Driving into Maplewood Cemetery in Mayfield , Kentucky on a late summer afternoon, the shadows lengthened. A perfect time to explore the monument that has stood silently for over a hundred years. A novel remains buried here. The story of our protagonist, a horse trader by the name of Colonel Henry G. Wooldridge, involves lost love, ego and loneliness.
Wooldridge, a lifelong bachelor, lost the last of his three sisters in 1892. Her death begins his quest to build a monument to himself and his family. Over the next seven years, local sculptors carve the images of his brothers, Alfred, Josiah and W.H. There is a statue of Colonel Wooldridge on his favorite mount Fop, as well as his two dogs and a random deer and fox for them to chase.
The story focuses on the women. Legend says that Wooldridge remained a bachelor after his young love, Minnie, died in a riding accident. You need to wonder about Minnie’s pull on him. Was she beautiful, gentle and loving? Did he give her the horse as a gift and grow unable to handle the guilt? Minnie is included in the party of statues ,but a family Bible and other records indicate she is his niece and not focus of the love story. What will the author decide?
The other women in the group include his mother Keziah, nieces Maud and Minnie, and sisters Minerva, Susan, and Narcissa. Did Susan’s character match her uninspired name? Did Narcissa live up to hers? Was Minerva an enchantress? Great characters for our unwritten story.
As you view the detail of the statues , you admire the craft and artistry of the sculptors. All of the pieces were done locally except for the man standing taller than the rest who is made of marble and carved in Italy, Wooldridge himself.
He appears twice in the group, which helps to develop his egotistic persona. Comparisons to pharaohs burying their loved ones with them come to mind.You might imagine that his fear of being alone at his death compelled him to have his family members with him so it is ironic to note that he is buried there alone. And ,as another element of our plot, his father is not included in the group.Psychological analysis? The monument is called “The Strange Procession That Never Moves.”
That remained true until 2009, when a three hundred year -old oak crashed down on the family during an ice storm and beheaded all the statues except for his sisters and dog.Divine intervention, another plot twist? The monument was restored on site and remains open to the public.Inspiration and the unwritten story remain.
August 28th, 2012 at 10:25 am
August 28th, 2012 at 10:36 am
Thanks, Conor. It’s a really interesting place. The monuments are so close together that it’s a bit difficult to shoot.
August 28th, 2012 at 11:45 am
Great shots – although, oddly, I am reminded of chess pieces for some reason? I think it’s the first image. 🙂
August 28th, 2012 at 7:41 pm
Interesting idea. I hadn’t looked at it that way but I can see it.
August 28th, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Exceptionally outstanding post! Love reading the stories behind the sculptures. Woolridge sounds like he has some unlikely past around him. Love that he was able to store all of it through artisty for evevryone to be fascinated with.
August 28th, 2012 at 7:43 pm
Really interesting man! There certainly had to be some issues but we’ll never know the complete story. Thanks for commenting.
August 28th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
August 28th, 2012 at 7:44 pm
Thanks so much!
August 28th, 2012 at 7:57 pm
Such an interesting place. Your photos are wonderful in capturing the moment.
August 28th, 2012 at 8:05 pm
That is a gorgeous cemetery, and lovely photos!
Thanks for telling us this story.
August 29th, 2012 at 9:32 am
Thanks for checking it out!
August 28th, 2012 at 9:02 pm
Love the tones in these black and whites…very interesting images.
August 29th, 2012 at 9:33 am
Thank you. Infrared seemed very cemeterish to me.
August 28th, 2012 at 9:43 pm
Very very interesting. I love that you chose b/w for the photos. Let us know when that novel comes out! 😉
August 30th, 2012 at 10:31 am
Thank you! I wish I could write it but there must be someone more ready!Love infrared and it suited the cemetery. Thanks for taking time to comment.
August 29th, 2012 at 6:50 am
Love the photos and the thoughts of a story is fantastic…
August 30th, 2012 at 10:35 am
I wish someone would write it! I’m not sure it’s me. Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment.
August 30th, 2012 at 12:02 pm
August 31st, 2012 at 6:53 pm
What a fascinating and moving story. You have told it so beautifully both in words and images. Thanks for sharing this.
August 31st, 2012 at 7:36 pm
Thank you so much for visiting and taking time to comment.
August 31st, 2012 at 8:18 pm
I am in love with everything about this post – the photos, the words, the statues. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful & enchanting story!
August 31st, 2012 at 9:48 pm
Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words.Thanks for stopping by.
September 1st, 2012 at 2:50 pm
I especially like the first, third and last image of this series.
September 3rd, 2012 at 4:04 pm
Thank you, I appreciate it. Sometimes I worry more about illustrating the blog as opposed to making sure I love each image. Gotta work on that. Glad you stopped by.
September 4th, 2012 at 5:26 am
Excellent post. I am not usually a fan of infrared but every now and then I come across a shot that makes me think again. Your top image here is one such shot. Thanks for the follow. I do not do tit for tat following but I was more than happy to follow your excellent blog. 🙂
September 4th, 2012 at 5:00 pm
For some bizarre reason I am drawn to cemetery plots in third world areas; Carib and the Med; I believe it is a “grass roots” view into a culture: wild though, yes? ~Ron
September 4th, 2012 at 6:52 pm
I haven’t had the chance to visit cemeteries in other countries but they sound fascinating. I’ve visited lost cemeteries here that tell stories. Thanks for visiting.
September 8th, 2012 at 10:01 pm
Nice series of photos.
September 8th, 2012 at 10:47 pm
Thank you! I appreciate your taking time to visit.
April 17th, 2014 at 7:07 am
Your photos are beautiful..I also like old cemetary photos and their history..To add some interesting facts here, I am a Wooldridge descendent. And very proud I might add. My family on my mother’s side are Woolridges..My Grandmother, My Aunts and Uncles are all Woolridges. My younger cousin John looks identical to Colonel Henry. Or he did when he was younger. We are now in our middle 50’s..Thanks everyone for the admiration and appreciation and photography of such a masterpiece and family icon. It means a lot.
April 18th, 2014 at 10:09 am
Your message was a wonderful surprise! I went to the cemetery after reading about the monuments and was pleased to see it being cared for. Although I haven’t written on my blog for awhile, your note reminded me of all the ways we connect in this world. If you would like a print of one of the photos, please leave me a message to tell me which one and an address. Thanks for getting in touch.