Sunday, October 16, 2011

South Cemetery, Portsmouth NH

For the past two days I've revisited the South Cemetery in Portsmouth, NH and taken an additional 600-ish shots. The South Cemetery is comprised of 4-5 different cemeteries including Proprietor's Cemetery, Harmony Grove Cemetery and Cotton Burial Ground and is on South St. and Sagamore Ave. There are also a couple of plots here that were moved from other small family burying grounds that were in the way of progress and a growing downtown area, including the Cutts-Penhallow family burying ground that was once located on Green Street. Along with the family of John Rindge who was interred in the South Church beneath the altar before it burned to the ground.

Laurel tree
Most of the cemetery is a beautiful example of a Victorian garden cemetery, and has many flowering shrubs, ornamental trees (including large Hydrangea trees and a beautiful Laurel tree) and original wrought iron work. It's largely comprised of Marble stones but there are some slate, schist, granite and a handful of White Zinc monuments. There's also a large amount of Sandstone carvings both in gravestone monuments and border railings which is unusual.

There are also a lot of historic notables including generals from the Civil War, local notable politician/brewery king Frank Jones, Woodbury Langdon and the victims of the Smuttynose Murders

Too bad the proprietors of this cemetery don't seem to care much for it other than mowing the grass. This cemetery has a ridiculous amount of broken stones. Many are the casualties of vandals, or stones that were inset in curbs that due to frost and shifting earth have tipped over.

Smuttynose murder victims
I'm far from being done photographing this cemetery. 600 shots only covered a very small portion of this expansive resting place, and I feel I should reshoot all my previous material that was mostly done in poor light.

Check out the main page for the South Cemetery of Portsmouth, New Hampshire at

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Camera is Junk!

If you've seen the website for A Very Grave Matter,, you can see that since I started the website in 2001 I've taken over 15,000 photographs of historic gravestones. Since 2003, I've been using the same camera. A Sony Cybershot with 5.0 megapixels that after 8 years has many dings, dents, spots on the lens and a sticky shutter. It's definitely time for a new camera.

Not to bore you with another sob story, but the last few years between my divorce, non-paying clients, some months very slow with business ( and most recently hospital bills from a couple of non-insured surgeries the camera of my dreams is just not in my budget.

So I appeal to my fans, fellow taphophiles and anyone who'd like to see me photograph more gravestones to donate towards my goal to buy a new camera. You can donate as little or as much as you can spare, even if its only $5. Many $5 donations still add up to a lot. I know the goal is high, but I think I can get a very good camera setup, backup batteries, flashcards and a carrying bag for about $500. I don't need anything very fancy.

There are hundreds more cemeteries and thousands more photographs I'd like to take to document these places of history. Many of these places are in peril, being uncared for and vandalized. I've had the experience many times over of photographing a gravestone intact, only to go back a year or so later and find the same stone destroyed. It's unfortunate but most towns, cities and groups responsible for these places have no interest in or no budget for restoration or conservation. They don't realize it's their own history being destroyed.

There are a few ways you can donate. You can mail a check to me, Jenn Marcelais at 114 1/2 Maplewood Ave., Portsmouth, NH 03801. You can also donate online through Paypal directly to, or through GoFundMe, All will accept donations of any size.

Any donation would be greatly appreciated. But if you find you can spare a larger donation of $100 or more and have a specific cemetery in the New England area that you'd like to see photographed let me know and it will be done. Although please keep in mind I'm located in Portsmouth, NH, so if you have a request for a cemetery more than an hour away from there please make sure the donation matches the request.

Be sure to check out my Facebook page for the Grave Matter website as well at