18th Century Tympanic Icons of Midway Cemetery

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Slate Headstone of James Wilson Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympana are the semi-circular arches atop early headstones, usually featuring an iconic relief sculpture. In early America, the most common of these icons is the “winged death” head, usually represented as a cherubic face or skull above a pair of wings. New England churchyards and burying grounds abound with these earliest forms of American sculpture, but they’re rarities in the Deep South. Charleston has the largest concentration, with other examples scattered around the low country of South Carolina; Savannah has a few examples but Midway has the best variety in Georgia.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Slate Winged Death Tympanum of James Wilson Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the James Wilson stone. Slate. Date of death not visible, as the headstone is half-buried (see first photo).

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Nimbus Tympanum of Elisabeth Way 1795 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Elisabeth Way stone, 1792. Sandstone. In regards to design, this is the most important headstone at Midway. In Early Gravestone Art of Georgia & South Carolina (UGA Press, Athens, 1986), Diana Williams Combs wrote: “As far as I know, the nimbus has not been employed elsewhere during this period of American gravestone art. In this context it emphasizes the salvation of the deceased.”

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Susanna Stacy 1780 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Susanna Stacy stone, 1780. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Margaret Stacy 1792 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Margaret Stacy stone, 1792. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Miss Sarah Winn 1767 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Sarah Winn stone, 1767. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Sarah Stevens 1767 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Sarah Stevens stone, 1767. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Cherub Tympanum of James Osgood 1793 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the James Osgood stone, 1793. Marble.

Midway Congregational Church Liberty County GA Brick Cemetery Wall US Highway 17 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

There’s always a nice view of Midway Congregational Church (1792) across US Highway 17 from the famous brick wall surrounding the cemetery.

National Register of Historic Places

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4 Comments

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Midway GA

4 responses to “18th Century Tympanic Icons of Midway Cemetery

  1. Ashley Bowersox

    Dear Brian, It is always a pleasure to receive your posts. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to meet? We’d love to have you speak to our community at ThincSavannah, and showcase your photography. Next time you are coming to Savannah, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll be on Sapelo next weekend (with Leadership Southeast Georgia), then I plan to visit Jekyll on Sunday the 25th for the Transcontinental Centennial. Hope you’re well, and thank you for sharing your talent. Cheers, -ASH W. Ashley Bowersox 912.604.3356

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Ginger Birdsey

    I really like your photographs Brian. Ginger Birdsey

    On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 12:35 PM, Vanishing Coastal Georgia Photographs by

  3. I want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog! My relatives–the Moses Liberty Jones family–owned a plantation, Green Forest, in Liberty Cty that purportedly looked like a little “New England town.” No trace remains, I guess. Your evocative photos and historical research are wonderful! Thank you!

  4. john m

    I noiced that the writing on most of the stones are close to worn off. does anyone care or know anything that can be done to save these.

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