Small But Special: Roaming Roselle’s Trinity Lutheran Cemetery

Having spent the last several years cemetery hopping, I’ve visited more final resting places than I can count. The pictures pile up over time and sometimes I forget the names of some of them.

In 2015, my family visited Chicago for our summer vacation and to attend a wedding. I wrote about several of the cemeteries (Rose Hill, Bohemian, Graceland) I visited. But as I went through those photos recently, I realized I’d overlooked a few small ones I went to on that trip.

Big cemeteries are great. Writing a multi-part series is a challenge I relish. But what about the small neighborhood cemeteries we drive past every day? Those are much more common. And yet we often ignore them.

My mother-in-law, Sue, grew up in Roselle, Ill. It’s a bustling Northwestern suburb of Chicago. But it began as a village settled by German immigrants in the 1800s. My in-laws moved to Knoxville, Tenn. in the 1970s, but the rest of the my husband’s relatives still live in the Chicago area.

Oddly enough, I visited Roselle to be a bridesmaid in a college friend’s wedding back in 1990. I had no idea that I’d return there several years later.

Trinity Lutheran Cemetery is not big or grand but it’s special to the families with loved ones buried there.

Trinity Lutheran Cemetery is situated on busy West Irving Park Road. Blink and you’ll miss it. There are only about 300 marked graves there and plenty of room exists for future burials. But it is well cared for and is a quiet haven amid the suburban rush.

We visited Trinity Lutheran Cemetery around dusk. This cross is in one corner of it.

I didn’t photograph a lot of the cemetery. There were a few Find a Grave photo requests and locating those graves was easy. Sometimes it’s more important to walk around and simply soak in the quiet of a cemetery than take a lot of pictures.

I did notice the grave of Joseph Mastny. Only one date is on it, indicating he died the same day he was born. Several figures of cherubs surround his stone, including a little boy carrying a golf bag with a dog. It tells me his family has not forgotten him and still visits when they can.

Joseph Mastny’s grave appears to be much loved.

Something moved me to photograph the gravestone of Dee Hildebrandt. I think it was the fact she was only 22 when she died. Those who die so young always move me, for reasons I can’t explain.

Dee Hildebrandt was unknown to me when I photographed her stone.

Later that week, I mentioned to my husband’s Aunt Beth that we’d visited Trinity Lutheran Cemetery. When I told her about seeing Dee’s grave, she knew who it was at once. Beth went to school with Dee and remembered her fondly. Dee died in a car accident in 1982. I think this is the first time I’d ever photographed a grave only to have someone tell me later they knew the deceased personally.

I mentioned earlier that Roselle was settled by German immigrants. One of them was J. Henry Hattendorf. I didn’t know anything about him when I visited this cemetery but his name was on a unique bench that I photographed. He played a major role in the history of Roselle and Trinity Lutheran Cemetery.

J. Henry Hattendorf’s memorial bench definitely stands out.

I’ve seen these tree-style benches in a number of cemeteries. The motif was much beloved at one time. But this is one of the few I’ve encountered that has a person’s name on it.

Brothers Henry and John C. Hattendorft were born in Illinois but their parents Henry Hattendorf and Maria Gervecke Hattendorf were among the German immigrants that came to the area in the 1840s. They farmed with their father in nearby Schaumburg until the railroad came to Roselle. The Hattendorf brothers knew that would bring new business opportunities and wanted to be a part of it.

Henry partnered with John Bagge in 1880 to buy out the stock of Roselle Hough’s general store. The city of Roselle was named after Hough. The men also maintained a post office with Henry acting as Roselle’s postmaster. They operated the McCormick farm machinery franchise at Chicago Street and Prospect, selling a variety of items from farm implements to kerosene to furniture.

They also claimed they sold “everything from cradle to grave, including coffins to undertaking services.” This was not unusual during this era, when funeral hones were not common.

The Hattendorf families, along with others, were keen to start a Lutheran school for their children to attend. They helped establish Roselle’s Lutheran School in 1899, located at Prospect and Elm. Later in 1910, many of the same families would establish Trinity Lutheran Church.

J. Henry Hattendorf (pictured on the far left) was one of several families that started Trinity Lutheran Church in 1910. This photo was taken in 1935. Photo source: Trinity Lutheran 75th Anniversary Book

In June 1902, Henry dissolved his partnership with Bagge and took over the business. He and four directors applied for and received a charter from the State of Illinois to open the Roselle State Bank in 1903. It later became Harris Bank Roselle, another long-standing business in the town.

Henry donated the land on which Trinity Lutheran Cemetery was established in 1911. The first burial, in 1912, was for William Benhart. His was one of the few monuments I photographed during my visit. He was in his 40s when he died of blood poisoning following an appendectomy. He and his wife, Lena, operated a tavern in Roselle.

William Benhart was the first burial at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in 1912.

In the 1920s, Henry operated a clothing store on the corner of Prospect and Irving Park Road. On Feb. 8, 1920, a train derailed and sent over 20 train cars in all directions. One of those cars hit the corner of Hattendorf’s store, dumping a full load of grain into the basement.

Henry Hattendorf didn’t let a small thing like a train derailment stop him from doing business. Photo source: Roselle History Museum

Henry and his family lived in a fine home close by the bank. The estate is said to have had a winery in the basement.

Built in 1890, the Hattendorf family home had a winery in the basement. Henry and his brother, John, are in front of the house. Photo source: Roselle History Museum

Sadly, the Hattendorf house was demolished to make room for more parking for the Roselle State Bank in the 1960s. However, the accompanying coach house was saved and moved to 39 Elm Street. It now serves as the offices of the Roselle Historical Foundation.

Henry married Dora Meyer in June 1878 and the following year, their eldest daughter Alvina was born. I photographed Alvina’s grave, which is beside her parents’ graves. Dora died in 1934 and Henry died in 1942.

I learned later that Alvina married Henry Langhorst in 1907. He was part of a similarly prosperous merchant family in Palatine, Ill. They would have one daughter, Mildred. Sadly, their marriage ended tragically in 1910.

J. Henry Hattendorf’s daughter Alvina was only married for three years before tragedy struck.

Looking up Henry’s Find a Grave memorial, I learned that he and another man, William Mess, were working on a barn together on a farm in Palatine. Jack screws had been placed around the barn but none in the center where Henry happened to be. The weight of the building caused the center beam to give way and the barn collapsed on top of Henry. He was killed instantly. William Mess, located at one of the corners, barely survived but died a few days later.

According to his obituary, the Palatine Lutheran Church where Henry’s funeral was held could not hold all of the mourners that came. It also stated, “He was loved and respected, not in his own set alone, but by all people.” He is buried with his family at Union Cemetery in Palatine, Ill.

Alvina and Mildred went to live with her parents after Henry died. Alvina never remarried and died in 1940. Mildred married contractor Charles Rees in 1929. She died in 1993.

We probably spent maybe 30 minutes total at Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery but I was glad we did. It isn’t very big. And there are no stunning monuments to photograph. But it’s a prime example of the kind of cemetery that exists everywhere. They are special to the families with loved ones buried there who come to honor their memories.

And that’s a good enough reason for me to stop, too.

 

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Stopping by Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery: From Railroads to Poultry, Part IV

Last week, I focused on some of the more tragic souls buried at Alta Vista Cemetery. To wrap up this series, I’m going to simply share a mix of grave sites with interesting markers and stories. No theme this time!

I like Green Roper’s monument because not only is it a Woodmen of the World tree, it also has a detail (while faded) that few have.

Green Roper’s Woodmen of the World monument has a special feature on it.

A native of South Carolina, Green married Callie Frances Reynolds in October 1888 in Hall County, Ga. During their marriage, they had seven children. Although he came from a farming background, Green spent his life working for the railroad.

The handcar is a faded but signifies Green Roper’s dedication to his job.

Thanks to Ancestry, I located Green’s will. It was drawn up in July 1919, only a handful of months before his death in December. Was Green ill at the time, wanting to provide for his family in the event he died?

Green owned a home on Gainesville’s East Spring Street and a 290-acre farm in the “Tom Bell District of Hall County on the Chattahoochee River”. He left it all to Callie and his children, along with a life insurance policy. I’m guessing it was with Woodmen of the World, who may have provided the marker.

Benjamin Perry “B.P.” Byrd was a native of South Carolina as well but spent most of his life in Gainesville and Athens. He was likely related to Green Roper in some way because B.P.’s mother was a Roper. He married Maggie Roper in December 1895. From what I could tell, B.P and Maggie had two children.

B.P. Byrd was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Lodge 696. The “GM” inscribed on the locomotive below the two small windows stands for the Gainesville Midland Railroad.

