The Matthews Monument at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Emerging Stones, Emerging Souls

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

While mid-19th-century marble gravestones are my favorites, and then I love slate and sandstone carvings of the late 1700s/early 1800s, there are granite monuments that appeal to me also.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, granite became the rock of choice in cemeteries to memorialize loved ones.  Pneumatic tools and then electric tools allowed carvers to tackle the extremely hard stone and bring forth everything from flowers to urns to statues of angels.

The ones I really like, however, are called "emerging stones." Emerging stones are large blocks of granite (usually at least four feet tall and four feet wide and 2 feet thick) where one portion of the stone has been fully carved, but the other portion remains "undressed," or in its natural state.  The impression is one of an incomplete carving, and it is a powerful symbol of how death can cause a life to be incomplete, ending too soon.

These are almost always carved from granite, and their sheer size dominates the low "wedgie-world" granite wedges of the last half of the 20th century and today.  Sometimes I wonder how they were transported from the quarry to the carver's workshop to the cemetery, especially in the late 1900s.  Trains most likely did most of the work, but how did they get these colossal pieces onto wagons to be pulled by horses or oxen to the cemetery?  I would like to find pictures documenting that, as it was a time before the motorized and mechanized crane that could easily do the job today.  If you ever come across any photographs of that, please let me know.

Happy Holidays, may the spirit of Christmas "emerge" from you and be shared with those you love. 

Moscow Cemetery, Moscow, PA

Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Pen Argyl, PA

Belfast Union Cemetery, Belfast, PA

Brodheadsville Cemetery, Brodheadsville, PA

Stone Church Hill Cemetery, Martin's Creek, PA

Fairview Cemetery, Elmhurst, PA

Fairview Cemetery, Middletown, NJ

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Glenwood Cemetery, West Long Branch, NJ

Glenwood Cemetery, West Long Branch, NJ

Glenwood Cemetery, West Long Branch, NJ

Gnaden Huetten Cemetery, Lehighton, PA

Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA

A member of Woodmen of the World, Hazleton Cemetery, Hazleton, PA

Civil War G.A.R. Post monument, Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Tamaqua, PA

Kresgeville Cemetery, Kresgeville, PA

Nicholson Cemetery, Nicholson, PA

Indian Creek Christ Reformed Cemetery, Indian Valley, PA

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Riverview Cemetery, Portland, PA

Salem Churchyard, Bangor, PA

St. Cyril Greek Catholic Cemetery, Blakely, PA

St. John's Cemetery, Bangor, PA

Stroudsburg Cemetery, Stroudsburg, PA

Stroudsburg Cemetery, Stroudsburg, PA

Stroudsburg Cemetery, Stroudsburg, PA

Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, Taneytown, MD

Union Cemetery, Blakely, PA

West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

South Canaan Cemetery, East Canaan, PA

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA

Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In Memoriam

Pennsylvania German Heart, Zion's Stone Church, New Ringgold, PA

I am saddened by the senseless loss of life that took place in Connecticut this week. 

Please take the time to contact your loved ones and tell them you care about them.  I appreciate anyone who reads my blog, especially those of you who know me personally and have to tolerate "cemetery conversations" on a regular basis. 

This holiday season, I wish you peace.  May you be blessed, Tammy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Monumental Monuments

The monument for William J. Mullen, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA 

This blog is a little late because I have been deep into research, trying to unearth information about the people memorialized by the remarkable stone artworks below.  These are not your average tombstones, and they literally tower over today's typical granite "wedgies" and flat metal plaques.  Many of these monuments were erected in the late 19th century, in a time called "The Gilded Age," when the lavishness and ornateness of  Victorian decoration was at its height.  There was much debate in the media at that time about the "senselessness" and "waste" of spending vast amounts of money on funerary art.  Granted, you can't take your money with you, but there was an outraged cry against the elaborate but cold stone sculptures left to mark a burial spot, while poverty still existed among living human beings, perhaps only blocks away.

Well, I am pretty sure you know how I feel about the cemetery monuments of the Gilded Age.  I do understand that one of the best ways to memorialize a loved one is to donate money to their favorite cause in their name; that happens frequently today, "in lieu of flowers."  But I maintain that 19th century cemeteries are more than just receptacles for the dead:  in America, they were the first parks, the first outdoor sculpture gardens, the first art museums "en plein air."  And cemeteries stand today as lessons in history, anthropology, art, culture, and architectural trends.

