28 February 2010

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929

Wyatt Earp is buried with his common law wife Josephine Sarah Marcus in Hills of Eternity Cemetery Colma, CA. Originally I had planned this post to be a writeup on the life of Wyatt but as I was doing research I realized that Wikipedia has a very extensive and well done semi biography. (Click to read). So what you will have here instead is just my general observations. Sometimes when I hear someone famous is buried somewhere I get to the grave and say "That's it?" Expecting something on a monumental scale and then you get just a normal stone that anyone else would have just walked past. This happened to be one of them. Not that Wyatt was rich or anything. I guess it just seems that famous people are put on this pedestal no matter the extent of their fame so you think you're going to see something magnificent when you get there. What you see here is just what Wyatt was. A normal person that did extraordinary things. That lived a hard life in the Old West with gunfights, bars, saloons and the occasional arrest for being into prostitution. There have been several accounts of Wyatt's life in biographies and even Hollywood movies. Probably the best known and coincidentally sold in the office of Hills of Eternity is the Wyatt Earp starring Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid. They also made Tombstone starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer in 1993. This list goes on and on but both were decent movies and worth watching some weekend when you have nothing better to do...

27 February 2010

Postman's Park, London.

Postman’s Park is a small green space which is tucked away to the north of St Paul's Cathedral. Under the sheltered area is a wall commemorating ordinary people who lost their lives whilst trying to save others. In 1887 painter G F Watts (1817-1904), wrote to The Times proposing a project to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee of that year. He believed that stories of heroism were uplifting and should therefore be commemorated. His idea was not taken up so he created the memorial himself in the form of a 50ft long open gallery situated in the public gardens on the site of the former churchyard of St Botolph, Aldersgate. On the southern boundary was the Post Office and many postmen spent their breaks there, hence the name by which it became known. Along the walls of the gallery Watts placed tablets of Doulton tile, each describing the acts of bravery that resulted in the loss of the hero or heroine's life and celebrates people who would perhaps otherwise have been forgotten.

Some of the inscriptions include:
Henry James Bristow aged eight - at Walthamstow on December 30 1890 - saved his little sister's life by tearing off her flaming clothes but caught fire himself and died of burns and shock.

Mary Rogers, stewardess of the Stella, Mar 30 1899. Self sacrificed by giving up her life belt and voluntarily going down with the sinking ship.

William Drake, lost his life in averting a serious accident to a lady in Hyde Park April 2 1869 whose horses were unmanageable through the breaking of the carriage pole.

John Clinton aged 10 who was drowned near London Bridge in trying to save a companion younger than himself. July 16 1894.

Joseph Andrew Ford aged 30, Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Saved six persons from a fire in Gray's Inn Road but in his last heroic act he was scorched to death. Oct 7 1871.

Thomas Griffin, fitter’s labourer April 12 1899. In a boiler explosion at a Battersea sugar refinery was fatally scalded in returning to search for his mate.

Joseph Paul "Joe" DiMaggio (November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999)

Most of the time when I profile a specific person it's necessary to spend a ton of time researching what they did to make them sound important. Well still some may not know Joe DiMaggio or even care who he his because they think baseball is stupid. But come on people it's Joe freakin DiMaggio. One of the greatest players to ever play the game. I've known where he was buried for the longest time but was never in the area to swing by and take the pictures. So a couple weeks ago I just decided to take the two hour drive out to Colma, CA and get the pics.

Joe had a huge resume of baseball accomplishments. He was a 3 time MVP and 13 time All-Star. He is best known for his 56 game hitting streak and at one time was voted Sport's Greatest Living Player. Joe was born Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr in Martinez, CA. The 8th of 9 children born to Italian immigrants Giuseppe (1872–1949) and Rosalia (Mercurio) DiMaggio. Joe's father Giuseppe was a fisherman by trade and managed to work his way from Ellis Island to where he eventually settled. A town some of my friends may know Pittsburg, CA. Giuseppe worked hard and after 4 years he sent for his wife and oldest daughter. Giuseppe hoped that his 4 sons would become fisherman like himself and generations of DiMaggios before them. Joe would have nothing to do with it as the smell of rotten fish nauseated him. Joe would rather be p
be playing baseball. And really who could blame him? Joe's father couldn't see any reason why playing a game could lead to a successful life. These were old times and if you weren't working hard you weren't going to survive.

