Iowa/South Dakota Cemetery Hopping: Discovering Iowa’s Le Mars Cemetery, Part II

Today I’m diving deep into why I consider my visit to Le Mars Cemetery my favorite part of my Iowa/South Dakota road trip with Christi in June 2018. It really boils down to two words: white bronze.

This block for Annie McCurdy is made of metal and not stone. Zinc markers marketed as “white bronze” became a hot trend in the 1880s.

“White Bronze” Equals Zinc

White bronze is really just a fancy term for zinc, which is a metal. White bronze markers became popular starting in the 1880s. While there were a few different companies, Monumental Bronze of Bridgeport, Conn. was the largest with a number of subsidiary factories in Detroit, Chicago, Des Moines, Philadelphia, St. Thomas, Canada, and perhaps New Orleans. Around the start of World War I, all metal was needed for munitions so the factories started closing. The name/date plates continued to be manufactured into the 1930s.

This is the cover of the 1882 Monumental Bronze Co.’s catalog. Many thanks to Smithsonian Libraries for putting this online to use as a great resource.

Better Than Stone?

An agent for the company could show you a catalog of all the possibilities/costs available. The pieces were shipped by train and you put them together. At the time, they were marketed as a less expensive, longer lasting alternative to stone. But some people thought if you bought them for a loved one, you were being “cheap” so a little bit of a stigma existed.

I found this bit of marketing in the 1882 Monumental Bronze catalog:

There being no deterioration in their value, you always have in these your money’s worth; while, with marble, or even granite, what you obtained at great expense, may, in a few years, become of little or no value, as defective headstones and monuments in every cemetery bear witness. Is it not then the part of wisdom to invest where you will always feel satisfied with your purchase, and also give better satisfaction to coming generations.

Some insist that all the casting was done in Bridgeport and only finishing work was carried out by the subsidiaries. However, rail cars loaded with zinc rolled regularly into Des Moines from Kansas with material for the Western White Bronze Co., so it’s likely that casting occurred there, too.

I did find ads from the 1891 editions of the Le Mars Semi-Weekly Sentinel promoting a salesman named John Bogen who sold grave markers (both stone and white bronze) at a local furniture store, a common practice in those days. I got a kick out of how the quote used is attributed to “Science”. I did note that according to Find a Grave, Bogen is buried at Le Mars Cemetery but has a stone marker. Did he decide, in the end, not to put his faith in “Science”?

John Bogen promoted the value of white bronze markers but chose a stone one for his own grave.

This marker for Catherine Garman (they misspelled her last name as “Germen”) is a good example of a smaller white bronze. There are two more like it that I saw for other people.

White bronze marker for Catherine Garmon, although it says “Catherina Germen”. She only lived the last few years of her life in Le Mars with her married daughter and family.

On the back is a lily of the valley suspended by a cuffed hand.

The lily of the valley usually symbolized symbolizes innocence, humility, and renewal.

Having the 1882 catalog to refer to, I found an example there that looks much like the Garman marker. Size would vary depending on need.

This is possibly what the Garman family saw in the Monumental Bronze catalog, if they were given the chance to look at one.

I did notice that Catherine’s daughter, Mary Anna Elizabeth Garman Hamm, has a large stone marker nearby.

Four Little Lambs

For those of us who adore “zinckies” (as we call them), finding certain examples of them in a cemetery can be very exciting. Before visiting Le Mars Cemetery, I had only seen a white bronze lamb marker online. To my amazement, Le Mars has not one but FOUR of them! I’m going to share all of them with you here.

Seven-year-old Tommy Plumb died of the croup on March 6, 1886.

Friderick Knuth was only seven months old when he died on May 30, 1891.

Theresa Caroline Utech passed away at the age of five weeks and five days on Sept. 7, 1883.

Edward Patzig died on Feb. 25, 1889. It’s possible he is the son of Louis and Maggie Patzig.

I think I may have found the answer as to why Le Mars Cemetery has so many lambs.

The final one pictured is a for a boy named Edward Patzig, who died in February 1889 at the age of 16 months. An item I found in the newspaper from November 1890 indicating Louis Patzig and his family were moving to Des Moines where he would be selling white bronze monuments and working with his wife’s relative, Joseph Clos, as an undertaker. It’s possible that Louis Patzig, already known in Le Mars, sold the other lambs to his former neighbors. Louis’ mother, Johannah Patzig, is buried nearby.

“Suffer the Children”

Sadly, white bronze was a popular choice for families mourning the loss of their children. Several examples of this can be found here. If any family knew loss, it was the Traeders.

Originally from Germany, Albert Traeder came to America with his family around 1865.

A native of Germany, Albert Traeder was born around 1849 and emigrated to American with his family in 1865. He married Bertha Woodke in 1876. Edward “Eddy” Bernhard Traeder was born in 1877. Lora Marie Traeder was born in 1878. Rudolph “Rudy” August Traeder was born on Oct. 24, 1880. Albert Jr. was born on April 27, 1884.

Eddy and Rudy died only a day apart in 1883.

Scarlet fever ravaged the Traeder home in early May 1883. Six-year-old Eddy died on May 10, 1883. Two-year-old Rudy died the next day.

Tragedy struck again on Aug. 15, 1884 when Albert Sr. died at the age of 34 from “brain fever”, as it was called. Today it might have been called encephalitis.

Only 34, carpenter Albert B. Traeder Sr. was much loved by his community.

It’s not surprising that the family chose what the Monumental Bronze catalog refers to as the “Suffer the Children” design for one of the panels.

“Suffer the Children” is a motif reflecting Matthew 19:14.

At the foot of the monument are two name plates for the boys and their father. Such plates are often damaged by mowers and end up in sad shape. But it appears the Traeder ones are holding up fairly well.

Bertha’s woes were not yet over. On May 28, 1886, Lora died from complications stemming from the croup and diphtheria. She has her own stone at Le Mars Cemetery.

Bertha didn’t let these tragedies stop her from making a life for her and Albert Jr. She became a successful businesswoman in the community. She waited until 1908 to remarry to Henry Frevert, when Albert Jr. was 24.

Albert Jr. married in 1917 to Victoria Dionne. They had one child, Patricia, in 1920 and Victoria died soon after. With the help of Bertha, Albert raised Patricia. Bertha died in 1932. When Patricia was 16, he remarried. He died 13 years later in 1949.

I found plenty of markers for older people as well. This one for the Blackwells is an example. Catharine is one one side and husband Henry’s on the other.

Catharine Blackwell died at age 66 in August 1880.

Born in 1823, Henry emigrated from Canada and settled in Le Mars. Catharine was about nine years his senior. I don’t know what year they married but four children followed.

“The Angels Took Her Home”

Catharine died in August 1880 at the age of 66, I don’t know what from. Henry must have mourned her greatly. The words at the bottom of her marker read: “She faltered by the wayside, and the angels took her home.”

The news account of his death notes that Henry was an “old man” nearing 70 when he was actually only 63. It also said he was suffering from rheumatism and “felt for some time that death would be a great release.”

Henry Blackwell committed suicide six years after his wife, Catharine, died.

On April 18, 1886, Henry was alone in his room at the home he shared with his son, William, and his family. He somehow managed to rig a shotgun against a plank at the bottom of his bed and shot himself in the chest. His family raced to help him but it was too late.

His epitaph reads: “Where immortal spirits reign, there we shall meet again.”

There are many more white bronze stories left to share from Le Mars Cemetery. Stay tuned for Part III.

Annie McCurdy, whose block you saw at the start of this post, also has a full monument at Le Mars Cemetery. She died in 1885 at the age of 28.

Iowa/South Dakota Cemetery Hopping: Discovering Iowa’s Le Mars Cemetery, Part I

So we’re nearing the end of my Iowa/South Dakota 2018 adventure back in Iowa. While I truly enjoyed all the cemeteries we visited, and seeing Sioux Falls for the first time, our excursion to Le Mars Cemetery was by far my favorite. It’s probably going to take at least three parts to cover it all.

Origins of Le Mars

According to Le Mars’ web page, the history of the town goes back as early as the 1850s when white settlers arrived to the region now known as Plymouth County. The county of Plymouth was organized in 1853 and started with 2 townships. Le Mars was platted in 1869, but no lots were sold until the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad, later part of the Illinois Central Railroad, arrived in 1870.

You might think, as I did, that Le Mars was named after a Frenchman. But that’s not what happened. In 1869, Le Mars was named when railroad builder John I. Blair came by special train with a company of officials and a group of ladies. These ladies were asked to suggest a name for the town, then know as Saint Paul Junction. The ladies’ names were (and locals quibble a bit on whether or not all the names are accurate): Lucy Underhill, Elizabeth Parsons, Mary Weare, Anna Blair, Rebecca Smith and Sarah Reynolds. The result: Le Mars.

Historic postcard of Le Mars’ courthouse and jail, taken around 1890. (Photo source: Bobette Yamado)

Unlike many rural Iowa towns, Le Mars did not begin as your typical farming settlement but was pitched as an English colony of sorts. In Philadelphia in 1876, Oxford University student William B. Close and Daniel Paullin, a land agent who was promoting land sales in Illinois and Iowa, talked about the opportunities in Iowa. Inspired by Paullin’s idea, Close and his three brothers organized the Iowa Land Company.

The Close family was well connected in England and secured financing for their venture. They encouraged upper-class Englishmen to join the colony. Several Englishmen came to buy farms and ranches, and set up banks and other businesses. You might be asking yourself why, as did I.

An English Colony for “Second Sons”

Young Englishmen, especially the “second sons” of elite families were encouraged to travel to Le Mars to learn the business of farm management. Some of the older men took responsibility for the housing and training of these young pupils. In England, such young men were not known for being incredibly industrious but tended to live off the coffers of their eldest brothers who held the family money.