Founded in Michigan in 1863, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) was a labor union originally called the Brotherhood of the Footboard. It was the first permanent trade organization for railroad workers in the U.S. A year later, it was renamed the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (B of LE).

Locomotive No. 116 of the Gainesville Midland Railroad is on display in Jefferson, Ga. near the city’s high school. It was built in 1907 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pa.

From B.P.’s World War I draft card, I learned that near the time of his death he worked for the Gainesville Midland (GM) Railway Company. Chartered in 1904, the GM purchased most of the property of the Gainesville, Jefferson & Southern Railroad under a foreclosure sale the same year. It acquired a two-pronged, narrow-gauge line connecting Gainesville, Jefferson, and Monroe.

In 1906, the GM constructed a extension south from Jefferson to a connection with the Seaboard Air Line (SAL) two miles west of Athens at Fowler Junction. From there, GM trains continued to Athens through a trackage rights agreement with SAL. Business directories list B.P. and his family living in the Athens/Monroe area at that time.

Unlike Green, B.P. left no will that I could find. He died in November 1918 of pneumonia at the age of 43.

A curious marker at Alta Vista got my attention. Beside his military marker, Cooper Scott also has a stone stating that (according to his obituary) he fired the first cannon at Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C. at the start of the Civil War.

Cooper B. Scott, who fought with the First South Carolina Infantry, Company G (Butler’s First Regulars), during the Civil War.

I learned that several people have claimed this distinction over the years. But it appears that many of Cooper’s friends, war comrades and family believed it.

Scott’s grand daughter said in an article, “When Cooper fired the cannon, he did so because he saw ‘movement’ at Fort Sumter. He was immediately thrown into the brig for opening fire without an order. He was released the next morning when the Union soldiers surrendered.”

According to the application for a military marker for Scott in the 1940s from the Gainesville chapter of the United Daughter of the Confederacy, Scott was not only a corporal with the First South Carolina Infantry but also the musician of the regiment.

I think one of the saddest markers I’ve ever encountered was the for the one for “Crippled” Jim Smith.

Jim Smith was a beloved member of the Gainesville community.

The only information I could find about Jim Smith was from a Gainesville Times newspaper clipping that someone had posted on his Find a Grave memorial page. Nothing about his parents or family was included.

Altlhough Jim was born disabled, that didn’t prevent him from working hard to earn a living by repairing broken chairs that needed the seats redone. The clipping noted that he had been in poor health the last year of his life. It’s possible that his customers paid for his gravesite and humble marker.

I can’t respectfully finish this series about Alta Vista Cemetery without featuring the man that left his mark on Gainesville in ways still being felt today.

Jesse Jewell revolutionized the poultry industry in Gainesville. (Photo Source: Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia.)

Born in Gainesville in 1902, Jesse Dickson Jewell was the son of a feed store owner (who died when Jesse was 7) and an art teacher. After graduating from Gainesville High School, Jewell studied civil engineering at Georgia Tech and the University of Alabama. In 1922, he began working in the family feed business, along with his mother and stepfather, Leonard Loudermilk. In 1928, Jesse married Anna Lou Dorough.

When Loudermilk died in 1930, Jewell took over the family business. As the Great Depression hammered the country, he tried a new approach to boost feed sales. He bought baby chicks and supplied them (along with chicken feed) on credit to cash-poor farmers. After the chicks were grown, Jesse bought them back at a price that covered feed costs and guaranteed farmers a profit. As a result, more Hall County farmers chose to contract to grow chickens for Jesse.

By the late 1930s, Jesse was adding the elements that would make J. D. Jewell, Inc. the largest integrated chicken producer in the world. In 1940, he opened his own hatchery and then a processing plant in 1941. By 1954, Jesse had added his own feed mill and rendering plant. This vertically integrated corporation set the standard for poultry processors everywhere, as did Jewell’s trademark frozen chicken.

A 1950s advertisement promotes the trademark frozen chicken of J. D. Jewell, Inc.

Jewell was a founder and the first president of the National Broiler Council, president of the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association, and a U.S. delegate to the 1951 World Poultry Expo.

In the early 1960s, Jesse sold his company and it went bankrupt in 1972 (although Jewell himself did not). With his poultry fortune, Jesse established a scholarship fund at Brenau College, where he also endowed a new building for biology and home economics.

Jesse Jewell left behind a business legacy that is still making an impact today.

Jesse Jewell suffered a stroke in 1962 and died, after an extended illness, on January 16, 1975. His wife, Anna Lou, died in 2001 at the age of 101. She is buried beside him.
As we say farewell at Alta Vista Cemetery, I highly recommend downloading this walking tour map that highlights many of the monuments I featured over the last few weeks should you ever visit the place yourself. It was an incredibly helpful tool to me while I was there.

Alta Vista Cemetery is well worth more than one visit.

Over the next weeks, I’ll be sharing my visits to cemeteries in South Carolina, Maine, and Iowa. I hope you can come “hop” with me on these new adventures!

Stopping by Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery: The Ladies of the Lake, Part III

Last week, our eyes were on the skies at Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery. This week in Part III, I’m focusing on some of the more tragic tales. One involves Gainesville’s mysterious “Ladies of the Lake” who disappeared on an April night in 1958. But I’ll get to them later.

Austin Hammett was the son of Willie Dexter “Deck” Hammett and Jessie Abigail “Abbie” Hammett. When they married in 1909, Deck (a native of North Carolina) was 31 and Jessie was 15. He worked as a “loom fixer” at a cotton mill in nearby Jackson County.

Austin was only six when he died. His mother would pass away only a few years later.

Deck and Jessie had six children during their 13-year marriage. Austin, their second child, died at the age of five in 1918. It’s possible he died from the Spanish Flu that was raging across the country. An unnamed infant died a few years later. Jessie died in 1922 and is buried beside Austin and her baby. Deck moved back to the Carolinas with his children and married Cleopatra Rogers, with whom he had several children before his death in 1935.

Dressed in clothing appropriate for the time in which he lived, Austin’s figure leans against a tree stump. This often means a life cut short. On the stump, you can see oak leaves and a single acorn, which can stand for power, authority or victory.

One of the most stunning monuments I saw during my visit was of Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Blalock Estes.

Notice at the top of the monument there is a winged hourglass, signifying that “time flies.” Christians believe that trumpet-shaped Easter lilies announce the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Fern fronds often symbolize sincerity and sorrow.

The daughter of Lewis Frank Blalock and Hester Clements Blalock, Lizzie grew up in my hometown of Fayetteville, Ga. On Nov. 5, 1879, she married lawyer Claud Estes in Fayetteville. She was 20 and he was 22. They shared a home with Claud’s parents, John Baylis Estes (also an attorney) and Catherine “Fannie” Bryan Estes.

The details of the statue, from the cross at her throat to the buttons on her gown, are skillfully done.

Lizzie died less than four years later in 1883. The only evidence that she and Claud had children is from a marker nearby that simply says “Our Babies, Infants of Claud and Lizzie Estes” with no year on it. It’s possible she died in childbirth.

James S. Clark owned and operated J.S. Clark & Co. Monument Works of Louisville, Ky.

Claud spared no expense on Lizzie’s monument, paying prestigious J.S. Clark & Co. in Louisville, Ky. to create it. Clark’s name appears on monuments throughout cemeteries in the South but his most noted is “Heroes of the Alamo” in Austin, Texas.

Illustration of J.S. Clark & Co. Marble and Granite Works in Louisville, Ky. Photo Source: “The industries of Louisville, Kentucky, and of New Albany, Indiana” (1886)

Lizzie’s monument is a collection of symbols, from the Easter lilies that stand for the Resurrection of Christ to the winged hourglass at the top signifying that “time flies.” It’s possible Claud saw the monument in a catalog and had it adapted to wishes.

The inscription on the back is no less vivid than the sculpture on the front. I’ve never seen a monument before that listed both the deceased’s last “expression” and last word (which was “darling”.)

Lizzie’s last word was (according to her monument) “Darling.”

Claud remarried a few years later to Fannie Jones in Bibb County, Ga. They had several children while he continued his law practice in Macon, Ga. He died in 1917 and is buried in Macon’s Rose Hill Cemetery with Fannie, who died in 1935.

Located just behind Lizzie’s large monument is a much smaller, humbler stone in the shape of a house. It marks the gravesites of the Walker twins. Ella and Ileta were the daughters of twice-elected Gainesville mayor George W. Walker and his wife, Ella I. Smith Walker.

Ella and Ileta Walker were the daughters of Gainesville Mayor George W. Walker and Ella I. Smith Walker.