Joe was playing semi pro baseball when his brother Vince was playing for the San Francisco Seals. The seals were down a shortstop and Vince talked the manager into allowing Joe to fill in. Joe made his professional debut October 1, 1932 however his major league debut came May 3, 1936 with the Yankees. He led them to 9 titles over his 13 year career. He was also the first player to be signed to a contract worth more than $100,00. Quite a contrast to today's contracts which offer several million for basically doing nothing. The league minimum was $400,000 in 2009. A ridiculous amount for sitting on the bench.

I could go on all day listing his accomplishments but like I said before. Do I really need to say any of this? Doesn't everyone know who Joe was? The DiMaggio descendants and relatives are still scattered throughout my hometown of Pittsburg, CA and I can't help but think of Joltin' Joe every time I see the DiMaggio name. Sadly Joe succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 85 March 8, 1999.

26 February 2010

Hands - City of London Cemetery

Hands - when clasped this is a symbol of farewell, some even have ‘Until we meet again’ inscribed below them. For anyone interested in the meaning of grave symbolism I have compiled an alphabetical photo book called The Lost Language of Cemeteries available here: http://www.lulu.com/content/5574501

25 February 2010

Shrouded figure, Paris.

I am fascinated by shrouded figures and this fellow was no exception. I discovered him in Paris.

24 February 2010

Yet Another Mystery

Inside Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, CA there is what I refer to as "The Big Tree Thing" I have only been able to find one reference to it on the internet. It appears in a book called Alive in Necropolis and is referred to as "The Fern Grotto". There is definitely a stone structure underneath it all. Peering around the side I can see what looks to have been a walkway with a handrail made of tree branches. There is also an old bench that I could see looking over the edge. I know it's somebody's last resting place but who's? I talked to another person that visits here regularly and she said that not even staff can tell her who is buried here. I'd estimate the structure somewhere between 40 and 60ft tall. Around the side it has a gate with a sign that of course says "Caution Keep Out". It looks like one of these days when nobody is looking I'll have to risk life and limb to jump the fence and see what's in there.

This is a picture of the foliage that has crept up over the side of the structure over many years. I love this structure but I'd still like to know the story that goes with it. I'm hoping someone out there can tell me a little something about it.

Bee Hive memorial, Chingford Mount Cemetery, Essex UK.

A Beehive from Chingford Mount cemetery Essex. A bee hive donates knowledge and was also a Masonic symbol.

22 February 2010

Blogger to Blogger

This post will contain no pictures but it will contain a great story that has recently been brought to my attention by a fellow blogger. Terri is one of our occasional authors and just posted a story on her Facebook page linking to another blog called Last2CU . I will not attempt to recreate this story because I feel that it's best told by the author. Normally I wouldn't link to another blog because hey I want you to read mine. But in this case the story was so compelling that I had to show everyone what had just read. It's just crazy what people do sometimes. In this case a small family cemetery was destroyed by a contractor and this is the woman's story to discover what happened to her relatives long ago. Click here to read the full story as told by Ruth Coker the owner of Last2CU

Tomb with a view - London

Well as I didn’t appear to freak everyone out with the interior shot of a catacomb here are a few more (slightly less glamorous) ones. The coffins wrapped in plastic are to protect them from recent flooding. The angel and large bell were hidden inside one vault I ventured into and the pigeon was living inside another one. It was able to get in and out of a small opening. The red drape on the coffin is just about visible although now covered in pigeon s**t!