William Close was one of four brothers from England with a plan to turn an Iowa town into a British colony. (Photo Source: Northwest Iowa Genealogical Society)

Le Mars is not the first type of “colony” of this nature, another being Rugby, Tenn. Founded in 1880, it had similar origins but failed miserably due to many factors I won’t get into. While Le Mars fared better, I’m not sure a great many of the young men truly took to farming. I read that some were known to have unhitched plow horses for informal racing and betting, among other activities. They even played polo.

While the original experiment fizzled out around 1890 after the death of Fred Close in a polo accident in 1890, some of the Brits stayed an married Americans. By 1895, when the Prairie Club caught fire and had to be rebuilt, the new club began accepting forced  Americans as well as British members.

Birth of Blue Bunny

While few people know about Le Mars’ British connection, many are familiar with the ice cream that one of its families started producing that became a household name.

In 1913, Fred H. Wells, Jr. paid a local dairy farmer $250 for a horse, delivery wagon, a few cans and jars, and the goodwill of the business. His investment covered the milk distribution route and guaranteed Wells a source of raw milk from a herd of just 15 milk cows. Around 1925, Fred and his sons began manufacturing ice cream in Le Mars.

Undated photo of a Blue Bunny ice cream truck. (Photo Source: Wells Enterprises, Inc. web site)

In 1935, the brothers decided to run a “Name That Ice Cream” contest in the Sioux City Journal. A Sioux City man won the $25 cash prize for submitting the winning entry, “Blue Bunny,” after noticing how much his son enjoyed the blue bunnies in a department store window at Easter. The winner, an illustrator , also created the first Blue Bunny logo, used on Blue Bunny packaging for nearly 70 years.

Ice Cream Capital of the World

Le Mars reportedly earned the title of “Ice Cream Capital of the World” in 1994 after being recognized for more ice cream being made by one manufacturer in one location. Le Mars makes the most of this distinction and it’s noted on the town’s sign as you enter.

Le Mars’ Blue Bunny ice cream parlor is well worth a stop.

Christi and I visited the Blue Bunny ice cream parlor when we arrived in downtown Le Mars, which has preserved a number of those original British-built storefronts. The parlor boasts a great store of Blue Bunny merchandise (I bought a cool tie dye t-shirt) and a small museum upstairs. It’s definitely worth a stop.

If you ever make it to LeMars, you’ll notice several fiberglass ice cream cones around town uniquely designed to reflect local businesses. This one pictured below is right across from the Blue Bunny ice cream parlor and I believe it is for a church. About 55 of them can be seen around Le Mars, having been part of a local art project.

This ice cream cone is one of 55 around Le Mars that were part of a local art project.

If you’re wondering, we finally did make it to Le Mars Memorial Cemetery, although the sign says “Memorial Cemetery”. I’m going to refer to it as Le Mars Cemetery. I could find very little about the cemetery’s history. Not when it was established, who owned the land, etc. According to Find a Grave, it has close to 7,000 graves. An 1893 article states it covers 20 acres and was managed by a man named C.P. Woodward.

I don’t know what year the Le Mars Memorial Cemetery was established.

The first person I wanted to find at the cemetery was Blue Bunny’s founder, Fred Hooker Well, Jr. To my surprise, while he had a Find a Grave memorial, there was no photo of his grave. I remedied that quickly.

Grave marker for Fred Hooker Wells Jr., founder of Blue Bunny Ice Cream.

The next two markers I’m going to focus on were actually among the last I found during our visit. But I wanted to talk to them in this installment because they’re not white bronze markers and I’ll be focusing on them next week. They are unlike any other in the cemetery.

The Artistic Moon Sisters

Born in Ohio, Araminta “Mintie” Moon and her sister, Sylvia Theresa Moon, were both of a creative and artistic nature. They were the daughters of Eveline and George Moon. They had a younger brother named Willis. I don’t know when George died but by 1870, Eveline and her three children had left New York and settled in Waterloo, Iowa, which is 220 miles east of Le Mars.

The Waterloo newspapers often featured stories about the sisters’ artistic pursuits. They were popular in local society and both enjoyed participating in local plays. Mintie was the sister known for her painting. Theresa focused on supporting literary pursuits, singing, and playing the organ. Mintie took classes at the Massachusetts Normal School Art School in Boston for a few years. Willis helped support the family as a bookkeeper.

Mintie Moon’s love of art is expressed in her grave marker, which features a painter’s easel. “To live in loving hearts is not to die” is a variation on a quote from a poem by Thomas Campbell called “Hallowed Ground”

Sometime after 1880, Mintie and Theresa opened their own school in Waterloo that they called the Art Association. They hosted a number of exhibitions there and taught students. But Mintie’s health began to fail. She had contracted tuberculosis. The family moved to Le Mars around that time. Several months later, Mintie died on March 15, 1884. She was only 30 years old.

“To Live in Loving Hearts Is Not To Die”

Eveline died only three years later in 1887. Later that year, Theresa married attorney Alvin Low. He had older children from a previous marriage. By 1900, the family had moved to Los Angeles, Calif. Willis, who never married, shared their home later.

I can find no evidence that Theresa continued her artistic pursuits in California. She died at the age of 73 in 1925. Her body was brought back to Le Mars, where she was buried beside her beloved sister, Mintie, and her mother.

Sylvia Theresa Moon Low’s artistic life may have ended after she married lawyer Alvin Low.

Willis continued to live with his brother-in-law Alvin and his step-niece and nephews in California. He died in 1941 and is buried in the same lot as his sisters. There is no photo of his grave or Eveline’s on Find a Grave and I did not see any for them when I was there.

Next time, I’ll delve into the wonderful collection of white bronze markers at Le Mars Cemetery. There are more of them here than any other cemetery I’ve ever visited.


Iowa/South Dakota Cemetery Hopping: Pausing at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery, Union County, S.D.

On our journey back to Omaha, we decided to make a stop in Le Mars, Iowa to visit the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Museum. When looking on the map to see what exit suited us best off I-29, I noticed there was a small cemetery near a tiny town called Spink. So that’s where we left the interstate.

St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery is also known as Garryowen Cemetery by the locals. The Garryowen community was first settled by the O’Connors, the Mannings, and the Sullivans. If you go to Find A Grave and look up St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery, you’ll discover that 71 of the 315 memorials recorded have the last name of O’Connor. St. Mary’s and the church building are about all that’s left of the Garryowen community.

When I first saw the metal triple cross arch, I was puzzled. Later, I learned the cemetery sign used to hang under the crosses.

You’ll notice in the photo above that there’s a large metal piece with three crosses on it. I had no idea what this was supposed to signify at the time. Later, when I was doing research, I learned that it had formerly held the cemetery’s main sign.

Roots of Garryowen

The Irish families that moved to this southeastern corner of South Dakota had first lived near Dubuque in Garryowen, Iowa. These were immigrants mainly from Munster, Ireland. Garryowen is a variation of the Gaelic for “John’s Garden,” a popular parade and fairground outside Limmerick, Ireland.

In 1860, a group from Garryowen, Iowa, led by a Manning, moved west to start a new community. Between 1860 and 1879, these families attended church in nearby Fairview and their dead were buried in the Fairview Cemetery. When the Garryowen community had increased to 50 families, a parish was finally organized in 1879 to form St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Initially, the Fairview priest was responsible for this church.

The church’s new sign, made out of stone, explains the history of the community and cemetery.

This stone explains the history of St. Mary’s Catholic Church well.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the cemetery were first located together on five acres donated by Patrick Mahan. Eventually, the church became too small for the increasing membership so a larger one was built in 1904 at the James Casey farm. It was destroyed by fire in 1924. A third church was built in 1925 diagonally across the road from the cemetery on land donated by Tom O’Connor.

The signs also indicated that in 1993, the diocese of Sioux Falls closed the church. My thought is the community had shrunk considerably by then.

That 1924 church building, I recently learned, still exists. I didn’t notice it at the time when we stopped at the cemetery, probably because it doesn’t look much like a church any longer. I read that it was used as an antique store and as of 2016, the building and property were for sale. I have a feeling it’s not going to last too long unless it gets some TLC.

This is what St. Mary’s Catholic Church in looks like today. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)

A brief history of the church and cemetery that I located notes that the first burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery was that of Michael O’Connor. The grave was dug with the help of Vincent O’Connor, who was 16 at the time. There are only about 300 or so burials at St. Mary’s, so it is a small cemetery but well maintained.

It also notes that the second grave was that of Jeffery Donahoe in September 1883. Problem is, there’s no Jeffery Donahoe listed on Find a Grave but a Mary Ann Donahoe who died in September 1883 is. So I think the author is referring to her. As it turns out, Jeffery was her husband. There is no marker for him in the cemetery.

It is likely that Mary Ann Donahoe was the second burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Born around 1831 in Castle Ireland, County Kerry, Ireland, Mary Ann Breshanan married Jeffrey Donahoe. I don’t know when they arrived in America but their first child, Daniel, was born in Connecticut in 1854. By 1860, they were in Table Mound, Iowa and that was about 15 miles northeast of Garryowen, Iowa. So they may have been among those that migrated over to Garryowen, S.D.

Mary Ann passed away at the age of 51 on Sept. 3, 1881. I couldn’t find out when Jeffrey died and he has no marker at St. Mary’s. Their son, Andrew, who died in 1935, is buried near Mary Ann with his wife.

The Mysterious Rev. Kennedy

One gravestone I photographed was for the Rev. Matthiae Kennedy. I’ve never seen what I’m guessing is a form of Matthew spelled that way.

Who was the Rev. Matthiae Kennedy?

The information I was able to glean from his marker was that he was born in Ireland and died in Dubuque, Iowa on Oct. 8, 1887. At the bottom is the Latin inscription: Pro me omnes vos orate, which means I pray for you all.