Born in 1845, George Walker was trained to be a blacksmith and eventually opened his own carriage factory in Gainesville in 1876. He married Ella in 1869. In 1885, he was elected mayor for one term, having served on the city council for two years before that. He was re-elected mayor in 1893.

George Walker operated his carriage factory on 53 South Main Street in Gainesville in 1876.

Ella and Ileta were born on Nov. 7, 1886. The twins had two older brothers, William, 14, and Harry, 9. Ella died first on Oct. 21, 1895. On her side of the little house, the marker reads:

4 little feet trod the streets of gold
4 little hands the harps of angels hold
4 little lips lisp the new made song
2 little girls in the angel throng.

“Two little girls in the angel throng.”

Ileta died 27 days later on Nov. 17, 1895. Her inscription on the other side of the house reads:

God knoweth best whom to call to go
God knoweth best whom to leave below
Blest be the name of our God we say
Blest when he gives
when he takes away.

According to the 1900 Census, the Walkers had 11 children but only five survived. All lived long lives except for Rebie (born in 1892), who died at the age of 30. I could not find the graves of George and Ella. George died in 1919 in Gainesville but he is not listed on Find a Grave. I don’t know when Ella died.

Finally, the “Ladies of the Lake” are a Gainesville tragedy many locals know about. Two mothers decided to go out to at a local roadhouse one night and never came home.

Delia Parker Young worked at the Riverside Military Academy. She borrowed a blue dress to wear on her night out dancing.

On April 16, 1958, Susie Smallwood Roberts (37) picked up Delia Mae Parker Young (23) in her 1954 blue Ford for a night out. Delia borrowed a blue dress just for the occasion.

After spending some time at a Dalton County roadhouse called the Three Gables, they were spotted at a nearby gas station where they allegedly left without paying. There were reportedly skid marks on the road near the Dawsonville Highway bridge over Lake Lanier, indicating the car crossed the center line and went off the road.

Police searched the water but could find nothing. About 18 months later, a body that had floated up from the water was discovered by a fisherman under the Dawsonville Highway bridge. Identification from dental work was not possible because the body had dentures. But it was missing two toes on the left foot and had no hands. The body was buried in an unmarked grave at Alta Vista.

Susie Roberts’ family thought she was in the lake but never knew until 1990.

Some Gainesville residents say they’ve seen a woman in a blue dress who seemed to have no hands wandering on that bridge at night.

Over the years, Susie Roberts’ family wondered what had happened to her. Had she driven away with Delia? Had she been injured and lost her memory? Her husband, Frank, died in 1972, never knowing where she was.

Her son, James, said in a news article, “”We believed she was in the lake, but then we heard she might be in Chicago, then in Florida. We wondered if she survived but had amnesia and never knew where to go.”

In November 1990, workers doing construction on the bridge found a blue 1950s Ford sedan with a body inside. The car’s 1958 license plate was identified as his mother’s by James Roberts. A watch found on the body was also identified as Susie’s.

Susie Roberts’ Ford wasn’t found until 1990. Photo source: Gainesville Times

As a result, it was determined that the body in the unmarked grave must belong to Delia Mae Young. Her family provided a marker for her. She had left behind a husband and infant daughter, who died in 1985 at the age of 28.

Delia Young lay in an unmarked grave until the discovery of Susie Roberts’ remains confirmed her identity.

For many years, the Roberts family only had a cenotaph marking Susie’s final resting place because her body had not been found. She was buried there soon after her remains were found and a small stone was placed above it that reads: “Died April 1958 – Found Nov. 1990”.

The Ladies of the Lake were finally home.

The family of Susie Roberts was finally able to lay her to rest.

I’ll wrap things up next week in Part IV.

Stopping by Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery: Eyes on the Skies, Part II

Last week, I wrote an entire post about Confederate General James Longstreet, Alta Vista Cemetery’s most noted resident. The people I’m featuring today are just as important but there’s not as much known about most of them. However, they all share a common theme in that something from above, good or bad, had an impact on their lives.

One bit of Gainesville history that packed a major punch was the tornado of 1936, or rather, tornadoes. On April 6, 1936, residents awoke to find the sky growing dark and threatening. At about 8:15 a.m., an F4 tornado touched down southwest of Gainesville, destroying homes and businesses as it moved northeast.

A second funnel was spotted west of town and at 8:27 a.m., the two paths met in downtown Gainesville, heading toward St. Michael Catholic Church on Spring Street. Amazingly, the church was spared when the combined tornadoes veered around it and returned to its original path, taking aim on the downtown square.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would make an unscheduled stop in Gainesville three days after the 1936 tornado to offer his support while on his way home to Washington, D.C. after visiting Warm Springs.

The tornado caused a fire in the collapsed multi-story building that housed the Cooper Pants factory, killing some 70 workers. School children seeking shelter in a downtown department store died when the building collapsed.

An estimated 203 lives were lost in the Gainesville storms and $13 million in physical damage. More than 1,600 people would be injured in Gainesville and throughout Hall County. More than 750 houses were damaged or destroyed. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was in Warm Springs further south when the tornadoes hit, made an impromptu stop in Gainesville on his way back to Washington, D.C. to talk to local officials about relief efforts.

Gainesville Courthouse Square after the tornadoes of April 6, 1936. Photo Source: New Deal Network

Many tornado victims are buried at Alta Vista, some unidentified. In a small corner lot, there is a memorial stone from 1936.

This small plaque is in memory of those unknown victims who perished in the 1936 tornado.

Not very far away is an obelisk honoring prominent Gainesville resident Minor W. Brown. His monument gets your attention from its visual impact more than anything else.

Born in 1797, Minor W. Brown became Gainesville’s second postmaster, operating from a store he owned and operated. Brown also owned more than 1,000 acres in Hall County and quite a bit of acreage in surrounding counties.

I’ve seen this motif before on a few other graves (mostly members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows) but not in quite this context. Sometimes it’s contained within a triangle (as you’d see on currency) to represent the “all seeing” Eye of God within the Trinity. In this case, it’s contained within a cloud and shining over an open Bible.

Minor Winn Brown was the second postmaster of Gainesville and owned a great deal of land in Hall County. He also built the first bridge over the Chattahoochee River at the Hall-Forsyth County line. Fluctuating river levels interfered with the river crossing, so Brown was allowed to build a toll bridge in 1829.

One one side of Brown’s monument, Matthew 5:8 reads: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Floods and storms destroyed the bridge several times, but it retained the Brown name, even when it was sold to Bester Allen. Hall and Forsyth Counties later bought it from him for $1,600 to make it toll free.

A 1947 flood washed the bridge onto the Hall County side of the river, and it was replaced by a military-style Bailey steel bridge. The bridge that now spans Lake Lanier is about a mile upstream from the original Brown’s Bridge. Brown’s Bridge Road (State Route 369) is also named for him.

The grave marker for Manley Lanier “Sonny” Carter, Jr. is much humbler than Minor W. Brown’s. You would never known by looking at it that as a human being, he came closer to reaching the Heavens than most humans do while still living.

Dr. Sonny Carter only flew one mission on the Space Shuttle in 1989.

Born in 1947, Sonny Carter was a native of Macon, Ga. He received a chemistry degree in 1969, and his medical degree in 1973, both from Emory University. During that time, he also played professional soccer from 1970 to 1973 for the Atlanta Chiefs.

In 1974, Dr. Carter entered the Navy and completed flight surgeon school in Florida. After serving tours as a flight surgeon with the First and Third Marine Aircraft Wings, he returned to flight training in Texas and was designated a Naval Aviator on April 28, 1978. During his Navy career, he logged 3,000 flying hours and 160 carrier landings.

Selected by NASA in May 1984, Dr. Carter became an astronaut in June 1985, qualifying for assignment as a Mission Specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. He was assigned as Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) Representative for the Mission Development Branch of the Astronaut Office when selected to the crew of STS-33.

A talented physician and athlete, Dr. Carter died tragically in a plane crash in 1991.

The STS-33 crew launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 22, 1989, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. After 79 orbits of the Earth, the five-day mission ended on Nov. 27, 1989 at Edwards Air Force Based in California. Carter logged 120 hours in space.

Tragically, Dr. Carter was killed in the April 5, 1991 crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) Flight 2311 in Brunswick, Ga. while traveling for NASA. He was survived by his wife and two daughters. I remember the crash at the time because it also killed John Tower, a former Texas Senator who gained notoriety when he was rejected by the Senate as President George H. W. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of Defense in 1989.

Maude Mooney also soared through the air (but not quite as high) as a circus performer known for her acrobatics. Her specialty was spinning from a rope by her teeth (as you can see on her marker), which earned her the nickname “Mille Vortex”. Some think that was meant to be “Millie Vortex” but I don’t know. Little is known about her.

