Road Trip: A Ramble Through Augusta’s Magnolia Cemetery, Part II

Last week, we started our journey through Augusta’s historic Magnolia Cemetery. I shared some general history of Augusta and the cemetery. This week, we’ll jump right into learning more about Magnolia’s residents.

One of the most unique monuments I saw was for Dr. James D. Mackie.

Dr. Mackie was the son of William Mackie and Sarah Herbert Mackie. A native of Scotland, William Mackie arrived in America at the age of 19. He married Georgia native Sarah Herbert in 1815 and James was born in 1818.

A bachelor, Dr. Mackie graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1842 and lived with his parents in nearby Summerville. Augusta experienced yellow fever epidemics in 1839 and 1854. During the latter, the Catholic Church of the Most High Trinity served as a temporary hospital. Over 120 people died in a four-month period. Dr. Mackie was one of them.

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The marble monument commemorates the life of Dr. James D. Mackie, who died of the very disease he was trying to eradicate.

I found out only this week that while the monument at Magnolia was placed to honor him, Dr. Mackie is actually buried with his parents 13 miles away at Summerville Cemetery in a box grave. It features a heartfelt epitaph:

He was a good Samaritan: and freely devoted his best energies of his mind and body to the relief of the sick, until death removed him from the scene of his pious labors to commemorate, which a monument has been erected by his friends and a grateful community, in the city cemetery.

So why two monuments? My guess is that at the time, Dr. Mackie’s sacrifice so moved his friends that they wanted to erect a marker closer to the city where many more could see it. Since Dr. Mackie lived with his parents in Summerville, it makes sense that he (and later they) would be buried there.

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The words “Amicus Humani Generis” mean “Friend of the Human Race” in Latin.

Mackie’s Magnolia monument features the story of the Good Samaritan, recounted in the Bible in Luke 10:25-37. An injured man lies at the side of the road needing help while others pass him by. A Samaritan stops to not only give the man aid but takes him to an inn to recover, paying for his stay. In ancient times, Samaritans were considered the lowest class of people on the totem poll. This image makes me think that Dr. Mackie probably treated people from all walks of life, including the poorest of the poor. It’s a motif I have never seen on a monument before.

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Dr. Mackie’s memorial monument features the ancient Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to treat a wounded stranger on the side of the road.

Not very far from Dr. Mackie’s monument is one that’s a bit of a mystery to me. But the monument for Anne Milledge Smith Bothwell made me stop and look.

Anne Milledge Smith Boswell died at the age of 38. The identity of the two children at her knees is unknown.

The exact identity of the two children at Anne Milledge Smith Bothwell is unknown, but they might represent a son and daughter.

A native of South Carolina, Anne Milledge Smith married James T. Bothwell. He is listed as an attorney on the 1850 Census but later records show he was a successful grocer. They had several children. Their eldest, Ebenezer, was nine when he died and daughter Julia died in infancy. It’s possible that the two children at her knee represent them.

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Anne was only 38 when she died.

Anne’s husband, James, remarried. He and his second wife, Sallie, both died in 1879 within three days of each other. Sallie is buried to the left of James while Anne’s monument is to his right.

Another monument I saw was for a young man cut down in the prime of his life. Many such markers dot the landscape of Magnolia but most are not this big.

The base of Frank Middleton Stovall's monument features the cross sword and scabbard draped with tassles, a motif often seen on Civil War markers.

The base of Frank Middleton Stovall’s monument features the crossed sword and scabbard draped with tassels, a motif often seen on Civil War markers. His grandfather was a Confederate Brigadier General.

The eldest son of Massilon Pleasant Stovall and Margaret Amelia Speer Stovall, Frank Middleton Stovall was a Georgia native. His grandfather, Marcellus Augustus Stovall, served with distinction in the Confederacy during the Civil War. Oddly enough, his grave (also at Magnolia) is quite humble compared to that of his grandson.

Brigadier General Marcellus Stovall surrendered his command with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina, in spring 1865.

Brigadier General Marcellus Stovall surrendered his command with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army in North Carolina in spring 1865.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Marcellus Stovall was a captain of a militia artillery unit when appointed Lieutenant Colonel in the Third Georgia Infantry, serving under General Kirby Smith. In January 1863, he was promoted to Brigadier General in command of a brigade in General Breckenridge’s Division, which fought at Chickamauga and in the Atlanta Campaign. After the fall of Atlanta, Brig. General Stovall commanded a brigade in General Clayton’s Division that fought at Franklin, Nashville, and in the Carolinas.

His grandson, Frank, served as a humble private in the Confederacy in the Fifth Battalion, Florida Cavalry, Company A. The Fifth Battalion served in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and took an active part in the battles of Olustee, Gainesville, Milton, and Braddock’s Farm.

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Frank Middleton Stovall’s obituary says, “Farewell, Frank; Your graceful form and handsome face now repose in a patriot’s grave.”

According to his obituary, Frank Stovall was acting as “drill master to the Infantry and Ordinance Sergeant at Marianna” when he died. I’m not sure how a private attained those responsibilities but it’s possible.

Frank Stovall died in March, just a few months before the unit surrendered at Tallahassee on May 10, 1865, about 40 miles west of Marianna, Fla. I looked at the roll for Company A. He is the only one listed as “killed in battle” among the three men who died in Company A during the war. His parents’ names are also on the base of his monument and they are buried beside him.

The two final stories I’m going to share involve the Barrett and Holt families. I knew nothing about them when I encountered their plots, but it was soon apparent both families had known much sorrow.

William Hale Barrett and his wife, Sarah Rhind Barrett, lived a comfortable life in Augusta. Together, they had seven children. Son William Hale Barrett, Jr. became a prominent attorney and later a U.S. District Court Judge. Daughter Harriett (Hattie) married noted Atlanta Journal editor and three-term state legislator Clarke Howell. By comparison, eldest son Glascock lived a quieter life as a much-respected druggist.

But William and Sarah experienced more than their fair share of tragedy. Their first three children (save for Hattie, who died at the age of 30) lived long lives. But over the span of six years, William and Sarah’s last four children would all die before reaching the age of two.

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Siblings James and Maggie share a marker, with a rose carved into the top of his and a lily adorning hers.

As seen on the Bridwell Monument last week, a hand reaches down from the clouds to indicate an unexpected death.

As seen on the Bridwell Monument last week, a hand reaches down from the clouds to indicate an unexpected death.

As I’ve pointed out in this blog before, the death of a child in infancy was almost expected in the centuries before antibiotics. It was a sad but accepted fact of life. But for a family to lose four children in six years must have been an especially hard blow to take.

Sisters Mary and Susie Barrett died within exactly a month of each other in 1873.

Sisters Mary and Susie Barrett died within exactly a month of each other in 1873.

Close to the entrance of the cemetery, you can find the graves of William White Holt and his wife, Mary Arminton Ware Holt. William was not only a commissioned officer in the War of 1812, he served as Judge of the Superior Court and was later Augusta’s mayor from 1825 to 1826.

The Holts had several children who lived to adulthood, including Dr. William James Holt, who received medals for his service as a physician during the Crimean War. Youngest son Lieutenant Benjamin Rice Holt served in the Fifth Georgia Infantry, Company A, during the Civil War. But like the Barretts, William and Mary felt the harsh hand of tragedy visit their home often.

William and Mary Holt lost at least four children in infancy and childhood. There may have been more.

William and Mary Holt lost at least four children in infancy and childhood. There may have been more.

A single monument beside their two box graves (along with Benjamin’s) commemorates the lives of the four children they lost in infancy and childhood. Edward Rowell lived to the age of 10, (1821-1831), Charles Briggs lived to the age of 12 (1831-1843), Robert Augustus lived a little over a year (1835-1836) and Lucy lived less than a year (1837-1838).

Next week, I’ll share some of the diverse history of some of Magnolia’s residents, including the Jewish sections and the Augusta Orphan Asylum plot.

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Road Trip: A Ramble Through Augusta’s Magnolia Cemetery

Two things come to mind when I think of Augusta, Ga.

The Masters and James Brown.

I don’t play golf, but my Dad did. We watched a lot of it on TV. Augusta National was almost sacred to him, and it’s special for me as well. When you walk those velvety green fairways and see the colorful azaleas in bloom, you know this place is different than any other golf course.

I’ve attended two practice rounds at the Masters. The first was in the late 1980s when Dad decided to go at the last minute. I skipped my college classes that day to tag along. It was the last year the practice round was free and open to the public. The late Payne Stewart and Davis Love III were two golfers I remember seeing.

I returned to the Masters in 2011, thanks to the generosity of my husband’s family, who managed to secure tickets. This time, I had a much greater appreciation for the experience. I crossed paths with the legendary Vijay Singh and British golfer Lee Westwood. I’ll never forget being there and hope I can go back someday.

My husband and me at the 2011 Masters practice round in Augusta, A.

My husband and me at the 2011 Masters practice round in Augusta, Ga. That’s part of legendary Amen Corner behind us.

Augusta is also known for Godfather of Soul James Brown. Although he was born in South Carolina, he spent much of his life in Augusta. His death in 2006 set in motion a number of legal actions between family members, including paternity tests and other head-scratching incidents too numerous to mention.

The current whereabouts of Brown’s remains are sketchy. According to his last widow (he was married six times), his body was moved 14 times before it came to rest at his daughter’s home where she had supposedly had it buried in her garden. The casket seen at the funeral was made of 24k gold. Michael Jackson was buried in the same kind in 2009, having admired it at Brown’s funeral.

Brown’s chauffeur William Murrell claimed in 2014, “They muminized [sic] his body so he would never rot, at $140,000 cost. Why? When you got almost 20 kids and six wives it’s hard to get you in the ground.”

During my August visit to Augusta (naturally), I stopped by to pay my respects to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. He considered Augusta his hometown.

During my visit to Augusta, I stopped by to pay my respects to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. He considered Augusta his hometown. The current location of his actual remains is unclear.

It had been five years since my last visit to Augusta when my friend Amy invited me to join her for a weekend road trip. She was keen to do some hiking and I was eager to do some cemetery hopping. Neither of us was disappointed.

Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha was 17 when she married England's Frederick of Wales. Her son, George III, would become one of England's most controversial kings.

Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (Germany) was 17 when she married England’s Frederick of Wales.

Augusta is much older than Atlanta and was part of the original Georgia colony founded in 1736 by James Oglethorpe. The city was named after Princess Augusta of Wales, mother of England’s infamous King George III. After Savannah, it was the second city established in the colony. Today, it is the third-largest city in Georgia.

This sign details some of the origins of Magnolia Cemetery.

This sign details some of the origins of Magnolia Cemetery.

Magnolia is Augusta’s oldest large cemetery. The land was once part of the Nicolas de L’Aigle plantation and brick yard, with the first official burial in August 1818. A French refugee, de L’Aigle established the brick yard in 1808 and made his fortune by furnishing the city with bricks made of Savannah River clay. Money donated by Mrs. Louise de L’Aigle Reese built the present office building in the memory of her mother. You can see the de L’Aigle name throughout Magnolia Cemetery.

The cemetery covers more than 60 acres. In addition to five Jewish cemeteries and one Greek cemetery, Magnolia also has a Masonic Lodge section, several church sections, an area for Confederate veterans and a special space for orphans. This diversity makes it a unique cemetery amid many I’ve visited. The variety of funerary symbols and motif also sets it apart.

Along with several Augusta mayors and Georgia legislators, seven Confederate generals are buried at Magnolia. A handful of authors, poets and noted educators also rest there. But so are plenty of humble everyday folk, including a number of immigrants who left Europe to make Augusta their home.

Magnolia Cemetery is one of Georgia's oldest cemeteries, predating Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery by several decades.

