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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eastern Cemetery is Portland, Maine’s oldest cemetery.

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

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

Portland’s Eastern Cemetery covers about four acres.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Harriet Moody died in infancy like her sisters.

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

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

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

William Moody died 21 years after his wife, Molly.

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

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

You can see Portland’s harbor from Eastern Cemetery.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The angel as scribe tops the Spurlock monument.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annie Costello died 11 years after her husband James.

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

Hopefully, I’ll get that chance soon.

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

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

— “Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt, 1975

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Rabbitt was only 46 when he died in 1998.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danish sculptor Johannes Gelert designed the Furman family monument.

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

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

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

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

Two sphinxes guard the tomb of Major Eugene Castner Lewis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lewis died in 1917 of stomach cancer.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A mourner holds a bough of flowers in her hands.

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

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

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

Newspaper ad for Marshall & Bruce Co.

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

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

The other side of the Marshall family monument.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small But Special: Roaming Roselle’s Trinity Lutheran Cemetery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph Mastny’s grave appears to be much loved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Smith was a beloved member of the Gainesville community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alta Vista Cemetery is well worth more than one visit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Two little girls in the angel throng.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ladies of the Lake were finally home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wife and mother Susie Roberts was missing for decades.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Few cities have a chicken statue gracing its business district.

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

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

Alta Vista is fairly flat without many trees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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