Little is known about former circus performer Maude Mooney, who died in 1942. But her grave marker is definitely one of a kind.

The story that comes up most often about Maude was that she died when the circus she was working with came through Gainesville. The only problem with that theory is Maude was 50 years old when she passed away. I truly doubt she was still physically able to perform such acts.

My other proof is that according to the 1940 U.S. Census, she actually lived in Gainesville for a time with her husband, Mike, in 1935. There is no listing of her working, but a 1939 business directory lists Mike as an instructor at Gainesville’s Riverside Military Academy. They had moved to Albany by 1940, where Mike worked as general secretary of the local YMCA.

I actually found much more information about Mike, who had a very colorful past that included several marriages. He was a circus acrobat like Maude in his younger days, but also graduated from seminary and taught gymnastics at many colleges and YMCAs. He died in 1961 and is buried in Forest Meadows Memorial Gardens in Gainesville, Fla.

The last person I’m going to feature is someone who isn’t even buried at Alta Vista. That’s because the remains of Harold W. Telford have never been found.

The eldest son of Gainesville banker James Telford and Laura Jane Thomas Telford, Harold W. Telford was born in 1881. The 1900 U.S. Census lists him as working as a clerk in a dry good store. I found a listing for him as a student at Harvard University in 1902.

Harold Telford reached some of Europe’s highest peaks but never returned.

Harold was still a student when he traveled to Switzerland in the fall of 1907. His visa application indicates he was in Zurich at the American Consulate on Nov. 3. His intention was to hike in the Swiss Alps. I don’t know if he was part of a group or alone at the time.

An article about Harold’s disappearnce from the Sept. 20, 1907 edition of the Atlanta Constitution.

After his visit to the American Consulate, he seemed to vanish. Local authorities believe he became lost while in the Alps and that he met his demise there. This cenotaph at Alta Vista was created to honor his life and laid next to the markers of his parents. His mother, Laura, had died when he was a toddler. His father, James, died in 1917.

Next week, I’ll wrap up my visit to Alta Vista. There are too many stories still to share from here to stop now!

Wife and mother Susie Roberts was missing for decades.

Stopping by Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery: The Exile of Confederate General James Longstreet, Part I

Lately, there’s been a lot of debate about how we should treat Confederate history. I live in Georgia so it hits pretty close to home.

I’m not going to discuss Charlottesville or statues or protests. Many others have done so. I write about cemeteries and the people buried in them.

However, today I’m sharing the story of the most famous man buried in Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery: the controversial and often forgotten Confederate General James Longstreet. How did a man once greatly revered by his peers for his military shrewdness come to live in a sort of exile in a little known Georgia town?

Visiting Alta Vista was not planned. While our son was at Camp Grandma/Grandpa in Knoxville back in July, my husband and I decided to enjoy a quick getaway to the Beechwood Inn in Clayton, Ga. Our anniversary was coming up (Aug. 16) so why not celebrate it a little early?

On the way home, Chris generously offered to stop at any cemetery I wanted to visit. Since we weren’t far from Gainesville, I knew Alta Vista was where I wanted to go.

Originally named Mule Camp Springs, Gainesville got it current name in 1821 from General Edmund P. Gaines. He was a hero of the War of 1812, in addition to a noted military surveyor and road builder.

A postcard of Gainesville’s public square, year unknown.

A nearby gold rush in the 1830s brought more settlers and the beginning of a business community. In 1849, Gainesville became established as a resort center, with people attracted to the springs. Unfortunately in 1851, much of the small city was destroyed by fire.

After the Civil War, the Georgia Southern Railroad began stopping in Gainesville, stimulating business and population growth. From 1870 to 1900, the population increased from 1,000 to over 5,000. Newly built textile mills increased revenues at the turn of the century. A tornado in 1936 nearly wiped out the town again, a topic I’ll discuss in more detail in Part II next week.

Life changed in Gainesville after World War II when businessman Jesse Jewell started the poultry industry in north Georgia. Chickens have since become the state’s largest agricultural crop. This $1 billion-a-year industry has given Gainesville the title “Poultry Capital of the World”. They even have a statue of a chicken atop a 25-foot high marble obelisk in the downtown business district.

Few cities have a chicken statue gracing its business district.

The words Alta Vista may send some of you flashing back to the 1990s when the Internet search engine Alta Vista was all the rage. The words Alta Vista are actually a Spanish/Portuguese expression meaning “a view from above.” That’s probably what the founders had in mind when they named the cemetery that.

Established in 1872, Alta Vista currently makes up about 75 developed acres. It consists of the original cemetery, a private cemetery (formerly known as Woodlawn Cemetery) and at least one family cemetery. Thanks to a recent expansion, the cemetery is still active.

Alta Vista is fairly flat without many trees.

While Alta Vista is the burial place for a number of notable people, the most prominent is Confederate General James Longstreet. You’ve probably never heard of him but ask any Civil War historian and they’ll have plenty to say.

Longstreet’s initial tie to Gainesville was that his family owned a plantation there. Born in South Carolina, Longstreet was one of the most prominent Confederate generals of the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee, under whom he served as a corp commander, called Longstreet his “Old War Horse”.

Confederate General James Longstreet’s marker is situated among his family beneath the American flag.

After graduating from West Point, Longstreet served in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec. Afterward, he married his first wife, Louise Garland. During Longstreet’s marriage to Louise, they had 10 children but only five would survive to adulthood. A scarlet fever epidemic in Richmond, Va. would devastate the couple when three of their children died within eight days of each other.

Throughout the 1850s, he served on frontier duty in the Southwest. In June 1861, Longstreet resigned his U.S. Army commission and joined the Confederate Army. He served with Lee with the Army of Northern Virginia in the Eastern Theater but also with Gen. Braxton Bragg in the Amy of the Tennessee.

Military portrait of Confederate General James Longstreet. Ulysses S. Grant, his classmate at West Point, married one of Longstreet’s cousins.

Longstreet’s talents made significant contributions to the Confederate victories at Second Bull Run (Second Manassas), Fredericksburg and Chickamauga. His most controversial service was at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he openly disagreed with Lee on the tactics employed and reluctantly supervised the disastrous infantry assault known as Pickett’s Charge. His criticism of Lee would be only one of many reasons he drew the ire of his comrades after the Civil War.

Following the Confederacy’s defeat, Longstreet moved to New Orleans where he worked as a cotton broker. He also joined the Republican Party, a move that provoked many to call him a traitor or “scalawag”. Longstreet also endorsed former Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant for President, a classmate of Longstreet at West Point that married one of Longstreet’s cousins.

In September 1874, Longstreet commanded the largely black Louisiana state police that went up against the Crescent City White League during a riot later called the Battle of Liberty Place. He was shot and briefly held prisoner during the violence. The Crescent City White League was a white supremacist organization attempting to overthrow the government of Louisiana. Federal troops eventually restored order.

The Battle of Liberty Place in 1874 was a clash between the racially integrated city police/militia and the segregationist Crescent City White League on Canal Street in New Orleans, La.

Longstreet’s role in the riot, along with his continued wish to move forward into reuniting the country, only further branded him an enemy in the eyes of his former Confederate supporters.

Fearing for his family’s safety, Longstreet and Louise moved to Gainesville to live out the rest of their days in a sort of exile. The Longstreets lived as respected citizens of Gainesville, and he continued to deflect accusations from Confederate Army general, lawyer and politician Jubal Early, and other former Confederates, intent on casting the blame for the loss at Gettysburg on Longstreet.

Longstreet was appointed deputy collector of internal revenue in Georgia in 1878 and later he was appointed postmaster. In 1880, Longstreet was nominated ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) by President Rutherford B. Hayes, a position he held until June 1881. After that, he was appointed U.S. marshal for Georgia until 1884.

The return of a Democratic administration ended Longstreet’s political career and he went into semi-retirement on a 65-acre farm near Gainesville, where he raised turkeys and planted orchards and vineyards on terraced ground that neighbors referred to jokingly as “Gettysburg.” His home in Gainesville, called Parkhill, burned to the ground in 1889. Louise Longstreet died that same year.

At the time of their marriage, James Longstreet was 76 and Helen Dortch was 34.

At the age of 76 in 1897, Longstreet married Helen Dortch, who has quite a history of her own worth reading. Only 34 when she married Longstreet, Helen lived until 1962. Together, they managed the Piedmont Hotel. On January 2, 1904, Longstreet died and was buried at Alta Vista. Louise is buried beside him. Helen is interred in the Westview Cemetery Abbey Mausoleum in Atlanta.

James Longstreet’s role in the Civil War and his later affiliation with the Republican Party is still debated to this day.