If he did indeed die in Dubuque, why was he buried in Garryowen, S.D.? Did he ever pastor St. Mary’s? I Googled my heart out and could find nothing at all about him online. Perhaps someone reading this is familiar with him and will contact me.

The Dillon Children

I found a repaired marker for two children of John and Annie Dillon. Born in Camross, Ireland in 1823, John arrived in Boston, Mass. around 1848. He married Annie McCarty in Galena, Ill. sometime before 1853. By 1880, they were living in Spink, S.D. (which is next to Garryowen) and had seven children.

This marker for two of the Dillon children was repaired at some point.

Born in 1860 in Illinois, Thomas was probably the third child in the family. He died on March 16, 1878 at age 18. Anna, who was born in 1871, died in 1885 on April 26, 1883. She was 14. I don’t know their causes of death. Their parents share a marker nearby.

Mother of 13 Children

This marker got my attention because of the words “Mother of 13 Children”. It also has that homemade rustic quality that tugs at the heartstrings.

Sadly, most of Mary O’Connor’s children did not live to adulthood.

Mary Donahoe (or Donahue) was born in Iowa in 1855. She married Irishman Jeremiah “Jerry” O’Connor in 1878. He’d only been in America a few years, having emigrated from Ballyferriter, County Kerry, Ireland in 1875. He came to Iowa to join two of his brothers who were already farming in Iowa.

By 1880, the couple were living in Garryowen where they farmed. When I saw the 1900 U.S. Census, it listed them with four children (Mary, Anna, Joseph, and Luke). But it also noted that the total number of children Mary had given birth to was 13. I can only guess that nine did not live past childhood, which is incredibly tragic.

Mary died in 1905, I don’t know her cause of death. Jerry and the three younger children remained on the farm. He moved to nearby Vermillion, where he taught school and farmed there near daughter Margaret. When Margaret and her family moved to California, he went with them. He died there on Feb. 5, 1935 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, Calif.

O’Connor Brothers

This handsome marker for James O’Connor and his wife, Nora, is one of the largest ones in the cemetery. I am fairly sure that he’s the son of Michael O’Connor, the first man buried in St. Mary’s. Michael and his wife, Margaret were also from Ballyferriter, County Kerry, Ireland like Jerry O’Connor.

James and Nora O’Connor both came from County Kerry (or County Cary as their marker states) in Ireland.

Born in 1829, son James may have married Hanora “Nora” Shehan after he came to America. They were both from County Kerry and married in 1850. They settled in the Jones County area of Eastern Iowa and had all of their children there before moving over to Union County, S.D. in 1869. The U.S. Census from 1870 lists eight children in the household. Amazingly, it looks like they all lived well into adulthood.

James died in 1910 and Nora died the following year. At least four of their children were also buried at St. Mary’s when they died.

James’ brother, Thomas, also moved to Union County and raised his family there. He and his wife, Johanna, share a very similar marker next to James and Nora’s. Thomas died in 1907 and Johanna died in 1910.

Thomas and Johanna O’Connor’s monument does not have a cross on the top.

There are small cemeteries like St. Mary’s on country roads throughout states like South Dakota and Iowa. Many are the last remnant of a community whose population dwindled over time and eventually died out. Garryowen is one of them.

Fortunately, those left behind are still taking care of the final resting place of those Irish pioneers.




Iowa/South Dakota Hopping: Taking a Stroll Through Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Woodlawn Cemetery

We’re still in Sioux Falls, South Dakota! This week, our destination is Woodlawn Cemetery. Founded in 1905, it’s a not as old as nearby Mount Pleasant Cemetery. But it has an illustrious history all its own.

This sign at the 26th Street entrance, made of stones from the petrified forests of Arizona, was provided by Woodlawn’s founder Richard F. Pettigrew.

With some cemeteries, it can be difficult for me to locate information on who the founder was or any kind of history. With Woodlawn, their website provides plenty of useful information.

The man at the center of Woodlawn’s history is Richard Franklin Pettigrew, who is (as you might imagine) interred at the cemetery he founded. There’s a lot of material written about him because he was a key player in South Dakota history.

A Dakota Pioneer

Born in Vermont in 1848, Richard and his family relocated to Wisconsin where he attended the University of Wisconsin Law School. In 1869, he moved to the Dakota Territory, where he first worked as a surveyor, then entered the Territorial Bar in 1871. After establishing a law practice in Sioux Falls, he also pursued real estate interests.

Active in politics, Pettigrew served a term in the Dakota Territorial Legislature, and two terms on the Territorial Council before being elected as a Democrat to represent the Dakota Territory in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1880. He served a single term in Congress from 1881 to 1883, and was unsuccessful in his bid for re-election.

Richard F. Pettigrew’s mausoleum is one of the few I’ve ever seen that has a photo of him on the outside.

When South Dakota was admitted to the Union in 1889, Pettigrew was elected along with Republican Gideon C. Moody as the state’s first two Senators to the U.S. Senate. He served two terms from 1889 to 1901, switching from Democrat to Republican in 1896. The party switch hurt him of politically, and he lost his re-election bid to Senator Robert J. Gamble. His post-Senate career was marked by a time of practicing law in New York City before returning to Sioux Falls.

A New Cemetery for Sioux Falls

It was during his time in New York City that Pettigrew served as an officer of the Rosehill Cemetery Association (located in New Jersey), which sparked his intent to help establish a cemetery in Sioux Falls.

When a 70-acre tract of land in the southeast corner of the city went up for sale, Pettigrew paid the $8,750 purchase price from his personal funds.The entire amount, plus interest, was repaid to him as the cemetery association’s funds slowly grew. In the winter of 1922, an adjacent 10 acres were purchased from a private owner.

Today, Woodlawn Cemetery covers 80 acres, with about half of it plotted and sold. According to Find a Grave, there are about 17,400 recorded burials.

Richard F. Pettigrew’s final years were marred by controversy.

The Pettigrew mausoleum features this lovely stained glass window of Easter lilies.

Unfortunately, the last decade of former Sen. Pettigrew’s life was colored by difficulty. In 1916, his wife, Bettie Pittard Pettigrew, died after a long illness. In 1917,  he criticized America’s involvement in World War I, and publicly urged young men to evade conscription. As a result, he was arrested and charged with sedition under the newly passed Espionage Act of 1917. He enlisted famous lawyer Clarence Darrow as his defense attorney, who delayed the case long enough for the charges to be dropped.

Today, Richard F. Pettigrew’s home in Sioux Falls is a museum. (Photo Source: Jerry F.,

Before Pettigrew passed away in 1926, he donated his residence to the city of Sioux Falls and it is operate it as the Pettigrew House and Museum. He was interred in the Pettigrew mausoleum with his wife, Bessie. Also interred inside are his youngest brother, Harlan, who died in 1917 at the age of 34, and unmarried sister Alma Pettigrew, who died in 1922 at the age of 78.

Other siblings of Richard Pettigrew are also buried at Woodlawn. His older sister, Luella Belle Pettigrew, is buried near the Pettigrew mausoleum. Born in 1839, Belle was greatly influenced by her abolitionist father, Andrew. After graduating from Rockford Seminary in Illinois (now Rockford University), she devoted her life to missionary work.

This photo was on Belle Pettigrew’s monument but it was vandalized before I photographed it. This photo of it was taken by a Find a Grave member in 2006.

For 12 years, Belle represented the Woman’s Baptist Home Mission Society as a missionary among African-Americans, teaching at two historically black institutions, Shaw University and Roger Williams University. She also spent three years as a general missionary in South Dakota, living in Sioux Falls for periods of time.

A Lifetime of Service

Later, Belle lived for several years in Washington D.C., where was a member of the Columbia Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, the Anti-Saloon League, as well as being a member of a missionary society and literary club connected with the Calvary Baptist Church. She traveled extensively in the U.S. and internationally, including visits to Europe, India, China, and the Philippines to do inspection visits for missionary organizations.

Belle died in 1912 of hardening of the arteries. Staying at a sanitarium in Chamberlain, S.D., her remains were returned to Sioux Falls for burial at Woodlawn.

Luella Belle Pettigrew died at age 73 of hardening of the arteries.

It’s hard to miss the other Woodlawn monument for a Pettigrew because it’s one of the largest in the cemetery.

Like his brother, Fred Pettigrew’s monument features a photo of him.

Born in 1850, Frederick “Fred” Pettigrew moved from Vermont to Flandreau, S.D. (about 40 miles north of Sioux Falls) around the same time as sister Belle did. He married Jennie Salome in 1879 and they had five children.

Fred did not attain the status of his brother Richard, but he made a mark in his community just the same. More comfortable in a rural setting, he was content developing and working his large farm in South Sioux Falls. He was a judge in Moody County for several years as well.

A Mysterious Accident

At the same time, Fred had a reputation for being somewhat taciturn in nature. On Dec. 8, 1901, while doing evening chores around his farm, he was found unconscious and injured in the road by two hired men near his home. Some thought he might have been accidentally run down someone in a buggy in the darkness. But others wondered if he was attacked by an enemy with a grudge.

Fred Pettigrew was only 50 when he died after being injured under mysterious circumstances.

A few days later, Fred regained consciousness for a short time but did not make a great deal of sense. When asked about the accident, he claimed a buggy driven by someone he didn’t know had struck him in the darkness, although he had tried to step back out of its way. Despite the belief he might recover, Fred passed away on Dec. 21, 1901.

Another farmer that made his mark in Sioux Falls was John Alguire, whose family has a distinctive “tree” monument at Woodland.

A native of Canada, John was born in 1842 and took a circuitous route to get to the Dakotas. He left Canada for New York in his late teen years. He later moved to Wisconsin to farm, marrying Jane Foster in 1869. The couple moved to Benton, S.D. around 1874 where their third child was born.