Magnolia Cemetery is one of Georgia’s oldest cemeteries, predating Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery by several decades.

Amy took me on a drive through Magnolia on Friday afternoon so I could get the lay of the land. It’s a large cemetery but laid out well with actual street names to guide you. I spent most of my Saturday there while she hiked.

Like all of Georgia, Augusta in August is incredibly HOT and HUMID. Although I was drinking water throughout my trek, I was sweating it out just as fast. I’d never seen a sheen of salt on my skin before that day. Even the paint on my toenails cracked. But a cemetery hopper will do just about anything to visit a new burial ground, regardless of conditions.

The first grave that had me asking Amy to pull over was this one for little Louis Segal, whose family moved from New York to Augusta. I couldn’t find out anything about his family. He died in Memphis, Tenn. but was brought home to Augusta for burial.

Louis Segal did not live to see his 11th birthday when he died in Memphis, Tenn. in 1887.

Louis Segal did not live to see his 11th birthday when he died in Memphis, Tenn. in 1887.

I see a lot of lambs on children's graves but an actual child is more rare.

I see a lot of lambs on children’s graves but an actual child is more rare. Louis appears to be just sleeping after a time of hard play.

Across the road from Louis is the joint marker for Lucy Jane Bridwell and her husband, Samuel. She died at 44. Her husband’s name is not on the marker but it is inscribed under the epitaph he wrote for her. According to census records, he was a planter and later a blacksmith.

I’ve always been intrigued by the “hand of Heaven from the clouds” motif but this one is especially elaborate with the flowers so intricately carved. The finger pointing down doesn’t mean eternal damnation but signifies that the death was unexpected.

Samuel Bridwell's name is not on the marker but records indicate he died in 1921.

Samuel Bridwell’s name is not on his place on the marker but records indicate he died in 1921. Census records note that he was a planter and later a blacksmith.

Samuel and Lucy Jane had three sons and a daughter. Eldest son William Henry Walker Bridwell and his wife, Frances Brown Bridwell, are also buried at Magnolia.

Is the hand of God reaching down to pluck flowers at the height of their beauty?

The hand coming down from the clouds is a symbol of God reaching down for the deceased.

As I mentioned earlier, Samuel’s epitaph to Lucy Jane is poignant. I don’t often see one as lengthy and heartfelt as this written by a spouse.

The epitaph for Lucy Jane Phillips Bridwell is one of the longest, more heartfelt ones I've read.

The epitaph for Lucy Jane Phillips Bridwell is one of the longest, more heartfelt ones I’ve read. “I trust to meet my dear wife again, where parting and sorrow are now more.”

Interestingly, Samuel remarried seven months later to a woman 30 years his junior. He and Mamie had at least one child together, according to the 1900 Census. Records indicate Samuel and Mamie are both buried at Magnolia but his name is not next to Lucy Jane’s on the marker.

I’d never heard of poet Paul Hamilton Hayne until I found his monument at Magnolia. A native of Charleston, S.C., Hayne was born in 1830 and lost his father early in life. He was raised by his mother at the home of his uncle, Robert Hayne, prominent orator and politician who served in the U.S. Senate. Paul Hayne served in the Confederate Army but poor health made his military involvement a brief one of four months.

Born in Charleston, Paul Hamilton Hayne made the Augusta area his home in 1863.

Born in Charleston, Paul Hamilton Hayne made the Augusta area his home in 1863.

When Charleston was bombarded in 1862, Hayne lost everything. He moved his family to Grovetown, Ga., 16 miles from Augusta, and spent the rest of his life there. A prolific writer, Hayne wrote hundreds of sonnets, lyric poems, and essays. Despite poor health and financial woes, Hayne submitted poetry and essays to such magazines as Scribner’s Monthly, Southern Opinion, and The Atlantic Monthly. He served as editor and literary critic for newspapers across the South, from the Wilmington Star to the Atlanta Sun.

Hayne was also close with fellow Charleston native and writer William Gilmore Simms. Both men began their careers as lawyers but gave it up to concentrate on writing. Together, they founded Russell’s Magazine, which Hayne edited.

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Shortly before his death, the Paul Hayne School was opened in his honor, in Birmingham, Ala. On its dedication the school received an original poem by Hayne along with a commemorative book of verse.

Poems of Paul Hamilton Hayne secured his position as poet laureate of the South, a title bestowed on him by numerous critics because of his devotion to his native state, the South, and the men who fought and died in both the Mexican War and the Civil War.

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Paul Hamilton Hayne was only 56 when he died, having endured illness much of his life.

One of Hayne’s poems particularly caught my eye. I wonder if, as a man who knew sickness most of his life, death was on his mind more than most.

Life and Death

I fear thee not, O Death! nay, oft I pine
To clasp thy passionless bosom to mine own,
And on thy heart sob out my latest moan,
Ere lapped and lost in thy strange sleep divine;
But much I fear lest that chill breath of thine
Should freeze all tender memories into stone, —
Lest ruthless and malign Oblivion
Quench the last spark that lingers on love’s shrine:
O God! to moulder through dark, dateless years,
The while all loving ministries shall cease,
And time assuage the fondest mourner’s tears!
Here lies the sting!– this, this it is to die!
And yet great Nature rounds all strife with peace,
And Life or Death, each rests in mystery!

Next time, I’ll share more stories from Magnolia Cemetery. There’s plenty of ground I haven’t covered.

Just one of several tee-lined drives in Magnolia Cemetery.

Just one of several tree-lined drives in Magnolia Cemetery.

Rocky Mountain High: Touring Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery, Part IV

I know you thought I’d never get around to Fairmount’s Mausoleum but today’s the day!

I was truly looking forward to seeing it because at other cemeteries, they often keep their mausoleums locked up and only grant access to family members. Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago is one of them and I was disappointed I couldn’t see it during my visit in 2015.

Fortunately, Fairmount’s Mausoleum is open every day during certain hours and anyone can wander its quiet halls.

Exterior view of the Fairmount Mausoleum entrance.

Exterior view of the Fairmount Mausoleum entrance.

Despite being in the early throes of the Great Depression, Fairmount’s Mausoleum was completed in 1930. The remains of more than 17,000 people are interred there, some in individual or family crypts, others in glass-fronted niches that house urns (which hold cremains).

One of the first things you see when you walk into the airy chapel area where funeral services are held. The stained glass window at the center of it is lovely.

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Many funeral services have been held in the chapel area of Fairmount’s Mausoleum.

Most of the glass was designed and crafted by the family-owned Watkins Stained Glass Studio, a third-generation Denver business. The firm dates back to 1761 London. Charles Watkins was the first to bring their family craft to the U.S. and eventually to Denver in 1868.

Among the pieces are a twin set of windows depicting Pikes Peak in both winter and summer with Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods (which I visited later that week). There is also a stained glass version of The Gleaners by Renoir, based on the book of Ruth in the Bible.

Sunlight coming through the stained glass windows on the upper floor turns rosy in color.

Sunlight coming through the stained glass windows on the upper floor turns rosy in color.

To the left and right of the chapel podium, you can see two large family crypts. One is for the Bonfils family, which played an important part in Denver history. Frederick Gilmer Bonfils purchased what was then the Evening Post, now known as the Denver Post, with Harry Heye Tammen in 1895.

The Bonfils family crypt contains several family members but one is conspicuously absent.

The Bonfils family crypt contains several family members but one is conspicuously absent.

Despite he and partner Harry Heye Tammen's flair for sensationalism, Frederick Gilmer Bonfils turned the Denver Post into an influential newspaper. Photo source: The Denver Post Historical Collection.

Despite he and partner Harry Heye Tammen’s flair for sensationalism, Frederick Gilmer Bonfils turned the Denver Post into an influential newspaper. Photo Source: The Denver Post Historical Collection.

Not unlike today, sensationalism was common in the newspaper business and the Denver Post was no exception. Bonfils and Tammen made a number of enemies as a result. In December 1899, both men were shot by W.W. Anderson, an attorney representing Alfred Packer after a Post article accused Anderson of taking Packer’s life savings as a retainer. Anderson was tried three times but never convicted while Tammen and Bonfils were convicted for jury tampering in the third trial.

In 1900, both Bonfils and Tammen were horsewhipped and hospitalized by a lawyer who disliked their thirst for yellow journalism. The men justified their style with the quote “a dogfight on a Denver street is more important than a war in Europe.” At the time of his death in 1933, Bonfiils was engaged in a libel suit against Roy W. Howard’s rival newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News.

One family member conspicuously absent from the Bonfils crypt is daughter Mary “May” Bonfils Stanton. But I’ll get to her (and her sister Helen) later.

This is just one of many exquisite examples of the stained glass at Fairmount's Mausoleum.

This is just one of many exquisite examples of the stained glass at Fairmount’s Mausoleum.

The abundance of natural light keeps Fairmount's Mausoleum from becoming dreary and dark.

The abundance of natural light keeps Fairmount’s Mausoleum from feeling dreary and dark.

Another view of Colorado Springs' Pike's Peak.

Another view of Colorado Springs’ Pike’s Peak.

I was excited to see the abundance of glass cabinetry housing a wide variety of urns and boxes containing cremains. This is something I’d only seen in pictures of the San Francisco Columbarium, owned and operated by the Neptune Society, which I featured in a previous blog post.

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Most colombarium niches I’ve seen don’t have glass doors but are enclosed with a stone front with the deceased person’s name/dates on it. Note the American flag on some of the urns.

If you look closely, some of the niches contain photos of the deceased.

If you look closely, some of the niches contain photos of the deceased.

After we left the Mausoleum, Michael and I rode to the back part of the cemetery. One of the special areas we passed was Fairmount’s Nisei Japanese American Memorial, which honors Air Force veterans of Japanese American descent who fought in Europe during World War II. They served while their families were incarcerated in prison camps (under Order 9066) in Colorado and California. Most were sent to the European theater to fight for the U.S., often in France and Italy.

Fairmount honors these veterans every Memorial Day, although as the years pass fewer are still alive to attend. I wish the picture I took of the Memorial was clearer.

“Many of them were serving their country and dying on foreign soil, while their families were incarcerated in concentration camps by order 9066,” said Calvin Hada, with the Nisei Veterans Heritage Foundation. Article source: KUSA 9News, Denver, May 30, 2016.

Many of the Nisei were serving their country and dying on foreign soil, while their families were incarcerated in concentration camps by Order 9066, according to Calvin Hada of the Nisei Veterans Heritage Foundation. Article Source: KUSA 9News, Denver, May 30, 2016.

Another area I noticed was Fairmount’s Spanish American War Memorial. It’s a war that doesn’t get the attention others do because it only lasted a handful of months in 1898. But it did affect many families who sent soldiers to Cuba, Guam and the Philippines.

The base of the Spanish American War Memorial's statue was dedicated in 1911 and the top in 1917.

The base of the Spanish American War Memorial’s statue was dedicated in 1911 and the top in 1917.

Colorado’s First Infantry fought in the Philippines and are remembered at Fairmount. The monument itself is gray granite with a bronze statue, but the grave markers around the monument are white marble. Most of these grave markers represent veterans of the Spanish American War, but some are for Civil War veterans.

Many Colorado First Infantry soldiers were present and fought in the Battle of Manila in May 1898.

Fairmount is one of the few cemeteries I’ve visited that has a monument dedicated specifically to Spanish American War veterans.

Earlier I promised to explain the absence of May Bonfils Stanton from the Bonfils family crypt in the Mausoleum. I think it’s a good way to wrap up this series.

Frederick Bonfils and his wife, Belle, had two daughters, May and Helen. Born in 1883, May was the eldest. A strict Catholic, Belle raised her daughters with a close hand while Frederick warned them of the dangers of a man marrying them only for their money. May attended school in New York City and Frederick took her to Europe to study French, art and music. She became an accomplished composer and pianist.