As far as I know, there are only two statues of James Longstreet in existence. One stands on the site of his former Gainesville home, Park Hill and was installed in the 1990s. The other one, installed in 1998, is at Gettysburg National Military Park and is an equestrian statue by sculptor Gary Casteel. He is shown riding his favorite horse, Hero, at ground level in a grove of trees in Pitzer Woods.

This statue of James Longstreet is located at the site of his home, Park Hill, which burned to the ground in 1889. Photo source: ExploreGeorgia.org

Longstreet is remembered in Gainesville through a few places that bear his name, including Longstreet Bridge and a portion of U.S. Route 129 that crosses the Chattahoochee River (later dammed to form Lake Lanier). Located in the restored Piedmont Hotel, the Longstreet Society is an organization and museum in Gainesville dedicated to the celebration and study of his life and career.

Next week, I’ll spend time sharing the stories of other folks buried at Alta Vista. From a circus performer to an astronaut to a poultry pioneer, there’s plenty more to discover about this special place.

The marker for Crippled Jim Smith matches his humble life as a chair mender.

 

 

Getaway to Callaway: Visiting Pine Mountain, Ga.’s Chipley Cemetery

As many of my fellow taphophiles (cemetery enthusiasts) can attest, road trips mean stopping by at least one cemetery. If we have time (and an understanding partner), we try to sneak in more.

Last October, my husband invited me to join him as he attended a retreat of his alma mater Oglethorpe University’s board of trustees. The retreat was held at the Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., about 75 miles southwest of Atlanta.

The Callaway Gardens/Warm Springs area holds special memories for me. My family moved to Georgia in 1973. When family from Ohio would come to visit us, we inevitably took them to Callaway Gardens or the Little White House at nearby Roosevelt State Park. I have many pictures of picnics with family, visits to the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel. I had a chance to revisit it on this trip!

I can remember visiting this chapel as a child with visiting family members, many of whom have since passed away.

Several retreat attendees talked about getting a massage at the spa but I knew I’d enjoy a cemetery hop more (as would my wallet). While my husband was in a meeting, I headed to Chipley Cemetery for an hour or so.

The town of Chipley was incorporated in 1882 following the extension of the Columbus and Rome Railroad a mile north of the village of Hood. Hood was renamed Chipley after Col. William Dudley Chipley, a partner in promotion of the railroad. Col. Chipley is buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Ga. The name was changed again in 1958 to Pine Mountain when Callaway Gardens opened.

A Confederate veteran wounded at Shiloh and Chickamauga before being taken prisoner at the Battle of Peachtree Creek near Atlanta, Col. W.D. Chipley spent his later years developing and expanding railroads.

Many locals still call the cemetery by its old name, Chipley Cemetery, but these days it is also referred to as Pine Mountain Cemetery. According to Find a Grave, Chipley Cemetery has around 1,300 burials. I suspect there are a number of unmarked graves there as well. It’s not far from Main Street, tucked away off the beaten path.

Below is a picture of the Leslie family plot, with only three marked graves. There may be more but unmarked.

The Leslie family plot only has three marked graves in it. Erasmus Leslie was a farmer, leaving his wife, Josephine, a widow in 1909.

The Leslie plot interested me more for the iron fence around it than the actual people buried there, I admit. While not in the best condition, it excited me because it was made by the Cincinnati-based Stewart Iron Works. I’ve featured this company in this blog before. They were known throughout the country for their fine work.

Not far from the Leslie plot is the Dunlap family plot, which also has a Stewart Iron Works fence around it.

Another iron fence made b the Stewart Iron Works of Cincinnati, Ohio. They are still in operation today.

The oldest son of Joseph T. Dunlap and Rebecca Hamilton Dunlap, Walter Fain Dunlap was a farmer in Meriwether County. He married Rosamond Dillard in 1904.

Walter Fain Dunlap died at the age of 80.

Sadly, many of their children would die in infancy. Four Dunlap children died between 1906 and 1913. Two of their children, Mary and Fay, would live past infancy. Fay married and move to Ohio, dying in 1997. I could not trace Mary past her teen years.

Walter and Rosamond Dunlap would lose at least four children in infancy.

I’m always intrigued by what people did for a living. Walter pursued farming like his father until the 1930s. Since the Great Depression made farming a very difficult existence, many turned to other careers and Walter was one of them. He is listed in both the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census records as a traveling art salesman.

This puzzled me at first until I saw that in 1940 he was a calendar salesman for the Gerlach Barklow Company of Joliet, Ill. When the company started in 1907, there was no way to mass produce color prints so each had to hand-tinted by employees. Much of the artwork on the calendars was produced by local artists, many of whom were women. Gerlach Barklow calendars were often purchased by businesses to be given to their important customers as gifts. The company closed in 1971.

Walter Dunlap might have sold this calendar to customers in 1931. I found it for sale on a web site for $2,250.

 

Nearby was a marker for Nancy Eliza Houston, who died at the age of 19. I don’t know what the cause was. She was the daughter of James O’Neal Houston and Nancy Jane Kimbrough  Houston.

Despite the fact she lived a short life, she made an impact on those around her. Her Find a Grave online memorial has a note from a woman named Judy Jackson who wrote: “I went to school with Nan and knew her since we were small. She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.”

More beauty than this Earth could hold…

John Willis Crawford saw a great deal in his life as a blacksmith in Chipley. Born in 1847, he married Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Barnhart (only 15 at the time) in 1870 and together they had at least seven children. He served in the Confederate Army in Georgia’s Third Cavalry Regiment.

John died in 1930 at the age of 83 and is buried beside some of his children. His marker was made by hand. There is no marker at Chipley for his wife, Betty, who died in 1933. She may be in an unmarked grave or buried elsewhere.

The Crawford family may have not had enough funds to purchase a more elaborate marker for their father.

The grave of dentist Dr. Thomas Penhallegon intrigued me because it was by itself next to the back fence, not close to the other graves. He didn’t spend much time in Chipley at all but his life had more twists and turns than a soap opera.

Born in Calumet, Mich., Thomas he got his dental degree from the Chicago College of Dental Surgery in 1902. He married Rose Wood in 1905 in Traverse City, Mich.

Dentist Thomas Penhallegon’s life was more complicated than his grave marker would indicate.

Rose and Thomas moved to Oregon and in 1912, he took his board exams to become a dentist in Salem, Ore. In 1914, he and a fellow dentist sued their employer, Edgar Parker, as the result of alleged injuries sustained from the use of “hydrocane,” a dental anesthetic. Both claimed they had to quit working because of their injuries. This may be why city directories note that Thomas turned to real estate as vice president of the Warrenton-Astoria Townsite Co. in Portland, Ore.

By World War I, Thomas had left Oregon for Cartersville, Ga. working as a superintendent at the Republic Iron & Steel Co. In 1919, Rose and Thomas officially divorced and in 1920, he married a Frenchwoman named Marie “May” Helm. They lived in Atlanta and he opened One Price Dental.

Rose is listed in the 1920 Census in Yakima, Wash. as a widow but living with a “parnter” named David Dodge. I have never seen this term used in census records so early. Business directories list her as “secretary treasurer” of the Warrenton-Astoria Townsite Co.

Thomas Penhallegon gave up dentistry for real estate for a while and it may have ended his marriage.

A 1914 newspaper ad (shown above) lists David Dodge as manager of their Portland office, and the 1914 business diretory lists him as married to a woman named Leona. I can only guess that Rose left Thomas for David Dodge, who left his wife for Rose. By 1930, Rose had married David Dodge and they were living in Los Angeles, Calif. She died in 1958.

In the late 1920s, Thomas and May moved to Birmingham, Ala. to help one of Thomas’ relatives who owned a foundry and cement coloring company. They remained there until the mid 1930s when they returned to Atlanta. They moved to Chipley at some point after 1935 and Thomas worked as a dentist there until his death in 1940. If May is buried with him, she has no marker.

I photographed the markers for two brothers, Willis and James Garner. I noticed that they had died within days of each other in 1895.

Willis Robin Garner died only a few days before his younger brother, James.

The parents of Robin and James were John Sledge Gardner and Althea Marion Collins Garner. They lived in a little town called Rough Edge in nearby Troup County. The couple had several children, with Robin and James being the second and third.

James Garner was the first born son of John and Althea Garner.

Althea died on January 2, 1896, only a 13 days after James. She is buried at Bass Family Cemetery in Troup County. I’m not sure why James and Robin are not buried with her. It looks like they may have all succumbed to the same illness.

It appears that John and the younger children moved to Alabama soon after but I don’t know what happened to them. A family tree on Ancestry says John died in 1905 but he is not on Find a Grave.