“Summoned to the Other Side”

After moving to Oregon for a few years, the Alguires returned to South Dakota and John continued to farm. He and Jane had a total of nine children together. John died of pneumonia at the age of 69 on Dec. 1, 1911. His obituary in the Sioux Falls newspaper had a headline that said he was “summoned to the other side.”

John must have done quite well because one article I found estimated his estate to be worth $75,000. That would be about $2.03 million dollars today.

Farmer John Alguire left an estate worth $75,000 behind.

I am especially fond of the Alguire family “tree” monument. There are no specific first names or dates on it. Those are inscribed on individual stones or “logs” around the monument. There’s a potted calla lily at the base and a sweet bird resting on a branch near the top.

This bird is most likely meant to be a dove, symbolizing peace or the Holy Spirit.

Here’s a look at the “logs” for John and Jane, his wife who died in 1920 at the age of 73.

John Alguire’s marker also says “Father” on it.

Jane Foster died in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1920.

Next time, we’ll return to Iowa for some more cemetery hopping…

Iowa/South Dakota Hopping: Exploring Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Welcome to Sioux Falls, South Dakota!

I’m posting two pictures of the falls, one close up and one from the observation tower, so you can get some perspective on their size.

This is a more close up view of the falls for which Sioux Falls was named. At this angle, you can’t completely get an idea of their size.

This is photo I took from the observation tower further back. Nearly lost my hat from the strong winds. This view allows you to see the city of Sioux Falls in the background.

Christi and I stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn located right next to the Big Sioux River that feeds into the falls. There’s a wonderful park that leads there and we enjoyed exploring.

Birth of Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls is named for the Sioux Tribe of American Indians and the waterfalls of the Big Sioux River. Pioneers began staking claims on the banks of the Big Sioux River prior to the Civil War in 1856. Homesteaders continued to settle in Sioux Falls bringing the population up to 2,100 by 1880.

The village of Sioux Falls was incorporated in 1876 and became a city in March 1889. By the turn of the century, the prairie settlement had grown into a city of more than 10,000. Today, the city’s population is around 190,000. So it has definitely grown over the years.

Established in 1873, Mount Pleasant is the oldest cemetery in Sioux Falls.

Our destination that first morning was Mount Pleasant Cemetery, located just east of downtown. Mount Pleasant Cemetery has a well-written web site with a lot of details that I found helpful.

History of Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Established in November 1873, Mount Pleasant is the oldest cemetery in Sioux Falls. The incorporation group chose the name, and elected Dr. Joseph Roberts as chairman and later the board’s first president. The group found 32 people who would pay $10 for a cemetery plot, collected as much of the money from them as possible and determined they were now “in the cemetery business.”

Originally covering about 20 acres, Mount Pleasant (at one point) covered 150 acres. The present cemetery is comprised of about 52 acres, nearly 100 having been lost over the decades to development. Although present burials number around 16,000, the cemetery still retains about 40 percent of its remaining burial space.

The Glidden Chapel is just inside the front gates. We were surprised to find it unlocked.

Inside the gateway, the Glidden Memorial Chapel was built in 1924 with a $13,000 bequest of Josephine Glidden in memory of her husband Daniel, an early member of the cemetery board. We were quite surprised to find it unlocked and took a few moments to look inside.

Stained glass windows inside the Glidden Chapel.

A sign nearby explained that pioneer banker Dennis McKinney (also a friend of the Glidden family) was the first person whose funeral was held in the chapel. McKinney was also president of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery board for several years. He died on Dec. 24, 1924 and because the ground was frozen, his body was stored in the chapel’s crypt until conditions enabled him to be buried.

Daniel Glidden, in whose honor Mount Pleasant’s chapel was built, died in 1912.

Mount Pleasant’s web site explains that over time, the Glidden Memorial Chapel fell into disrepair and at one point, the doors were removed and it became a home to mowers, tractors, and grounds-keeping equipment. Fortunately, volunteer efforts to clean up and restore the chapel took place in the 1980s and it was restored to its former glory. The Glidden Memorial Chapel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

A stone’s throw from the Glidden Chapel is this helpful sign with information about the cemetery. I was amazed to see an actual price list for services available, including the cost of a plot, burial and columbarium niches. I also learned that green burial is available at Mount Pleasant, which is pretty rare for an older cemetery. My guess is that because it has a lot of available burial space, they can handle it.

I’ve never been to a cemetery where the prices were listed on a sign.

I did notice that the sign was part of a 2011 Eagle Scout project, so prices may have gone up since then. But I was impressed to see them just the same as an indication of the owners’ transparency about costs.

We drove around the cemetery to get an overview of the place. Truth be told, if you are looking for large obelisks and grand monuments, Mount Pleasant is going to disappoint you. But it is well maintained and a lovely setting.

View of Mount Pleasant Cemetery on a sunny June day.

The Gale obelisk is arguably the largest monument at Mount Pleasant, representing a family that made a distinct mark on Sioux Falls history.

I think the Gale obelisk may be the tallest monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

The Gale family originally hailed from New Jersey but later moved to Albion, N.Y. David Gale and Elizabeth Decker Gale had several children of which Artemas was one of the most enterprising. Born in 1825, he married a woman named Louise whose maiden name I was never able to pin down. After purchasing land in St. Paul, Minn., he moved there in the 1850s and worked as a furniture/grain dealer while also dong some some land speculating.

He and Louise purchased land in Sioux Falls in the 1860s but didn’t build a homestead there until 1872. During their first years, he was active in school matters and was also director of the Dakota National Bank for much of his life. Over time, he amassed quite a fortune.

The couple had no children of their own but adopted at least two sons that show up on census records, Sidney and Ernest. Louise died in 1880 at the age of 51. According to newspapers, the disposition of her will caused Artemas a bit of a headache because of her land holdings.

Louisa Gale died at the age of 51.

Not long after Louisa’s death, two of Artemas’ siblings moved to Sioux Falls from New York. Younger bachelor brother Gabriel, born in 1837, had never married and was the last to leave the Gale family farm. Widowed sister Kathleen Gale McKennan, born in 1841, had lived in Sioux Falls for a time before she married and moved back to New York. She shared brother Artemas’ mind for business and invested well. Youngest sister Frances Gale Carpenter and her husband, Charles, moved to Sioux Falls in 1885.

This bust of Helen Gale McKennan honors her gift of land to the city of Sioux Falls to create McKennan Park. (Photo source: Ruth VanSteenwyk)

Kathleen Gale McKennan’s Legacy

Both Artemas and Kathleen especially were keen on establishing a park in Sioux Falls for its residents to enjoy. In 1906, Helen contacted her friend E.A. Sherman and discussed with him her idea to give her house and the 20 acres of adjacent land to the city for a park. She died on Sept. 29, 1906 after giving to the city of Sioux Falls what would become the jewel of the park system. She also left money for the development of a new hospital, which was named McKennan Hospital.

Helen McKennan died at the age of 65.

Brother Gabriel, who has suffered from the kidney disease then called Bright’s Disease, died on June 12, 1908. He’d been living with a married couple to whom he left his estate in his will, which his siblings contested in court. They claimed he was insane at the time he wrote it.

Living with sister Florence since 1900, Artmeas was already gravely ill when his brother Gabriel died. Artemas passed away on Jan. 17, 1909. The names of Artemas, Louise, Gabriel, and Kathleen are all inscribed on the Gale obelisk at Mount Pleasant.

William Stevens, Dakota Pioneer

Markers like those for William Stevens invite my interest because of the early date of his death, which predates the establishment of Mount Pleasant. That leads me to believe he was originally buried in the old city cemetery that predated Mount Pleasant and his remains moved there after it opened.

William Stevens died in 1869, which predates the establishment of Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

William Stevens was born in Oswego, N.Y.on Oct. 12, 1828. He’s listed as one of the early settlers of Sioux Falls when South Dakota was still a young territory, purchasing land in 1858. The 1860 U.S. Census lists him as a farmer with no wife or children.

Picture of officers’ quarters at Fort Dakota, located on the Sioux River.  (Photo source: Siouxland Heritage Museums, Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Fled His Farm

According to the Congressional Record, Stevens farmed his land until 1862 when Sioux Indians attacked the settlement and he (along with his neighbors) fled. Later, the land was part of the property upon which Fort Dakota was built in 1865. After the Army left Fort Dakota, Stevens returned to his farm in the spring of 1869, making repairs to his original home. But William was already suffering from tuberculosis and his health took a turn for the worse. In his last days, he was cared for at a neighbor’s home until his death on Nov. 16, 1869.

Apparently, Stevens did have family and in later years, his heirs tried to purchase his farm from the South Dakota government in 1876. From what I can tell, they were given permission to do so.

Modern Memorial

I don’t often include modern grave markers in the blog but this one reached out to me so I’m going to include it. I’ve never seen one quite like it before.

Kathleen “Katie” McNeill-Merrill was a successful real-estate professional in Sioux Falls.

Born in 1952, Kathleen “Katie” McNeill-Merrill was a native Nebraskan. She eventually moved to Sioux Falls, married and had two children. She was a successful real estate professional and was much loved in the community. She died on Jan. 6, 2004 at the age of 51. I don’t know the cause of her death.

The steps lead to an archway.

At the top of her monument is a laurel wreath behind which are is a stairway leading to an arch. In ancient times, the Greeks equated laurel wreaths with the god Apollo. They awarded laurel wreaths to victors in the Olympics and poetic competitions. Today, the laurel wreath stands for victory and peace.

I’m not sure what the stairway and arch are meant to signify. They could mean many things, including the steps into Heaven.

Join me next time when Christi and I visit Sioux Falls’ Woodland Cemetery.


Iowa/South Dakota Hopping: Discovering Sioux City, Iowa’s Mount Carmel Cemetery

This week, I’m heading to the far corner of Sioux City, Iowa’s Floyd Cemetery. That’s where you can find Mount Carmel Cemetery. They have a small sign but I didn’t see it when we were there. I think we entered through the side and not the official entrance. I admit we did not spend as much time there as I usually do because we needed to be on the road to Sioux Falls to check into our hotel that evening.