Donner Party Survivors and Descendants

I thought just about everyone had heard the story of the Donner Party but was surprised to find somebody who hadn't. So I will summarize for those who have not. The Donner Party set out west in the 1840's from Illinois. Led by Capt. George Donner, Jacob Donner and James F. Reed the original group set out with 33 people in 9 covered wagons consisting of family and hired hands. Frances Donner (grave in the picture) was among those in the party and the daughter of George Donner. In 1846 the original Donner Party landed in a place called Little Sandy River with another group of emigrants traveling to California via wagon and horses. It was here the two groups decided to take different routes. One stayed on the California Trail that they had been following and the others became part of the Donner Party and decided to take the Hastings Trail which they thought would get them to California faster. When they reached the Sierra Mountains in October a snowstorm blocked their way over what is now known as Donner Pass. Running low on supplies the emigrants had to begin slaughtering their oxen but they could see that it was not enough. So fifteen (10 men and 5 women) set out for Sutter's Fort 100 miles away. When one leader couldn't go on another would take his place and soon they became lost and ran out of food. The survivors then had to resort to cannibalism to survive. By the time they reached safety only 2 men and all 5 women had survived. Rescue parties where then formed and sent back in waves forcing some of the rest to also resort to cannibalism .

The surviving Donners went on to raise families and many of them moved to Northern California. Here you see descendants of Jacob Donner (Georges' Brother). Frances above went on to raise six children with her husband William R. Wilder.

Today many people travel from where I live to Lake Tahoe on trips to the snow. On our way there we can all drive over Donner Pass in our cars. And I don't think a time goes by that the Donner conversation doesn't come up. We all look around in the car and think to ourselves..."If something happens who would I eat first?" It's a sick thing to think about I know. But the Donner story reminds us of what lengths people will go to in order to survive...

21 February 2010

Rust in peace, London.

I’ve called this one ‘Rust in peace’, it’s the interior of some catacombs in London. Ok they don’t usually allow photographs inside the catacombs but………. I found it completely fascinating. Note the guy top left has a bell?!

18 February 2010

Church Street Graveyard by Cody A. Quinn

Article by Cody A. Quinn Photos by Amy Walker

I would like to feature an article written by a student that I acquired from his mother. Both share a passion for cemeteries. This article is left as I received it from Cody's Mother. Thanks for the information Cody

Church Street Graveyard is Mobile’s oldest cemetery and opened in 1820 and closed in 1898.(Sledge, Church Street) The land was bought by William E. And Joshua Kennedy on April 4, 1820 for $20; however the yellow fever epidemic of 1819 filled the graveyard before the arrangements for buying the graveyard could be made.(Nelson, p.4) The yellow fever epidemic of 1819 killed 274 people, over 10 percent of Mobile’s population, and soon filled Church Street Graveyard. (Nelson, p.4)

Originally the graveyard was located half a mile away from town, as it was believed that germs come from the cemetery to kill the residents of the city.(Delaney, p.4) The city would expand to cover the area around the graveyard, which is why the Church Street Graveyard Wall was built, to prevent anything from going in and to keep disease from spreading (it did not work however).(Delaney, p.3) Later more epidemics would devastate the population and fill the graveyard with corpses, especially the yellow fever epidemic of 1897, which killed a huge part of the population.(Delaney, p.3)

The last recorded burial in the graveyard was that of Virginia Gaines Mitchell who died July 20, 1898. The graveyard was closed shortly afterward.(Schroeter, p.5)

When earlier Graveyards were taken over by development of Mobile’s streets, the graves were relocated to Church Street filling it immensely; By the 1860's and 70's nearly all of the space was filled.(Schroeter, p.3) The graveyard is a square plot of land with the four sides measuring 417 ½ feet, with one part of the graveyard for strangers, veterans, and poor citizens, also known as “Potter’s Field” which was relocated to Magnolia Cemetery after its opening in 1836.(Nelson, p.3) The other two-thirds of Church Street were reserved for Catholics, Protestants and Jews.(Nelson, p.3-4) Church Street Graveyard contains 20 rows and 14.5 lots of graves, with over 1,000 burials performed there, the graveyard officially closed in 1898 due to overcrowding, but a few important burials have taken place since then.(Nelson, p.4)