I did discover that eldest Garner son, John, ended up moving to Ocilla, Ga. and marrying a woman named Hazel. They named two of their sons after John’s brothers, Willis and Robin. They must have meant a great deal to John.

If I’d had more time, I would have explored more of Chipley Cemetery but I only saw about 65 percent of it. But I know I’ll be back to visit Callaway and Chipley someday. I think it has more stories I need to uncover.

Stopping by Whittaker Cemetery: Homemade Markers and Special Mementos, Part II

Last week, I shared a little of Monterey’s history and showed some of Whittaker Cemetery’s fascinating “tent” or “comb” graves. They are definitely different!

One of the reasons I chose Whittaker Cemetery to visit has to do with a historic connection. Does the last name Mudd ring a bell? If you’re a Civil War history buff, it probably went off loud and clear. Dr. Samuel Mudd treated the injured leg of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth after he fled Ford’s Theater.

The extent of Dr. Mudd’s role as a conspirator has never been completely clear. Some think he barely knew him while others feel they were quite close. However, when Booth arrived at Dr. Mudd’s Virginia home with a broken fibula, the doctor didn’t alert authorities right away. His later interviews concerning Booth were also riddled with inconsistencies. His name literally was “mud” in the eyes of many.

Dr. Samuel Mudd’s connection to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth is not entirely clear.

Dr. Mudd went on trial for his role in the assassination plot in 1865. He was convicted and escaped the death penalty by only one vote, given a sentence of life in prison. This was commuted in 1869 by President Andrew Johnson, after which Dr. Mudd returned home to Maryland. He resumed his medical practice and slowly brought the family farm back to productivity. He died in 1883 at the age of 49.

One of Dr. Mudd’s cousins was actually a resident of Monterey for the last six years of his life. A native of Baltimore, George Whitefield Mudd was only 16 when President Lincoln was assassinated. I’m sure that his cousin’s actions had an impact on his life and reputation. From the 1880 Census until his death, George moved from West Virginia to Missouri to South Carolina to finally Monterey.

According to a web site I found, some of the Mudd family didn’t know where George was buried until they were contacted by someone in Monterey in the 1980s.

George Mudd was a master mechanic for the railroad and Monterey was a repair station for trains belonging to the Tennessee Central. He and his wife, Ida Zoe Walters Mudd, had three sons. They lived a quiet life. He died in 1928 and his wish was to be buried back in Maryland. His sons, however, chose to make his final resting place in Whitaker Cemetery.

Interestingly enough, I learned that when two men from the funeral home went to Whittaker Cemetery to dig a hole for George Mudd’s grave, there was a casket already in that spot! Apparently, they buried George there anyway and the identify of the person George was placed on top of was never learned.

From reading my blog, you know I post a lot of pictures of grand monuments. They are always exciting to see. But there’s also a special place in my heart for the humbler markers made by hand. The ones not carved by a master stonemason but the markers made by someone very close to the deceased.

These homemade concrete markers for Maude and Issac Riddle, studded with colorful stones, are two of my favorites. My great-great-grandmother Louisa Claar’s marker is also a simple concrete marker with her name scratched on it by hand.

Maud Riddle outlived her husband, Issac, by seven years.

Issac’s grave is much like his wife’s, studded with colorful stones.

Here’s another homemade grave marker, etched by hand. It looks like there’s a cross and some wheat sheaves or corn stalks across the top.

Someone hand carved this marker for Logan Waddle. He’s the only Waddle in the entire cemetery.

I share this marker for Tommy Hedgecouch because it’s a modern example of an incredibly old tradition that’s been around for centuries. Graves were often marked in the past with wooden markers or crosses. When you don’t have much money, you use what you have. Unfortunately, such markers are very susceptible to the elements and don’t last very long. Few make it beyond a decade or two.

Tommy Hedgecouch’s wooden marker is a modern example of a very old tradition. It may not last beyond another decade.

There were some small, very plain markers in the back of the cemetery. The grave of  Foster Wallace (1924-1938) is hand carved and plain. The cross on it told me someone still cared.

He only lived 14 years, but Foster Wallace was not forgotten.

Also among the shadows was this homemade marker for Venie Buckner.

Venie Buckner died at the age of 18.

I found a fieldstone with the last name of Bohannon scratched on it, no dates that I could find. There are 34 Bohannons at Whittaker Cemetery. I’m sure they know who it is and still visit often since silk flowers (in great condition) are beside it.

Someone is tending to this Bohannon grave.

If you look closely, you can see someone has written something on it.

“God, I love you all…”

I was intrigued by these three homemade brick monuments, each with a little alcove to place objects. Only a simple stone with the name “Forster’ indicates who they might be.

Beyond their last name, the identity of these three are unknown.

The Good Shepherd is nestled inside this marker.

I’m also intrigued by what people like to leave on graves to show their affection for a loved one. This one below was under a tree and I normally might have walked right on past it. But something nudged me to duck under the branches and have a look.

This marker was sheltered under a low tree. The necklace hanging from the urn on top of it made me smile.

This child’s grave also has a memento draped upon it.

Charles Toney’s grave has a little metal decoration on the lamb’s neck.

This child’s grave had a mother owl and her baby beside it.

A battered owl and its baby watches over this child’s grave.

In front of the grave was this little battered angel.

This colorful red ceramic figurine sits between two white cherubs. They made a sweet trio.

For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of the front of this marker. I believe it was a mother who died fairly young. But it was all the items resting against the back of it that got my attention.

Then there are always angels. I see them at every cemetery I visit. That’s not unusual. But for some reason, the light hit this one just right when I took a picture of it.

An angel watches over the grave of Mary Louise Pettit.

I hope you’ve enjoyed wandering through Whittaker Cemetery with me. It’s a peaceful place amid the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau, a perfect haven amid life’s chaos. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and get a look at the tend graves.

 

Stopping by Whittaker Cemetery: The Tent Graves of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Part I

Some years ago, my husband and I discovered a bed and breakfast in Monterey, Tenn. called the Garden Inn at Bee Rock. The first time we stayed there was after enjoying Jazz Fest in Murfreesboro, something we used to do quite often.

Monterey is located about 94 miles east of Nashville on what’s called the Cumberland Plateau. If you’ve ever driven I-40 to or from Nashville to Knoxville, you’ve driven across the Plateau.

Once called Standing Stone, Monterey was renamed (and incorporated) in 1893 when the newly formed Cumberland Mountain Coal Company turned the town into a center of development for the coal and lumber industries coming to life in the area. A contest held to rename the town resulted in it be changed to Monterey, Spanish for “King of the Mountain”.

Cookeville members of the Order of the Red Men pictured with the famous Standing Stone (sitting on top of the big rock) in 1895 prior to it being transported to the pedestal in Monterey Park. (Photo Source: Op Walker Collection).

Bee Rock is a mountain outcropping next to the Garden Inn that people have been visiting for decades. Some take a picnic to enjoy while scanning the gorgeous mountain views. New brides get their pictures taken against the beautiful natural backdrop.

The view from Bee Rock in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo Source: Chris Rylands)

Chris and I have enjoyed visiting the inn several times since that first visit and talking to owner, Mike Kopec. A Long Island native that still holds onto his accent and gift for story telling, Mike knows how to make his guests feel at home.

Me and Mike. He makes an awesome New York style cheesecake!

In October 2016, we decided to return to the inn after a (too) long hiatus. It was a relaxing weekend and we enjoyed catching up with Mike. More important, my husband sweetly offered to take me to any nearby cemetery I wanted to visit!

This sign for Whittaker Cemetery was erected in 1989.

Whittaker Cemetery’s first official burial was in 1832, with the death of Vina Jackson Whittaker. Vina was the mother of Thomas Jefferson Whittaker, an important figure in Monterey history that I’ll get to a bit later.

I’m not sure why Vina Jackson Whitaker’s full name wasn’t inscribed on the stone, only her married name.

Whittaker Cemetery has about 1,700 memorials on Find a Grave, but I suspect there are hundreds more buried here in unmarked graves. A number of field stones can be found throughout the cemetery.

Another view of Whittaker Cemetery.

What you’ll notice after you start wandering about is a handful of a very unusual kind of grave that I’d only seen photos of in the past.

This type of marker is called a tent or comb-style grave.

The first time I saw one of these online I was baffled because they look like a small tent resting on top of the ground.

I’ve since learned that this style, often called a tent or comb-style grave, is unique to the Cumberland Plateau and a few other areas. Hundreds of them exist near Albany, Ky. and across Tennessee, mainly in the counties of Fentress, Overton, Putnam, White, Warren , Van Buren and Coffee. They’re found in limited numbers in northern Alabama and Arkansas. Whittaker Cemetery is in Putnam County.