The view from Mount Carmel Cemetery.

The Jewish Community of Sioux City

I found a helpful article detailing some of the history behind Sioux City’s early Jewish community. Finding a place to bury their dead was in the forefront of their minds. Rabbi Simon Glazer noted in his 1904 history, “The Jews of Iowa,” about Sioux City:

It is very remarkable that the few Jewish pioneers of Sioux City should have thought of death before any form of an organization was considered. For in 1869, when their entire number did not exceed 25 souls, a meeting took place among them and its prime object was a cemetery.

The first Jewish burial ground was in an area called Cole’s Addition on land donated by Godfrey Hattenbach, thought to be the first Jewish settler to arrive in Sioux City around 1857. In 1884, the Mount Sinai Cemetery Association was established by the Jewish Ladies Society with the goal of purchasing a section of Floyd Cemetery for burial purposes as one of its objectives. The original cemetery in Cole’s Addition was sold and the bodies buried there were transferred to the new cemetery, named Mount Carmel.

Because the markers are so close together, I am guessing mowing here can be treacherous work.

Mount Carmel’s cemetery was formed by Sioux City’s conservative congregation. According to Find a Grave, there are close to 1,190 recorded burials. Mount Sinai also owns land at Floyd Cemetery for their reform congregation, and they have about 440 recorded burials. We only had time to visit Mount Carmel so I’m going to concentrate on what we saw there.

Christi and I stuck to the corner where we entered for the most past. Like many Jewish cemeteries, the grave markers are closely situated beside each other to maximize space. I thought to myself that it looked due for a good mowing but I felt sorry for anyone with that task. Getting a mower in there has to be a difficult task and the grass grows even faster in the summer.

Life of Rabbi Moses M. Matlin

The crypt of Rabbi Moses Meir Matlin got my attention because of its size and construction.

Rabbi Matlin’s wife is buried beside him.

A native of Slutsk, Lithuania, Moses Matlin was born in 1855. He studied at yeshivas in Slutsk and Kovno. After being ordained, Rabbi Matlin was invited by Rabbi Jacob Joseph to come to New York to become a dayyan (rabbinic judge) in the beth din (rabbinical court) Joseph was setting up there.

Once there, Joseph put Rabbi Matlin in charge of the kosher supervision services under his authority. For the next 20 years, Rabbi Matlin served as a mashgiach, supervising the kashrut (Hebrew dietary status) of kosher establishments.

Part of Rabbi Matlin’s duties included working with the California Wine Association of New York. On his way back from a trip out west, he stopped in Sioux City to visit friends. Because of chronic health issues, Matlin was eager for a quieter life in a better climate. He moved with his wife to Montana soon after when he received a land grant there, his children having already grown up and left home.

There are holes on each side of the tomb so I took a peek. All I could see were some aluminum cans at the bottom.

Rabbi Matlin hoped to create a model Jewish community and earn his living as a farmer in Montana but because he had no experience in it, that didn’t pan out. He returned to Sioux City, where he assumed a rabbinical pulpit and earned the respect of the community. He died in 1927 at the age of 72. His wife, Esther Anna, died the following year and she is buried beside him.

Someone Jewish might be able to explain why Rabbi Matlin’s crypt has a hole on each side. I could not resist looking inside. All I could see were some aluminum cans and broken glass. You cannot see his casket, which is ensconced in stone.

Strangers in a Strange Land

As I began looking into the lives behind the gravestones at Mount Carmel, some similarities began to emerge beyond a shared religion. Many of the folks here were immigrants who left their homeland (mostly former Soviet Union countries) for a new life in a strange country. Not only was the language different but so was the landscape. Some prospered while others faced unexpected circumstances.

A sunny afternoon at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

I photographed the stone of a child, Morton Blotcky, knowing nothing about him. He was born on May 15, 1908 and died on June 27, 1910. There are no other Blotckys in the cemetery so he is alone. I got curious so I began to dig and a sad tale emerged.

A Successful Immigrant Family

Morton’s grandfather was Joseph Blotcky, a native of Lithuania who came to America in the 1870s and married fellow Lithuanian Dora Frankel. Joseph operated a dry goods store with his brother in Des Moines and prospered. They branched out to other Iowa towns, including Onawa, at times.

Joseph and Dora had four children and the youngest was Charles “Charlie”, born in 1883. He worked for his father from time to time in his stores. From what I could gather, he got into a fair share of mischief and even participated in local theatrics. But in 1907, at age 24, it appeared he was ready to settle down with an Omaha miss named Ida Grossman, who was the daughter of Rabbi Leib Grossman (later Graceman). Their wedding in Omaha was announced in the Sioux City newspaper.

A Tragic Union

Sadly, things went sour quickly for the couple. According to court proceedings, soon after the birth of little Morton in 1908, Charlie gave up any interest in his marriage and deserted the family. Newspaper accounts detail the efforts Ida had to go to in order to obtain financial support for her and Morton, who died of scarlet fever in June 1910. The divorce was granted in December 1910, with Ida asking to take her maiden name back.

Morton Blotcky’s marker stands alone without his parents.

Ida and Charlie’s paths diverged after that. Charlie went to live with his brother and began working as a traveling salesman. He died in Chicago following a stomach operation in 1913. He is buried in the Blotcky plot with his parents at Jewish Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ida’s story has a much happier ending. She remarried in 1913 to Casper Gilinsky, a Sioux City wholesale merchant, and it was a much more stable union. They had two sons and moved to Minnesota before settling in Muncie, Indiana in the 1930s. Casper died suddenly at age 58 in 1943. Ida died in 1966. They are buried together at Mount Sinai Cemetery, which is also within Floyd Cemetery. So she’s closer to Morton than I first thought.

Headed for the Falls

We got back on the road after that so we’d get to Sioux Falls before dark. The adventure was far from over. Join me next time for some South Dakota cemetery hopping.


Iowa/South Dakota Hopping: Visiting Sioux City, Iowa’s Floyd Cemetery

After leaving Onawa Cemetery, we got back on Interstate 29 to head north to Sioux City. But we made one stop on the way that I thought was worth the time because it was an important gravesite.

Located the banks of the Missouri River just below Sioux City is the Sergeant Charles Floyd Monument. It’s a towering 100-foot obelisk made of Kettle River sandstone that’s part of a 23-acre park managed by the National Park Service.

The 100-foot tall Sergeant Floyd monument was completed in 1901.

Who was Sergeant Charles Floyd?

Born in Kentucky in 1782, Charles Floyd is the first U.S. soldier thought to have died west of the Mississippi. He was a member of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery that explored the Louisiana Territory. He’s also the only member of the group that died during the journey.

Sergeant Charles Floyd was only 22 when he died.

On the night of August 19, 1804, as the explorers reached the area just south of what would later be Sioux City, Floyd became ill with “bilous cholic”. It is now thought that Floyd had appendicitis. Although leaders did everything they could to help him, Floyd became weaker. He died sometime after 2 p.m. in the afternoon on Monday, August 20, 1804, most likely from peritonitis caused by a burst appendix.

Originally, Floyd’s remains were buried on a nearby hillside. Erosion caused by the Missouri River partially exposed Floyd’s grave. Locals recovered and re-interred most of the skeletal remains in a different location on the bluff. The grave was moved again in 1895. The Sergeant Floyd Monument was dedicated in 1901. At that time, Floyd’s remains were moved a third time and reburied at the base of the monument.

Memorial plaque on the Sergeant Floyd monument.

It seemed proper that we were now going to visit nearby Floyd Cemetery, which is only three miles from the Floyd Monument.

Here’s what the Sioux City web site had to say. “In 1866, a field on the bluff overlooking the Floyd River was purchased by Sioux City from Israel G. Link and Joseph Plummer. In February of 1868, the first lots were sold in the new Floyd Cemetery. Prominent citizens lined up to purchase the first lots, including Theophile Bruguier, son-in-law of Sioux Chieftain War Eagle.”

It’s my assumption that Floyd Cemetery was named after Sergeant Floyd but nothing I’ve read states that clearly. There are over 13,100 recorded burials on Find a Grave but I noticed only 56 percent are photographed.

In the back corner of Floyd Cemetery is Mount Carmel Cemetery, a traditional Jewish congregation’s burial ground that was purchased from the cemetery managers at a later date. I’ll be writing about that cemetery later.

A Young Life Cut Short

One of the first monuments you notice coming into Floyd Cemetery is this one for young Violetta Barrett.

Violetta Barrett was only seven years old when she passed away.

Born on Sept. 16, 1889 to British immigrant parents John and Martha Kitchen Barrett, Violetta Blanch Barrett was the youngest of 10 children born to the couple (seven of which lived to adulthood). The 1895 Iowa Census notes that both John and his son, Robert, worked as stone cutters. So it’s possible one or both helped create Violetta’s monument.

It’s likely that Violetta’s father and brother helped carve her monument.

“From Earth to Heaven”

I located an article in the Sioux City Journal about Violetta’s death, which noted that she was much beloved by the town, and known for her ability to sing and recite at local churches and at home parties.

Article from the Nov. 8, 1896 edition of the Sioux City Journal.

Not long after Violetta’s death, the Barrett family moved to Fairview, Iowa about 275 miles away. Nearby is what was then known as the Anamosa State Reformatory. This interests me now because Christi and I visited the museum at this prison in 2019, which is still in operation today. By 1910, James was working at the Reformatory. I have to wonder if one of his jobs was making grave markers for the nearby prison cemetery, which we also visited.

Violetta’s statue has a rather forbidding look on her face.

James Barrett died in 1914 and Martha in 1922. Both of them are buried beside Violetta.

