Mainely Cemetery Hopping: Visiting Colonial Pemaquid’s Old Burying Ground, Part II

Happy New Year! I took a little break during the holidays but I’m back with more from Maine. When I last wrote, I shared my visit to Colonial Pemaquid’s Old Burying Ground near Bristol.

I don’t often come in contact with the living while I’m meandering through a cemetery but I did here. A gentleman walking his dog came over and asked if I was hunting for family. I told him about my hobby and he confided that he liked visiting cemeteries as well!

Family obelisks can present some invaluable information for genealogists. Sometimes you can find the history of an entire generation on one big marker. Unfortunately, the dates and names may be all you find.

A good example of this is the obelisk for the Geyer family, with information for seven family members on it. The main couple were Captain Thomas Geyer (born around 1814 in Friendship, Maine) and his wife, Nancy (born around 1818, also in the Friendship area). They married around 1835 and settled in Bristol where they had several children.

The Geyer obelisk holds almost all of the information I could find on the family.

The 1850 Census lists Thomas as a sailor living with Nancy and five children. Beyond that, I could find little about him. His marker shares that he died at the age of 39 on March 26, 1855 in “Aux Cayes”, which is now known as Les Cayes, a port city in Haiti. Whether he was lost at sea or died of illness is unknown. The Masonic symbol above his name indicates he was involved in that civic organization.

Capt. Thomas Geyer died at the age of 39 in Haiti. Whether it was at sea or from illness is unknown. Nancy did not remarry and stayed in Bristol.

Nancy stayed on in Bristol with two of her younger children, Arthur and Edward. She died in 1878 at the age of 60. Arthur and Edward both lived long lives.

On another side are listed three of their children: Arthur, Hannah, and Sullivan. Arthur, born in 1850, died in 1927 at the age of 77. But Hannah and Sullivan both died in childhood. Hannah was nine at the time of her death while Sullivan was 10. Edward is buried in a different cemetery in Maine.

Of these three Geyer siblings, only Arthur lived into adulthood.

On the other side are two cenotaphs (meaning the person is not buried in the cemetery) for two of Thomas and Nancy’s daughters. Eliza Geyer Perkins died at sea at the age of 19 in 1856, the wife of J.W. Perkins. He is listed in the 1850 Census as a sailor and she was likely with him when she died.

Eliza Geyer Perkins died at sea while her sister, Frances, died in Chicago. Neither are buried at this cemetery.

Frances Geyer Fitch died in Chicago at the age of 29 in 1877. Her husband, Captain J.B. Fitch, served during the Civil War in Companies D and E, 20th Maine Infantry. He died in 1893 in Chicago and is buried in Graceland Cemetery. I’m guessing Frances is possibly buried there as well. They had three children. Son Joseph was a superior court judge in Chicago.

Capt. James B. Fitch married Frances Ellen Geyer in Bristol, Maine but they spent her last years in Chicago, Ill.

The Partridge monument only lists five names. But the family was a key one in the Bristol/Pemaquid area. Born around 1806, James W. Partridge farmed a few hundred acres. He married Sarah Erskine, daughter of sailor Ebenezer and Jane Saunders Erskine. It looks like they had eight children, seven of which lived to adulthood. James died in 1888 at the age of 72 while Sarah died at the age of 78 from “dibeatus” in 1900.

James and Sarah Partridge raised their large family in Bristol, Maine near Pemaquid.

Henry, whose name appears by itself on one side of the monument, probably never married. Born in 1859, he is listed as single on the 1900 Census and is living with older brother James E. Partridge and his family. When he died at the age of 58 in 1919, the cause of death was listed as “cerebritis” with “melancholia” as a contributing factor. He may have suffered from lupus. In his father’s papers, in which James made certain his wife and children were all remembered, Henry is listed as the executor of his will.

Henry Clarke Partridge may have suffered from lupus.

Two names are listed on another side of the monument. Eben Howard Partridge, who may have been James and Sarah’s first child, was born in January 1844 and died in October 1846. Listed at the bottom is their second child, Jennie Partridge Lewis. Born just a few days before her brother Eben died in October 1846, Jennie was possibly Bristol’s postmistress at one time.

Jennie married Nathan Lewis in 1868 but it doesn’t appear they had any children. She died in 1895 of typhoid fever at the age of 48. Nathan, who is buried elsewhere, died in 1911 of a cerebral thrombosis.

Jane “Jennie” Elizabeth Partridge Lewis died on typhoid fever in 1895.

There was one more surprise left at the Old Burying Ground. Many weeks after I had visited, I discovered there was someone famous buried there. It wasn’t until I pulled up Find a Grave that I found out. And somewhere amid all my photos, I had managed to get a picture of his marker (albeit off to the side).

Actor Paul Reed is buried with his wife, Judy.

Born in June 1909 as Sidney Kahn in Highland Falls, N.Y., Paul Reed was one of seven children born to Russian-Jewish immigrants. As a teenager who lost his father early in life, Paul had to work hard. While selling gum in vaudeville shows, he settled on an acting career and worked first as a radio singer. He took his first Broadway bow at age 31 in a 1940 revival of the musical operetta “The Gondoliers.” Paul had parts in the operettas “Trial by Jury” (1940) and “La Vie, Parisienne” (1942), as well as “Up in Central Park” (1945) and “Carnival in Flanders” (1953).

It was his participation in four Broadway musicals, “Guys and Dolls” (1950), “The Music Man” (1957), “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1961) and “Promises, Promises” (1968), that got him attention.

However, Paul is best known for his role as Police Captain Paul Brock in the hit TV show “Car 54, Where Are You?” during the 1950s and early 1960s. He was praised for his trademark “slow burn” in which he gradually went from slightly irritated to exploding with anger.

That’s Al Lewis on the left (later known as Grandpa on “The Munsters”) with Paul Reed, who starred as Captain Paul Brock on TV’s “Car 54, Where Are you?”.

Although Reed retired from acting in the 1970s, he could still be seen in commercials well into the 1990s. He died in 2007 at the age of 97 in Greenwich, Conn. His wife, dancer June Reed, died seven weeks later and is buried beside him. They had one son, Paul Jr., a professional jazz and rock drummer who’s also written music for Broadway shows.

Next time, I’ll be further up the coast with more cemeteries from Maine. I hope you’ll come back to join me.


Mainely Cemetery Hopping: Visiting Colonial Pemaquid’s Old Burying Ground, Part I

Last week, I finished up my series on Portland, Maine’s Eastern Cemetery. That one was hard to say goodbye to!

The next day we traveled up to Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum, then moved on to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I love lighthouses of all shapes and sizes, and this one is top notch because you can actually go up into it. Not all of them are in such good shape or have full public access. My husband, son and I also spent a good bit of time climbing all over the rocks above the crashing waves.

The original lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by President John Quincy Adams and built that year. Due to poor construction, it was rebuilt in 1835. The keeper’s house was added later.

However, I knew I had a good chance of stopping by another cemetery on our way back up the Pemaquid peninsula. I persuaded my husband to drive over to Colonial Pemaquid so  I could get a good look at the Old Burying Ground (that’s what they call it). We were hopeful we could find a place to grab dinner afterward.