Portait of May Bonfils Stanton. Photo source: Bonfils-Stanton Foundation web page.

Portrait of May Bonfils Stanton. Photo source: Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Web page.

May incurred her father’s wrath by eloping in 1907 with a sheet music salesman (and a non-Catholic) named Clyde Berryman. Frederick was outraged and May’s relationship soured quickly. Helen, her younger sister (and considered her father’s favorite), is said to have further exacerbated the situation. Despite separating a few years after their marriage, May and Clyde did not actually divorce until 1947.

After Frederick died in 1933 (and Belle a few years later), May was given a $25,000 a year income while Helen inherited millions, along with her father’s Denver Post stock. May sued the Bonfils estate for her share of the inheritance. After a long trial, May was awarded half of Belle’s $10 million estate, 15 percent of the newspaper stock, some cash and property. Her relationship with Helen was damaged beyond repair after the trial.

Helen was not exactly a wallflower herself. A woman with the flair for the dramatic, she married actor George Sommes in 1936, although many say claim Sommes was gay. He died in 1956. Helen (then 69) later married her chauffeur, “Tiger” Mike Davis, who was only 28 years old at the time. They divorced in 1971 and Helen died a year later. Davis went on to become a wealthy oilman and died in September 2016.

Helen Bonfils had a love of the theater that lasted her entire life. In 1953, she opened the Bonfils Memorial Theater to honor her parents. After she died, much of her money went to open the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex.

Helen Bonfils had a love of the theater that lasted her entire life. In 1953, she opened the Bonfils Memorial Theater to honor her parents. After she died, much of her money went to open the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex.

Part of May’s inherited property was in the Lakewood area and she developed it into a 750-acre estate she named Belmar that included a mansion built to resemble a French palace. She married long-time friend and architect Charles Stanton in 1956. She was 73 and he was 46. A bit of a recluse, May continued her passion of collecting precious jewels. These included the famous Idol’s Eye Diamond, which she purchased in 1947 from Harry Winston.

Entrance to Belmar's mansion. After May Bonfils Stanton's death, her husband gave the house to the Catholic Archdiocese and they chose to tear it down. The front gates and some outbuildings, however, still exist.

Entrance to the Belmar mansion. After May Bonfils Stanton’s death, her husband gave the house to the Catholic Archdiocese, who chose to tear it down. The front gates and some outbuildings, however, still exist. Photo Source: Denver Public Library Digital Collections.

Both May and Helen gave generously to many philanthropic causes. Helen established the Belle Bonfils Blood Bank in 1943 to honor her mother. In addition to producing a number of Broadway plays and several productions in Denver, Helen was instrumental in establishing the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The Helen Bonfils Theater Complex is named after her.

Lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex. Photo source: Architizer.

Lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex. Photo Source: Architizer.

May’s money helped established the Clinic of Opthalmology at the University of Denver Medical Center, the Bonfils wing at the Denver Museum of Natural History and the library and auditorium of Loretto Heights College (to name a few). After her death in 1962, half of May’s fortune went to her husband, Charles. He established the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, still in operation today.

May was strategically buried in the Bonfils-Stanton mausoleum by herself, which stands just opposite the large Fairmount Mausoleum. Helen is buried in the Bonfils family crypt with her parents and first husband, George Sommes. Even in death, the sisters had no desire to be entombed near each other.

The Bonfils-Stanton mausoleum contains only one person, May Bonfils. Her second husband, Charles, is buried in the Fairmount Mausoleum with his brother, Robert.

The Bonfils-Stanton mausoleum contains only one person, May Bonfils. Her second husband, Charles, is buried in the Fairmount Mausoleum with his brother, Robert.

It’s unusual for me to do a lengthy four-part series on one cemetery alone. But Fairmount proved to have too much history and beauty to limit to just a few posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Fairmount as much as I did visiting there.

Fairmount's Rose Gazebo is a lovely spot to meditate. Fairmount boasts 59 different species of roses on its grounds.

Fairmount’s Rose Gazebo is a lovely spot to meditate. The cemetery boasts 59 different species of roses on its grounds.

 

Rocky Mountain High: Touring Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery, Part III

As we dig into Part III of this series on Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery, I’m going to feature some Coloradans who played an important role in making the city what it is today.

The story of John and Mary Elitch is a happy one for the most part. Together, they founded what began as a zoological garden that is now one of the country’s most successful amusement parks.

A native of Alabama, John Elitch Jr. operated restaurants in both San Francisco and Durango, Calif. with some success. He hoped to finance a vaudeville theater but failed more than once. In the early 1870s, he met 16-year-old Mary Lydia Hauck and was quickly smitten. Born in Philadelphia, Mary spent most of her childhood in California. Despite her parents’ misgivings, the couple eloped and spent their honeymoon in San Jose, Calif.

Young and attractive, John and Mary Elitch were considered the "golden couple" of Denver at that time.

Young and attractive, John and Mary Elitch were considered the “golden couple” of Denver at that time.

Eventually, the Elitches opened a restaurant in Denver in 1880 called the Elitch Palace that became popular with their theater friends, including showman P.T. Barnum. In hopes of supplying the restaurant with fresh produce, the Elitches purchased 16-acre Chillicot Farm on the outskirts of Denver in 1888.

The Elitches moved to the farm, planting vegetable gardens, and Mary added floral gardens. Barnum and Harry Tammen, new owner of the Sells-Floto Circus that wintered near the farm, gave Mary surplus baby animals to fill out her collection of strays. Before long, she was raising bears, lions cubs, monkeys, and an ostrich.

Elitch Zoological Gardens had something for everyone, from animals to theater to picnic grounds.

Elitch’s Zoological Gardens had something for everyone, from animals to a theater to picnic grounds.

In 1889, John and Mary thought that like Woodland Gardens in San Francisco, their farm could be just as attractive to Denver families. By spring 1890, with gardens, a zoo, picnic areas, a playground and a theater, they were ready to open Elitch Gardens to the public. It became a local favorite, often attracting 8,000 to 10,000 patrons on a Sunday.

When the couple made $35,000 during the first season, John used part of the windfall to form another theatrical company. Unfortunately, while traveling with the troupe, John became ill. On March 10, 1891, he died of pneumonia with Mary at his side. He was only 40 years old. He was buried at Fairmount Cemetery.

Despite the loss of her true love, Mary decided to continue managing Elitch Gardens on her own.

In 1904, Mary added the park's first ride, a small toboggan coaster with a figure 8 track layout. It remained until 1925. Photo source: National Amusement Park Historical Association.

In 1904, Mary added the park’s first ride, a small toboggan coaster with a figure 8 track layout. It remained until 1925. Photo source: National Amusement Park Historical Association.

Mary formed a summer stock company in 1897, choosing directors and actors that included James O’Neill, father of famous playwright Eugene O’Neill. Future Broadway and movie stars came, such as Edward G. Robinson, Frederic March and Cecil B. DeMille, who later dubbed Mary’s theater “the cradle of the American drama.”

Remarrying in 1899 to Thomas Long, Mary’s attention to Elitch Gardens began to wane. When Long died in 1906, she handed more of its management over to others. Businessman John Mulvihill purchased Elitch Gardens in 1916 under the proviso that it always keep the Elitch name in its title and that Mary would have a home on the grounds until her death. Both promises were kept. After she died in July 1936, she was buried beside John at Fairmount Cemetery.

Having devoted much of her life to the dream she and her first husband shared, Mary chose to be buried with him at Fairmount in 1936.

Having devoted much of her life to the dream she and her first husband shared, Mary was buried with him at Fairmount in 1936.

The Elitch Theater closed in 1991 but the original building still exists, currently being restored to its former glory. The amusement park, which was moved downtown in 1995, is still attracting families from far and wide.

Another businessman who made a still-existing mark on Denver was William Garrett Fisher. His monument is one I’ve seen in various forms at other cemeteries in the past, so I was especially intrigued by it. I’m posting them both here so you can see what I mean. Below is the monument I photographed at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tenn.

This is a monument at Nashville's Mt. Olivet Cemetery that I took a few years ago.

This is a monument at Nashville, Tenn.’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery that I took a few years ago.

Now look at the Fisher monument. They’re a lot alike but can you see the differences? Both angels have their right hand lifted up, but only one holds a trumpet to her lips. The Fisher monument’s angel also holds a palm frond in her left hand while the Mt. Olivet one does not. The kneeling figures are each holding different items.

fishermonument

I didn’t get as good of a photo of the Fisher monument but you can still see some notable differences between the two.

According to Annette Scott’s “Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old West”, this monument could be found in circulars produced by Bliss Brothers, photographers based in Buffalo, N.Y. The monument for Joseph Horne, founder of Horne’s Department Store in Pittsburgh, Pa., is exactly the same as the Fisher monument.

Merchant William B. Daniels came to Denver in 1864, where he began the dry goods business that later became Daniels and Fisher. William Garrett Fisher became his business partner in 1872. The company was so successful that by the 1890s it had become the largest retailer in the state, with a prominent store at the corner of Sixteenth and Lawrence Streets.

Photos of William Garrett Fisher and his wife, Mary Frances Cherry Fisher.

Photos of William Garrett Fisher and his wife, Mary Frances Cherry Fisher.

Daniels died in 1890 and Fisher died in 1897. Daniels’ son, William, reorganized the store before he hired friend Charles MacAllister Willcox as general manager. William then left for Europe, where he chose to spend his time at a rented castle in France.

While Fisher didn’t live to see it, the business he helped make a success spawned the 330-foot Daniels and Fisher Tower in Denver (375 feet if you included the flagpole). Designed by Frederick G. Sterner, it was based on St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, which had collapsed in 1902. The Campanile was being rebuilt at the time, inspiring replicas around the world. The clock tower opened in 1911 as a way to draw shoppers to the adjacent Daniels and Fisher department store. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

Postcard of the Daniels & Fisher Tower when it was the tallest building in Denver.

Postcard of the Daniels & Fisher Tower when it was the tallest building in Denver. Photo source: Attic Postcards.

Although Daniels and Fisher eventually merged with another company and moved into a different building in the 1950s, the tower remained. Despite threats of demolition, the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission convinced the city council to declare the Daniels and Fisher Tower a landmark. Soon after that the tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

By the 1990s the tower’s exterior was looking forlorn. Tenants Richard Hentzell and Michael Urbana spearheaded an extensive renovation effort with the help of several State Historical Fund grants totaling more than $500,000. Nearly every part of the building was restored, including the Seth Thomas clock and observation deck. The $5 million effort was completed in 2006.

dftowertoday

While it faced a grim future in the 1970s, preservationists prevailed and the beloved Denver landmark continues to stand tall. Photo source: hweiming.

Today, the tower houses mostly office condominiums as well as an events venue on the upper floors. Visitors can access the tower’s observation deck in April as part of Doors Open Denver or arrange private tours through Clocktower Events. We walked by it several times during our stay in Denver.

I’m including the next person more for their monument than their history, although the life of Frederick Dearborn Wight was quite illustrious. A native of Maine, Wight served as First Lieutenant with Co. A, 1st Maine Sharpshooters, which participated in the siege of Petersburg, Va. Wight was present at Appomattox Court House, Va. for the surrender of General Robert E. Lee. Later, he moved to Colorado and was successful in ranching and banking.

Wight’s monument is quite something to behold.

Prominent stonemason Richard Swanson designed and executed "Remembrance" for Frederick D. Wight's grave.

Prominent stonemason Richard Swanson designed and executed “Remembrance” for Frederick D. Wight’s family plot.

