Driving up to the Whitesboro Cemetery in Etowah County, the little paved path by the church was blocked by a pickup truck. I parked behind, and as a gentleman and another person were standing in front of another grave, I nodded as I walked by quietly to give them their privacy.
I was going further back, to document the grave shelter for the Jacobs family, James J. (1865-1939) and Mary Jane (1869-1934). Under their names, ‘Having finished life’s duty, they now sweetly rest’ is engraved.
Above, a wooden carport-style graveshelter decorated with zigzag wood edging and in front, a painted wooden monogram cutout that suggests this graveshelter is still being maintained by family currently.
Especially striking is what is handwritten inside the shelter — a family tree with 70+ names, one entry noting that Wilmer was KIA in 1944 in France, another note that there would be ‘no rain on Mary Jane‘ (thus, this graveshelter), and at the bottom, ‘for other descendants & (kin) just look around‘.
Walking back to my car, I waved goodbye to the people who were standing at the grave, still wishing to give them their space. They waved back, and I walked nearer, judging if they would be willing to talk a little. About thirty minutes later, we were still there talking about graveshelters, homemade monuments, and other folk practices.
The gentleman told me about one other cemetery closer to Attalla, the one at Noble Hill Missionary Baptist, that he thought either used to, or may still have a graveshelter, so after a while, I left to check on it. There wasn’t a graveshelter, but I did find this:
#1 Wife, Mother, and Grandmother