Favorite Inscriptions

What is found written on tombstones is usually pretty basic - the name, date of birth, date of death, age, and perhaps some common memorial phrases of the day.  But every so often, there are inscriptions that stand out, either for their poetic lines, their deep expressions of love, or even a bit of humor that helps us to see a little of the personality of the person who lies buried there or of the family members who laid them to rest.  These are just some of the ones that have touched our hearts or our funny bones... 

"Your Clock is Wound But Once
The clock of life is wound but once,
and no man has the power
to tell just when the hands will stop;
at late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own;
live, love, toil with a will,
place no faith in tomorrow;
the clock may then be still.

~~ at Sunset Cemetery, Pocahontas Co., WV ~~
~ contributed by Paul G. ~

"She Shopped 'Til She Dropped"

~~ at Judson Baptist Church Cemetery, Putnam Co., WV ~~
~ contributed by Terry M. ~

"Beware young friends as you pass by,
as you are now so once was I,
as I am now so must you be,
prepare therefore to follow me"

~~ at Pitchford Cemetery, Putnam Co., WV ~~
~ contributed by Elouise H. ~

"I Told You I Was Sick"

~~ at Walker Chapel Cemetery, Putnam Co., WV ~~
~ contributed by Greg H. ~

"We squander health in search of wealth.
We scheme and toil and save, 
then squander wealth in search of health
and all we get is a grave.
We live and boast of what we own,
We die and only get a stone."

~~ at an unidentified WV cemetery ~~
~ contributed by Elouise H. ~

"A gentleman, a scholar, and a real cowboy"

~~ for Kermit R. Barnett, buried at Haven of Rest Cemetery, Putnam Co., WV ~~
~~ "This is the inscription we chose for my father... It is significant because this is exactly what kind of person he was" ~~
~ contributed by his daughter, Carol Paxton ~

"Only one life that soon is past,
Only that which is done for Christ will last"

~~ anonymous ~~

While not an epitaph, the following poem that was sent to us speaks about visiting a cemetery - a practice that is not as common for 'modern folk' as it was in years past:

The Recording Of A Cemetery
BY Thelma Greene Reagan

Today we walked where others walked
On a lonely, windswept hill;
Today we talked where other cried
For Loved Ones whose lives are stilled.

Today our hearts were touched
By graves of tiny babies;
Snatched from the arms of loving kin,
In the heartbreak of the ages.

Today we saw where the grandparents lay
In the last sleep of their time;
Lying under the trees and clouds -
Their beds kissed by the sun and wind.

Today we wondered about an unmarked spot;
Who lies beneath this hollowed ground?
Was it a babe, child, young or old?
No indication could be found.

Today we saw where Mom and Dad lay.
We had been here once before
On a day we'd all like to forget,
But will remember forever more.

Today we recorded for kith and kin
The graves of ancestors past;
To be preserved for generations hence,
A record we hope will last.

Cherish it, my friend; preserve it, my friend,
For stones sometimes crumble to dust
And generations of folks yet to come
Will be grateful for your trust

Perhaps one of the most special epitaphs we've known, is actually only a very small part of what we've found inscribed on stones - the dash.  To see what we mean, visit the website at The Dash Movie (requires a fairly fast internet connection to view it best). We don't know how long the site will be online, but hopefully long enough for you all to make a visit to it.

And even on YouTube... here's a tribute by Jason T. Lewis "Going to the family plot" that we found on this popular online video site (we recommend viewing with a high-speed internet connection) - though not an inscription, 
it is a sweet springtime wandering to the top of a hill near Terra Alta, WV to his family burial ground.  The photo essay is set to his original music, played on guitar by his friend Billy Matheney

If you find an inscription that you would like to share here, send us an email with the text and which cemetery it was found in (West Virginia tombstones are our preference here).  It is not necessary to include the name of the person buried there - only if you think it would be appropriate for understanding the sentiment of the inscription.

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 Updated: 07 September 2012