Thanks to a Rocky Mountain News article someone posted on Find a Grave, I found out quite a bit about it. Called “Remembrance”, the total weight of the monument is 125,000 lbs., including the statue, base and settings. “One stone set back of the statue alone weighs 11 tons and required 10 horses to haul it to the cemetery,” notes the article.” It also claims the Wight monument to be the largest private monument in Colorado at that time.

Wight’s estate was noted to have been a little over $2 million dollars in 1911 when he died. So the $12,000 cost of the light gray granite monument (with a bronze statue) was a tiny drop in the bucket.

The Wight monument was touted as being the largest private memorial in Colorado at that time (1911).

The Wight monument was touted as being the largest private memorial in Colorado at that time (1911).

Richard Swanson, who also designed the Pinhorn and Smails mausoleums at Fairmount, designed and executed the Wight monument, and was well known in Denver for his work. A native of Iowa, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute and worked there for some years before moving to Denver for health reasons.

The final stop for today is the humble grave of Fairmount Cemetery’s original designer, Reinhard Schuetze. Born in Germany, he trained at Potsdam’s Royal Gardens and the Eberswalde forestry academy.

Schuetze arrived in America in 1889 with a wide knowledge of garden design and engineering. He designed and implemented a plan for Fairmount Cemetery, which resulted in a well-ordered and extensively engineered landscape inspired by his knowledge of European formal and picturesque prototypes.

The humble grave of German architect and horticultural designer Reinhard Schuetze and his wife, Anna. It is marked with a Woodman of the World seal, indicating he was a member.

The humble grave of German architect and horticultural designer Reinhard Schuetze and his wife, Anna. It is marked with a Woodman of the World seal, indicating he was a member.

Schuetze worked and lived at Fairmount until 1894, when the City of Denver hired him away to develop it parks system (including Washington and Cheesman). He was also
commissioned in 1895 to design the Colorado State Capitol grounds and zoological
garden.
Photo Source: Brian K. Thomason, 2014: The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

The City Park Esplanade extends from Colfax Avenue to Denver’s largest park. The quarter-mile long promenade exemplifies French landscape architecture principles. Attributed to Schuetze and George Kessler, the esplanade was designed in 1905 and planted in 1907 but not fully completed until 1918. Photo source: Brian K. Thomason, 2014: The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

I know I’ve disappointed you yet again by not getting to Fairmount’s Mausoleum. But it deserves an installment all its own to truly give it justice. Your patience will pay off next week.

Rocky Mountain High: Touring Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery, Part II

Last week, I started my tour of Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery. This week, we’ll explore the lives of more of its occupants. Some were memorable role models but a few were unsavory characters, such as Dr. John Galen Locke.

The Locke mausoleum is within sight of the Iliff monument (which I talked about in my last post). Nothing on it indicates that inside are the remains of the man who almost single-handedly led the Klu Klux Klan’s brief hold on Denver’s government in the 1920s.

A native of New York, Dr. John Galen Locke wielded the power that enable the Ku Klux Klan to rule Denver's government in the early 1920s. You can see the Iliff monument and Little Ivy Chapel in the background.

A native of New York, Dr. John G. Locke wielded the power that enabled the Ku Klux Klan to rule Denver’s capitol the 1920s. You can see the Iliff monument and Little Ivy Chapel in the background.

Arriving in Denver in 1893, Dr. John Galen Locke was an early backer of the Ku Klux Klan’s arrival in Colorado. Short and obese, Locke was an unlikely looking man of influence. But when he became Denver’s Klan Grand Dragon in 1921, he was just that.

According to Robert Goldberg’s book “Hooded Empire, the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado”, Locke’s influence over the 1924 elections of Governor Clarence Morley, Mayor Benjamin Stapleton, and the state legislature were key. By Nov. 5 of that year, the Klan controlled the state Republican party, all but four counties east of the Rocky Mountains, the City of Denver, the state government, and made gains in the judiciary.

As a doctor with homeopathic leanings, Dr. John G. Locke dropped dead of a heart attack in 1935.

Dr. John G. Locke dropped dead of a heart attack in 1935 at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver.

So how did the Klan become a major force in Colorado when the state’s African-American population was incredibly small? In the post-World War I era, anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant leanings were strong. Stapleton actually denounced the Klan when he ran for office while secretly being a member. But after the Klan swept through the Capitol, it became acceptable to openly identify one’s membership with the group.

Locke was not exactly a poster boy for the Klan. He had a Catholic wife at one point and employed two Catholic secretaries. He looked to Jews and Catholics for his legal advice. Some historians believe it was Locke’s thirst for power that drove his Klan allegiance rather than an ideological stance. But it made him no less dangerous.

The Klan marches down Denver's Larimer Street on May 31, 1926. Photo source: The Denver Public Library Western History Collection.

The Klan marches down Denver’s Larimer Street on May 31, 1926. Photo source: The Denver Public Library Western History Collection.

Eventually, Locke’s missteps sealed his fate when he started butting heads with Mayor Stapleton and other heavy hitters. He served jail time for multiple counts of income tax fraud. By 1925, he was asked to step down as the Klan’s Grand Wizard and the organization’s grip on Colorado (thankfully) began to shatter.

Locke died unexpectedly in 1935 when he dropped dead of a heart attack while at Denver’s famous Brown Palace Hotel. Ironically, a Catholic and a Jew were among his pallbearers. According to Goldberg, the night after his interment, a band of ex-Klansmen secretly entered the cemetery and lit a cross before his crypt.

Not far from the Locke mausoleum is the Bethell-Foster family plot featuring a monument of a mother, seated, with a young boy leaning against her.

This statue, originally called “Soar”, was created by the Carrarra, Italy firm of H.T. Dempster. In catalogues, it was renamed “Mother and Son” by some importers.

This monument, originally called “Soar”, was purchased by Captain William Decatur Bethell and his wife, Cynthia Saunders Pillow Bethell, to honor their two sons, Pinckney C. Bethell and J. Pillow Bethell. The young men died in the 1890s while still in their 20s. Their daughter, Bessie, married prominent doctor John McEwen Foster and lived to the age of 73.

A wealthy man, Captain Bethell moved his family from Memphis to Denver in 1890 to improve his health. He and Cynthia built an ornate home in the Capital Hill area and the couple quickly became part of Denver’s high society.

Here's a closer view of it.

Here’s a closer view of it.

The Bethells purchased the marble monument from Carrara, Italy firm H.T. Dempster (or someone who imported it from them). In 1895, the cost was around $350. Originally called “Soar”, it also came in Westerly granite at the cost of $918. Sadly, Captain Bethell died 11 years later, joining his sons in the family plot.

One of Denver’s most prominent education pioneers is buried at Fairmount. Her work enabled made many who would have never afforded to go to school to do so. Unfortunately, her life ended violently and the tragedy remains shrouded in mystery.

Born in Cincinnati in 1868, Emily Griffith grew up poor, leaving school after eighth grade to help support her family. At 17, she worked as a teacher in Nebraska. To reduce living expenses, she lived with her students’ families and realized many of them could not read, write, or do simple math. She felt that an education was the only way to lift people out of poverty, allowing parents to provide a better life for their children.

The Emily Griffith Opportunity School’s motto was “Public Opportunity — For All Who Wish to Learn.” Photo source: Denver Public Library Western History Collection

In 1894, Griffith’s family moved to Denver where she continued to teach. She was made Deputy State Superintendent of Schools in 1904. Serving six years, she left twice to return to working with students before returning to her post. Griffith also started teaching night classes for adults. She believed everyone deserved an education regardless of age, race, gender, or background.

The Emily Griffith Opportunity School (named that upon her retirement in 1933) is still part of the Denver Public School System operating as the Emily Griffith Technical College as an alternative high school.

The Emily Griffith Opportunity School (named that upon her retirement in 1933) is still part of the Denver Public School System, operating as Emily Griffith High School and Emily Griffith Technical College.

In 1916, Emily opened the Opportunity School. Dedicated to her students, she gave them food and money, and worked with police to help troubled children. She retired in 1933, after 100,000 students had attended her school. That same year, Emily’s name was added to the title of the school, which later split into the Emily Griffith High School as well as the Emily Griffith Technical College.

While both schools recently moved into a new state-of-the-art building, their mission remains the same today. It offers more than 45 programs and 500-plus classes in a variety of subjects, designed to prepare students for the workforce. Its English as a Second Language program is the oldest and largest in Colorado, with 3,000 students enrolled last year.

Unfortunately, Emily’s story does not end happily.

Emily Griffith and her sister, Florence, hoped to make this rustic cabin their retirement home. That dream ended in murder in 1947.

Emily Griffith and her sister, Florence, made this rustic cabin their retirement home. That dream ended in murder in 1947.

Having never married or had children, Emily moved to a rustic cabin in Pinecliffe with her invalid sister, Florence. The cabin’s builder was Fred Lundy, an old friend and former teacher at the school, who lived nearby. It was also quite isolated.

Emily and Florence were found dead on June 19, 1947. The two were shot in the back of the head, execution-style, with no signs of a struggle. In fact, the kitchen table was set for three diners with food prepared. Nothing appeared disturbed, and no money was missing.

A man who delivered groceries to the sisters earlier that day said he was greeted by the two sisters and Lundy. By the next morning, Lundy had disappeared. A witness claimed he’d seen Lundy getting on a Denver-bound freight train, and his car was found near Pinecliffe. When police broke the window to get inside, they found a suitcase filled with the $555 Lundy had withdrawn from his bank a week earlier, along with a note that read:

To the coroner: If and when I die, please ship my body to Roscoe, Illinois, to be buried in our family plot. No autopsy. Contact [cousin] Roy Cummings. No funeral here. Money in this briefcase can be used for immediate expenses. Thank you. P.S. Embalm in Boulder, Colorado.

Emily and Florence Griffith rest in peace beneath a tree in Fairmount Cemetery.

Emily and Florence Griffith rest in peace beneath a tree in Fairmount Cemetery.

In August of that year, a fisherman found Lundy’s remains in South Boulder Creek, wedged beneath a rock. By now, rumors had cropped up that Lundy had fallen in love with Emily, but she had spurned him. Others suggested Emily was sick and could no longer care for her sister, so Lundy had ended their lives as a mercy killing.

Regardless, the murders remains unsolved to this day. The sisters were cremated immediately so no autopsies were performed and what evidence remained was lost to storage changes and a fire. It’s a sad end to a life dedicated to helping others, one that is still impacting the world today.

This is a photo I took of a stained glass window of Emily Griffith at the Denver Capitol building. I saw it when we were taking a tour, before my visit to Fairmont, not knowing who she was.

This is a photo I took of a stained glass window of Emily Griffith at the Denver Capitol building. I saw it when we were taking a tour, before my visit to Fairmont, not knowing who she was. Pardon the lamp sticking into it.

As you can see, I haven’t gotten to the Fairmount Mausoleum yet. Just too many stories to share. Sorry! We’ll get there in Part III, I promise.

Rocky Mountain High: Touring Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery, Part I

When people travel, there are certain preparations everybody makes. Toothpaste? Check. Plane ticket? Check. Cemetery map? Check.

Well, maybe not everybody when it comes to that last one.

As I prepared for our family summer vacation to Denver this past summer, I hopped online to see what cemeteries were in the area. Denver has a number of cemeteries, but I kept going back to Fairmount. I didn’t know then that it had a tie to Georgia.

As the second oldest large cemetery in the city, Fairmount opened in 1890 when Denver was still quite young (established in 1858). At 280 acres, the cemetery was the largest developed landscape west of the Mississippi. The grounds were designed by German-born architect Reinhard Schuetze, who I’ll talk about more next week.

Photo of Denver from 1898, source: Wikimedia Commons.