The principal material is sandstone from the Hartselle Formation, which occurs in outcroppings in the area and in Northern Albama. Other materials used to a lesser degree are limestone, tin or metal, concrete, and on rare occasions marble. The word “comb” is an old architectural term that refers to part of a roof.

I believe these two tent graves were for children.

Variations can be seen depending on the area. In Overton County, the sides are often supported by an iron rod while in White County, they’re supported by a triangular end section of stone inserted underneath.  While some are not inscribed, others may have a separate grave marker or inscription on side of the slab rock. You can see that the two graves in the picture above have a separate grave marker, but they’re not easy to read.

So why would anyone mark a grave like this? There’s a theory that as old wooden coffins deteriorated, the earth on top of the grave sunk. Today, we have cement vaults to prevent that. A stone tent over the sunken grave would have kept animals (who grazed in cemeteries to keep them from getting overgrown) from falling into a sunken grave, and prevented plants from growing in the soil. In the days before power mowers, the easiest way to keep a cemetery mowed was to allow livestock to graze it.

Dr. Richard Finch of Tennessee Tech’s research on tent graves is quite extensive and can explain them far better than I can. You can learn more about that here and see pictures of more of them here. Finch took note of 3,158 tent graves in 404 cemeteries along the western front of the Cumberland Plateau.

The time period for tent graves generally is between the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, but it can vary a little. Unfortunately, time and nature can be unkind to this style of marker. This tent grave for S.D.L. Young is coming apart at the top.

There’s nothing inside the “tent” but leaves and dirt.

I could find out nothing about the identity of S.D.L. Young.

By contrast, I found out quite a bit about the brief life of Meekel E. France Watson. Born in 1915, she was the daughter of Tennessee natives Wade France and Mary Verbel France. She and her future husband, Herschel, both grew up in the Monterey area. They married on April 7, 1930 in Lake County, Ind. at the age of 15. Herschel was 21.

According to the 1930 Census, Meekel and Herschel were living in Chicago, Ill. where Herschel was working for the railroad.

Meekel France Watson was only 20 when she died.

Sadly, Meekel died on Dec. 9, 1935 for unknown reasons. The 1940 Census indicates Herschel stayed in Chicago, working as a switchman for the railroad. He remarried a woman named Lucille who had a son of her own. Herschel’s marker lays in front of Meekel’s upright one.

Herschel Watson outlived his first wife by several decades. He died at the age of 81.

Earlier, I mentioned Thomas Jefferson “T.J.” Whittaker. I counted about 50 Whittakers as being buried at Whittaker Cemetery on Find a Grave, but I’m sure there are plenty more.

T.J. was the son of John Whitaker III, whose father John Whitaker Jr. was born around 1761 in Pitt County, N.C., and served in the Revolutionary War. John Jr. and John III came to Putnam County early and were both there for a couple of years. What happened after that is questionable because I’ve seen various versions from different family members. Some of the Whittakers moved to Madison County, Ala.

Some of the Whittakers moved on to Alabama to settle there.

But T.J. stayed in Monterey. In 1842, he married Nancy Dillard Clark and they had several children. He must have done fairly well there because he amassed quite a bit of land over the years.

Thomas Jefferson Whittaker is buried beside his wife, Nancy.

In the 1890s, the Cumberland Mountain Coal Company arrived in Putnam County. It was T.J. Whittaker who sold several hundreds of acres of his land to the Company. I don’t know how much money he got from the deal but I’m sure it was a handsome sum at the time.

One of the more unusual tent graves I saw at Whittaker Cemetery is a bit of a puzzle because I’m not sure who it belongs to. The temporary marker in front of it indicates it belongs to Arthur Pippin, who died in 1982. That’s awfully recent for a tent grave.

Is this the grave of Arthur Pippin?

Arthur does have a military marker memorializing his service in World War I. He and his wife, Viola, had moved out to California by 1940. He died in 1982 in Idaho but his family had his remains brought back to Monterey for burial in Whittaker Cemetery.

It appears the sides of this tent grave are loosely enclosed with wooden boards.

Next week, I’ll be back at Whittaker Cemetery to share some of the more traditional gravestones and explore more about this part of the Cumberland Plateau.

A blue angel watches over Whittaker Cemetery. Photo source: Chris Rylands

Visiting Council Bluffs, Iowa’s Fairview Cemetery: On a Lonely Hillside, Part IV

Last week was devoted entirely to Fairview Cemetery’s handsome white bronze monuments. Today I finish my series on Fairview by walking among some forgotten grave markers that most visitors don’t even notice.

After you enter the front gates, and if you see a dirt road veering to the left, you’ll notice a back hillside that is much less orderly than the rest of the place. The rather sharp incline of the hillside is probably not easy to mow. The graves are scattered here and there with no real plan. And some markers have clearly seen better days.

Here’s one view of it. You can see the dirt road that goes around it.

A rather bumpy dirt road winds around the back hillside of Fairview. I wouldn’t want to attempt to drive it.

I found this sign indicating there are prairie grasses present. I don’t know if they’re trying to let it grow wild.

You can find prairie grass on the hillside.

Some graves are together in family plots, but many are alone. Several bear the names of Danish, German and Irish immigrants that came to America looking to start a new life. They were carpenters, farmers and railroad workers. Not bankers or lawmakers whose names appeared in local history books.

There’s little rhyme or reason to some of the grave placement. I wonder if some of the markers are actually still over where the burials are.

Anna L. Devore’s monument stands alone near the top of the hill.

Some graves are for children whose parents were immigrants that moved on. I was certain I would find little to nothing about either of the Reitsma children, but Ancestry surprised me.

Sypko Reitsma was born on Feb. 14, 1892 in Leuwarden in Holland to Klaas Cornelis Reitsma and Akke Swierstra Reitsma. The couple married in Rauwerderhem in 1889 and emigrated to America soon after.

The Reitsma children were buried at Fairview but their parents moved away to Portland, Ore.

Little Sypko died at the age of 7 in 1899. His brother, who was unnamed, was born and died in August of the same year. The Reitsmas had other children that did survive. By 1910, they had left Council Bluffs for Oregon where Klaas found work as a carpenter. Akke died in 1925 and Klaas died in 1952. Both are buried at Multnomah Park Cemetery in Portland, Ore.

Anna Catherine Magdalena Stelling’s stone sits by itself under a tree. A German immigrant, she was married to a fellow German immigrant named Fred Stelling. They were married in April 1898. Because the details of her will are on Ancestry, I learned that the sale of her possessions was possibly needed to pay her medical bills. Beyond her sewing machine, she didn’t have much.

Anna Catherine Magdalena Stelling’s marker sits alone under a tree.

Anna Catherine Magdalena Stelling died at the age of 37, just two years after her marriage to Fred “Fritz” Stelling.

The son of John William and Anna Christine Madison Gibler appears to be alone. I couldn’t find a name on the stone but Find a Grave identifies him as Robert Burdette Gibler, who died at the age of 2. I learned that his maternal grandparents, Charles and Sene Madison, are buried beside him in unmarked graves. His parents, who died in the 1940s, are buried at nearby St. Joseph Cemetery with their other son, Harvey, who lived much longer and died at 61.

This little boy appears to be alone but his grandparents are buried beside him.

Hazel Verna Young is alone, her parents burial site unknown. I learned that she was the daughter of L.A. and L.E. Young. She was only 11 when she died. Her obituary states she had heart disease. I could find nothing about her parents beyond their names and address in Council Bluffs.

In need of repair, Hazel Verna Young’s marker rests against its base.

I felt sadness for Harold Hall, who lived only 15 months before he died. A photo on Find a Grave of the marker from 2009 shows it as unbroken. It now lies on the ground in two pieces. There are other Halls buried at Fairview but I don’t know if any of them are his parents.

Harold Hall’s marker was not broken when photographed in 2009.

Two men are buried on the hillside who appear to have come to America in their younger days but on their own. Daniel Ashton, a native of Cheshire, England, ended up in Council Bluffs and died there are the age of 54.

A native of Cheshire, England, little is known about Daniel Ashton.

Wilhelm Budde is also buried alone. There are other Buddes buried in other Iowa cemeteries, but Wilhelm is the only one at Fairview.

I could find out nothing about Wilhelm Budde beyond what is on his broken marker.

By contrast, at the back of Fairview Cemetery is a large monument commemorating someone whose life is well documented.

The Kinsman monument is surrounded by four large cannons, 32-pounder seacoast guns cast at West Point Foundry in 1829. The markings on the muzzle face show the initials of the inspector and the foundry registration number.