Since 1898, only a few burials have taken place there, the most notable being of Joe Cain, relocated to Church Street in 1968 by Julian Lee Rayford, also buried next to him, with Eugene Walter, a notable poet, buried next to them as well.(Sledge, Church Street) On Joe Cain Day, the graveyard hosts a large festival as members of the Merry Widows Mardi Gras society gather at Joe Cain’s grave and mourn over it, decorating it with liqour bottles, beads, etc.(Sledge, Church Street) One of the most famous sites in Mobile is the Boyington Oak, just outside of the Church Street Graveyard wall.(Schroeter, p.5) The oak is named after Charles Boyington, convicted of murder and hanged as punishment. He predicted an oak tree would grow over his grave to prove his innocence, and not long after the burial an oak tree began to grow.(Schroeter, p.5)

The design of the graves in Church Street Graveyard originates from early Spanish artisans who carved the headstones in an extravagant fashion; this form of grave making is still used today.(Sledge, Church Street) Special examples of these types of headstones are that of Isaiah Thomas Andrews (died May 30, 1819), a Boston seaman; a sandstone marker of John McCartney (died September 17, 1835), featuring a winged soul statue.(Sledge, ChurchStreet) Tombstones tell stories in this cemetery, a brother and sister are buried side-by-side with their headstones engraved with sculptured clocks with hands set to the hour of death. Another example is sad little markers of infants who have never lived long enough to know what life is. Church Street Graveyard is the final resting place of those who created Mobile from nothing.(Sledge, Cities, p.21)

Works Cited

Sledge, John S.“Church Street Graveyard.”(23 Feb. 2007)17 Apr. 2009

Nelson, Col. and Mrs. Soren. “A History of Church Street Graveyard” Mobile, Alabama, Jordan Printing Company, 1963. Southern Lithographing Co.,1974.

Delaney, Caldwell. “Craighead’s Mobile” Mobile, Alabama, 1968. The Haunted Bookshop.

Schroeter. George. “The Church Street Graveyard” Mobile, Alabama, Mobile Public Library.

Sledge, John S. “ Cities of Silence: A Guide to Mobile’s Historic Cemeteries”, 2002, A.S. Mitchell Foundation.

Green-Wood Cemetery's "Angel of Death"

The “Angel of Death” marks the graves of Charles Schieren, the next-to-last mayor of Brooklyn, and his wife Mary Louise. The Schierens died from pneumonia within 24 hours of one another in 1915.

Considered one of the world’s foremost cemeteries, Green-Wood Cemetery –located in Brooklyn, New York - was established in 1838. The famous names of those buried within its 478 acres read like a who's who of America: Currier and Ives, Tiffany, Steinway, Beecher, Greeley, Clinton, Sperry, Morse, Bernstein, Squibb, Pfizer, and FAO Schwarz. The cemetery’s monuments run the gamut from simple steles to ornate Gothic Revival mausoleums, with the whimsical and sometimes eerie (as evidenced in the photo above) represented as well.

An archival shot of this most unusual monument appears in my book Green-Wood Cemetery by Alexandra Kathryn Mosca. Published in 2008, by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America Series, the book chronicles many of Green-Wood's notables through words and photos.

Mummy, Paris.

A rather lifelike stone ‘Mummy’ from Paris.

14 February 2010

Edward F. and Ethel M. Smith Married over 60 years

Today is a day you're supposed to celebrate your love for that special someone in your life. I'd like to take some time here to celebrate some love I found in the cemetery. Edward and Ethel Smith. What originally caught my attention was the epitaph "The Mystery of Love is more profound than the mystery of death". And then on the very bottom "Together Forever". That's something we say about ourselves and even other people all the time. "Oh they've been together for ever". So I did a little digging and although I can't pinpoint the exact marriage date I could tell that Edward and Ethel were married earlier than 1920 from census records and already had 3 children Francis, Melvin and Edward Jr. Which puts my estimate of being married in the neighborhood of 65-70 years. Their marriage survived The Great Depression and two world wars. The death of Edward in December of 1978 was most likely more than Ethel could bear and she passed 3 months later in March of 1979. I would love to know more about this wonderful couple that no doubt after being together that long withstood anything and everything. Sadly Edward and Ethel can't tell me their story but there must be other people out there like them. Ones that give me hope that love can and does last forever. In some cases it's just not meant to be...or maybe it is and nobody knows until it's too late Happy Valentines Day Everyone.