Photo of Denver from 1898. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

denverskyline

The view from Denver’s capitol building dome this summer during a tour. It overlooks Civic Center Park and the Denver City and County Building. The Denver Post’s offices are in the white building on the right.

Fairmount is still a very active cemetery, has a funeral home, modern offices and a crematorium. Not long ago, they added space for meetings and events as well. They even hold popular movie nights on one of their greenspaces.

Fairmount Cemetery recently added movie nights to their event schedule. They were hosting a screening of

Fairmount Cemetery recently added movie nights to their event schedule. They were hosting a screening of “E.T.” (not shown here) the evening of the day I visited. Photo source: Fairmount Cemetery web site.

A week before our trip, I took the risk of calling Fairmount’s office to find out if they gave tours. I use the word “risk” only because some cemeteries do not take kindly to crazy visitors like me who ask a lot of questions and want to write about their cemetery.

Fortunately, that was not the case at all with Fairmount (which is still blessedly independently owned and operated). I left a message and within a few days, Fairmount’s director of business development Michael Long called me back.

Entrance gate to Fairmount Cemetery. Photo source: Fairmount Cemetery and Crematorium.

Entrance gate to Fairmount Cemetery. Photo source: Fairmount Cemetery web site.

I did explain that I was coming from Atlanta so I wouldn’t be buying a plot because I didn’t want to take up his valuable time without disclosing that. Thankfully, this didn’t bother him in the least and he even offered to take me on a golf cart tour of Fairmount’s grounds. I nearly dropped the phone, I was so surprised and pleased.

After we’d been in Denver a few days, I dropped off my husband and son at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and headed over to Fairmount. Diane Kandt, who I later discovered is manager of first impressions, greeted me in the office. Whoever came up with that title had Diane in mind because she is excellent at her job, making me feel at ease while I waited for Michael.

Fairmount's Director of Business and Manager of First Impressions Diane Kandt were a pleasure to meet and talk to. Above them is an old panoramic photo of the cemetery with the Ivy Chapel featured.

Fairmount’s director of business Michael Long and manager of first impressions Diane Kandt were a pleasure to meet. Above them is an old panoramic photo of the cemetery with the Little Ivy Chapel featured.

It was already in the 90s with bright sunlight when our tour began, so I apologize for the quality of my photos. Some of the pictures I took with my phone came out blurry so I borrowed some from Fairmount’s web site.

The Little Ivy Chapel at Fairmount was built when the cemetery opened in 1890. It's a good example of 13th-century Ecclesiastical High French Gothic Revival style and was designated a landmark by the City of Denver. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

Fairmount’s Little Ivy Chapel (originally called the “Mortuary Chapel”) was built when the cemetery opened in 1890. It’s a lovely example of the 13th-century Ecclesiastical High French Gothic Revival style. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

Despite ongoing renovations, Michael showed me the inside of the chapel, designed by Henry Ten Eyck Wendell. A New York native and Cornell graduate, Wendell also designed Fairmount’s Gate Lodge and several Denver homes.

Henry T.E. Wendell also designed Fairmount's Gate Lodge in 1890. The building now serves as the office, archives, library, and meeting areas for the Fairmount Heritage Foundation. Photo source: Fairmount Cemetery.

Henry T.E. Wendell also designed Fairmount’s Gate Lodge. The sandstone building now serves as the office, archives, library, and meeting area for the Fairmount Heritage Foundation. Photo source: Fairmount Cemetery.

One of those homes was the Henry Treat Rogers house (since torn down) at 1739 E. 13th Ave. The house is said to be the inspiration for the 1980 film “The Changeling” starring George C. Scott. I watched it once and it scared the bejeebers out of me. The house was located near Cheesman Park, which was built over what was originally Denver City Cemetery (a story for an entire blog post).

Henry designed the new St. Paul's Episcopal Church after it had burned down in 1916. It was under construction when he died.

Wendell designed the new St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Augusta, Ga. after it burned down in 1916. It was under construction when he died. He is buried in Augusta’s Westover Cemetery.

Now here’s where the Georgia connection begins. Wendell arrived in Augusta, Ga. around 1908 during a building boom. He was soon busy designing homes for prominent families and the new St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which had burned in 1916. It was halfway through construction when Wendell died at the age of 55.

Despite having a home in Augusta, Wendell was staying at the local Albion Hotel the night he was served a warrant for his arrest, the charge thought to be for a “moral indiscretion.” The bizarre story of his death, which involved him jumping over a stair railing, is worth reading.

This photo of the Little Ivy Chapel's interior comes from Fairmount's Web site.

The interior of the Little Ivy Chapel, which seats 70 to 80 people. It is used for funeral services, weddings, and concerts. Photo source: Fairmount Cemetery’s Web site.

Built in 1890 when Fairmount opened, the Little Ivy Chapel is a prime example of 13th-century Ecclesiastical French Gothic architecture and was designated a historical landmark by the City of Denver in 1976. Michael hosted a short video about it that you can watch here.

ivychapelorgan

About half of the Little Ivy Chapel’s organ pipes were built by A. R. Schoppe Sons of Alliance, Ohio, one of the pipe makers for the Trinity Methodist Church in Denver in 1888. The wood pipes came from Erie, Pa. and are a combination of cherry and white gum.

Dr. James Bratton, Professor Emeritus of Denver University, designed the chapel’s organ for Stephen E. Watson of the Watson Memorial Co. The pipes were custom made in Germany, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Ohio. It was built by Norman Lane, Denver’s first resident organ architect-builder since the late 19th century. Originally designed to be placed in Mr. Watson’s home, it was installed in the Little Ivy Chapel in 1977.

After seeing the chapel, we began our golf cart tour of the grounds. Nearby is the imposing but beautiful Iliff family monument. I found out later that it weights a whopping 65 tons!

The 65-ton Iliff monument was originally installed at Riverside Cemetery but was moved in 1920 when John Iliff's daughter Louise had his remains taken to Fairmount for re-interrment.

The 65-ton Iliff monument was originally installed at Denver’s Riverside Cemetery but was moved in 1920 when John Iliff’s daughter Louise had his remains taken to Fairmount for re-interment.

An Ohio native, John Wesley Iliff turned down an offer from his father for an interest in a local farm and headed west at the age of 21. In Kansas, he helped organize Ohio City Town Company in 1857 and built the first store there. He moved to Auroria (now Denver), Kansas Territory, in 1859 with a wagon load of goods and opened a successful general merchandise store amid the Colorado gold rush that brought fortune seekers from around the country.

While John Iliff joined the push of fortune seekers heading to Colorado, he chose to open a store instead of seeking wealth in gold. Photo source: iStockPhoto image © Duncan Walker.

John Iliff joined the rush of fortune seekers known as “Fifty-Niners” heading to Colorado (then Kansas Territory). But he opened a store instead of seeking wealth digging for gold. Photo source: iStockPhoto image © Duncan Walker.

In 1861, Iliff sold the store and bought cattle weakened after the long trek across the Plains. After nursing and fattening the cattle, he sold them for a substantial profit. He married his Ohio sweetheart Sarah Elizabeth “Sade” Smith in January 1864, but she died a few months after giving birth to their only child, William, in 1865.

A native of Ohio, John Iliff attended but did not graduate from Ohio Wesleyan University. He turned down his father's offer of an interest in an Ohio farm before heading west. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

Known as the “Cattle King”, John W. Iliff attended but did not graduate from Ohio Wesleyan University.  Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1868, Iliff moved to Cheyenne, Wyo. to better manage his operations selling beef to railroads there. He owned 15,500 acres in 54 sections (always near water) throughout Colorado. Later, he returned to Denver where he had successfully invested in real estate and banks, as well as shares of Chicago’s Union Stockyards.

In 1877, Iliff become ill with a gall bladder obstruction created by his many years of drinking alkali water on the Colorado plains. He died in 1878. His second wife, Elizabeth Frazer Iliff, continued running his large business operations and raising their children. Eventually, she sold his ranch holdings and invested the proceeds. After marrying Bishop Henry White Warren in 1883, the couple later donated $100,000 to endow Iliff School of Theology (located by the University of Denver).

After John Iliff's death, his wife

Several years after John Iliff’s death, his remarried widow donated $100,000 to endow the Iliff School of Theology. Photo source: http://www.gradschools.com.

John Iliff was originally buried at Denver’s oldest cemetery, Riverside. But in 1920, his daughter Louise had his remains re-interred at Fairmount. The 65-ton Iliff monument was also moved. Elizabeth (whose second husband died in 1912) died in 1920 and was buried in the Iliff plot at Fairmount with her first husband, John.

Next week in Part II, I’ll continue my tour of Fairmount. It includes a visit to the  mausoleum, which has one of Denver’s finest stained glass collections.

fairmountmausoleum

For All That Might Have Been: The Cemeteries of Nebraska’s Norfolk State Hospital for the Insane, Part II

Last week, I shared some of the history of Nebraska’s Norfolk Regional Center (formerly the Norfolk State Hospital for the Insane or Norfolk Asylum) and the NRC’s New Cemetery, along with stories of patients that lived there.

I preface today’s post with an admission of guilt. I went into a condemned building slated for demolition, something I have never done before. I am a rule follower 99 percent of the time. But on this day, the rebel in me superseded my usual mild-mannered self.

That’s one reason I waited until after demolition to post these photos, because I did not want to encourage anyone else to act as I did. Looking back, Christi and I could have injured ourselves. There wasn’t a soul around that day so if we had, I don’t know how we would have gotten help if we couldn’t reach our phones. In other words, don’t be a bonehead like us. Stay out of abandoned buildings!

Oddly enough, this former asylum building was low-cost housing for several years before being prepared for demolition. I suspect squatters were still living in it even when we were there because the satellite dish was still in evidence.

Oddly enough, this NRC building was a “low-cost dorm” for several years before being prepared for demolition. I suspect squatters were still living in it even when we were there because the satellite dish was still in evidence outside.

When we arrived at the NRC on a sunny Saturday in April, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen a photo essay about the place written by a talented photographer who had been there in January 2015. The remaining buildings slated for demolition that she photographed looked to be boarded up with a lot of “no trespassing signs” so I had little hope we’d see anything interesting. I was wrong.

View of the left side of the former asylum building that was converted into low-cost housing. Notice the new widows installed on the top floor.

View of the left side of the former asylum building that was converted into low-cost housing. Notice the new windows installed on the top floor compared to the old ones with rusting blinds.

Conditions were different for us. First, because it was a Saturday, not a single soul was in sight. Fencing had been taken down and the signs were gone. Doors and windows were boarded up in the first building we walked up to, but there was no fence around it any longer.

The front doors were padlocked so we made no attempt to go inside. Apparently, the building was occupied up until about six years ago as a “low-cost dorm.” Stories about the conditions in that building vary but some residents claimed to hear a lot of unexplained noises at different times, especially on the off-limits locked up third floor.

Another view of the former asylum building. The twisted up blinds against the broken windows was an eerie sight.

Another view of the former asylum building. The twisted up blinds against the broken windows were an eerie sight.

I also read that squatters lived in it after the building was officially closed (it flunked a plumbing inspection and mold had gotten bad). There may have been people still living inside when we were there but I can’t imagine it was a pleasant experience with no heat/AC or running water.

A series of underground tunnels once connected the NRC buildings for decades, but they were sealed up before demolition. The harsh Nebraska winters probably necessitated such passageways back then.

A side view. More broken windows and rusty stairways.

A side view. More broken windows and rusty stairways. I apologize for the poor quality.

We walked toward the next building we saw and I realized the front entrance that had been boarded up in the pictures from January 2015 was wide open. No signs were present telling us to keep out. I believe it was last used primarily for employees, not patients. But I have no doubt some patients were seen there at some point.

This was the NRC administration building, I later learned. It was wide open when we were there.

