|By Bob Weaver 2004|
Bethlehem Baptist Church first organized in 1833. Grantsville poet Nettie Stump wrote about the cemetery "Then when you life book is closed, And the last page is read, You will then go over this road - And live in the City of the Dead."
Perhaps the most moving play I ever attended was Pulitzer Prize winner
Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," a simple and passionate glimpse of life in
Grover's Corners, New Hampshire in 1903.
Walking around the 1,200 graves in Grantsville's Bethlehem Cemetery today,
I recalled words and scenes from Wilder's play, with my memory and identity
defined by those who are buried there, nearly all whose names or faces I
recall from childhood.
In the old cemetery section reposes some of Calhoun's first families
Angel stands tall above the "grains" of life buried there
I cling to those memories, deserving or not, unable to change my beliefs
except when assaulted by undeserving facts.
Wilder's characters were untainted by the Great Wars, making it easier to
portray the warmth, civility and truths of life in rural America, but many of
those reclining in Bethlehem were not as fortunate.
How many Emilys met how many Georges, the marriage proposal being
made in the J & B or Thompson's Drug Store? How many Emilys died in
childbirth to be taken on the hill to Bethlehem?
In the most moving scene in "Our Town," Emily is re-united with her
townspeople and tells them she is not use to being dead. She chooses to
look upon an important day in her life, her 12th birthday. She says that day
"will be important enough."
Space still remains for a few
While those reposing in Bethlehem were not as famous as some - they too
are important enough.
Buried here is Calhoun's single Vietnam victim Eddie Dean Starcher and Civil
War Rebel James Bryan, with many others who gave their lives to America in
those terrible wars, to virtually every new settler in the Calhoun wilderness,
almost every Calhoun name.
Someone wrote "Wilder tried to find the universe in a grain of wheat."
The Bethlehem Baptist Church, among the first to be organized in 1833, will
more likely be known for the "grains" who repose there, still a few spaces
left for aging old-timers to join the caravan.
Barr family early Calhoun pioneers
Log monument recalls A. H. Stump 1843-1896
Spiral marker for Lillie Blizzard (1866-1893) wife of Judge Reese Blizzard
Levi Ball was early pioneer farmer
Claude and Bertha Osborne chose not to be buried in the earth.
Claude Osborne was a teacher, Hope Gas employee and choir leader
Bertha Osborne was a "school teacher and devotee of music"
Read poem "BETHLEMEM" By Nettie Stump, in her book TRAIL OF MY PEN