Located in New Harbor near Bristol, the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site includes the reconstructed Fort William Henry, along with archaeological remains of 17th- and 18th-century village buildings and fortifications. Pemaquid was a colonial settlement dating to the early decades of the 17th century, with a succession of conflicts leading the site to be attacked on several occasions and entirely abandoned twice. The area was used by English and French traders and fishermen on a seasonal basis for some time, and the first documented permanent residence was established in 1628.

Colonial Pemaquid has a museum with artifacts found on the site including musket balls, coins, and pottery. But it was closed by the time we got there. My husband and son were eager to explore Pemaquid Beach next door and we spotted a seafood restaurant where we could dine later. I headed over to the Old Burying Ground.

The tide was going out when we got to Pemaquid Beach.

With a view of Pemaquid Beach, the Old Burying Ground is a lovely place to explore. At the time we were there, the grass had been cut in some areas but not in others so getting great pictures of some of the markers wasn’t easy. But it was still amazing. As it often does, being in such an old cemetery makes me feel like I’m going back to another time and place.

A very helpful sign explained that while the oldest dated cemetery marker comes from 1734, stones from as far back as 1652 have been found in earlier times. Unmarked field stones are plentiful. There’s also a mention of Indian attacks in the village during the 1600s that required mass burials. Currently, there are 200 names recorded of people buried at the Old Burial Ground but there are many, many more that remain anonymous.

The Old Burying Ground has a variety of marker styles represented, from skulls to willow-shaded urns to modern recent ones. The familiar flying skull is on the slate marker of Ann Rodgers, who died at the age of 41. She even has her name on the back, too.

The familiar winged skull adorns Ann Rodgers’ marker.

I’m not sure why Ann’s name is on the back of her marker.

By looking on Ann’s Find a Grave memorial, I found the full inscription:

Here lies buried ye body of
Mrs Ann Rodgers
the wife of Lieut
Patrick Rodgers
Died July 1st 1958
in the 41st year
of her age

There was also a winged face marker (called a “soul effigy”) represented by the stone of Margaret Fletcher, who was married to a sea captain.

Margaret Fletcher was married to a sea captain.

Here lies buried
the body of Mrs
Margaret Fletcher
wife to Capt
Thomas Fletcher
died May 15 1767
Aged 43 years

The sign also noted that like Eastern Cemetery, the Old Burying Ground includes stones from a reputable stonecutter. His name was Joseph Sikes, and he came from a family of stone cutters. Because his work is so similar to that of his son Elijah’s, it is often hard to tell who did what stone. Sometimes Elijah marked his stones with an “E.S.” at the bottom.

While not born in Maine, Joseph probably moved from Massachusetts to the coast of Maine. His work spanned the 1770s to about 1800. It can be found in cemeteries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.

The Sikes style is almost folk art-esque, giving it a primitive charm. They favored oval-shaped heads, semi-circle eyes, flowers, grapes, vines, moons, hearts, and the words “momento mori” (Latin for “remember death”).

The marker for Morgan McCaffrey is not in good condition due to the poor quality of the stone. The elements have also taken their toll. Fortunately, I was able to find out a little about him.

The marker for Morgan McCaffrey is in poor condition due to the elements, but its folk art motifs are still charming.

According to his Find a Grave memorial, Morgan was married to Anna Little, the daughter of James Little. Her father was killed by Indians at Fort Frederick on Sept. 2, 1747, according to the Massachusetts Archives.

James Little was granted land in 1736 from Great Britain under the Waldo Patent. This was a document granting title to 36 square miles of land in Maine. It’s named after businessman Samuel Waldo, who eventually gained control of the patent. It was previously known as the Muscongus Patent because one of the boundaries was a river by that name.

After James’ death, Anna and her sister Sarah (along with their husbands) inherited and sold this land. Morgan died in 1768 at the age of 35. His daughter, Jennie, is said to have written his epitaph. Jennie had also been recently devastated by the loss of a brother, who drowned in a well near their home.

Behold my dad is gone,
And leaves me here to mourn;
But hope in Christ I have,
That he and I will save.

Thomas and Esther Holden share a marker done by Joseph or Elijah, the long oval faces at the top being a trademark. Had it not been for Find a Grave and a book, I wouldn’t have known their names because the stone is in very poor condition and spotted with lichen.

Thomas and Esther Holden died within a year of each other and share the same marker.

Fortunately, you can still see the faces and the words “momento mori” at the top. It looks like Thomas’ face may feature a mustache. You can also faintly see what looks like two hearts merged into one below the faces.

“Momento Mori” (translated to mean “Remember Death”) was frequently carved on markers from the 18th century.

Their inscription reads:

Behold we are confined to dust,
And here we must remain,
Till Jesus who redeemed us
Bids us rise again.

Thomas died at the age of 75 on May 19, 1784 while Elizabeth died at the age of 64 on Feb. 6, 1785.

It’s believed that Joseph Sikes died sometime around 1801. While he spent his life in the Maine/Massachusetts area, Elijah moved to Vermont then went west. He’s buried with his wife, Lucretia, in Brookfield, Ohio. His own marker is quite plain compared to those he carved.

I’ll be back soon with more stories from the Old Burying Ground at Pemaquid. In the meantime, with Christmas only a few days away, I hope you have a happy holiday season!

The Maine Thing: Discovering Portland’s Eastern Cemetery, Part III

Having spent the last two weeks focusing mostly on stone cutter Bartlett Adams, I’ll wrap up my series on Eastern Cemetery by looking at some of the other markers and their different styles.

Mary Green’s head and foot stone mark the oldest known burial at Eastern Cemetery of May 23, 1717. The inscription says, “Daughter of Cap Nathaniel and Mrs. Mary Green of Boston Aged 54 years.” Records indicate she was born on May 3, 1663 and never married.

Mary Green’s early 18th-century slate marker features the winged skull, a popular theme at the time.

I’ve featured pictures of winged skull markers that I’ve taken in Charleston, but it’s worth revisiting the subject since this was the style those stone cutters were trying to emulate. Why such a gruesome symbol? It all has to do with the time period in which they were made. Most were made in the 17th century and into the 18th at the behest of the Puritans that lived in New England.

The Puritans did not like putting religious symbols on grave markers, such as crosses, angels or Christ figures. You never saw them in their meetinghouses either. They were very  much against attributing human form to spiritual beings. So why the winged skull?

Considering the average lifespan at this time could be quite brief, being conscious of life’s fragile nature was paramount. The Puritans thought you needed to make the most of your time on earth to ensure where you wound up after you died. This carried over into reminding the loved ones that you left behind when they came to visit your grave. That winged skull would remind them that living a good life would result in ending up in Heaven after they died or in agony in hell if they didn’t.

Sarah Brown Milk and Anne Dunn Deering Milk’s markers are another example of the winged skull motif. They were both the wife of James Milk.

James Milk was husband to first Sarah Brown Milk and later Anne Dunn Deering Milk.

Anne (then Dunn) first married John Deering, a ship master. Like his father, Deering commanded the vessels of his cousin, Sir William Pepperell. Deering died at sea in 1758. They had two sons who lived to adulthood.

A native of Boston, James Milk is called “Deacon James Milk” on his marker. He married Sarah Brown before 1738. She died in 1761 after they had at least three children. He then married the widow Anne Deering, who died in 1769. James died a few years later in 1772.

Sometimes just a skull and bones (sans wings) were enough. When I posted the picture of gravemarkers of two children on the blog’s Facebook page, I got some shocked reactions. It’s even more dramatic in person.