Short Life of Carl Wold

One of the more eye-catching monuments is this tree-shaped one for Carl Wold. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll notice right away that it’s a Woodmen of the World monument because of the seal and tree shape.

What caused Carl Wold’s early death is unknown.

Carl J. Wold (or Wald as newspapers spelled it) died at the age of 26 on July 9, 1898 in Sioux City, Iowa where he lived. Little is known about Carl beyond the fact he was obviously a much-beloved member of Woodmen of the World (WOW). I found an article that described the festivities when his monument was unveiled. I can’t think of another WOW monument I’ve found that merited a lengthy account of its installation.

According to this article in the Sioux City Journal on Sept. 26, 1898, members of WOW camps from Sioux City and neighboring Le Mars and Sergeant Bluffs marched with their band playing for a ceremony at Floyd Cemetery. Carl is described as “a pure Christian, and as such, a practical Woodman.” Nothing in the article explains how Charles died or if he had any family to mourn him.

Anchors Aweigh

In the same wooded area that Carl Wold’s tree monument is located, you can find this anchor-shaped marker for Joseph Tibbels.

Despite the fact his gravestone features a large anchor, Joseph Tibbels was not a sailor.

A native of Carthage, Ohio, Joseph’s family moved to Calliope, Iowa when he was a little boy. As a young man, he became a telegraph operator and later worked as a grain broker in Sioux City. He married a Nebraska girl, Flora Kimball, in 1888. Together, they had at least one child. Joseph had a good reputation around town and he was active in the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias.

Unfortunately, Joseph’s health was not good. Early in 1897, he contracted the measles and just a month or so later, was diagnosed with tuberculosis. One newspaper account I found said a friend reported that Joseph’s weight had dropped to 45 lbs. in his final days and he barely recognized him. Joseph died at the age of 32 on July 3, 1897. His Knights of Pythias lodge brothers handled his funeral.

Unfortunately, the piece with Joseph Tibbel’s name is broken.

Joseph’s marker features a handsome anchor leaning against a pile of rocks, a chain wrapping around it. Joseph was never a sea captain or sailor. The anchor is a common symbol found on graves. Its meaning has several origins, the most obvious of which is Hebrews 6: 19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” In other words, an anchor is often a symbol of hope and strength.

The last story I’m going to share with you involves one of the largest monuments in the cemetery. But it stands for the life of a man whose background doesn’t represent the typical accolades and list of fraternal organizations to which he belonged that you might expect.

A Gambler at Heart

Born in Pennsylvania around 1849, Edward J. Courtright married New York native Fannie Arthur sometime before 1880. They settled in Sioux City. Gambling was Edward’s love and he was good at it. Partnering with a friend named Edward Owens, he ran a successful saloon on Fourth Street for several years. He made sound investments with his saloon profits and bought property around town. Edward Owens, on the other hand, was dependent on Courtright for his living. He even resided with the couple at their Pearl Street home.

Edward Courtright’s health began to fail and patrons were having scrapes with the law in their saloon. Pressure from the town fathers forced the partners to cross the Platte River to do business in Nebraska. He and Edward O.’s name appeared in the local papers frequently in March 1891 as their woes mounted.

Edward Courtright died on July 14, 1891. I couldn’t find an obituary for him anywhere. Soon after that, Fannie became embroiled in a legal battle with her husband’s siblings over his estate, worth around $160,00. The siblings claimed Edward’s will was written when he was in an “insane” state and that they deserved a more equal share. This went on in court for a number of years.

Edward J. Courtright was only 41 when he died. His siblings fought with his widow over his estate.

A Stormy Union

In October of the same year, Edward Owens and the widow Cartright eloped to Colorado where they were married. Eventually, they returned to Sioux City and Edward enjoyed freely spending his former partner’s wealth.

However, there was trouble in paradise and the couple fought often. The couple filed for divorce in September 1894, with Fannie alleging Owens had beaten her and unwisely spent her money. The divorce became final a week or two after the couple had a physical fight in which Fannie’s father assaulted Edward with an ice pick, landing him in the local hospital with serious injuries.

Edward’s wife, Fannie, married his business partner a mere three months after his death.

To the surprise of many, the couple wed again in Sioux City just three weeks after their much-publicized divorce. On the marriage register, Edward lists his occupation as “gentleman of leisure.” Fannie and Edward Owens remained a couple until Fannie’s death in 1907 from “the grippe” at age 45. I don’t know where she is buried and the whereabouts of Edward Owens after that are unknown.

Next time, I’ll wander to the back of Floyd Cemetery to explore Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Floyd Cemetery’s Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) memorial includes more than 70 Union Army veteran graves.





Iowa/South Dakota Hopping: Wide Awake at Iowa’s Onawa Cemetery

Ready for more Iowa cemetery hopping?

Onawa Cemetery, also located in Monona County, is just up the road from Graceland Cemetery. It’s a bit bigger, with about 4,400 burials listed according to Find a Grave.

Onawa Cemetery is still an active site, with many recent burials.

Onawa Cemetery is still an active site, with many recent burials.

Wide Awake in Onawa

Established around 1857, there’s some debate on how the town of Onawa got its name. Some believe it was a contraction of the pioneer phrase “on-a-way”. But most seem to think T. Elliot, the gentleman who is thought to have named Onawa, had a love for Longfellow’s poem “Hiawatha”, which includes the Native American word “Onaiweh”. The translation means “wide awake.” This seems plausible since Monona County is said to come from the Native American name for “peaceful valley.”

I could find nothing abut Onawa Cemetery itself, when it was established, etc. I saw some markers dating back to the 1870s and I’m sure there are some that date earlier than that.

The W.H. Mullins Co. of Salem, Ohio

Like a lot of cemeteries, Onawa has a memorial to honor the town’s Civil War dead. I want to point this one out because there’s some history behind the company that created the bronze statue on top of the five-ton red granite base. I apologize that due to the bright sunlight, you can’t see the soldier’s face amid the shadows very well.

Onawa’s Civil War monument was erected in 1916.

If you look on the base of the statue, you can make out the name of the company that made it, the W.H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio. Sorry it’s rather blurry.

You can find W.H. Mullins statues in many cemeteries, North and South.

The company’s origins were as follows. Thompson and Bakewell came first, then Bakewell and Mullins in 1882, then W.H. Mullins in 1890. Statues were just one of the many items they sold, from metal boats to fences to architectural pieces. I found one of their catalogs from 1894. These are three of the statues they offered. They were often made of sheet zinc or copper, sometimes bronze. That’s what Onawa’s soldier is made of.

This is the 1894 edition of the “Catalogue of architectural ornaments and statuary, in sheet zinc, brass or copper : manufactured by W.H. Mullins, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio.”

A statue like one of these could cost $300 to $500 depending on the size and material. According to a newspaper article, funds for the 20-foot monument came from a local tax imposed by the county board of supervisors. The total cost of the monument was $2,000.

Onawa’s monument was unveiled on Memorial Day 1916 with great fanfare and speeches, preceded by a ceremony at the local opera house. The red granite base was secured by the local monument firm of Sheely and Lane, who had it brought from Council Bluffs.

It’s important to note that W.H. Mullins produced similar statues for Confederate monuments in the South, such as one in Pittsboro, N.C. So if you’re ever in a cemetery, regardless of what part of the country, odds are good you might get a glimpse of a W.H. Mullins statue. Just look at the base.

Into the Woods

Last week at Graceland Cemetery, I featured a stump marker for a child and a lovely double tree monument for an elderly couple. I hope you don’t mind but I naturally gravitate to this style and I found a few wood-themed gems at Onawa that I fell in love with.

This stump marker is for the children of Charles Huntington and Rebecca Anne Norris Huntington. While that indicates there was more than one child, only one name is inscribed on the marker. Charles was employed by the local Onawa bank as a cashier.

Only one child’s name is inscribed on the Huntington marker.

I found the death notice for Sam Norris Huntington, who was the second son of the family. Sam died at the age of seven from “diphtheria and inflammation of the bowels”. The 1910 U.S. Census indicates that of the four children the Huntingtons had, two survived. It’s possible the other was an infant who died at birth or soon after.

Can you see the dove?

This stump, indicating a life cut short, has some lovely details. There’s a dove with its wings unfurled perched on a branch beside the inscription of Sam’s details. Fern fronds decorate the base of the stumps and you can glimpse a tiny bird amid the wood “grain” that’s carved near the bottom as well.

Kendall Branches

The Kendall family monument is a glorious creation of wood-themed branches. Thanks to the digitized Onawa newspapers, I had some information to go by in tracing their history.

Morton Kendall suffered from Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment.

Born in 1853 in Elgin, Ill., Morton Kendall married Florence Wilcox there in 1878. He was already living in Iowa by that time. It’s my belief that Florence’s mother, Angie Greene, moved to Iowa with her daughter. She appears on the 1880 U.S. Census as living with them. Angie is listed in the “widowed/divorced” category.

Morton and Florence had a son, Lyle, on July 13, 1885. That same year, Angie died at the age of 65. The exact day is not listed. Her inscription says “Angie Greene, wife of W.S. Greene.”

Was Angie Greene a widow or divorced?

Sadly, Lyle died at the age of two on Oct 12, 1887. He was buried with his grandmother, Angie.

“Re-united in the Home Above”

Morton died on March 15, 1893 at the age of 10 from Bright’s Disease (kidney disorder), according to his death notice, which also mentioned he had not been in good health for several years but was a well-liked businessman in the community.

Florence was the last one in the family to die.

Florence died a few years later on at age 37 on Jan. 8, 1896. One can only imagine how hard it must have been on her own. Her death notice said she was laid to rest beside her husband and that, “Their spirits are re-united in the home above.”

I noticed that in addition to the grand marker, each family member was represented with a “log” bearing their name: Morton, Florence, Lyle and “Grandma”.

Each family member has their own “log” to represent them, akin to a footstone.