13 February 2010

Andre "Mac Dre" Hicks

Bay Area hip hop legend Andre "Mac Dre" Hicks was born in Oakland, CA on July 5, 1970. At the age of 19 he released his first single "Too Hard for the F*ckin Radio". Between 1989 and 1991 Mac Dre was busy making a name for himself releasing 3 consecutive albums. By this time he'd moved to Vallejo California's Country Club Crest neighborhood or as it was called "The Crest". In 1992 Dre was charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery when it was thought he had ties to the "Romper Room Gang" who had robbed several Bay Area banks. This was due to many references to the gang in his songs. This didn't stop Dre from working because while in prison he recorded the album Back N da Hood via prison phone. To hip hop fans in the Bay Area this album remains a classic. After his release from prison in 1996 Mac Dre immediately went back to work on his music releasing album after album of classic material. Then in 2000 Mac Dre relocated to Sacramento, CA and started the label Thizz Entertainment. Mac Dre was able to gain a huge following in the Bay Area and a few other cities and seemed content to just release the music he wanted to release and not be tied to the restrictions and rules of a major record label. Dre built his career on the underground music scene and still remains one of my favorite hip hop artists today.

In 2004 while in Kansas City, MO a car pulled up next the the vehicle Mac Dre was riding in and opened fire. The vehicle swerved off the road and ran into a ravine where Dre was thrown from the vehicle. Autopsy reports determined that he was killed from a single gunshot wound to the neck. Nobody really knows who Mac Dre's killer was but a Kansas City rapper by the name of Anthony "Fat Tone" Watkins was believed by many to be involved. In 2005 Fat Tone was found murdered alongside Jermaine "Cowboy" Akins allegedly killed by a good friend of Dre in retaliation for Dre's death. He is now serving time for the crime. In 2006 Mac Dre's headstone was stolen a local rapper by the name of AP .9 put up a $10,000 reward for it's return. Obviously the headstone has been replaced but I'm not sure if it's the original or if sometime or somewhere somebody will try and sell it somewhere. For this reason the cemetery office will not disclose it's location. It took 4 trips Mountain View Cemetery before we found Mac Dre's gravesite searching through more than 8000 graves.

Although hip hop is often filled with violence Mac Dre seemed to stay away from that after his release from prison. The Bay Area hip hop scene was shocked and saddened by the death of one of the greatest Bay Area rappers to ever live. In my opinion Bay Area hip hop is now saturated with a bunch of people all doing the same thing...trying to be like Dre. Thizz Entertainment is still a label out here today but it's not the same without Dre. I don't know if my opinion is swayed by the lack of Mac Dre or if the hip hop scene out here is really saturated with rappers trying to be Mac Dre and still using his name to promote themselves.

On a side note I must credit my girlfriend with the find. I will not disclose the location out of respect for Mac Dre's family.

Valentine's Day at Pere Lachaise.

12 February 2010

Tombstone Tales: And Night Falls Infinitely...

love is a rose #1

My oldest memory of the other

world where I lived

another life is a summer

evening and I am


and my mother

is a black widow sitting

by my bed in the last light

of a day that only brought

darkness and death and night

falls through the window

of the silent attic

when she sings,

no when she sighs slow

and sadly this madly

talking blues:

"Only what dies,

shall live, my son.

So I have to release

the immortal soul

from the body

that is a tomb."

And night falls

infinitely and forever

I will be


Rock Cemetery, Nottingham UK.

A very short video clip from my phone showing the wonderful Rock cemetery, Nottingham UK.

The city Rock Cemetery is unlike most cemeteries I have visited. It’s unusual in that it’s built out of sandstone rock and looks very much like an old style Necropolis with caves. Catacombs were built into a larger cave but they were never used.