So perhaps you agree that a massive monument of marble or granite is a "waste of money."  But I ask you to look, really look at the following examples and see the beauty of the workmanship, in addition to the sentimentality and sometimes hubris of the deceased and their families.  Because let's face it, no one is ever going to walk into those newfangled "memorial gardens" and be awestruck by the "artwork" they see there.  All they will see is happy caretakers whipping around on their riding mowers.  Enjoy...

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA
This tombstone for Charles W. Kinsey and his wife Jane wasn't erected until Charles died in 1896.  I wonder what type of memorial he had for Jane when she died in 1863?  This stone in a more natural shape followed the trend of a return to the simpler things found in nature, as a reaction against the vast changes that had been wrought by the railroad and other industries.

Kinsey learned the craft of tinsmithing after attaining manhood, but then he "caught the fever" and headed for California in 1849 (his tombstone claims he was " a California pioneer of 1849").  Apparently, he did not find much gold, as he returned to Easton 3 years later.  I am not sure when he married Jane but by 1860, they are living as husband and wife.  When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Kinsey signed up with the PA 1st Regiment for three months, and then reenlisted as a corporal in the PA 51st.  His right arm was "shot off" at Fredericksburg in December of 1862.  He recovered and came home to Easton, and his wife Jane died in 1863.  He could no longer be a tinsmith, so he became the assistant toll taker on the Delaware River bridge.  I didn't find any records of children.  Perhaps money from Charles' army pension provided for this lovely marker. 

Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA
Giles Greene was born in Clifford, PA, and was a relative of General Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary fame.  He lived in Wayne County most of his life at Lake Ariel, serving as justice of the peace, school director and associate judge of the county.  He was also appointed postmaster in 1861 by President Lincoln, replacing Joel Jones who was a bit too sympathetic to the Confederate cause.  Greene was a teamster with the construction of the PA Canal Company Railroad, and operated a saw mill at Lake Ariel when he became the general lumber agent for the PA Coal Company.  His wife Harriet Schenck was a descendant of Col. John H. Schenk, another Revolutionary War veteran.  Their son Homer Greene achieved fame not through his successful law career, but with his writings and poetry.  Homer was the attorney for many local railroad companies, plus he was district attorney, director of the Honesdale National Bank, secretary and treasurer of the Glen Dyberry Cemetery Association, and president of the Wayne County Historical Society.  Perhaps it was Homer that had this monument with angel sculpture commissioned to mark his parents' burial spot.  

Evergreen Cemetery, Jim Thorpe, PA
Franz and Anna Mackl came to America from Austria in the early 1870's and settled in what was then Mauch Chunk, PA.  Franz served as a civil engineer for the Lehighton Land Company, and was the Carbon County surveyor from 1882-1907.  This monument has such a homemade feel, I wonder if Franz designed it and maybe constructed it himself after his son Edmund died at the age of 17 in 1892.  His wife Anna sold notions (thread, buttons, etc) besides caring for their home and their other child, Anna. 

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
This might very well be the monument to end all monuments.  This particular creation was indeed the target of newspaper editorials in New York City and Boston, decrying its "lack of modesty."  And in this case, perhaps they have a point.  William J. Mullen's monument was not designed by a grieving family member.  Its construction was not dictated in his will.  Instead, Mullen had this mega-sculpture carved about 10 years BEFORE he died, and it was his own design, memorializing himself and his accomplishments.  He was so proud of it, he even exhibited it at the 1876 Centennial Expo in Fairmount Park for all the world to see.  And he was known to visit it once it was erected in South Laurel Hill Cemetery, until he made his very last visit in 1882.

Mullen was born in Lancaster in 1805, and made his fortune manufacturing gold watch dials.  His monument claims he was the inventor and first manufacturer of gold watch dials, and on the marble, he listed the awards he had received to prove it.  In 1850, Mullen used his vast wealth to partner with two other wealthy families from the Philadelphia area to found the Female Medical College of Philadelphia, the world's first medical school for women.  He also served as the college's first president.

Mullen then turned his energies towards prison reform.  A legend exists, never proven, that he was unjustly accused of a crime as a young man, and he never forgot that injustice.  He became a prison agent for Moyamensing Prison (the county prison of Philadelphia, demolished in the 1960's) and worked tirelessly to hold police accountable for their actions, investigations, and accusations.  He was the founder and director of the Philadelphia Society for the Employment and Instruction of the Poor, providing job training for the poor and for those newly released from prison.  On his monument, Mullen calls himself "The Prisoner's Friend," and claims he rescued more than 50,000 people from unjust incarceration.  (There is nothing about this man that my father would like, and Pop has probably scrolled down to the next monument!) 

