Last week I took a brief look in the General Protestant Cemetery in St. John's, which is one of the original cemeteries for this city, dating back to the early 1800s. There are a number of relatives buried there from my mother's paternal side of the family and I did a quick search to see if I could find any headstones. I did locate one, of a great, great uncle, (I think) who was master mason, involved in building the Gower Street Wesleyan Church. He unfortunately died from a fall while building the church shortly before it was complete in 1873. His tombstone is a testament to the art of stone masonry, being tall, columnar with ornate carving and precise deep lettering that has survived more than 130 years.
In the late 1800s hospitals tended to be for infectious diseases and doctors instead made house calls, so most individuals were confined to their own homes when ill. However, the thought of broken bones, possible head or internal injuries, being moved from the church to his house and the pain involved for this man leading up to his death, just makes me shudder.
Whether I have connections to family members or not, I have always found cemeteries very interesting places, especially the older ones that are full of history and much potential for sketching. Some people think this is a bit odd, but I like to explore and enjoy the amazing sculptural shapes of monuments, reading the headstones and imagining life in the mid 1800s in St. John's.
I hope to go to this cemetery again tomorrow if the weather holds and do a more thorough search for more headstones. I have great, great, great, great grandparents that I would like to have more permanent records of. Many headstones have been ravaged by time and weather and I intend to take some newsprint and charcoal with me to do some rubbings. Once a weak point has been found in a carving or headstone and it topples, the information on it is gone forever.
There are more tips on headstone rubbings and other methods of capturing headstone carvings here.