Jonathan Dow died at the age of 11.

Why put a skull and crossbones (more associated with pirates) on a child’s grave? I can only surmise that this was a favorite motif of the stone cutter doing the markers in Portland at this time. Bartlett Adams didn’t arrive until 1800 and he didn’t usually do carvings like this.

I’ve read that Spanish cemeteries once had the skull and crossbones at the entrance to indicate it was a place of death. Others have mentioned the Knights Templar but that doesn’t fit in this case, in my opinion. Perhaps it’s reflective of the illness that visited the Dow family since the two children died so close together.

In the case of Jonathan Dow, the motif is a skull with teeth biting into crossed bones. He died at the age of 11 on Christmas eve of 1773, the youngest son of Jabez and Dorothy Woods Dow.

It’s probable that the same illness that killed Mercy also took the life of her brother Jonathan a month later.

Sadly, Jonathan’s younger sister, Mercy, died about a month earlier at the age of two. Her marker also featured the skull and bones. She is listed as the youngest daughter of Jabez and Dorothy.

The winged skull eventually gave way to the winged cherub or “soul effigy”, which sometimes involved the face of the deceased with wings on either side. This indicates the movement toward more acceptance of using a human likeness on a gravestone, although the winged skull remained popular. Bartlett Adams was fond of carving these winged cherubs.

Two very good examples of these are the markers of Stephen and Tabitha Bragdon Longfellow. That last name might ring a bell. They were the great-great-grandparents of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote such poems as “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “Evangeline.”

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s great-great-grandparents are buried at Eastern Cemetery. (Photo source: Julia Margaret Cameron, Wikimedia Commons)

Stephen and Tabitha are thought to have lived their entire lives in Gorham, Maine, about 15 miles west of Portland. Stephen was quite active in local government as town clerk, clerk of the Proprietors of Common Lands, clerk of the Judicial Court, and Register of Probate for Cumberland County.

Stephen Longfellow (on the right) died 13 years after his wife, Tabitha.

Their grandson, Stephen, was elected to represent Maine as At-Large in the U.S. State House of Representatives from 1823 to 1825. He also served as a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1814, and a member of the Maine State House of Representatives in 1826. Stephen’s second son was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was born in Portland in 1807.

Sometimes there was no decoration at all on markers. This stone for three sons (William, Daniel and Smith) of Daniel and Nabby tells a story that needed no further illustration. They died between 1805 and 1815, five years apart. All of them were in their early 20s and appeared to have died at sea.

Three of the Cobb sons perished at sea, five years apart.

Far from their native land,
They perished in the drowning deep
Without a friend to stretch the hand
And none their early fate to weep.

I could find out nothing about the circumstances surrounding their deaths, but it’s likely that only William’s body is buried at Eastern Cemetery. If Daniel died “at St. Bartholomew’s” and Smith was “lost at sea”, their bodies were probably never recovered. Such events were quite common in seaside towns like Portland.

I cannot end my visit to Eastern Cemetery without mentioning a brand new marker that sits near the back wall. It belongs to William “Billy” Brown, whose story is quite different than most of the people buried there.

A small portion of Eastern Cemetery was used for slave burials, and most are unmarked. Only in February 2017 was the stone for Billy Brown created and installed, and it took much effort to make that happen. In 2013, local historians Larry Glatz and Herb Adams found out about Billy and worked to make things right. The full story can be found in this Bangor Daily News article.

A “powder boy” injured in the line of duty, Billy Brown didn’t receive his much-deserved pension until after he died.

Thought to have been born in Baltimore in 1786, Billy joined the Navy in childhood. Such a thing was not unusual at the time. Billy may have started life as a slave, but that’s not certain. He held the job of “powder boy” on the U.S.S. Constellation during the little-known “Quasi War” with France from 1798-1800. Powder boys hefted buckets of gunpowder from the magazine to the cannons, deadly work for a child.

Billy was injured when a musket ball hit his left foot near the ankle joint, which never healed properly. Billy served for about another 15 months and survived at least one other battle with the French in February 1800 when more than a dozen of his shipmates died.

Billy married Matilda C. March in Portland on May 31, 1829. They lived near the Abyssinian Meetinghouse, considered the center of African-American life in Portland. Billy worked for some years as a sea cook and when ashore, he drove cargo around town in a wagon. But his old injury made it hard to work and he sometimes had to ask for help from friends to get by.

William “Billy” Brown served on the U.S.S. Constellation. (Photo source: National Archives)

Between 1844 and 1854, Brown petitioned the government five times for a pension. He enlisted the help of pension agent Freeman Bradford. In those days, no federal Department of Veterans Affairs existed so each veteran’s pension was handed out by separate acts of Congress.

Finally, on Aug. 1, 1854, Congress passed An Act for the Relief of William Brown. The act gave Billy $96 a year, retroactive to when he’d first applied a decade earlier. Sadly, he had died in May of that year and was buried in a pauper’s grave in Eastern Cemetery. But his wife and their family were able to benefit from his pension.

A printed copy of the act giving William Brown a pension. (Photo source: National Archives.)

When Glatz and Adams took up the cause to get Billy a proper marker, they faced as many roadblocks as Billy had when he sought his pension. But thanks to their perseverance, Billy’s grave is now properly marked (although the conflict in which he fought was left off by the government engraver) and people can stop to honor him when they visit Eastern Cemetery.

There are many stories still left to share from Eastern but that would take up more space and time than this blog allows. I hated having to say goodbye to head to our hotel before we attended a Portland Seadogs game that evening, but I knew I’d been blessed to even have an hour there to see and learn what I did.


The Maine Thing: Discovering Portland’s Eastern Cemetery, Part II

Last week, I introduced you to stonemason Bartlett Adams, who operated a shop in Portland, Maine for nearly 30 years. Much of his work can still be seen today at Portland’s Eastern Cemetery.

Among Adams’ signature accents was a simple rosette. You can see an example of this on the top of the marker for Margaret Newman, who died at the age of three in 1801.

The simple rosette at the top of Margaret Newman’s gravestone is a trademark of Bartlett Adams.

As I noted earlier, Adams was also quite partial to urns. The markers for Benjamin and Sarah Larrabee are prime examples. The husband and wife died about 10 years apart but their markers are almost exactly the same, with a sweeping weeping willow frond hanging over an urn.

Born in 1734 in Falmouth, Mass. (which later became Portland, Maine), Benjamin married Sarah Weeks Brackett in 1763. He died in 1809 at the age of 75. Sarah died about 10 years later in 1819 at the age of 85 and is listed as Benjamin’s “relict” (another word for “widow”) on her marker.

Benjamin and Sarah Larrabee had two sons and a daughter. Several Larrabees are buried at Eastern but it’s uncertain if their children are among them.

On other occasions, he carved an urn by itself. Ann Hale’s marker is just one example. Beneath her name and death date are the Latin words “Hine lachrymis!” which means “Hence these tears. ” I didn’t find out until after my visit what exactly the inscription at the bottom said:

From death’s arrest could virtue save,
Or Love obtain a wish’d reprieve,
Thou, Anne, has’t scap’d a youthful grave
Nor had Heaven so soon to grieve.