The monument depicts Mullen, to the left in a cape, next to the slightly open prison door.  The crying figure on the right is a newly released female prisoner.  Her shackles and chains lay on the step next to her.  There is the head of Christ over the door, and the archangel Gabriel rests on the very top.  Under Christ and to the right, there is a bat, (go figure), and there used to be even more to this!  There was a mourning figure clinging to the cross at the base of the steps, and an owl used to sit on top of the shackles.  And best of all, there was a monstrous bulldog guarding the vault.  Cemetery employees from the 1880's were quoted as saying they had many times seen Mr. Mullen actually sitting on the dog and wiping spots off the door of the prison.

The NY Times reported that Mullen was a stranger to modesty, as even his home, where his wake took place, was covered with paintings and photographs of himself and his good deeds.  He had a wife and children, but they seem to have fallen by the wayside for Willie J.  My, my!  Even I have to say that's a little much!

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
 This is one of two monuments that I have seen like this.  I hope to find out who created them, as I just love them.  I am amazed the rose garlands have not broken off yet.  This is a memorial to Helen Bacon, the wife of Lt. Robert E. Coxe.  She died when she was 26, only 4 years after they married.  Helen was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of a well-off stock broker.  It's unclear to me how Robert Coxe met her, as he was born in Alabama to a father who was a wealthy traveling merchant.  When Robert was 11, his family had moved to Kentucky (his mother was born there), and in 1870, the Coxe family was still there, farming.

In 1872, somehow, Robert Coxe married Helen Bacon, and somehow, they traveled to New Mexico, where, in late 1872, a son was born to them, Alexander Bacon Coxe.  (Robert was a Lt. in the army; was he serving in the Indian Wars?)   A few years later, the family were living in Germantown, at the time a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia.  In January 1875, Helen became ill with typhoid fever.  She was baptized in her home by the St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and two days later, she was dead.  Robert took his son Alexander to live with his family, who had moved from Kentucky to Illinois.  Robert and his father started a wholesale hardware business together. 

Alexander Bacon Coxe moved to Minnesota as a young man, and joined the Minnesota National Guard.  The Guard was mobilized during the Spanish American War, and Alexander saw active duty in the Philippines and in China during the Boxer Rebellion.  He was in the cavalry, and was instrumental in setting up U.S. Army Intelligence.  He retired after WWI, but was called into service at the beginning of WWII to again help with Army Intelligence.

Mauch Chunk Cemetery, Jim Thorpe, PA
Benjamin Franklin Barge has a gigantic monument---100 feet tall---in the cemetery tucked away above the busy tourist section of Jim Thorpe.  He was born in 1832, and was an educator and philanthropist.  He attended Yale University, and taught in schools, including a small private school in Birdsboro, PA.  While teaching in Birdsboro, Barge asked for the hand of his childhood sweetheart.  Her father, a very wealthy man, refused.  Barge suffered a broken heart, and traveled south to Louisiana, teaching, and then changing direction and journeyed to Canada.  He left the academic world and became a businessman when he returned to Mauch Chunk and made a fortune in the grain and lumber businesses.  Barge traveled the world after that, and died in Germany in 1902.  His body was returned to Mauch Chunk, and it took a local monument sculptor more than a year to finish his monument.  Barge didn't put all of his money into granite, though; he gave his money generously to those in need as well.  He donated large sums of money to those who suffered in the floods of Johnstown, Williamsport and Lock Haven, and he was the largest private contributor from Pennsylvania to those who survived the Galveston, Texas disaster in 1900.  He made gifts to many colleges, including $75,000 to his alma mater, and he also endowed a free bed in St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem.

And on Halloween every year, a carved jack-o-lantern appears on top of his mortar board, placed by an anonymous someone who climbs the monument to place the seasonal decoration. 

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA
This is another massive monument, sitting off by itself in Easton Cemetery.  An angel points heavenward (well, she used to; her arm is broken off now at the elbow) as she draws the attention of the woman and child upwards to the hourglass with wings.  There is another figure at the very top, pointing upward to heaven.

The sad part about this monument is there is not much known about the family who it memorializes.  Dr. Wilson Jacob Hartman Bruch was a physician in Easton, and he decreed in his will that this monument be erected as a "source of beauty" to honor the memory of his parents, George Bruch and Elizabeth Hartman.  There is only the three of them buried here.  Dr. Bruch died from consumption, otherwise known as tuberculosis.  The monument cost $20,000 to build in 1880, and while it is a "source of beauty" to me, I can't help wondering if a monument half the size would have been just as fine, with $10,000 being donated to a hospital in the Bruch name.  But who am I to make such judgements?

