Verbank Rural Cemetery, with a quaint covered entrance and gravestones winding upward to views of Verbank and the surrounding hills.
The cemetery seems to have begun as a burying ground for the Vail family. One of their number fought in the Revolutionary War; another is presumed to have died in the War of 1812.
old Quaker meeting house. The house is little used now, in middling repair, at best, and the graveyard occupies its front lawn. The Oswego Meeting House was a stop on the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War, but no trace of its noble history is evident on walking the grounds. If only stones could speak—or sing or wax poetic in the manner of a French tombeau. Instead, all that greets the visitor is the “eternal silence” of the dead.
pamphlet about the meeting house that’s found its way to the internet proclaims that “possibly the most important personage associated with it” was Shadrach Ricketson. Ricketson was a doctor who, in 1806, wrote “the first American book on hygiene and preventive medicine.” The book was entitled Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases: Founded principally on an attention to air and climate, drink, food, sleep, exercise, clothing, passions of the mind, and retentions and excretions, and “with an Appendix, containing observations on Bathing, Cleanliness, Ventilation, and Medical Electricity; and on the Abuse of Medicine." I don’t know where Ricketson is buried, but surely, based solely on the title of his book, he deserves a tombeau of his own.
As I returned to my car, I heard a hawk squealing from a treetop. I was glad for the sound after all that silence. I wondered: if stones could speak, what would they say? What might they sing? What instruments might they play?
Credits: All photographs, except that of Ricketson's book, are by the author. The photograph of Ricketson's book can be found here. Except for the Ravel quotation, quotations used in the post can be found at the links indicated in the text. The Ravel quotation can be found in numerous places, none of which appear to be the primary source.
To hear Prélude from Le Tombeau de Couperin played by Angela Hewitt, click here.
To hear a jazz version of the Prélude, click here.