The Colbys

Not far from the Kendall monument is another wood-themes monument that I think was probably made by the same maker. They share a lot of similarities, especially the short, knobby “branches” and split “log” base.

The Colby monument is only for two people.

Born in 1822 in Darien, N.Y., Harry Eugene Colby married Susan Maria Eldridge in Kane County, Ill. This is the same area that Morton and Florence Kendall were from. They moved to Monona County in 1855 when the area was just starting to develop and Harry was considered one of its pioneers. The couple had three children: Helen, Frank, and Harry.

Sudden Death

The story of Susan’s death was written in a newspaper account. According to the Monona County Democrat, she was caring for her infant granddaughter on March 29, 1893 at her home. She went to walk the baby home a block away when she felt ill and asked a friend passing by to do it for her. She then sank against the fence in front of a neighbor’s house and had to be assisted onto the porch. She died soon after. She was 72 years old.

Harry Colby’s inscription is hard to make out due to the shadows.

Harry, who had been in business with son Frank, retired soon after Susan’s death but will still much respected and beloved by the community. He died at the age of 80 on Jan. 24, 1903.

The Mystery of Alvin Perkins

This last marker is a bit of a mystery. Albert Perkins was born in 1900 and died in 1917. But who was he? There was no memorial for him on Find a Grave, so I created one for him.

According to Ancestry, the first record for Albert is at the Northern Hospital for the Insane in Redfield, South Dakota. He was nine years old and from Michigan. How did he end up there at such a young age?

Who was Alvin Perkins?

I learned that the hospital was actually meant to be a place for children with developmental disabilities, those consider “feeble minded.” Yet records indicate that Alvin could both read and write.

The only other mention of Albert is from the Iowa Census of 1915. The card days he is living in Onawa and is 16, doing “general work.” On the bottom of the card it is stamped “Industrial School for Boys.” This probably referred to the Industrial School for Boys in Howard County, Iowa in Eldora. That’s over two hours away from Onawa.

The Industrial School for Boys was located in Eldora, Ill.

At the time Alvin was there, the Industrial School’s goal was to teach young boys who had fallen into trouble some kind of trade in hopes of improving their future. It’s possible someone in Onawa hired Alvin to work on their farm.

I could find nothing about how Alvin died or who might have paid for his grave marker. His death was not reported in the local newspaper. That he has a marker at all is sort of amazing. Yet I’m sad that this is all that’s left to indicate he ever lived, as short of a life as it was.

Next time, I’ll be at Floyd Cemetery in Sioux City.

Civil War cannon and military grave markers at Onawa Cemetery.


Iowa/South Dakota Hopping: Making a Stop at Graceland Cemetery in Blencoe, Iowa

After devoting the last several months to the graveyards of Charleston, I’m heading back to Iowa (somewhat familiar territory) and South Dakota (totally new territory). In the summer of 2018, after spending a week at Folly Beach, S.C., I got on a plane for Omaha, Neb. to visit my best friend, Christi. She’s always up for a roadtrip and understands my cemetery obsession.

On the Road to South Dakota

That year, it was our goal to visit Sioux Falls, S.D. I’d never even BEEN to South Dakota and thought that was very cool.

Our first cemetery stop was randomly chosen because I found it on the Find a Grave app as being located not far off of I-29, 50 miles north of Omaha. Some people call it Blencoe Cemetery (after the nearby town) while the sign indicates it is Graceland Cemetery. So I’m going to stick with Graceland.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Blencoe (in Monona County) had a population of 224 people. It looks like its highest population was in 1940 when it reached 367.

Like most Iowa cemeteries of this size, Graceland Cemetery has a large sign and is well kept. It’s one of the reasons I keep coming back here to nose around the cemeteries. They respect and take very good care of them, making my job much easier.

On patriotic holidays, the flagpoles lining the main road into Graceland Cemetery are full of American flags.

I could find very little information about the cemetery itself, such as when it was established. The oldest markers I saw dated from the early 1880s. According to Find a Grave, there are about 1,125 total burials recorded at Graceland. Some are unmarked. That’s the extent of what I know.

Death of Abe Michaels

I didn’t know the story I was going to uncover about Abram “Abe” Michaels until this week when I began doing some research on his marker. I knew he was 31 when he died, so I was curious to know what happened to him.

It’s difficult to trace Abe’s roots. Some records indicate he was born in Cleveland, Ohio while others say he was from Indiana or Iowa. Regardless, he married Ellen “Martha” Kennedy (Glenn) on May 2, 1885 in Sherman, Iowa.

Abe Michaels was originally buried at Little Sioux Cemetery, about 25 miles away from Graceland Cemetery.

On Saturday, March 21, 1891, Abe had spent much of the day at a saloon (newspapers called it a “beer shack”) playing cards and socializing. Newspaper accounts say once outside, he got into a dispute with local men George Welch and John Marley. Witnesses said Welch tried to reason with Abe but instead of calming down, Abe drew a knife. Welch allegedly picked up a piece of a two-by-four and hit Abe in the head with it in self defense.

The story of why Abe didn’t receive prompt medical attention is not clear but he died the next day from his concussion. Both Welch and Marley were arrested for their role in his death and awaited trial for murder.

Abe’s Grave Moved to Graceland

Martha gave birth to a son, Abram Russell Michaels, on May 13, 1891. I can’t imagine what she was going through at the time. A small newspaper item notes that she purchased a plot at Graceland Cemetery in October the same year with the plan to move Abe’s remains from where they were buried 12 miles away at Little Sioux Cemetery. She apparently did just that.

Abe’s wife, Martha, had his body moved from Little Sioux Cemetery to Graceland Cemetery several months after he died. Article from the Monona County Democrat, Oct. 29, 1891.

On Dec. 3, 1891, George Welch was acquitted of the charge of murdering Abe. As a result, John Marley’s indictment was dropped.

Abe Michaels died two months before the birth of his son.

Untangling Martha’s martial history was tricky. She had married Robert Glenn in 1880 when she was 18 years old. She married Abe five years later. Her marriage to Englishman Samuel Neeson, who was a few decades older than she, came in 1898. After Samuel died in 1918, she married Christoper Decker. She died in 1947 in Arkansas. Her son with Abe, Abram Russell Michaels, died in 1957 in Arkansas as well.

A Noble Heart

Near the entrance of the cemetery is a small stump grave marker for four-year-old William Earl Noble. He was the son of Jackson Noble and Ida Belle Hogue Noble. It has more detail than most stump stones I’ve seen in the past. It even has fern fronds on the side.

Little Earl Noble’s stump marker is more detailed than most I’ve seen.

Let’s talk about the oak leaves and acorns that adorn Earl’s stump. I found them rather curious considering he was only four years old when he died.

What Do Oak Leaves Signify?

Oak leaves were a popular symbol on gravestones in the 19th and 20th centuries.    The oak stands for longevity, strength, and power.  It also symbolizes eternity, as the oak produces acorns that grow into more oaks that continue the “family” of trees.  Acorns were signs of independence and strength as well.

According to a newspaper article, little Earl Noble had never had good health.

I am more fascinated by the sweet little gird resting on a short branch coming off the stump. The stump itself means a life cut short. But the bird makes me think of little Earl, just getting started in life and stretching his wings.

The Noble family moved to Mitchell, Neb. in January 1907 and Jackson died in December of that year from pneumonia. Ida remarried in 1910 to J.T. Watson. When she died in 1920, she was buried in Graceland Cemetery back in Blencoe beside her first husband, Jackson, with “Ida B. Noble” inscribed on her marker.

“Death, Thou Hast Conquered Me”

I managed to find one white bronze (actually zinc) marker at Graceland Cemetery and it was made in a style I don’t see often. In addition to a small marker, it includes a rectangular border that goes behind it. I’m guessing that loved ones could plant flowers in the space in the middle.

A white bronze border accompanies the grave marker of Robert Wilkinson.

A native of County Donegal, Ireland, Robert Wilkinson and his wife, Elizabeth, came to America around 1881. He was already in his 50s by then and some of the couple’s eight children were already married and had family of their own. A number of them had crossed the Atlantic just a few years before their parents.

Interestingly, a regular square marble marker is situated right beside this white bronze one.

According to an article in the Onawa Weekly Democrat from March 21, 1895, Robert enjoyed breakfast at his house on the day he died. His death was not long after that and the author of the article concluded it must have been from heart failure. Not sure how he came to that conclusion, but there you have it.

Robert Wilkinson was a member of the Adventist church when he died.

One thing I noticed was that Robert’s white bronze marker was right next to a square marble one with the same information. It matched the style of his other family members. My guess is that one came later. Robert was 68 at the time of his death.

Robert’s wife, Elizabeth, outlived him by about 14 years and died on Feb. 15, 1909.

I’m going to finish up my visit to Graceland by sharing with you this glorious double tree monument for George and Martha Edmonds. I’ve seen a lot of tree monuments but not that many double trees. And this one is especially well executed, in my opinion.

George and Martha Edmonds are memorialized by this lovely double tree monument.

A native of New York, George W. Edmonds was born in 1816 in New York. He married Martha Ricketson and at some point, they moved to Plattsville, Ill. to start a family. They did not move to Iowa until sometime around 1880. Their son, Edgar, moved there as well. Their daughter, Rosina, had married and stayed behind with her family in Illinois.

George died on Oct. 19, 1892. Martha died on Oct. 5, 1894. I am guessing that Edgar may have commissioned a carver to make this amazing double tree monument. Notice how the upper branches are intertwined.

I noticed that two names at the bottom of the monument indicating the company that produced it, but was unable to find out anything about them since my picture didn’t get their entire names. But they were located in Council Bluffs.

I wish I had gotten a better picture of the monument makers’ names.

You can also find two “logs” with the words “father” and “mother on them in front of the monument. It would be great if someone could reclaim them from the ground that’s threatening to swallow them up.

