Lewisburg House & Garden Club members Judy and Skip Deegans have been tending to the Mathews plot in the Old Stone Cemetery surrounding a beautiful life-size, museum-quality, marble angel statue. The Angel memorializes the graves of two young sisters, Maude Montague Mathews and Florence Vane Mathews, as inscribed on the base. 19th-century Lewisburg lawyer Alexander Mathews and his wife, Laura, sadly buried their daughters within a year and half of each other. The statue has captivated many over the decades with its unquestionable beauty and display of great love by mourning parents.
It has also captivated those intrigued by its myth. The tale goes that twin cousins of the departed sisters attended a ceremony for the statue installation. Both, supposedly, kissed the Angel on the cheek and were dead within a year. No history confirms this tale; yet, the name “Angel of Death” has been perpetuated. The Angel, also known as Maude, has required protection from those wanting to test or celebrate the myth. Often followers of ghost tales and Halloween night revelers have caused damage. Melted candle wax has seeped into the porous stone, staining and causing cracks as the weather changes. Lipstick marks left behind on her cheeks have stained as well. Thus, in 2017, Lewisburg House & Garden Club, with the help of Judy and Skip Deegans, found and installed a Victorian iron fence around the plot to protect the marble beauty from further damage.
Morgan Donnelly Bunn, a cemetery historian and preservationist, wrote in a 2017 Mountain Messenger article that the statue “is not only the finest example of funerary art in the cemetery, but it is also a memorial to two lost young lives, beloved daughters, that deserve to be memorialized with respect and dignity.” With that wisdom in mind, Lewisburg House & Garden Club, on behalf of all clubs, individuals, and trustees who work to preserve and beautify the historic cemetery, ask visitors not to disturb the tombstones in any way. The cemetery is open dawn to dusk to respectfully walk through and view the fascinating stones and inscriptions.