I first thought that the initials at the top stood for “Ms.” but Ron Romano explained it to me. It stands for “Memoria Sacrum”, which is Latin for “In Sacred Memory”. The initials also appear on other markers Adams made, including the ones for his sons George and Bartlett Jr.

Sometimes Adams combined several elements at the same time. He did this on the marker for Brigadier General Francis Osgood, who served in the Maine Militia during the War of 1812.

The marker for Brigadier General Francis Osgood contains several familiar motifs from the urn to the winged face.

Adams goes to great lengths for this marker, including a portrait of the General supported by angel’s wings as part of an urn. Flowering vines climb up the sides. At the bottom, you can read three lines of the inscription before the rest is swallowed up by the ground.

O, ever honor’d, ever dear Adieu,
How many tender names are lost in you,
Keep safe, O Tomb, thy precious trust.

Adams had an affection for certain images and the rising (or setting sun) was one you can find on two markers at Eastern. The motif can mean both the beginning and end of life, or the journey to Heaven. The marker for Lucy Pierce, wife of Eli Pierce, is probably the best example.

Lucy Pierce was married to Eli Pierce. She died at the age of 30.

If you look closely at the horizon of the sunburst, it almost looks as if the sun is peeking over the edge. At the bottom of the marker is an inscription that was quite popular at the time.

Remember me as you pass by
For as you are so once was I
And as I am so you must be.

Adams married Charlotte Neal in 1803. They had seven children but six of them would predecease their parents. He only lived to see one of his daughters marry and bear him a grandchild. This daughter died shortly after.

Three of Bartlett and Charlotte’s children have markers at Eastern.  The most elaborate is the one he made for his firstborn son who was named after him, Bartlett Adams Jr. He was born in 1806 and lived about five months.

The marker for Bartlett Adams’ firstborn son is one of his most elaborate. Notice that this time “Memoria Sacrum” is spelled out.

From what I’ve read, the image at the top of the marker is meant to reflect Adams’ interpretation of his family crest. It’s quite intricately carved with two spheres separated by a diagonal band with three birds on it. I have to wonder if he was also referring to the idea of little Bartlett’s spirit flying from one world to the next.

At the bottom of the marker is an inscription that seems to echo with the pain of a parent’s anguish.

Betwixt his birth & death, “HOW SHORT THE SPACE?”

Beyond working hard in his shop, Adams (according to Ron Romano) made a monetary pledge for construction of the First Parish Church in 1825. He also invested in the Portland Observatory and had a place on the board of the Charitable Mechanics Association. Clearly, he was involved in his community.

The small stone in the foreground is all that marks the Adams’ family tomb for Bartlett, Charlotte and their daughter Maria Caroline Adams Rogers, who died two weeks after giving birth to her first child. (Photo source: Ron Romano, Find a Grave.)

You might think that a man of Adams’ talents would have a grand monument of his own, but sadly he does not. He died in 1828 when he was 51. He and Charlotte are buried in an underground tomb. I am using Ron’s picture from Find a Grave because mine wasn’t as good. The original ledger stone that marked the top of the tomb is gone. The stone in the foreground marks the tomb’s entrance.

In Romano’s research on Adams, he discovered an estimated 1,800 markers made in the stonecutter’s shop in cemeteries throughout Maine in Gray, Harpswell and Buxton. He even found a number of them in a Nova Scotia cemetery.

In a Bangor Daily News article, Romano said it took two or three days to cut an average stone. Adams had two or three men working for him once he got established, and he was in business in Portland for nearly 30 years. That leaves thousands more stones to discover, Romano thinks.

“I know there’s way more out there that I haven’t seen yet,” he said.

Next week, I’ll finish my series on Eastern Cemetery by examining some other markers that feature the flying skulls and crossbones made popular during the Puritan era.

The Maine Thing: Discovering Portland’s Eastern Cemetery, Part I

Planning our family vacations is a challenge I relish. When we decided on Maine for the summer of 2017, I knew we’d be visiting a cemetery hopper’s paradise.

Maine is not new territory to me. This would be my fifth adventure to the Pine Tree State. But one trip just isn’t sufficient, there’s too much to see and savor. My fellas were eager to see Acadia National Park, a place I’d only spent one day in. Most of my time has been spent on the Southern coast towns of Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, and Old Orchard Beach.

View of the Portland’s harbor at Fort Allen Park on a sunny June day.

I wasn’t a taphophile when I last visited Maine in 2002, so I got to work on a list of cemeteries I wanted to see along the way. One that was at the top of the list was Portland’s Eastern Cemetery.

Established in 1668, Eastern Cemetery is the oldest historic landscape in the city and is home to around 4,000 burials. Most cemeteries I visit that people would consider “very old” in the South are from the late 1700s, so I was very excited.

I got in touch with Ron Romano, who helped start the group Spirits Alive in 2006 to better care for and raise awareness of Eastern Cemetery. Since he’d be attending a meeting of the Association for Gravestone Studies in Alabama during the time we planned to visit Portland, he put me in the capable hands of Vana Carmona. This was one cemetery I didn’t want to wander alone without some guidance.

Eastern Cemetery is Portland, Maine’s oldest cemetery.

I met up with Vana after we landed in Portland and had grabbed lunch. She’s an incredibly upbeat person who gets just as excited about old cemeteries as I do. That’s always a plus.

It doesn’t take long to notice that the grave markers have much in common with the ones I’ve seen in Boston and Charleston. Winged skulls and angels from the 1700s are frequent motifs along with urns and floral themes into the early 1800s.

Portland’s Eastern Cemetery covers about four acres.

One of the awesome things about Eastern Cemetery is that we know the identity of the stone cutter who carved many of the markers there: Bartlett Adams. You can read about him in Ron’s book, Early Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams. If you visit the Spirits Alive website, you can find a spreadsheet Ron created that lists exactly which markers Adams carved (very helpful to me as I wrote this).

Born in 1776 in Massachusetts, Bartlett Adams learned his trade as a teenage apprentice for his brother-in-law. In 1800, at age 24, he came to Portland and advertised his skills in the local newspaper. He mentioned he had a “flock of Italian marble and Quincy slate stone” in his possession.

These are emblematic of Bartlett Adams’ style, which helps identify the stones he carved. (Photo source: Spirits Alive web page.)

Adams owned the only stonecutting shop in the Portland area from 1800 to 1828. His shop also made hearthstones, mantel pieces, and other finished stones. At least eight other stonecutters worked with him, including his brother Richard, two nephews, and others who would eventually enjoy their own success. About 700 of Eastern’s markers, although they are unsigned and unmarked, were carved by Adams or the men who worked in his shop.

Among Adams’ works at Eastview is a double marker for Polly and Eunice Moody, infant daughters of mechanic William and Mary “Molly” Young Moody. You can see the umbrella-like design he carved on top of it, almost sheltering the little girls below. I’ve not seen this motif anywhere else.

Both Polly and Eunice Moody died in infancy. Their brother, Lemuel, lived into his 50s and served in the War of 1812.

Adams also created a single umbrella-style grave marker for William and Molly’s daughter, Harriet. She died in 1799, only nine months old. Harriet is buried beside her mother.

Little Harriet Moody died in infancy like her sisters.

Molly died at the age of 41 in August 1799, a few months before Harriet would pass away. Notice Adams’ intricate carving of the urn above the inscription on her marker and the twining vines. The urn is thought to  testify to the death of the body and the dust into which the dead body will return, while the spirit of the departed eternally rests with God.