This was the NRC employee building, I later learned. It was wide open when we were there. I don’t know if patients spent much time there. You can see construction equipment to the right and the NRC physical plant.

A number of window air conditioning units and other debris littered the grass.

A number of window air conditioning units and other debris littered the grass.

As Christi and I walked up to the building, I abandoned my usual common sense and proceeded to clamber over the debris and went inside. Christi followed. There were sharp nails sticking up and all manner of hazards, but because the floor appeared to be concrete, I wasn’t worried about us stepping through a rotten wooden floor. Still, I can’t believe I did it.

Entrance to the employee building, with no “keep out” signs in sight.

We explored the ground floor first, careful to avoid nails. I was half afraid I’d step on one and get tetanus.

Boarded up windows and old cast iron furnace units.

Boarded up windows and old cast iron furnace units.

This might have been used as a medication storage room or was a nursing station. The mold was apparent.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this room was, perhaps it was a staff kitchen.

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There were holes in a lot of the walls, and I’m not sure why.

A side door was propped open. Outside you can see construction equipment and plenty of dirt.

A side door was propped open. Outside you can see construction equipment and plenty of dirt. Notice the flaking lead paint.

Obviously, nobody was abiding by the sign any longer.

Obviously, nobody was abiding by the sign any longer.

Sad little pillow left behind on the floor.

Sad little pillow left behind on the floor. Sorry it’s blurry.

American flag on a moldy wall.

American flag on a moldy wall.

We wandered down toward the other end of the ground floor and I found the stairway down into the basement. I don’t like basements so I didn’t venture down there. If squatters were going to be in the building, I figured they might be down there.

Nope, not going down there!

Nope, not going down there!

More pealing paint and a little sofa left behind.

More pealing paint and a little sofa left behind.

This was probably the creepiest photo I took.

This was probably the creepiest photo I took.

Christi was still exploring downstairs when I looked up the staircase to the second floor. I went up and stood at the top of the landing.

But before I had moved more than a few feet, I heard what I can only describe as one of the most unearthly sounds I’ve ever heard. A chill shot straight down my spine. My first thought was that I had startled a squatter and she had wailed, because the noise sounded like a woman.

I don't know who or what made that awful sound but I didn't linger to find out.

I don’t know who or what made that awful sound up there but I didn’t linger to find out.

I do not put much stock in the paranormal or ghosts. But I am willing to concede that whatever I heard up there sounded NOT of this world. I turned around and hot footed it downstairs to Christi. I wanted out of there NOW. Having heard the same sound, she readily agreed and we went out the side door. The bright sunlight and fresh air instantly made me feel better.

If you want to see more and much better photos, visit my friend Trish’s page. She visited the NRC a few weeks later with a friend and was braver than we were, including going down into the basement. You will definitely want to read what happened when she went up to the second floor.

A window at the basement level.

A window at the basement level.

Across the way was the physical plant with its huge smokestack. Another utility building behind it was already partially demolished. These buildings all had asbestos warning signs so we didn’t go inside.

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This building and the other power/utility buildings left all had asbestos warnings on them so we didn’t get too close.

Behind these buildings, we saw what looked like barns. These were probably in use when the NRC had its own gardens to provide the patients’ food.

A large log blocked the road to the barns but we walked over to check it out anyway.

A large log blocked the road to the barns but we walked over to check it out anyway. Still no warning signs.

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The roof on this barn makes me think it’s been there quite a while.

Did I stick my head in to look around? Nope. But Christi did go around the other side to look in quickly. It was too dark to see much.

Did I stick my head in to look around? Nope. But Christi did go around the other side to look in quickly. It was too dark to see much.

By this time, I was ready to see some cemeteries. We visited the New Cemetery first and then went in search of the old one. If you drive on the dirt trail behind the agricultural center, you will find yourself in the fields behind NRC. We parked and walked toward where we thought it was.

A word of warning. This past week I found pictures a man took of the Old Cemetery in 2011. His caption noted that anyone wanting to visit it needs to get permission to be escorted onto the property, which he had done. They took him by golf cart and let him go inside to look around, then took him back to his car. I got the sense this is private property from what he wrote. So if you do what we did, you may be asked to leave.

At the time of our visit, I did not know any of this. We found the cemetery among some trees and there were no signs saying to keep out. The gate was not locked but was secured by a twined wire that I easily unwound.

As you can see, there are no signs indicating visitors should not enter. The gate is on the left side of the photo.

As you can see, there are no signs indicating visitors should not enter. The gate is on the left side of the photo.

Only three markers are in the Old Cemetery but Find a Grave lists a total of 75 people buried there. Little is known about most of them.

The son of James and Sarah Grant Zink,  Marion Earnest Zink was a native of Iowa. According to the 1900 Census, he was heading a household that contained himself, one of his brother, his sister, her husband and their daughter.

This is a poor quality photo of Marion Zink's grave marker. Head injuries sent him to the NRC.

This is a poor quality photo of Marion Zink’s grave marker. Head injuries sent him to the NRC.

His Find a Grave memorial included an obituary in the March 10, 1910 Sherman County Times:

Word was received here yesterday of the death of Marion E. Zink, who died in the insane asylum. Mr. Zink, as will be remembered was found in a pitiful condition in Denver where it is supposed he was beaten and robbed and from which condition he suffered mental derangement, and he was sent to the hospital for the insane at Lincoln. He was about 35 years of age and lived near Austin prior to his being sent to Lincoln.

Of course, Zink had not been sent to Lincoln but Norfolk. But if the rest of this sad tale is true, I can’t imagine the pain his family probably felt.

imageA native of Polk County, Indiana, John Lewis was 21 in 1861 when he enlisted in the Union Army as a private in the 4th Iowa Infantry Regiment and was later promoted to corporal. He re-enlisted more than once. Company E saw action at Vicksburg, Chattanooga and the Battle of Atlanta. He mustered out July 24, 1865.

Census records from 1885 show him living in Clarinda, Iowa (home of another mental hospital). Lewis applied for an Invalid’s Pension on July 3, 1888, in Iowa. He died at the NRC on Nov. 29, 1911. Mary E. Lewis, his widow, applied for a widow’s pension on May 4, 1912, based on his service.

A native of Chatham, Canada, Calvin Carey was born in the 1840s and also served in Union Army during the Civil War. He enlisted as a Private in New York on March 10, 1863. After a few transfers, he started active service in Company G, 94th New York Infantry Regiment. Carey was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. He was discharged on March 5, 1865, with Distinguished Service noted on his record.

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After the war, Carey married Sarah Ann Hadden, settling in Michigan. The couple had nine children and also lived in Iowa and Nebraska. He is listed in the 1889 Omaha city directory as a laborer. Their last child was born in 1892. Carey died at the NRC Only three years later on Feb. 19, 1895. The 1900 census records show his wife and three of his children living in Adams, Neb.

I am sure many of you are curious as to why there are so few markers for so many dead. I can’t answer that entirely except to say that such was the case at many mental hospitals across the country during this time. Patients were often poor and many had lost touch with family. There was usually nobody there to mourn them, to pay for a marker that would signify their life.

This week, I read a story about an adopted a 12-year-old boy in Fargo, N.D. who spent the summer mowing lawns to raise money to purchase a grave marker for his biological father, whom he had never met. The man was buried in Chicago with no marker.

This wise young man said something that resonated with me and could be applied to this situation. “I don’t think anybody should go unknown in life, even though their choices they made or anything.”

For All That Might Have Been: The Cemeteries of Nebraska’s Norfolk State Hospital for the Insane, Part I

I’ve wanted to write about Nebraska’s Norfolk Regional Center (NRC) cemeteries since April, but I couldn’t until now. I can now share my photos and stories because most of the NRC buildings that remained were demolished in July/August. Today I’m going to talk about the NRC’s history and one of its two cemeteries. While visiting, I discovered the graves of two women connected to famous Nebraska pioneer and storyteller, Jules Sandoz. But more about them later!

This is the Norfolk Regional Center as it looks today. This is the only building left and it houses the sex offender treatment center. Photo source: www.das.nebraska.gov

This is the Norfolk Regional Center as it looks today. This is the only occupied building left (as far as I know) and it houses a sex offender treatment center for 120 patients. Photo source: http://www.das.nebraska.gov

A few years ago, I wrote about my ancestor Levi Mercer’s burial in the cemetery of what was once the Athens Insane Asylum in Ohio. So I have a soft spot in my heart for those who are buried in nameless graves, many never marked at all.

I read about the NRC in preparation for my Nebraska Odyssey 2016 with Christi. She and I took a tour of the then still operating state mental hospital in Clarinda, Iowa a few years ago. They had a nice museum you could visit by appointment, which we did. I wasn’t a “hopper” then so I didn’t visit their cemetery.

The facility has since closed and the few patients it served were transferred to other facilities and so I think the huge building sits empty. I never forgot what I saw there. So I knew I wanted to visit the NRC if we happened to be in the Norfolk area.

Undated photo of the NRC administrative building. It was one of the last buildings to be demolished. Photo source: www.asylumproject.org.

Undated photo of the NRC administrative building. It was one of the last buildings to be demolished. Photo source: http://www.asylumproject.org.

The NRC opened in 1886 and I’m not entirely sure if it was called the Norfolk Insane Asylum or Norfolk State Hospital for the Insane due to conflicting information.  Because of Nebraska’s increasing population, the State Lunatic Asylum (as it was called) in Lincoln had become overcrowded. The Nebraska legislature set aside $75,000 in 1885 to build a state hospital for the insane, provided Norfolk would donate 320 acres of “good land.” They did, and the first building was completed on November 1886. Below is a picture of what four of the buildings looked like at one time.

Photo courtesy of Photo of four buildings for the Norfolk State Hospital for the Insane. Photo source: Elkhorn Valley Museum and Research Center, Norfolk, Nebraska.

Photo of four buildings for the Norfolk State Hospital for the Insane. Photo source: Elkhorn Valley Museum and Research Center, Norfolk, Nebraska.

While some patients suffered from genuinely serious mental illness, many would not be considered mentally ill or in need of institutionalization today. In the 19th century, patients were admitted for such reasons as “domestic trouble, disappointment in love, financial trouble, hepatic dullness, heredity, intemperance, overwork, sun stroke, and others.”

One article I read reaffirmed something else I had heard about many mental institutions at that time. Historian Nancy Zaruba said, “”It was basically an old people’s home,” she said. “If families didn’t know what to do with Uncle John, that’s where they put him.”

In 1901, a fire destroyed all but one building. Only one patient died, and the rest were moved to mental institutions in Lincoln and Hastings (that facility opened in 1889 and is still in operation.) In 1905, the NRC re-opened, with three ward cottages and an administration building.

Picture of the Norfolk Asylum for the Insane after the 1901 fire. Photo source: www.asylumprojects.org.

Photo of the NRC after the 1901 fire. You can see the “Nebraska Insane Asylum” sign in the center. Photo source: http://www.asylumprojects.org.

At its peak, the NRC housed more than 1,300 patients. For many years, the hospital was a self-sufficient community, with a complete farm operation. Inmates did much of the work on the farm and in the dairy, in addition to doing custodial work in the buildings. Patients and staff butchered their own meat, preserved vegetables, and produced their own clothing.

A 1914 photo of the Norfolk Asylum garden. Photo source. www.asylumproject.org.

A 1914 photo of the NRC garden. Photo source: http://www.asylumproject.org.

Before 1920, patient care was almost entirely custodial with few attempts at genuine treatment of mental illness. Introduced were recreational and occupational therapy, and the hospital had a chorus and orchestra. Electroconvulsive therapy (and later insulin shock therapy), hydrotherapy and and fever therapy were implemented as well.

