Florence Y. Barr was only 33 years old when he died in 1884 in Florence, Ala. Barr was the only son of Isaac and Rebecca Barr. Although I know very little about his life, I know he adored his four-legged friends. I know this because his monument in Florence Cemetery is one of my favorite pieces of funereal art: The monument to Barr features a relief of his dog and cat, with the words “His Pets” etched above. Reliefs and likenesses of people are rare enough in cemetery art, so finding likenesses of someone’s pets is very unusual. The reliefs themselves were quite detailed, showing the dog’s wavy fur and the cat’s insolent stare. The headstone is topped with a draped urn.
It’s not the only interesting memorial in Florence Cemetery. Perhaps the most famous is actually outside the boundaries of the cemetery – a historical marker claims a notorious outlaw named Mountain Tom Clark is buried beyond the fence and beneath the paved street because Tom always said he would never let people “walk on him.” Sweetums and I wrote about Tom in our book “Alabama Scoundrels.”
Another fascinating marker is that of Edward Asbury O’Neal, who was governor of Alabama from 1882-1886. His monument includes a very detailed relief of his bust but I thought it was interesting that his wife included his last words on the marker: “God willing, I will be with you always, Darling.” (Although we have only her word for that. Just sayin.’)
Sweetums and I also took a photo of an interesting anomaly: A tree eating a cast-iron fence. Whenever we see trees eating objects, we take photos and have catalogued trees eating everything from bicycles to metal Coca-Cola signs. If you enjoy funereal art or interesting epitaphs, Florence Cemetery is definitely worth a visit.