Molly Moody died only a few months before her daughter, Harriet.

But Adams would save his most skillful Moody marker carving for father William, who died in 1821 at the age of 65. Records indicate he served in the Revolutionary War. If his marker is to be believed, he died on his birthday.

William Moody died 21 years after his wife, Molly.

There’s quite a few elements on William’s markers to catch the eye. Like Molly’s, his has an urn but Willilam’s sits atop a brick base and beams radiate out from it. Intricate carving edges the sides, with two pillars on either side of the inscription. Adams put quite a bit of work into it.

Next week, I’ll share more of Bartlett Adams’ work and how his markers can be found in other New England cemeteries.

You can see Portland’s harbor from Eastern Cemetery.

Nashville’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery: A Rabbitt in the Rain, Part II

Last week, I visited the grave of country/pop singer Eddie Rabbitt and shared the story of his career. But there’s quite a bit more to Calvary Catholic Cemetery. Because it’s the only Catholic cemetery in the Nashville Diocese, Calvary contains quite a few graves of high-level priests that served there.

The graves of several Catholic monsignors surround Nashville’s sixth, seventh, and eight bishops.

At the center of this circle of monsignors are Nashville’s sixth, seventh, and eight bishops that served the diocese. I am not very familiar with the Catholic Church or its iconography but the beauty of the cross and the figures surrounding it struck me.

The graves of three of Nashville’s bishops rest beneath a tableau featuring the crucifixion of Christ.

I don’t know if the figure kneeling at the foot of the cross is Mary, the mother of Christ, or Mary Magdalene.

In contrast, the story of Sterling Brown (S.B) Spurlock is a not as angelic. His monument is quite large and is a testament to his wealth at the time of his death. But the story behind the life that acquired it is shrouded in mystery and some discord.

Born in 1821 in Woodbury, Tenn. to Joseph and Esther Blair Spurlock, S.B. was the son of a farmer. He found his calling in the wholesale grocery business in Nashville. S.B. was a bachelor most of his life and census records indicate he often boarded in rooming houses instead of a fine home of his own. His health was poor and he was not one to socialize much because of it.

In the 1880s, S.B. met divorcee and Irish immigrant Margaret Mallon. Margaret married young in Ireland but was abandoned by her first husband, who left for America. She followed and worked as a servant until she found him in Nashville. They reconciled but later divorced and she began her own grocery business. In the course of running her business, she met Spurlock.

S.B. Spurlock and Margarget Mallon’s marriage would later result in a Tennessee Supreme Court Case after his death.

Margaret actually appeared to be doing financially better than S.C. when he asked her to marry him in 1883. She brought with her into the marriage about $3,700. S.B. was 65 and Margaret was 40 at the time. Despite his own supposedly shaky financial foundation, Spurlock had a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up promising her a small settlement and a home but no further claims to his estate. Margaret signed it.

According to the Tennessee Supreme Court Case Spurlock vs. Brown, the marriage was described as a happy one and Margaret nursed her husband through his illnesses. At some point, his arm was amputated. A year before he died, he supposedly returned that initial $3,7000 to her.

When S.B. died in 1891, Margaret discovered that his net estate was estimated at over $100,000. Had she not signed the agreement before their marriage, she would have expected to receive at least half of it, if not much more.

The angel as scribe tops the Spurlock monument.

Margaret claimed the document (contrary to what S.B.’s attorneys said) had never been explained to her at the time she signed it and she had been tricked. S.B.’s next of kin countered her claim and legal action resulted. A majority oft the Tennessee Supreme Court sided with Margaret in 1892 with one dissent. I’m not sure if S.B.’s family took it further or how much money Margaret ever received.

In city directories following S.B.’s death, Margaret is listed as working and living at St. Cecilia’s Academy. Established in 1860, the all-girl’s Catholic school is still in existence today. When Margaret died of a pulmonary embolism in 1908, she was living with a nephew, Thomas Slowey. Her profession was listed as housekeeper.

Despite the legal havoc their pre-nuptial agreement brought, S.B. and Margaret were buried side by side at Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

By looking at Margaret’s will on Ancestry, I learned that she left her nephew several pieces of property (including at least one with a house), her sisters $500 each, a piece of property and home to a Michael Mallon (perhaps another relative) and $500 each to various Catholic charities.

Margaret rests beside S.B. beneath a very handsome monument with an angel as scribe situated atop of it. I’m sure his family wasn’t pleased at this outcome but my guess is that they could do little to stop it.

Other angels I photographed at Calvary day are familiar in style yet still lovely to look at in any cemetery I visit.

The monument for Irish horse trader Thomas McNally and his wife, Jennie, features an angel holding onto a cross.

An angel drops a single flower from her hand. This motif is quite common but still striking.

The image of an angel dropping a single flower is one that’s puzzled me as to what it’s meant to symbolize. One site I consulted said that it’s taken from the legend of Saint Dorothy. On her way to death, she was mocked by Theophilus. He asked for proof of the heavenly garden she was going to. After her death, an angel visited him with a basket containing flowers and fruit in the middle of winter. The angel is supposedly bringing proof that the deceased is in heaven.

I don’t know if that’s true but I’ve seen it often enough to wonder. You can also see this motif in the Sherlock monument but this figure (which has no wings) is also holding a wreath, which often means victory over death.

Unlike the angels, this figure is standing below the cross with her face downcast.

The Sherlock figure holds a single flower in one hand and a wreath in the other.

It was humbling to see some of the small markers featured portrait circles on them. To be able to see a picture of the deceased adds a dimension beyond the name and dates on the stone. Ann Costello McNally is one of them.

Ann Costello McNally was a young wife of 33 when she died of uremia (kidney disease). Her beauty is preserved in this lovely portrait.

The daughter of livestock trader Pat Costello and Mary Riley Costello, Ann was born in Greenwood, Miss. in 1920. She married John Costello and eventually moved to Memphis, Tenn. It was there she died in 1953. The cause of death was uremia caused by kidney disease.

I didn’t realize until later that I had also photographed the marker of Ann’s brother, James, until I was writing this post. In looking her up, I found they had the same parents but James was born in Talladega, Ala. in 1912.

Ann’s brother, James, is buried in the same plot. He served in World War II. He died in Augusta, Ga. in 1969.

Buried beside James is his wife, Ann Gorman Costello. She died in 1980 in North Augusta, S.C., just over the Georgia/South Carolina border.

Annie Costello died 11 years after her husband James.

It’s been fun remembering this 2015 trip to Nashville and paying tribute to singer Eddie Rabbitt. But it also makes me want to return and explore further. To learn more about the people that lived and shaped this vibrant city.

Hopefully, I’ll get that chance soon.

Nashville’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery: A Rabbitt in the Rain, Part I

Well I love a rainy night; I love a rainy night.
I love to hear the thunder;
watch the lightning when I lights up the sky.
You know it makes me feel good.

— “Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt, 1975

This week, I’m visiting Nashville’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery. While I don’t know the exact number of burials there, Find a Grave lists around 17,000 memorials. Only 24 percent of them are photographed.

Front gates of Nashville’s Calvary Cemetery. Photo source:

In 1868, the land for Calvary Cemetery was purchased by Patrick Augustine Feehan, third Catholic Bishop of Tennessee. The opening day is described in the book “The Catholic Church in Tennessee” by Thomas Stritch.