Patients dining at the Norfolk Asylum for the Insane. Year is unknown. Photo source: www.asylumproject.org.

Patients dining at the NRC. Year is unknown. Photo source: http://www.asylumproject.org.

Beginning in early 1950s, development of psychiatric drugs opened up new avenues for rehabilitating patients and the hospital’s population began to decline. In 1962, the hospital’s name was changed to Norfolk Regional Center.

After the passage of mental health care legislation in 2004, more patients were moved from state regional centers like NRC. By 2006, there were only 100 beds remaining at the center, and its future was in doubt. But the Nebraska legislature passed a measure broadening the definition of a sex offender, and added new requirements for post-prison treatment. In mid-2006, it discharged its final mental-health patient and devoted itself exclusively to sex offenders in the remaining operating building on the NRC campus.

Most of the NRC's "new cemetery" is unmarked, hardly indicating the hundreds of patients buried there.

Most of the NRC New Cemetery is unmarked, hardly indicating the hundreds of patients buried there.

The NRC has two cemeteries, the New Cemetery and the Old Cemetery (which opened in 1888). Established in 1916, the New Cemetery is located on the corner of a busy intersection beside the Chuck M. Pohlman Agricultural Complex, which is part of Northeast Community College. William Osborn was the first person buried there. According to the article, the 71-year-old died in 1916 of “apoplexy.”

Because it only has a handful of grave markers, few driving by would know the large corner lot is a cemetery. In fact, we drove past it twice before we figured out that was where it was located. It’s fenced off but there were no signs saying you could not enter.

Records indicate there are around perhaps 450 patients buried in the NRC New Cemetery. I don’t know why most of the graves are unmarked or when some of the markers that are there were placed. In 2008, there were only seven there but now there are 12. I also don’t know when or who placed the benches and memorial stone in one corner.

It felt a bit lonely there but part of me is relieved that it remains a cemetery and hasn’t been paved over for a parking lot as so often happens when the deceased are poor and forgotten like these patients.

I don't now what year the benches and sign were placed. But it felt good to know someone had cared enough to remember these forgotten souls.

I don’t now what year the benches and sign were placed. But it felt good to know someone cared enough to memorialize these forgotten souls.

As I mentioned earlier, two women buried at NRC’s New Cemetery are connected. A native of France, Henriette Lyonette was the second of the four wives of Jules Sandoz. The Swiss immigrant was the inspiration for his daughter Mari Sandoz’ noted 1935 book Old Jules. The book documents not only prairie life in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, but also the extreme abuse and cruelty Jules showed his wives and children.

While a colorful storyteller and pioneer, Jules Sandoz was also a violent, abusive man who terrorized his wives and children over the years.

While a colorful storyteller and pioneer, Jules Sandoz was also a violent, abusive man who terrorized his wives and children over the years. “Women who won’t obey their husbands are worthless,” he said.

Although she was turned down by several publishers, Mari Sandoz’ book eventually won the Atlantic Monthly 1935 non-fiction prize. The book proved so popular (Jules was also apparently a colorful storyteller) that it inspired the Old Jules Trail, linking locations of importance to the Sandoz family history.

The second wife of Jules Sandoz, Henriette Lyonette divorced him in 1892.

The second wife of Jules Sandoz, Henriette Lyonette divorced him in 1892 due to his abusiveness. Her marker looks fairly recent.

Henriette divorced Jules in 1892 because of his abuse. They had no children together. The 1900 Census shows her living alone in Rushville, Neb. and by the 1920 Census, she was living at the Norfolk Hospital for the Insane. She died there in 1924.

Elsie Raymond Sandoz was the wife of Peter Sandoz, a cousin of Jules Sandoz. She and Peter were both natives of Switzerland and married around 1905, settling in Sheridan, Neb. They had two daughters. By 1920, she was a patient at the Norfolk Hospital for the Insane. Did she and Henriette know each other from their Sandoz connection? I don’t know. Elsie did stay married to Peter until her death in 1946. He did not remarry and worked on cattle ranches until his death in 1958.

Elsie Raymond Sandoz was related to the Sandoz family by marriage. She was a patient at the NRC at the same time as Jules Sandoz' second wife, Henriete.

Elsie Raymond Sandoz was related to the Sandoz family by marriage. She was a patient at the NRC at the same time as Jules Sandoz’ second wife, Henriette. Did they know each other?

Interestingly, an Estella Sandoz is also listed beside Elsie on the 1920 Census for the Norfolk Hospital. Jules’s first wife was named Estella but I don’t think it’s her. Jules had encouraged many of his family members back in Switzerland to emigrate to Nebraska and they had come, settling and having families there. One of these relatives was an Estella Sandoz.

The other handful of patients who had markers I could find little information about except for Marion McGrew. He and his wife, Eva, moved from Illinois in 1881 to live on a homestead claim in Chambers, Neb., living in a sod house. The family eventually returned to Illinois in 1895. Marion was a patient at the NRC by 1910 where he remained until his death in 1931.

Marion Miles McGrew spent over three decades at the Norfolk Regional Hospital.

Marion Miles McGrew spent over three decades at the NRC. His eldest son said in an article, “The time spent in Nebraska is best forgotten. All pioneer life was hard, but it was worst there.”

A native of West Virginia, Walter Carlyle was a farmer. Because he never appears as living at the NRC on a U.S. Census, I believe he only possibly spent the last year of his life there.

A native of Virginia or West Virginia, Walter Carlyle was a divorced farmer. Because he never appears as living at the NRC on a U.S. Census, I believe he only possibly spent the last year of his life there.

Caroline Blele married her husband, Ole, in South Dakota in 1908. It was a second marriage for both. They had several children together. I don't know how long she was a patient at NRC.

Caroline Blele married her husband, Ole, in South Dakota in 1908. It was a second marriage for both. They had several children together. I don’t know how long she was a patient at NRC.

Next week, I’ll take you inside the NRC employee building shortly before it was torn down (something I should not have done). We’ll also visit the NRC Old Cemetery, which I later learned we were supposed to get permission to do ahead of time (something I didn’t know we had to do but should have done).

I hope you’ll forgive my lack of law-abidingness and join me for the trip.

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A World Apart: A Ramble Through North Charleston’s Burial Society Cemeteries, Part III

Last week, I shared more of the history of the 23 cemeteries that make up the Magnolia Umbra Cemetery District (MUCD) in North Charleston. It feels like the more I look into this place, the more that surfaces.

One of the cemeteries in the MUCD is Lewis Christian Union Cemetery. I found an informative article about this cemetery, thanks to the Preservation Society of Charleston (PSC). They are taking great pains to keep this small cemetery from falling into ruin. You can read more about their efforts here.

A back view of Lewis Christian Cemetery through Friendly Union Cemetery.

A back view of Lewis Christian Union Cemetery through Friendly Union Cemetery.

The Lewis Christian Union was chartered in 1879 by the South Carolina Legislature “to promote the spiritual benefit of its members, the care of its members when in sickness and distress in life and their burial at death.” Two months later, this African-American group purchased two lots at the corner of Skurvin and Pershing streets to be used as a cemetery.

Beyond that, I couldn’t find out much about it so I don’t know what benefits they offered their members.

Lewis Christian is wedged beside Friendly Union Society Cemetery and Bethel UMC Cemetery. It’s hard to tell where one ends and another begin. One of the pictures I took (didn’t know I was in Lewis Christian Union Cemetery at the time) was the grave of Lydia Bonneau, largely because it’s almost been swallowed up by the ground. I had no idea what her story was until I read the article by the PSC.

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Lydia Bonneau’s simple marker gives no hint of the horrible way she died.

Lydia Bonneau was reportedly born in Georgia on Oct. 17, 1876. Newspaper accounts indicate she was living with a husband, Cyrus Bonneau, at the time of her death on June 7, 1901. Their residence, 24 Poinsett St., was about 350 feet from the Charleston Consolidated Railway Gas and Electric Light Company.

Around midnight, the 18-ton flywheel in the powerhouse, rotating at about 150 revolutions per minute, exploded through the walls and roof. One piece, estimated to be five feet long and weighing one ton, came through the roof of the Bonneau home on Poinsett Street. Lydia and her husband were thrown from their house by the momentum, and she died instantly.

This June 8 article from the Coshoton Daily Age (an Ohio newspaper) details the accidental death of Lydia Bonneau.

This June 8, 1901 article from the Coshoton Daily Age (an Ohio newspaper) details the accidental death of Lydia Bonneau. Many newspapers around the country reported the incident.

Records indicate that the power company settled her husband’s claim for compensation for $515. Shortly after she died, her infant daughter died from an illness and was buried beside her. There are about a dozen Bonneaus recorded as being buried at Lewis Christian, but Lydia has the only marker.

Not far from Lydia’s grave is that of Jack Jones. His is actually the first African-American Civil War veteran grave I’ve ever seen up close. The ones I saw at Morris Brown AME Cemetery (mentioned in Part I) came later in the day. His was also the most legible one I saw that day, perhaps because it’s shaded by trees.

The grave of Jack Jones is special because it's the first I've ever seen for an African-American Civil War veteran.

The grave marker of Jack Jones is the first I’ve ever seen for an African-American Civil War veteran. It’s in excellent condition compared to others I saw.

Jones was born in Hilton Head, S.C., enlisted in the 34th U.S. Colored Infantry, Company C in March 1865 as the war was winding down. Like many other African-American men who enlisted at this time, it’s unlikely he ever saw combat during his brief duty. He returned to Charleston, married and had a family. He died around 1912, his wife continuing to receive his pension.

Across the street from Lewis Christian Union Cemetery is Brotherly Association Cemetery. The history of its formation is tied closely to Brown Fellowship Society, a group I talked about last week.

Brotherly Association Cemetery

Brotherly Association Cemetery is one of the 23 cemeteries in the Magnolia Umbra Cemetery District.

In 1843, Thomas Smalls, a Free Person of Color (FPC) applied for membership in the Brown Fellowship Society. But he was denied membership because of the darkness of his skin and possibly because his hair was not straight enough. In response, Smalls (a member of the Circular Congregational Church), organized his own society and called it The Society for Free Blacks of Dark Complexion. It was later renamed the Brotherly Association Society.

I photographed one of the grander plots I saw, planning on finding out who it was later. Thomas Ezekiel Miller was indeed a trailblazer and remarkable man. He was one of only five African-Americans elected to Congress from the South during post-Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era. After that, no African-Americans were elected from the South until 1972.

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Thomas E. Miller had a long resume, serving in many positions in his life. He was a school commissioner, state legislator, U.S. Representative, and first president of South Carolina State University, a historically black college established as a land grant school.

Born in Ferrebeeville, S.C. in 1847, Miller was the son of a wealthy white man and the fair-skinned mulatto daughter of Judge Thomas Heyward, Jr. (who signed the Declaration of Independence). Miller’s paternal grandparents urged his father to put the child up for adoption. Miller was adopted by former slaves that were now FPC.

In 1851, his family moved to Charleston, where Miller attended a school for FPC children. When the Civil War was over, Miller moved to New York. Because of his appearance and European ancestry, Miller could have “passed” as a white man in the North, but chose to identify himself as black.

Receiving a scholarship, Miller attended Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania and graduated in 1872. Miller returned to South Carolina and was appointed school commissioner of Beaufort County. He then moved to Columbia, the state capital, where he studied law at the recently integrated University of South Carolina and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1875.

Portrait of Thomas Ezekiel Miller in his younger days. Photo source: The South Carolina State Historical Collection & Archives.

The son of a mulatto mother and a white father, Thomas Ezekiel Miller identified himself as African-American. Photo source: The South Carolina State Historical Collection & Archives.

Miller served as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives from 1874 to 1880 and from 1894 to 1896, a member of the state Senate from 1880 to 1884, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1888 to 1890.

