DEATH LEAVES A HEARTACHE - Memorials In Goodnight Cemetery

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. - Irish headstone

Those who repose in Goodnight Cemetery, well-remembered ...

... with row upon row of flowers, flags and emblems

Some grave sites covered from one end to the other

By Bob Weaver - Memorial Day 2004

Sometime or other I wrote about how Calhoun folks celebrated Memorial Day, my family always calling it Decoration Day. They would go and place flowers on all the graves from every generation, even having dinner on the ground.

We gathered freshly blooming flowers from the farm, placed them in canning jars, and took them to the graves.

A few return to remember family and friends, now reposing in Calhoun's hundred or so cemeteries.

I was taken back by the curiosity of some readers who viewed the practice in a negative way, calling it "ancestral worship," indicating it was not an activity they would enjoy, traipsing around in a cemetery and placing artifacts, flowers and flags on grave sites.

I wrote back to most of them and explained my perception, that our country families were close and connected. Families, relatives, neighbors, origins and place have been important threads that connect the living and the dead.

The practice, however, is fading.

While Decoration Day began with Civil War widows becoming disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, placing flowers upon them, the ritual grew into one of remembering and respecting the dead of all family members.

It was apparent yesterday when I visited the Goodnight Cemetery, a likely name for a burial ground, but actually named for the Goodnight family who settled on Sugar Camp in 1855. The cemetery is located on a hill between Yellow Creek and Leading Creek.

Besides Goodnights reposing there, you'll find names like Eagle, Jones, Sidwell, Wilson, Frederick, Trippett, Yoak, Hamrick and Parsons.

The first Goodnights in the community were William Joseph and Joanna Elizabeth Guthrie Goodnight. They had 15 children, with many of their descendants still living on Leading Creek, Yellow Creek and the general vicinity.

The effort to remember the lives and contributions of those reposing in the cemetery was more than apparent.

Wind chimes play quietly over family plot

"He loved the outdoors" with grave set aside to natural growth

A small child is remembered ...

... while others have crosses and scripture verses