As the third Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, Patrick Feehan purchased the land for Calvary Catholic Cemetery in 1868.

The dedication on November 29, 1868 was a grand affair. The procession of carriages was preceded by a band and 20 “neatly uniformed policemen,” according the local newspaper account. Then came the bishop’s carriage, with four priests accompanying him.

There followed carriages containing members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Society of St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum, the St. Joseph’s Abstinence Society, school children from the Sisters of Mercy School, and carriages containing residents. The line of carriages was so long that “there was no point along the route from which the entire procession could be viewed at one time.”

Calvary Cemetery is the only Catholic cemetery in the Diocese of Nashville. It offers some lovely views of the city.

The most famous interment at Calvary Cemetery is a singer/songwriter whose music I’ve loved since I was young. Country/pop singer Eddie Rabbitt is buried there and I was determined to find his grave.

Born in 1941 to Irish immigrants Thomas Michael and Mae Joyce Rabbitt in Brooklyn, N.Y., Eddie was raised in East Orange, N.J. While his father was an oil refinery refrigeration worker, Thomas also played the fiddle and accordion in several New York City dance halls. By 12, Eddie was a proficient guitar player.

Eddie’s father, Thomas Michael Rabbitt, was a native of Ireland who inspired a love of music in his son.

After his parents divorced, Eddie dropped out of school at 16 but got his high school diploma after taking night school classes. In 1964, he signed his first record deal with 20th Century Records and released the singles, “Next to the Note” and “Six Nights and Seven Days”.

Four years later, he moved to Nasvhille to start his career as a songwriter for Hill & Range Publishing Company and received $37.50 per week. Eddie hung out with with other aspiring writers at Wally’s Clubhouse, a bar in Nashville, saying he and the other patrons had “no place else to go.”

Eddie Rabbitt wrote the hit song “Kentucky Rain” that went gold for Elvis Presley.

Eddie made a splash in 1969 when Elvis Presley recorded his song “Kentucky Rain”, a fact I didn’t know until doing research for this post. Eddie wanted to record it himself but his publisher played it for Elvis and his version of it went gold.

“Well, he played it and Elvis liked it enough to consider it for his next single,” Eddie said. “I had to decide if I should let Elvis record it, probably have a hit, or keep it for myself and chance that my first record would do nothing and the song would be forgotten. In the end, the decision went to Elvis and he sold over a million copies of it!”

Eddie wrote “Pure Love”, which Ronnie Milsap took to No. 1 in 1974. This led to a contract offer from Elektra Records.

The Rabbitt family cross. Eddie and his son, Timothy, are buried at Calvary Cemetery along with Eddie’s father, Thomas.

In 1976, his critically acclaimed Rocky Mountain Music album was released, which gave Eddie his first No. 1 country hit with the track “Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind)”. In 1977, his third album, Rabbitt was released, which made the top five on the country albums chart. That same year, the Academy of Country Music named him top new male vocalist of the year.

The 1978 movie starred Clint Eastwood in an offbeat comic role as a trucker and brawler roaming the American West with his pet orangutan, Clyde. Photo source:

Eddie released his first compilation album, The Best of Eddie Rabbitt, in 1979. The album produced Eddie’s first crossover single (written by Steve Dorff, Snuff Garrett and Milton Brown), “Every Which Way But Loose”, which topped country charts and reached the top 30 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and adult contemporary. It was featured in a 1978 Clint Eastwood movie of the same name.

I wasn’t aware of Eddie Rabbitt until his album Horizon, which contained the biggest crossover hits of his career including “I Love a Rainy Night” and “Drivin’ My Life Away.” Both tunes are definitely toe tappers and mention rain in the lyrics.

Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle sang the romantic duet “You and I”.

He developed “Rainy Night” from a song fragment that he wrote during a 1960s thunderstorm. “Driving” recalled Rabbitt’s stint as a truck driver, and was inspired by Bob Dylan’s song “Subterranean Homesick Blues“. Eddie was offered his own variety television show, which he declined by stating “It’s not worth the gamble.”

The release of his 1981 Step by Step album continued Eddie’s crossover success. The title track became his third straight single to reach the top 5 on country, adult contemporary, and the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The album went gold, Eddie’s final album to do so. He teamed up with Crystal Gayle, to record “You and I”, included in his 1982 album Radio Romance. It’s always been one of my favorite love songs.

I can’t imagine the pain Eddie and his wife experienced upon the death of little Timmy in 1985.

Eddie married Janine Girardi in 1976 and they had three children, Demelza, Timmy, and Tommy. Born in 1983, Timmy was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a condition that required a liver transplant. Timmy got the transplant in 1985 but that attempt failed and he died in 1985. Eddie put his career on hiatus during this time.

Eddie Rabbitt was only 46 when he died in 1998.

Eddie’s career never bounced back to its former heights. In 1997, he signed with Intersound Records but was soon after diagnosed with lung cancer. Following a round of chemotherapy, he released the album Beatin’ the Odds.

The next year, he released his final studio album, Songs from Rabbittland. He died on May 7, 1998 at the age of 56. I have no doubt that had he been blessed with a longer life, he would have produced many more hits.

Near the Rabbitt family plot is the monument for the Ray family. I later learned that one of the Rays was an NFL football star.

Buford “Baby” Ray was physically larger than most football players of the era.

Born near Nashville in 1914, Buford “Baby” Ray played for Vanderbilt University from 1935 to 1937 as an offensive and defensive tackle. Standing at 6′ 6″ and weighing over 280 pounds, Ray was much larger than nearly all college football players of the day.

in 1938, Ray signed with Green Bay, playing all of his 11-year NFL career with the Packers. He appeared in the 1940 NFL All-Star Game and was named to the United Press International (UPI) All-Pro team four times. Ray was a member of the Packers’ 1939 and 1944 NFL championship teams.

Buford “Baby” Ray is buried with his wife, Jane, in the Ray family plot.

After retiring from the NFL, Ray returned to Vanderbilt as an assistant coach under Bill Edwards and later became the university’s first full-time football recruiter. He rejoined the Packers organization as a scout in 1971.

Ray and his wife, Jane Burns Ray, had three children. He died on January 21, 1986 after a hunting trip at the age of 71. In the words of of retired sports editor Raymond Johnson, Ray was “one of Vanderbilt’s all-time great football players… a man of great integrity and dedication.”

Next time, I’ll share more stories from Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

Visiting Nashville’s Mount Olivet Cemetery: Beauty Among the Ashes, Part II

Last week, I introduced you to Nashville’s Mount Olivet Cemetery. Today we’re going to meet some more people who influenced the Music City’s history.

When someone’s face is emblazoned on their monument, you can bet they were usually someone important. So I knew William Brimage Bate had likely distinguished himself and made a mental note to look him up when I got home.

Governor, senator and war hero are all words that describe General William Brimage Bate.

Lawyer, Confederate general, governor, and U.S. senator are all words that describe General William Brimage Bate. Born at Castalian Springs in Sumner County, Tenn. in 1826, his education was limited to a few years in a log schoolhouse known as the Rural Academy. When the Mexican War began in 1846, Bate volunteered for service in a Louisiana regiment. He re-enlisted and served as lieutenant of Company I, Third Tennessee Infantry.

