Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Sherley Family Plot

Recently spent another day on safari, deep in the heart of darkest Cave Hill, just before a rainstorm of Biblical proportions dropped on my head.

Visited the Sherley family plot, which has a doorway-to-nowhere portal that I find very interesting for a lot of reasons, probably deeply ingrained in childhood pop culture imprinting of walking through magical doorways (The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, Land of the Lost, etc.) and maybe a few past lives as well.

Z.M. Sherley's grave is also very eye-catching, being a roughly hewn round-ish boulder with his name spelled out in copper appliques in an exquisite font. Z.M. Sherley's name is a memorable one to local historians, not just as a Civil War figure, but for his involvement with U of L's Medical Department and The American Printinghouse for the Blind, for the ferryboat named after him, and for his philanthropic contributions that helped maintain and beautify Cave Hill Cemetery itself during his lifetime.

According to the book Gould's History of River Navigation by Emerson W. Gould, Z.M. Sherley had an identical twin named Thomas, and so identical were they that not even Thomas' wife could tell them apart. Thomas drowned in the Mississippi River while transporting cattle via barge.

Meanwhile, George Douglass Sherley's grave - a large stone cross laying flat on the ground - has a great inscription: "Whatever is, is Best". It immediately struck me as almost Buddhist-like in its transcendent acceptance, but I did a little research and found it's actually quoting a Rosicrucian poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

I know there are no errors
In the great Eternal plan,
And all things work together
For the final good of man.
And I know when my soul speeds onward,
In its grand Eternal quest,
I shall say as I look back earthward,
Whatever is, is best.

George Douglass Sherley was a writer and poet who attended Centre College in Danville, and authored several books including The Valley of Unrest, The Inner Sisterhood, and A Spray of Kentucky Pine.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Thank you for this lovely post and your amazing research. Who would have known about the Rosicrucian poem?!? Lagniappe! :-)

Great work, UnK!