Today, the chance of being struck by lightning in one’s lifetime are approximately one in 15,300, with an average of 27 people killed by lightning per year in the United States. Over a century ago, in 1858, 59 people were killed by lightning in the US; in 1859, 77. In 1897, 123 people were killed by lightning in the month of July alone. Over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (and today), many of these deaths took place in Louisiana, which holds claim as the second most lightning-prone state in the union. (Florida is the first.)
In this post, we examine the relationship between humans, cemeteries, and lightning. From scientific discovery to struggles for safety, from tragedy to cemetery artwork, lightning has inspired fascination and fear for as long as humans have been stricken by it.