Lacking much formal education, General Bate distinguished himself as as a military leader in the Mexican War and the Civil War.

After the war, Bate returned to the family farm and established a newspaper, the Gallatin Tenth Legion. In 1849, he was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly. After graduation from the Cumberland Law School in Lebanon, Tenn. in 1852, Bate opened a law practice in Gallatin, serving a term as district attorney general.

In 1856, Bate married Julia Peete, daughter of Colonel Samuel Peete of Huntsville, Ala. Col. Peete is buried at Mount Olivet near his daughter. Bate declined the Democratic nomination for Congress in 1859.

Julia Peete Bate was the daughter of Col. Samuel Peete of Huntsville, Ala., a distinguished lawyer and War of 1812 veteran.

A strong believer in states’ rights and secession, Bate volunteered as a private in the Second Tennessee Infantry of the Confederacy. Elected colonel, he served with his regiment, first in Virginia and later in campaigns which included Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Franklin, and Nashville. Before the end of the war, he attained the rank of major general.

Bate was wounded on three different occasions, most severely at Shiloh. When a surgeon suggested amputating his leg, Bate refused. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life. One report I read said he was shot out from under his horse more than once. While with the army at Wartrace in 1863, he declined the Tennessee gubernatorial nomination.

Wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, Bate refused to have his leg amputated. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life as a result.

After the Civil War, Bate started his law practice in Nashville and continued to be involved in Democratic Party politics. Elected governor in 1882, he was re-elected two years later. In 1886, he was elected to the U.S. Senate to succeed Washington C. Whitthorne, and Bate remained in that office until his death on March 9, 1905.

Jennie, the Bates’ first child, died at the age of 14.

William and Julia had four children during their marriage. Their first two daughters, Mary and Suzanne, lived well into adulthood. But daughters Jennie and Amanda would die before they were 15.

Amanda, the Bates’ third daughter, died at the age of five.

Julia Peete Bate was well educated and musically talented. Because she lost her mother at the age of three, she was used to running her widowed father’s household. It came in handy when her husband climbed the military and political ranks.

Julia Peete Bate met her future husband at Catoosa Springs, Ga., while visiting with a party of young ladies from Huntsville, Ala.

Julia joined her husband in Washington and enjoyed being a member of the Washington Ladies’ Literary Club. She was passionate about supporting causes that supported veterans. She died in 1910 and is buried beside her husband and her two eldest daughters. I especially like the inscription on the back of her marker, taken from Proberbs 31:26.

This inscription comes from Proverbs 31:26: “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

The life of Benjamin Joseph McCarthy was not as distinguished as that of General Bate. But his family monument, which is close to that of the Bate family, is one of those you tend to notice.

The names of several family members are inscribed on the McCarthy family monument.

Born in 1842 in Warren County, Ga., McCarthy spent most of his life in Nashville. He married Annie Elizabeth Hood sometime prior to 1871. They had several children. Much of McCarthy’s career was helping run the foundry of Phillips & Buttorff Manufacturing Co., which created many cast iron items from skillets to stoves. The company operated from 1858 to the mid 1900s.

The cube is said to represent the earth and earthly existence. Some monuments have a cube or square inverted to point the corners downward and upward. This is meant to illustrate the directions of earth and heaven.

In the 1960s, Vanderbilt senior Melvyn Koby stole the pocketwatch (as a prank) from the statue of Francis Furman that stands on the landing inside Furman Hall. He returned it in 2010.

One of the largest monuments in Mount Olivet is for the Furman family. A native of Pennsylvania, Francis Furman owned Furman & Co. Wholesale Dry Goods and Notions on Nashville’s public square from 1870 until around 1890. His death certificate lists his occupation as “capitalist.” He died in 1898 at the age of 80.

Furman Hall on the campus of Vanderbilt University is named in his honor as a result of a $100,000 donation by his widow after his death. Furman never attended the university but his funeral was conducted by Vanderbilt co-founder Alexander Little Page Green. Inside the building is a sculpture of Francis Furman by Danish artist Johannes Gelert.

Danish sculptor Johannes Gelert designed the Furman family monument.

Gelert also designed the Furman’s monument at Mount Olivet. I was curious to know how the Furmans were connected to Gelert and learned that won top honors for “Wounded American Soldier” at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition in Nashville.

The roof of the monument is born up by caryatids, female figures in Greek dress like those on the porch of the maidens standing on the Athenian Acropolis.

The last story I’m going to share is about a tomb we caught sight of on our way out of the cemetery. Pyramid tombs are not common in the Southeast so when I see one, I pull over to look! The tomb for “Major” Eugene Castner Lewis is indeed impressive.

The entrance to the walkway is guarded by a pair of Sphinx, symbolic of the Memphis Rite, a Masonic order. Lewis was an active Mason during his lifetime. The two heavy aluminum doors once opened to reveal steps that lead down into the crypt. Because of vandalism, the doors are now welded shut.

Two sphinxes guard the tomb of Major Eugene Castner Lewis.

When I looked into the past of Major Eugene Castner Lewis, I learned why an ancient theme went beyond his Masonic ties. Among his many accomplishments, he was the director of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Lewis was the one who suggested that a reproduction of the Parthenon be built in Nashville to serve as the centerpiece of Tennessee’s Centennial Celebration in 1897. It’s the only building that survived.

“Major” Eugene Lewis played a key role in making the Tennessee Centennial Exposition a financial success.

Born in 1845, Eugene Lewis’ parents were George T. and Margaretta Barnes Lewis. George Lewis was the general manager of the Cumberland Iron Works and knew many of Nashville’s movers and shakers.

During the Civil War, Eugene Lewis attended the Pennsylvania Military Academy. Although he never served in the military, he was referred to as “Major Lewis”. After he graduated in 1865, he served as an assistant engineer with the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville Railroad. He would be involved in the railroad industry all of his life.

Although he attended the Pennsylvania Military Academy, “Major” Eugene Lewis never served in the armed forces.

Lewis served as the president of Sycamore Mills (a gunpowder maker) and designed at least two bridges over Sycamore Creek in Nashville. Lewis also joined the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway as an industrial engineer. He was elected to its board of directors in 1896, and he served as its chairman from 1900 to 1917. He and his wife, Pauline, had several children. Pauline died at the age of 40 in 1902.

The Lewis tomb is definitely different than the others at Mount Olivet.

Lewis died in 1917 of stomach cancer.

Had the weather been better that day, I would have spent more time at Mount Olivet but January is not the greatest time for any cemetery visit. Still, I’m glad I got to see what I did and spend some time with a good friend.

Next week, I’ll be stopping by next door at Nashville’s Calvary Cemetery.

John L. Nolen was a former Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). The three chain links stand for “friendship, love and truth”.


Visiting Nashville’s Mount Olivet Cemetery: Beauty Amid the Ashes, Part I

Two weeks ago, I shared my memories of Chicago’s suburban Roselle and Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, a visit from summer 2015.

Earlier that year, I visited Nashville, Tenn. It’s close to my heart because it was my home for almost the first two years of my marriage. My husband, Chris, was in law school at Vanderbilt University at the time but I hadn’t yet been bitten by the cemetery bug.

During this visit, I was catching up with high school friend Melissa, who was living in nearby Murfreesboro. I was itching to see some Nashville cemeteries and she was kind enough to oblige me.