The Cemetery was laid out by Edwin Patchitt for the Church Cemetery Company and was opened in 1856. It lies north of the centre of Nottingham. The Cemetery, built on old sandpits, slopes gradually northwards towards the Forest with a deep natural hollow, known as St Ann's Valley in the north-east corner of the site. The entrance to the Cemetery is off the corner of Forest Road East and Mansfield Road between large stone gate piers and ornamental iron gates. The main processional path, cobbled by the entrance, leads north-westwards with, standing west of the entrance, a small brick and render lodge (c1865) with a slate roof and gable and porch bargeboards. The main path leads westwards with midway along the path a spur leading to the site of the Mortuary Chapel (demolished 1965.) A cottage adjoining one of the three windmills which formally stood on the site of the Cemetery was used as a temporary Chapel after the opening of the Cemetery and was subsequently demolished.

A Mortuary Chapel, designed by E W Godwin, was built in 1878-79 and opened in August 1879. The Cruciform Chapel with a central tower and pyramidal spire stood 210 metres from the south-eastern lodge of a spur off the main processional path. The layout of the Cemetery is determined by the sandstone rocks and old sandpits on which the Cemetery was created. It has four main areas: the terrace to the south with a straight promenade to the site of the Chapel; the section in the centre and north-west which is terraced and has ashlar retaining walls; the catacomb range in St Ann's Valley in the east and the north-west corner which uses natural caves, cliffs and outcrops.

The main processional path along the top terrace runs east past a War Memorial (c1920, listed grade II) designed by Sir Richard Blomfield (1856-1942) built of Portland stone. Midway along the path a spur leads north to the site of the former Mortuary Chapel the main route continuing on the raised area of graves. The latter terrace has a number of fine Edwardian figure sculpture tombs. Another path runs northwards from the lodge to sandstone caves. This area has the most impressive Victorian monuments, several of which are set in rock. From the caves the path continues along a sunken path to a long ramp flanked by brick walls, part of the walls being contiguous with Forest Park. The ramp leads to St Ann's Valley, a natural hollow made larger and strengthened for the building of catacombs and the long ramped entrance (1851-56, the remaining walls and stairway listed grade II). This earthmoving together with the formation of the mounds and terraces elsewhere in the cemetery was done by the unemployed poor in the late 1850s.The exposed bedrock of the Valley supports buttressed Gothic arches. Immediately at the bottom of the ramp are lines of paupers' graves with stone slabs recording the names of the number of adults and children in each grave. South of the graves are the more scattered individual graves. A few ornamental trees are planted in the centre of the space. A tunnel links the Valley with the western part of the Cemetery.

10 February 2010

St. Nicholas Cemetery - Chicago

Under the flight path of O'Hare Airport...

While vacationing in the Chicago area in September of 2007, my mother and I visited as many different cemeteries as we could and started a tradition that goes on to this day; visiting and photographing cemeteries. This is one of the cemeteries that we saw on that trip; a cemetery reserved for burials of Ukranian Greco-Catholics, established in 1906.



Cora, West Norwood cemetery, London.

Cora, West Norwood Cemetery, London. This angel is in the likeness of the little girl who is buried here.

09 February 2010

Tombstone Tuesday and the Presidential Seal

The quality of this photo is not my best, but I had to share it anyway. On my trip to the east cost in October, we had the chance to visit Mount Vernon, it was so beautiful. We did not have a lot of spare time to see the sites and what we did see was very rushed. 

While visiting Mount Vernon, we paid for the National Treasure: Book of Secrets tour. I love these movies and was intrigued to see this historical sight from the movies perspective. 

Our tour was no more then 20 people, large enough for group participation in questions asked and small enough to be able to get individual attention by our tour guide. 99% of the tour was the outside grounds of Mount Vernon, the only thing inside that we saw was the basement. We entered the basement through the outside doors and went down a few steep steps, our purpose there was to view the cornerstone. The original cornerstone had been removed an
d placed upstairs in the house. But we got to view the one they replaced it with, our purpose there was to see how the movies changed things around.

Our tour guide took us to all the important places on the grounds that was used in the National Treasure movie and explained how they changed things to make the movie more "Hollywood". The tour was wonderful and I wished we had more time to wander the grounds and see inside of the house. 

