground. Could this be a cause to remain?

The Polk monument at the entrance to the Greenwood Cemetery. (Photos by Rick Hinton)

Paranormal investigations are a hodgepodge of theories, with more yet to come!

In the Greenwood Cemetery, the serene and passive grounds are the final resting place for many early pioneers, and movers and shakers of the surrounding community. The serene grounds are dotted with a multitude of unique and distinctive headstones: from precision replicas of tree trunks to the memorials dedicated to Ebbie and Arthur Morgan, father and son blacksmiths. The Morgan’s blacksmith shop formerly resided next to the Presbyterian church just off Main Street and had been a gathering spot for local farmers in the day. Ebbie passed in 1961, his son Arthur in 1988. Both are buried in the newer section of the cemetery, and both have the very anvils used in their trade mounted as a testament of their own personal history.

Blacksmith father and son, Arthur & Ebbie Morgan and their anvils.

The Polk family – whose entrepreneurial vision of a vegetable canning operation eventually employed a majority of Greenwood residents and gave the town recognition across the country. They lie in rest about a prominent mound as you enter the cemetery.

Older cemeteries are a wealth of symbolism. Just look at the monuments and engravings from days past when gravestones were not only a dedication to a life lived, but also a work of art: the symbol of a dove – purity and peace; the willow tree – grief, sorrow and immortality; a lamb – innocence; a finger pointing upwards – the soul rising to heaven; and broken branches – a life cut suddenly short.

Symbolism & art.

Today, one can discern the original section of the cemetery from the newer addition to the north by the dividing yellow bridge separating the two. It is a contrast between the beginnings of a small-town cemetery verses a progression of time moving forward. The newer section has a more modern look and feel, and easily viewed from the adjoining stretch of U.S. 31; the older section lies locked into a definite realm of the past.

In the evening hours, does the gentle rustling of wind through the trees imitate unworldly voices, causing us to imagine something more ominous? Maybe. We tend to believe what we want to believe.