On a rather dreary January day, we ventured to Calvary Cemetery and Mount Olivet Cemetery. They’re right next to each other so it’s difficult to know where one ends and one begins at times. Today, I’m focusing on Mount Olivet.

Mount Olivet is owned by Dignity Memorial, which is owned by Houston-based Service Corporation International. SCI owns many of the funeral homes and cemeteries in the United States now. (Photo source: Find a Grave)

Mount Olivet is on the National Register of Historic Places, which is always a bonus because I can sometimes find information in the application made for that designation.

According to the application, Mount Olivet was established in 1855 and covers about 206 acres with around 192,000 graves (as of 2005). That includes a whopping 200,000 monuments, mausoleums and markers. It was modeled after Cambridge, Mass.’s Mount Auburn Cemetery. The design of the mausoleums ranges from Greco/Roman and Egyptian Revival to Victorian Gothic. At least 40 percent of the monuments at Mount Olivet are classic Victorian era funerary art.

Postcard of Mount Olivet Cemetery when it had a gatehouse at the entrance. It’s since been torn down.

The application contradicted itself in one respect. In one place, it says “Blacks could be buried anywhere in the cemetery up to circa 1889.” And yet in another, it says “After the Civil War and Reconstruction, the interment of persons of color was prohibited until the 1960s.” I’m not sure which statement is accurate.

Another part of the application states, “Some [blacks] were buried with the families they served, either as free persons of color or as slaves. Others were buried in the single and/or strangers sections located at the rear of the cemetery. There are other apparently ‘unused’ areas that may hold the remains of persons of color.”

If you were a wealthy resident of Nashville, Section One was where you were buried. Mount Oliver founders Van Sinderen Lindsley (1814-1885) and John Buddeke (1808-1887) are among them.

Mount Olivet Cemetery’s Chapel/Office before the fire. It was designed by the same architect that built the Ryman Auditorium.

Unfortunately, Mount Olivet experienced a tragedy only a few days before my visit. It’s Gothic chapel/office nearly burned to the ground.

The original structure was built in 1872 by Hugh Cathcart Thompson, best known as the architect of Nashville’s famous Ryman Auditorium. Additions were made in 1890 and 1930. The building was unused since 1996 so it was in poor condition. It also had no electricity so the cause of fire was suspicious.

Historic Nashville Inc. put the Mt. Olivet Cemetery chapel/office on its inaugural list of the city’s most threatened historic places. The non-profit advocacy group launched the Nashville Nine list in 2009.

The chapel/office a few days after the fire in January 2015. I don’t now if anything has been done with it since then.

I tried to look online to see what had happened to the remains of the building since the fire but could find no updates.

One of the most beautiful monuments I’ve ever seen is at Mount Olivet. I didn’t know at the time that I’d see another version of it a year later in Denver, Colo. Andrew Marshall’s monument alone, which represents he, his wife and two daughters, makes a visit to this cemetery worthwhile. His own life was affected greatly by a fire as well.

This monument could be found in circulars produced by Bliss Brothers, photographers based in Buffalo, N.Y. Variations on the motifs could be chosen by the purchaser. Another one like it exists in Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery but the angel does not hold a trumpet.

A native of Connecticut, Andrew Marshall made a name for himself when he formed Marshall & Bruce Co. with J.H. Bruce. The company opened its doors on Oct. 25, 1865 as a book bindery with the “value of equipment not exceeding $300.” In 1869, they bought a small printing office. Over the next several decades, the company grew steadily.

A mourner holds a bough of flowers in her hands.

However, in 1895 Marshall and Bruce faced an uncertain future when a fire destroyed everything. Within seven months, they rebuilt a four-story building on the same site.

Andrew Marshall’s legacy lives on today. (Photo source: Marshall & Bruce Co. web site)

In 1904, Marshall & Bruce Co. secured the printing contract for the Southern Baptist Convention (based in Nashville) and a year later, moved the business to a big new building on 4th Avenue North, adopting the slogan “We print anything.” For the next 35 years, the company’s business centered largely on supplying the Baptist Sunday School Board. When the Baptist contract was terminated in 1938, Marshall & Bruce suffered quite a setback.

Newspaper ad for Marshall & Bruce Co.

Despite this loss and the onset of World War II, Marshall and Bruce survived. In 1952, P.M. French and Associates bought the company and later moved to its current location at 689 Davidson Street. Bob Smith, current owner of Marshall & Bruce, acquired the company from P.M. French and Associates in 1983.

Andrew Marshall died in 1912. His wife, Harriet, died in 1930. Daughter Mary Louise died in 1873, only two years old. Daughter Harriett died in 1896 at the age of 30 from kidney disease.

The other side of the Marshall family monument.

Nearby are the graves of the Grubbs sisters. It’s unusual for me to see a pair of actual children’s statues beside each other. One is considerably larger than the other.

Myra Lou Grubbs (left) died in 1883 at the age of two while sister Bettie died in 1887 (right), barely six months old.

A native of Alabama, Hartwell B. Grubbs married Elizabeth “Bettie” Cartwright in 1875. He wore a number of career hats in Nashville over the years, from working as a travel agent to helping start the Grubbs Cracker Company in 1885. He appears to have clashed with his brother-in-law during the business’ operation and I found some legal cases pertaining to this.

He and Elizabeth would have five children. Sons Thomas, Hartwell and Peter would all live well into adulthood. But daughters Myra Lou (born in 1883) and Bettie (born in 1887) would both die before reaching the age of three.

Although she spent the last decades of her life in New York City, Bettie wanted to be buried with her little girls.

Unfortunately, Hartwell’s cracker company also endured a fire in 1890. He was working for a different company by 1900, and the Grubbs moved to St. Louis. By 1910, they had moved on to New York City where Hartwell and Bettie spent the rest of their lives. Bettie died in 1922 and is buried beside her daughters in Mount Olivet. Hartwell died in 1934 at the Hotel Carteret in New York City. His burial site is unknown.

The last family I’m featuring was not affected by fire (that I am aware of) but Robert William Jennings knew tragedy in his life. A native of South Carolina, he married Mary Wyche Evans in 1861 in Nashville. His background was in bookkeeping and he was quite good at it. At one time he operated a wholesale manufacturing company with Andrew J. Goodbar (also buried at Mount Olivet). He would eventually found Jennings Business College in Nashville in 1884.

The white on top of the statue reminded me of snow that cold day.

Robert and Mary had six children between 1862 and 1871: Thomas, Robert, Mary, David, Louisa and Tyre. David died at the age of 27 but four of the children lived to adulthood.

On July 18, 1871, Mary gave birth to Tyre, who was named after one of Robert’s brothers who died in 1862 serving in the Confederacy during the Civil War. She died that day at the age of 28. Tyre died 11 days later on July 29, 1871.

Mary’s son, Tyre, died only 11 days after she did.

Robert remarried the following year to Sarah Ellen “Nellie” Robertson. They had three children, two of whom lived to adulthood. Robert died in 1922 and is buried with both of his wives (Nellie died in 1925) at Mount Olivet.

I’ll be back next week to share more stories from Mount Olivet Cemetery.

I found Mr. Goodbar! Andrew J. Goodbar was a partner in the business of Jennings, Goodbar & Co. with Robert William Jennings in the 1870s.

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.