Born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, Canada, William Henry Kinsman came to Iowa in 1854 and worked as a lawyer in Council Bluffs until the Civil War broke out in April 1861. After enlisting in the Union Army, he was appointed as major of the 23rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry. By 1862, he’d been promoted to colonel and commander of the regiment.

Kinsman’s war comrades were behind the effort to have his remains returned to Council Bluffs. Major General Grenville Dodge presided over the dedication ceremony in 1902.

Col. Kinsman was killed in action near Vicksburg, Miss. during the Vicksburg Campaign while leading his regiment in an assault on Confederate positions along the Black River. The battle, one of a series conducted by General Ulysses S. Grant prior to boxing the Confederate Army in at Vicksburg, was important because it compelled the Confederates to abandon any hope of defeating Grant, forcing them back into the Vicksburg fortifications.

This inscription describes Col. William Kinsman’s role in the Battle of Black River.

At the urging of his war comrades, Col. Kinsman’s body was removed from the battlefield where he was originally buried and re-interred in Council Bluffs. In 1902, the monument was erected over his grave to honor him and all Union soldiers who lost their lives in the war.

Colonel Kinsman’s monument is definitely impressive and a fitting tribute. But I couldn’t help thinking about the many people buried on that lonely hillside with little beyond their markers. Some broken, some all alone. Some with no markers at all.

As I end my series on Fairview Cemetery, I hope that those who visit the Kinsman monument would also spend some time visiting these seemingly forgotten markers on the hillside to honor those buried there. They were someone’s little girl or boy at one time. Someone’s mother, father, brother or sister.

Their lives mattered just as much.

Visiting Council Bluffs, Iowa’s Fairview Cemetery: The Beauty of White Bronze, Part III

Last week, I talked about some of the many tree-style monuments at Fairview Cemetery. This week, I’m featuring white bronze markers because Fairview has a number of them. I’ve written about white bronze before but let me give you a refresher course.

What is white bronze? Kevin Ladd of Stephen F. Austin University does a very good job at explaining it all but I’ll try. White bronze is actually not bronze, but is made up of mostly zinc, with different amounts of copper and tin. Today, zinc is often used in jewelry as a substitute for nickel. As you can see in the picture below, it has a bluish gray look to it.

A native of Virginia, Solonia Clatterbuck Doty died at the age of 37. Her husband, Isaac, was a Civil War veteran. This is a good example of a smaller white bronze monument.

Made by the Monumental Bronze Co. of Bridgeport, Conn. from 1874 to 1914, these markers were sold with the claim that they would last longer, cost about a third of an equivalent marker carved from stone, and look modern. It was called white bronze as a marketing ploy to make it sound more attractive. You selected exactly what you wanted from a catalog and could place an order with a local sales agent.

A reader who saw last week’s blog contacted me with some interesting information on Monumental Bronze salesmen. Men who sold white bronze in the Seattle, Wash. and Portland, Ore. areas continued to sell stone markers as well. In addition to selling from a catalog, they often purchased a white bronze themselves and had it on a grave at a local cemetery so clients could see one for themselves. So it’s possible Lawrence Kelly (mentioned last week) could have sold white bronze monuments in Council Bluffs.

This is just one example of the many white bronze monuments you could choose from, tailored to meet your exact requirements.

The Monumental Bronze Co. operated offices in Detroit and Des Moines. They were quite popular in the Midwest but I rarely see them in the Southeast. If you look at the base of one, you can sometimes find out exactly where it was produced.

This is on the base of one of Fairview’s white bronze monuments. Western White Bronze Company opened in Des Moines in 1886 and closed in 1908. In 1914, the government took over the plant to manufacture munitions during World War I.

The company mass produced them using molds. Individual sections could be bolted on so custom panels with text or symbols could be added. Customers could change the panels later if other family members died and could be laid to rest at their monument.

White bronze monuments weather very well and often look as good today as they did when they were first installed. They age better than marble, and are equal to the lasting qualities of granite. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like them so much. The inscriptions don’t wear off.

White bronze markers are actually hollow, and consist of vertical panels held together by screws at the corners. If you tap on it, you can hear the metallic hollow sound. They came in all manner of shapes and sizes from very small to huge monuments. I’ve seen many variations and they always fascinate me.

Josie Lyman was the wife of Joseph Lyman, congressman (1885-1889) and lawyer, who practiced in Council Bluffs. Above her name you can see the lily of the valley, a symbol of rebirth.

So what brought white bronze markers to an end? World War I came and the demand for metal for munitions stopped production. After the war, demand for these monuments faded but Monumental Bronze kept making individual panels for family members who died after the monuments were ordered.

The company made castings for automobiles and radios until it closed in 1939, ending a unique chapter in funerary art. I’m not the only person who wishes they still existed because of their versatility. They really do stand the test of time and are great resources for genealogists.

This page from a Monumental Bronze catalog shows just a handful of the emblems you could choose from. Notice the lyre that’s featured on the Lyman monument.

The most common style of white bronze monument I’ve seen is the one pictured below. It can be small or quite large. I could spend an entire blog post dissecting this one for Anders “Andy” Ellitsgaard. I’ve included the images on its sides.

Anders “Andy” Ellitsgaard’s cause of death remains a bit of a mystery.

A native of Denmark, Anders “Andy” Ellitsgaard arrived in America in 1880 at the age of 20. He married Minnie Jensen, also a Danish immigrant, sometime after her arrival in 1887. She may have been from his village in Denmark. In 1890, she was pregnant with their child.

At first, I thought Andy might have died while in the military.

Andy passed away on June 23, 1890. At first I thought it was probably from wounds sustained in the military because his monument says “He fell while on post of duty, and let the world forget him not.” But I now believe he was in some kind of railroad accident.

“Gone Home” with the crown above it was one of many sayings or phrases one could choose. If Andy had a policy through Banner Lodge No. 56, it might have paid for the monument.

Andy’s monument indicates he was a member of Banner Lodge No. 56, which was a part of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen. It was a railroad fraternal benefit society and trade union from the 1870s into the early 1900s. Banner Lodge No. 56 was based in Stanberry, Mo. and had members in the Council Bluffs area.

I’ve seen many monuments depicting this scene so it must have been quite popular.

Another frequently chosen motif was the ivy-covered log cross. There are even logs at its base. Not surprising since Andy was cut down in his prime.

Andy never got to see his son, also named Anders, who was born just a few months later. Minnie remarried and moved to Colorado with Anders.

The white bronze monument for Wilheminne “Minnie” Klopping is similar to Andy’s but a bit fancier. A number of images adorn the sides.

A native of Germany, Minnie Klopping was 44 when she died. You can see that the finial at the top looks to be broken.

Minnie and Frederick were both German immigrants. I’m not sure if they had any children because records are spotty. In 1886, Frederick remarried to Louise Dreier and they had at least six children. Both Frederick and Louise are buried at Fairview beside Minnie.

A woman holding an anchor was one of the motifs one could choose from. It often meant hope or eternal life. Another motif was a woman pointing upward, which is also on this monument.

This is the first time I’ve seen kneeling angels on a white bronze monument.

There’s even an inscription on one side in German that I was able to translate (thanks to Google). It reads: “But I know that my Savior lives and he will resurrect me from the earth.

A white bronze monument enabled families to choose many different ways to commemorate their loved one. Even in their own language.

This next monument is a similar style but was purchased for a mother and her daughter, who died four years apart.

Anna and her daughter Leuella died four years apart.

A native of Michigan, John Sylvester Flageolle was 24 when he married Anna A. Homer in Council Bluffs on Jan. 13, 1882. She was 18, born and raised in the Dakota Territory. She gave birth to their first child, Leuella, in January 1883. The little girl died only eight months later on Aug. 8, 1883. It’s likely the portion of the monument seen below was created soon after Leuella died.

This plate was created for the baby, Leuella Flageolle, who died in 1883.

James and Anna had two more children, Pearl and William, before Anna died on June 9, 1887. I believe that this was when this inscription was added to honor Anna’s life.

Anna died in 1887, having had two more children with James. This plate was added after her death, commemorating her life and little Leuella’s.

One of the more detailed motifs was chosen for this monument, an angel guiding a ship of some kind with a reclining woman or child on a bed. There’s one other white bronze monument with the same motif at Fairview. I’ve not seen it anywhere else.

An angel appears to be guiding a ship bearing the deceased toward a new horizon.

In 1892, James married Anna’s older widowed sister, Lavinia Homer Rolland. She had two children of her own. They moved to the Dakota Territory and later settled in Colorado. They had five children together. James died in 1944 and Lavinia died in 1941.

Next week, I’ll wrap up my series on Fairview Cemetery by exploring the back hillside where some of the loneliest vistas are found.