In 1896, Miller became the first president of the Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural, and Mechanical College of South Carolina, located in Orangeburg, S.C. This historically black college developed into South Carolina State University. He resigned in 1910 under pressure from Governor Coleman Blease, whose election Miller had opposed.

The son of a mulatto mother and a white father, Thomas Ezekiel Miller identified himself as an African-American. Photo source: Black Americans in Congress. Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.

Miller’s epitaph reads: “I served God and all the people. Loving the white man not less, but the Negro needed me most.” Photo source: Black Americans in Congress. Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.

Miller returned to Charleston to work on various community causes and helped recruit 30,000 black men to the Armed Services when the U.S. was pulled into World War I. From 1923 to 1934, Miller lived in Philadelphia but came back to Charleston a few years before his death in 1938.

To the left and just behind Thomas E. Miller’s grave is that of Florian Henry Frost and his parents, Lyida Stroman Frost and Henry Main Frost. It appears that Florian and his parents were FPC. Florian only lived to the age of 25 but did a lot with his short time on Earth. Listed as a teacher in bank records, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives for Williamsburg County in 1870, but died in office in 1872.

To the left is the monument to Henry Maine Frost and his wife, Lydia Storman Frost. She was a rare woman in that she was a Free Person of Color who owned slaves. Their son, Florian, is buried to the right of them.

To the left is the monument to Henry Main Frost and his wife, Lydia Storman Frost. She was a rare woman in that she was a Free Person of Color who owned slaves. Their son, Florian, is buried to the right of them.

Florian’s mother was Lydia Stroman Frost. Her husband and Florian’s father, Henry, died in 1855. Lydia had four more children, but the name of their father is unknown. According to Larry Kroger’s book Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860, Lydia was a dressmaker and a slave owner. This makes her an incredibly rare example of not only a FPC but a woman who owned slaves. She lived to be 86, dying of “senility” in 1904.

There are countless other stories among the cemeteries of the MUCD that I could tell and many I have yet to uncover. The black burial society cemeteries of North Charleston continue to fascinate me in that so little is written about them yet they are such a rich source of history.

I hope to return next summer to take another ramble.

The grave of Clarence E. Chafee is located in Friendly Union Society Cemetery. He died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of 23, already having established himself as a photographer.

The grave of Clarence E. Chafee is located in Friendly Union Society Cemetery. He died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of 23, already having established himself as a photographer.

 

A World Apart: A Ramble Through North Charleston’s Burial Society Cemeteries, Part II

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my stroll through Morris Brown AME Church Cemetery in North Charleston. It’s just one of several cemeteries located in that area, from African-American to Jewish to Lutheran.

Today, I’m going to try to solve a few mysteries. One is how two white sea captains from Europe ended up in an African-American cemetery in the 1890s, when blacks and whites were rarely buried in the same place.

How did a white sea captain end up buried in a black cemetery?

How did a two white sea captains end up buried in a black cemetery?

Burt first, I have a confession to make. When I started my series on North Charleston’s burial society cemeteries, I didn’t do my homework as thoroughly as I usually do. The story behind these burial grounds is more complex than I’d imagined. Today I hope to make up for that.

A very helpful document enabled me to connect some dots about this area. The 2014 master’s thesis of Timothy John Hyder for the University of South Carolina is helping answer some questions I’ve had. I’ve embedded a link to it above so you can read it for yourself.

Much of the land Magnolia Cemetery (and many of the surrounding ones) sits on used to be a huge rice plantation owned by William Cunnington. His house still stands in Charleston’s historic district. The plantation was called Magnolia Umbra, which explains where the cemetery got its name. Magnolia Cemetery, a whites-only cemetery, was established in 1850 with the adjacent St. Lawrence Cemetery (Catholic) opening in 1854.

The others that sprang up around it over time total a jaw-dropping 23 different cemeteries. Mind you, some are very small and a few are owned by the same church, but that’s a big number nonetheless. Hyder refers to this area as the Magnolia Umbra Cemetery District (MUCD). His map can give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.

This map by T.J. Hyder shows the layout of North Charleston's 23 different cemeteries.

This map by T.J. Hyder shows the layout of North Charleston’s 23 cemeteries. The older Morris Brown AME Church Cemetery (which I wrote about last week) is #16. Photo source: T.J. Hyder, (2014). “Charleston’s Magnolia Umbra Cemetery District: A Necrogeographic History.” (Master’s thesis)

Magnolia (#1) is located in the top right corner of the map and is the largest cemetery of the group. St. Lawrence Catholic Cemetery (#2) is below it. Bethany Lutheran Cemetery (#4) is in the bottom left. These three were whites-only cemeteries when they began. As you can see, the tightly packed group of cemeteries in the top left corner of the map is a patchwork quilt of lots that blend from one to another in many places.

Thanks to Hyder’s thesis and a 2010 paper by Clemson University student Kimberly Martin, I got a better idea of how these institutions worked. In 1856, according to Hayden, five black burial societies purchased cemetery lands in what was the greatest single yearly expansion of the MUCD by number of cemeteries.

The first black burial society cemetery is thought to have come from the Brown Fellowship Society. Founded in 1790 by freed male black males (often referred to as Free People of Color or FPC because they were not slaves) of the St. Philip’s Episcopal Church congregation, Brown Fellowship takes its name not from the name of a founder but from the fact that membership would only be granted to a man with light skin and straight hair.

With property bought in 1956, Brown Fellowship Society moved several monuments from its original cemetery on Pitt Street.

With property bought in 1956, Brown Fellowship Society moved several monuments from its original cemetery on Pitt Street.

Hyder points out that Brown Fellowship Society restricted membership to the elite of Charleston’s FPC, men with such a light complexion that they could go into business, educate themselves, and even own slaves without upsetting the strict racial hierarchy of the times. Membership was limited to only 50 members in the beginning and women were not allowed to join. These rules softened only many decades later.

As the most elite of the societies, Brown also offered the most benefits to its members. These included a stipend for widows, health insurance, education for orphans, a credit union, burial insurance and even pallbearers for funerals.

Richard Holloway was not only a member of the elite FPC society, but also owned slaves. At the time of his death in 1843, he is believed to have accumulated at least 20 houses. Another member, hotel owner Jehu Jones, was well known in Charleston.

A wealthy Free Person of Color, Richard Holloway moved in the highest circles of black society in Charleston. Photo source: Digital collection of the College of Charleston.

A wealthy Free Person of Color, Richard Holloway moved in the highest circles of black society in Charleston. Photo source: Digital collection of the College of Charleston.

Brown Fellowship’s original cemetery was located on Pitt Street until 1956 when the land was sold to Bishop England High School under the condition that all remains and monuments be moved to the new MUCD property. While several monuments were moved, it’s unclear if the remains (if any) were actually removed from the Pitt Street property to the MUVD property.

I spent more time at Friendly Union Society Cemetery. It has more monuments and is next door to Brown Fellowship Cemetery. Established in 1813, Friendly Union offered health insurance, stipends to widows, burial insurance and a grave digger’s services when the member died. They purchased the land for their cemetery in 1856.

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Established in 1813, the Friendly Union Society purchased the land for their cemetery in 1856.

Walking through Friendly Union, the funerary styles and motifs are indistinguishable from those of a white cemetery. The intention behind this, Hyder asserts, is that the black elite hoped to gain the respect of their white counterparts by imitating their monuments.

One of Friendly Union’s most prominent members was Dr. William D. Crum, son of a white father and a free black mother, who attended medical school in the North. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Dr. Crum collector of customs in Charleston, a post that gave him authority over white men.

Protests erupted at once. When William Taft became president in 1909, he refused to re-appoint Crum as collector of customs but instead made Crum consul general to Liberia, a position traditionally given to a black politician.

Dr. William Crum, appointed U.S. Minister to Liberia, had always been interested in infectious diseases and treated some of his colleagues for "African fever." In September 1912, Dr. Crum himself contracted African fever and returned to the U.S. and died in Charleston soon after.

Dr. William Crum, appointed U.S. Consul General to Liberia by President Taft, moved to Monrovia with his wife in 1909. In September 1912, Dr. Crum contracted “African fever” and returned to Charleston for treatment, where he died soon after.

One of the first monuments I came across at Friendly Union was for Captain John A. Peterson (one of the white sea captains whom I mentioned earlier). Peterson arrived in Charleston from Sweden around 1847 and died in 1892. This bit of information sent me diving into Peterson’s background.

From census records, I learned that Peterson came to Charleston at around the age of 21. He did well as a mariner, living on America Street for most of his life. America Street was then a melting pot of FPC and middle-class European immigrants new to the country. He became a fully naturalized citizen in 1871.

When Capt. John Peterson formally married Henrietta Johnson in 1879, they already had a 15-year-old daughter named Mary.

When Capt. John Peterson formally married Henrietta (or Harriett) Johnson in 1879, they already had a 14-year-old daughter named Mary.

According to the 1870 Census, Peterson was married to Henrietta Johnson, a mulatto (mixed race) woman native to South Carolina, and they had three two children. Records indicate the family employed a servant as well.

However, records also indicate that John (who was 51 at the time) did not actually marry Henrietta (listed as Harriett on the form) until January 1879, when she was 31. On their marriage certificate, he is listed as “white” and she is listed as “brown”, not “black” or “mulatto”. Their oldest daughter, Mary, was 14 by this time. They had several other children as well.

Unlike other states, South Carolina did not prohibit interracial marriage until after the Civil War. In Charleston, marriages did on occasion take place between FPC and well-regarded whites. The state suspended the prohibition in 1868, only to re-enact it in 1879. I’m not sure why John and Henrietta chose to wait to marry until right before the re-enactment of the prohibition.

John Peterson died at the age of 68 in 1894. Henrietta died of kidney failure in 1911 at the age of 64.

Captain John Peterson married Harriett Johnson in January 1879.

Captain John Peterson married Henrietta “Harriett” Johnson in January 1879. Ellen Carison is listed as a witness. She may have been Henrietta’s mother, who is listed as Ellen Kenison (who was living with the Petersons) on the 1870 Census.

One of the wedding witnesses, Captain Henry Prince, also has his name on the Peterson monument. He is listed as a boarder in the Peterson home on the 1880 Census. A native of the Isle of Wight off the coast of the U.K., Prince was also a white sea captain. He was born in 1814 and arrived in Charleston around 1830. He is listed on the 1880 Census as a boarding with John and Henrietta Peterson. He died of “senility” in 1892 at the age of 79.

Two mysteries still remain. On the other side of the monument are the names of Harold Peterson (who lived only a year) and Ermine (who lived to 15). Both were born after John Peterson’s death. I have no idea how they are related to him unless they were grandchildren.

The other mystery I have yet to fully unravel is that of Jesse Grant, whose name is also inscribed on the monument, beneath the name of Henry Prince. Listed as black or mulatto on some census records, he appears on the 1910 Census (living on America Street) as white and his mother-in-law (also listed as white) is none other than Henrietta Peterson.

I can only surmise that because of John Peterson’s connection to the FPC community via Henrietta, she was able to secure a burial plot for her him through the Friendly Union Society. Henry Prince’s connection must have also secured him a plot. How this all came to pass (including Jesse Grant) is still shrouded in mystery but I’d love to find out more some day.

I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of this place and its little-known history, but I’ll be back with a final installment next week.

In the foreground is the monument for Timothy Weston, who died at the age of 45. His father, whose monument is in the background, was the Rev. Samuel Weston, a prominent African Methodist Episcopal minister.

In the foreground is the monument for Timothy Weston, who died at the age of 45. His father, whose monument is in the background, was the Rev. Samuel Weston, a Charleston tailor and prominent African Methodist Episcopal minister.