Edgar died in 1933 and was buried at Graceland according to both his death certificate and a newspaper article. I did not see a marker for him there. His wife, Melissa, died in 1934. There is a stone for her at Plattville Cemetery back in Illiniois where both were born and raised. Edgar’s sister, Rosina, is buried there as well.

Back on the Road

Having spent a some time wandering Graceland Cemetery, it was time to head the 12 miles up the road to Onawa Cemetery. Meet me there next time for another adventure.

A last look at Graceland Cemetery.

More Charleston, S.C. Cemetery Hopping: Wandering Through the Circular Congregational Church Burial Ground, Part II

Did you know it was five months ago when I started writing this series about the historic district churchyards  of Charleston, S.C.?

Most of the information I gathered and photos I took were from a single day in May 2018 when author/educator Frank Karpiel kindly showed me around some of his favorite haunts. A few I’d been to before and a small number of my photos are from those previous visits. My visit to Bethel United Methodist Church took place in 2013 but I felt it was worth including.

Today, I’m finishing the adventure by wrapping things up at the Circular Congregational Church (CCC) burial ground with a final look around at this unique collection of grave markers and monuments.

A view of the Circular Congregational Church burial ground. That’s the Huston-Peronneau brick vault to the right.

Hutson-Peronneau Vault

The largest grave site in the CCC burial ground is the Hutson-Peronneau brick vault, measuring 10X10X10. An archeological survey done in the early 1980s revealed that at least 18 persons were interred inside of it, many that are listed in church records.

The Hutson-Peronneau vault contains at least 18 people.

Some of the markers I shared last week belonged to the Peronneau family. Arthur Peronneau (1735-1774) may have been the first person placed inside of this vault. I could not find much information about him. He married Mary Hutson at St. Philip’s (whose West Cemetery is right next door) in June 1762.

Arthur died on Oct. 15, 1774 at the age of 39. His will mentions his wife, Mary, and the four oldest children, all of whom lived to adulthood. It does not mention his youngest daughter, Ann. Sadly, she was born nine days after Arthur died on Oct. 24, 1774.

Lawyer, Politician, Lieutenant Governor

The most famous person interred in the Hutson-Peronneau vault is Arthur’s brother-in-law, Richard Hutson (1747-1795). A plaque detailing his storied career was placed on the vault by his family’s descendants in 1995.

That’s quite a list of achievements.

Richard Hutson graduated from Princeton University in 1765. He studied law afterward and gained admittance to the South Carolina bar in 1768.

Hutson also played an influential role in Charleston’s political circles. He served five terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives between 1776 and 1788. After the British captured Charleston in 1780, he was held prisoner at St. Augustine, Fla. until July 1781. After he returned to Charleston, Hutson served as the eighth Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina under Governor John Mathews in 1782 and 1783.

Richard Hutson (1747–1795) was an American lawyer, judge, and politician.

Hutson also served as Charleston’s first intendant mayor, serving in 1783 and 1784. The position was known as intendant until 1836, and has been known as “mayor” since that time. He died in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1795.

The Actor Who Became a Pastor

I’d like to share the grave marker of Richard Hutson’s father, the Rev. William Hutson. It might look familiar in style because it was carved by William Codner, who also produced the Rev. Nathan Bassett’s marker that I shared about in the previous post.

The Rev. William Hutson’s marker is inscribed in Latin.

Born in 1720 in England, William was a stage actor who made his way to America. He was working on the stage in New York when he attended a revival where George Whitfield was speaking. Whitfield was part of the Great Awakening, a religious revival sweeping the new country. As a result, William became a pastor and eventually led the Circular Congregational Church. I wonder if William’s acting skill helped him in the pulpit when delivering sermons.

Note the two cherubs flanking the Rev. Hutson. One is leaning on an hourglass and the other on a skull.

The Rev. Huston died in 1761 at the age of 41. The top of his marker fascinates me. Like the Rev. Bassett, there are two cherubs flanking a portrait bust. But if you take a close look at the cherub on the left, he’s leaning on an hourglass. That fits right in with the 18th-century notion that we have little time on the Earth. The other cherub is leaning on a skull, tapping into the motif that we’re all going to die so it’s best to live a good life so we end up in Heaven and not Hell.

“His Turn is Come”

This next marker is truly striking. While much isn’t known about John Warham (1751-1773), we do know his stone was carved by Rhode Islander John Bull. An hourglass dangles on the blade of a scythe, a favorite motif he used on some of his stones.

John Warham was only 22 when he died in 1773.

Over toward the Parish House is a plot that Frank Karpiel pointed out to me during our 2018 tour of Charleston cemeteries. It’s a domed brick vault in the plot belonging to the Simmons family. Dating from 1695, many believe this to be the oldest crypt in Charleston. Around it are markers other pioneer families like the Peronneaus and Vanderhorsts.

This domed brick vault could be the oldest crypt in Charleston.

Two Remarkable Portrait Stones

There are two portrait-style grave markers I don’t want to leave out. Attributed to carver William Codner, the stones for Isaac Holmes, Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Stanyarne Holmes, capture details some of his others do not. Note that neither has angels/cherubs flanking the portraits, something Codner liked to do.

Elizabeth Stanyarne Holmes and Isaac Holmes, Jr. were married in September 1755.

The son of Isaac Holmes, Sr., a native of Boston, Isaac Jr. was a prosperous merchant who was born and raised in Charleston. He married Elizabeth Stanyarne in September 1755 when she was around 16 years of age. She died only three years later on May 18, 1758 at age 19. It looks like they’ve had to repair her stone due to cracks.

If you get a good look at Elizabeth’s portrait, the detail is amazing. Codner does a lovely job of detailing the curls of her hair, the folds of her gown, and even the ties of her bodice.

“A Heap of Dust”

Isaac remarried in 1759 to Rebekah Bee, who was 30. One of their children, Susannah, is listed on Isaac’s marker. She died at the age of nine months on April 11, 1763.

I think Codner did an equally amazing job on Issac and Susannah’s marker. Again, the detail of the hair is apparent. Note the button and buttonhole of his coat. Even the folds of Isaac’s cravat are included.

Isaac died only seventh months after his daughter, Susannah, on Dec. 17, 1763. Here’s part of the inscription on their stone, with the spelling exactly as it was carved:

How lov’d How valu’d once avails Thee not
To whom related or by whom begott
A Heap of Dust alone remains of Thee
Tis all thou art and all the Proud shall be
Blessed are the Dead that die in the Lord
May my latter End be unto theirs

“Arrested by the Hand of Death”

There are a few more grave stones I’d like to share that date a bit later than previous ones but are still remarkable. This one is for Mary Jane Smith (1740-1765). She was the wife of a CCC deacon, Josiah Smith, according to her stone.

Mary Jane Smith was 55 when she died in 1795.

Her marker features an urn flanked by two weeping women, which is keeping with the movement away from soul effigies and portraits. The Classical influence is more heavily felt in this era. Let’s take a look at the top closer up.

Two women weep on both sides of an urn.

You’ll notice that the urn is quite detailed, from the flame to the draping of the ribbon. I have a notion that the mourners were added later and with less attention, although they are still well done. I think someone else, even much later, added the additional arms bearing handkerchiefs. The face of the mourner on the left was vandalized, sadly.

What’s in a Wreath?

This last monument is for Major David Ramsay (1830-1863), whose life is memorialized by a cut-off column topped by a wreath. A broken off column often meant a life cut short. It was carved by one of Charleston’s best known stone masons, E.B. White (his name is on the base).

Wreaths are ancient symbols, going back to the ancient Greeks, who wore them to signify their occupations, achievements, or status. They also crowned Olympic game winners with laurel leaf wreaths as a symbol of the Greek god Apollo, who embodied victory and achievement.

During the 1800s, in grave iconography, an oak leaf wreath meant strength. Laurel wreaths still meant victory but could also signify the arts/music. The bay leaf wreath often stood for death and mourning.

The broken column signified a life cut short.

Major Ramsay’s marker actually gives a good account of his life:

Educated in the Schools of Charleston he completed his collegiate studies at the University of Heidelburg, Germany. There his natural gifts of intellect aided by industry and stimulated by an honorable ambition secured for him the highest honors of his alma mater.

Returning to his native country he embarked in the practice of law and soon reached an honorable rank of the profession fame and fortune seemed equally with in his reach when at the call of his country he repaired to the field of battle, there as Major of battalion. He fell mortally wounded gallantry fighting in the defense of Battery Wagner on Morris Island.

Stone carver E.B. White’s name is on the base of David Ramsay’s monument.

A well-educated man, David Ramsay was practicing law and had attained a seat in the state legislature when the Civil War began. As a Confederate Army officer, Ramsay served as a major in the First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Battalion, also known as the Charleston Battalion. He died on Aug. 6, 1863 after he was mortally wounded at Battery Wagner on Morris Island, S.C.

David’s grandfather, also named David Ramsay was an American physician, public official, and historian from Charleston. He was one of the first major historians of the American Revolutionary War. He is also buried at the CCC burial ground, albeit with a much humbler marker that I missed seeing when I was visiting.

Farewell to Charleston

It’s hard for me to leave Charleston behind. I’m not totally done with this city because I’ve not yet written about Magnolia Cemetery, which I’ve visited numerous times. So look for that to be accomplished in the near future (fingers crossed).

In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with some more CCC markers that I think you ought to see. Thanks for joining me on this long but amazing adventure through Charleston’s historic church yards.

Martha Wright’s stone was one of many carved by William Codner.

The head on the soul effigy on John Collins’ (1757-1790) marker has an almost modern-looking hairstyle.

The inscription on this marker is worn off but the beauty of the draped urn remains.

Thomas Roberts (1739-1747) was only eight years old when he died, a sad end indeed. But the impish look on the face of the soul effigy on his marker makes me smile.