When the tour was over we took a few spare minutes to visit the tomb where the Washington family is buried. In his will, President (General) W
ashington had decided where a new tomb would be built to replace the family vault that was deteriorating. In 1831 the tomb was completed and  the Washington family, including Martha and the General and other family members. 

According to the woman that I spoke with there is about 30+ people buried in this tomb. She could not tell me exactly who they all were. 

When the remains were moved to the new tomb, The General and Mrs. Washington were moved to a sarcophagus, which was to large to fit into the tomb that had been built. Originally, all of the family were to be onside the tomb, nothing was to be viewable by the public. Since the sarcophagus was too large, a exterior room was built around them and wrought iron fence was placed in front of it. Behind the fence, you can make out the Seal of the President.  Mrs. Washington is on the left of the General and the family is sealed in behind them. 

There are a few stones around the outside of the tomb, I will try to get some of those up on another day. 

What I did not know while we were visiting is that there is a wooded hill which is a slave burial ground that is marked by a memorial to honor all African-American slaves who worked at Mount Vernon. I wish I had done just a little bit of reading before we made this trip so that I could have paid my respects there as well. 

If you ever have a chance to make it to the East Coast, I definitely recommend a visit to Mount Vernon.

Tombstone Tuesday - An interesting find

Click the picture for a larger version...But does anyone know what this epitaph may mean? It was just sitting there with nobody's name on it. The nearest grave was about five feet from it. The epitaph seems to have a hidden meaning. Of course I could just be fooling myself because I have no idea what it's intended meaning is. The part that gets me is "We have worn our white robes in defiance of the world in this the last travail." It keeps going through my mind every time I look at it. The stone is from Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA. Jeane has helped with the symbols but I'd still like to know if anyone has any ideas on the epitaph itself.

08 February 2010

St Mary’s churchyard Walthamstow London

St Mary’s churchyard Walthamstow London has a lot of interesting history including a number of large family tombs dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The unusual lion grave took my eye along with the grave of the Dobree family which features a wine cup, a book and a plate of what looks like large sugar lumps. From the 15th century onwards, sugar was sold in loaves, often weighing more than a pound. Samuel Dobree, who died in 1816, is described as being a ‘merchant’. If these are indeed sugar lumps, then he was probably involved in the slave trade. Because there were many merchants following a triangular trade route taking trinkets from England to Africa, selling them there and picking up slaves to transport to the West Indies and then loading up with sugar for the English home market!

06 February 2010

February is Black History Month

Born a slave in 1844 Obediah Summers worked as a servant for a top soldier in the Confederate Army and in 1862 was captured by the Union. The Union forces gave Obediah a choice. Fight for the Grand Army of the Republic (a part of the Union Army) or return to the south and remain a slave. Obediah made the wise decision of joining Company A of the 18th Regiment of the United States Colored Forces. After his discharge in 1866 Obediah became a preacher at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Around 1891 he decided to build his own church The Old Bethel Church on 15th Street in Oakland, CA. About the same time he was appointed the first African-American chaplain of the state legislature. No doubt a huge step for a man of color given the time period.

Today Obediah has a marker in the Grand Army of the Republic plot in Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery. But it wasn't always like that. You see up until 2005 Obediah Summers was buried in the unendowed section of Mountain View Cemetery. It wasn't until a docent by the name of Dennis Evanosky, who happens to be the Civil War plot expert at the cemetery, discovered the location of Summers body that procedures to remove and re-inter Summers' body began to take place. Since it was not a national cemetery permission was not needed to remove Summers' body, however it was discovered that he was also buried with an infant grandson which halted the procedures. Evanosky would have to seek permission from the city of Alameda before proceeding with efforts. Since Evanosky was neither family nor did he have to resources to hire a lawyer. He was able to locate Summers' great grand-daughter Myrnna Adams. After 2 years of efforts petitioning the cemetery Summers remained buried in the undendowed section. Adams has become too tired of the fight and the only thing Evanosky could do is have Summers memorialized in the section he belongs in. Summers was also a member of the Masons and Odd Fellows in his lifetime as well as other organizations.

Summers died in Oakland on March 15, 1896. He was 51.


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