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA
Here is the other example of "Urn on a Cairn, Dripping with Roses."  This one memorializes the passing of Anna Bunstein, the wife of Cyrus S. Stover.  Cyrus was born in Riegelsville in 1830, and Anna was born in Easton in 1835.  They married in Easton in her family's church in September 1860, and then moved into a new house in Riegelsville, high on the hill next to the St. John's Church.  Then the Civil War broke out and Cyrus joined the army.  After having only about one year to live with his bride, he was killed in combat in October 1864.  They had a son Charles born in July 1861, who may never have met his father.  Charles was only three when his father died, and he buried his mother when he was 16.  Did he provide for this lovely monument?

His father Cyrus was buried in the cemetery in Riegelsville, behind the house that he had built for his bride.  That house is now the office for the St. John's UCC Church, and according to its pastor, Cyrus haunts it, running up and down the stairs, perhaps searching for his bride and son.  I wonder if Anna had been buried next to him, rather than up the canal road in Easton, would he be at peace?

Old Albrightsville Cemetery, Albrightsville, PA
This stone faces away from the road, and you wouldn't see it unless you walked around it.  I was on the other side of the cemetery when my dad said, "Tamber, you have got to come see this."  And boy, was he right.

This monument was created by the Wenz Monument Company in Allentown, PA (still in business).  It memorializes the death of Aquila Henning who was "shot November 24, 1932."  The bottom of the stone reads "An innocent soul sent to eternity."  Aquila Henning is the figure to the far left, looking back to the 8 men hidden in the bushes, but specifically looking at the central man who has a gun and only one arm.  Aquila's son, Aquila Jr., is seen kneeling in the center.

The story goes...Aquila Henning Jr. had been arrested for illegal hunting after a neighbor, the one-armed schoolteacher, Harry Wilkinson, turned him into police.  It caused bad feelings between the Henning and Wilkinson families.  Then on Thanksgiving Day, 1932, the Hennings went hunting (no NFL and big-screen televisions then).  So were Harry Wilkinson, his brother Robert and several friends, or, some say, the Wilkinsons and friends set up an ambush. 

According to court testimony, Aquila Jr. shot a dog belonging to the Wilkinson party.  When Harry Wilkinson knelt down to see to the dog, Aquila Sr. stepped out of the bushes and up onto a stump, aiming his rifle at Harry.  Harry's brother Robert claimed he saw Aquila Sr. shoot and miss and reload.  Robert then shot Aquila Sr. in the back.

Harry Wilkinson had Aquila Sr. taken to the Palmerton Hospital, where he died hours later.  But not before he gave a deathbed statement, saying he did not shoot the dog, nor did he shoot at Harry.  The jury at Robert Wilkinson's trial acquitted him, feeling it was a justifiable shooting.  Aquila's widow Anna felt a little differently, as she had this "story in stone" commissioned to mark her husband's tragic end.  Harry Wilkinson sued the Wenz Monument Company for $50,000 for their portrayal of him in the prominent center of the stone, in such a derogatory manner (not many one-armed men in the area), but he lost his suit.

Aquila Henning Sr. is in my family tree, but not a direct relation:  he's the stepson of the stepson of the wife of the uncle of the husband of the my first great grand aunt.  Get all that?

Gilbert Cemetery, Gilbert, PA
Another monument by the Wenz Monument Company, this memorializes another supposed murder in the Pocono Mountain area.  This shows Conrad Kresge, a German immigrant and pioneer settler in what is now northern Northampton County.  Kresge came here about 1762, after living first in Philadelphia and then Forks of the Delaware (now Easton).  Kresge and his wife Anna Maria Kohl had 12 children.  This monument shows a family legend where in 1776, Conrad and his oldest son John were out chopping wood when they were attacked by Native Americans (probably Iriquois from New York).  John was killed and scalped (he was 12), but Conrad was able to fend off the arrow attack with his axe.  He made it back to his homestead, seriously wounded.  A band of neighbors assembled to avenge the attack, but they too were assaulted by the Native Americans and all but one of them died.

Conrad lived until 1805, and ten of his children survived and seriously populated the area.  The Kresge family reunion takes place in the area, now in its 107th year.  This monument was dedicated in 1915 at the 13th reunion, to honor the Kresge ancestors.  The family members paid $1800 for the monument.

One of Kresge's more famous descendants was Sebastian S. Kresge, who started a 5-and-10-cent store called Kresge's, that eventually grew into a chain of stores that we now know as Kmart. 

Conrad Kresge is in my family tree also; he's the paternal grandfather of the husband of my third great great grand aunt.  I love the Relationship Calculator in Family Tree Maker!  Thanks for reading!