Hawkeye State Adventures: Making Magic in Marshalltown, Iowa’s Riverside Cemetery, Part I

After Woodland Cemetery, Christi and I headed northeast for Marshalltown. Our primary goal was to visit a dear friend of her late mother’s who lives there. But I knew that we’d be stopping by a few cemeteries as well.

Henry Anson, whose statue is in front of the Marshall County courthouse, is thought to be the first white settler in what is now called Marshalltown. He donated the land that the courthouse sits on. In April 1851, Anson described Marshalltown as “the prettiest place in Iowa.” Having seen the picturesque downtown, I can say that it is certainly one of them.

Including his time in the National Association, Adrian “Cap” Anson played a record 27 consecutive seasons.

Anson’s son, Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson, was a favorite son of Marshalltown, having made a name for himself as a Major League Baseball player. Cap spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs (then known as the “White Stockings” and later the “Colts”), serving as the club’s manager, first baseman and later, minority owner. He led the team to five National League pennants in the 1880s.

While writing this post, I was saddened to learn that on July 19, 2018, an EF-3 tornado roared through Marshalltown. This was about 10 months after my visit. Fortunately, there were no deaths. But a preliminary count of homes showed 89 destroyed; 525 with major damage; 94 with minor damage; and 54 classified as affected. Seven businesses were destroyed and four received major damage.

It will take a long time to rebuild what was lost. But this town of about 26,000 is already on its way back, working hard to make repairs and put things right.

Henry Anson’s statue is behind the flagpole. An EF-3 tornado that roared through town on July 19, 2018 tore off part of the cupola above the clock and damaged the roof.

Before meeting Jacqueline for lunch, we headed to Riverside Cemetery. I didn’t know much about it but there were a few graves I wanted to photograph.

Riverside was the vision of two men, Presbyterian minister Rev. Louis DeLos and Dr. George Glick. After incorporating as the Marshall Cemetery Association in April 1863, the board purchased a little over 13 acres acres from Rueben Webster for the purpose of creating a cemetery. It has expanded since then to its present 95 acres. According to Find a Grave, there are close to 25,000 burials recorded.

The St. Mary’s Cemetery Association purchased land east of what is now Lake Woodmere (in front of the cemetery office) and established a church cemetery, currently maintained by the Marshall Cemetery Association as a Catholic cemetery. The Congregation of the Sons of Israel also has their burial grounds within the perimeter of Riverside. In addition, the Volunteer Firemen of Marshall County, the Elks Lodge, and the Masonic Lodge have separate burial grounds for their members.

Canada geese love Lake Woodmere at Riverside Cemetery.

I don’t always stop in at a cemetery’s office because I don’t like bothering people who have work to do. But the folks at Riverside treated me like a welcome guest when I walked in. They pulled out files on the person I was looking for and suggested visiting the grave of another interesting person I hadn’t even heard of. If you check their Facebook page, they are always adding new stories about people buried at Riverside. I greatly appreciate Riverside’s staff for going the extra mile to share the rich history of their town and helping me in my research.

The most famous person buried at Riverside Cemetery is someone you have likely never heard of — magician Tommy Nelson “King of Koins” Downs. While unknown now, he had quite a following in his time.

T. Nelson Downs had time to perfect coin/card tricks on his job as a telegraph operator. (Photo source: The Art of Magic. The Downs-Edwards Company, 1909)

Downs was born in Marshalltown in 1867 to teachers Thomas and Cordelia Downs, his father dying when he was only six months old. As a boy, he taught himself card and coin tricks. His first wife, Nellie Stone Downs, died in 1895, just a year after giving birth to their son, Raymond. That same year, after working for the telegraph company much of his life, he decided to perform in vaudeville full time. A few years in, he decided to concentrate solely on coin tricks.

So who looked after little Raymond while Downs was on the road? The 1900 Census shows him living in the household of none other than town founder, Henry Anson. Raymond is listed as his grandson but I don’t know if Nellie or Downs was actually related to him. According to a Des Moines Register article, Raymond said he was raised by housekeepers, had a distant relationship with his father, and that he personally had no interest in magic.

T. Nelson Downs had a humble beginning but entertained kings in his career. (Photo source: FineArtAmerica.com)

Downs soon became a sought after performer on the American vaudeville circuit, including Tony Pastor’s New York theater. He performed 26 consecutive weeks at London’s Palace Theater and 40 weeks at the Empire Theater, along with many performances at the Follies Bergere in Paris. King Edward VII, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm and Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey were entertained by Downs as well.

This was one of T. Nelson Downs’ palming coins that he used in his act. The staff at Riverside Cemetery kindly let me photograph it.

Downs’ skill at manipulating coins was just about impossible to imitate. Watching this old home movie of him in later years illustrates that. While performing his tricks, he could palm up to 60 coins at a time. One of his most famous tricks was “The Miser’s Dream”, in which he seemed to pull countless coins out of the thin air. His 1900 book “Modern Coin Manipulation” is still in print today.

A rare photo of T. Nelson Downs (on the far right) with famed magician Harry Houdini to his left. (Photo source: New York Public Library Digital Gallery)

In 1912, Downs decided to retire to Marshalltown with his second wife wife, Harriet Rockey Downs. Downs opened a vaudeville house on Main Street, where he also sold a line of magic equipment. Many visitors, especially other magicians, arrived at his home to share gossip and the latest tricks.

Downs’ book “Modern Coin Manipulation” is still in print today. (Photo source: Biblio.com web site)

Downs was well acquainted with fellow magician Harry Houdini and they shared the stage on occasion. Some articles I read said they had an intense rivalry while others said they were close friends. I tend to think it was a rather benign rivalry amid a warm friendship. Downs’ career took off before Houdini’s and he advised him to head to Europe as he had done to boost his career, and Houdini did just that. Houdini’s widow came to visit Downs near the end of his life as well.

It’s not surprising that someone left a quarter on Downs’ gravestone.

In the last two years of his life, Downs was confined to his bed. He died in 1938 and Harriet died in 1955. His great-grand nephew, Jim Downs, lives in Marshalltown today. He owns a large collection of Downs’ papers, books, and other personal items that he enjoys showing others so they can learn about the King of Koins.

Next week, I’ll have more memorable Marshalltown profiles to share, including a World War I flying ace and a MLB team owner.

Hawkeye State Adventures: Visiting Des Moines, Iowa’s Woodland Cemetery, Part IV

You cannot talk about Iowa cemeteries without mentioning white bronze markers. They’re actually zinc but they were marketed as “white bronze” at the time to make them sound grander. You can get a refresher here in my post about Council Bluff’s Fairview Cemetery (which has several white bronze markers). The parents company, Monumental Bronze Company, was in Bridgeport, Conn. but had subsidiaries in other cities, too.

To get a white bronze marker, you usually placed an order with a salesman who had a catalog you could look at. The marker would be shipped to you in pieces that were held together by screws often grounded in a concrete base. As a result, they were hollow inside. Knock on one and you can here the metallic ring. Some were very small like the one below but others were quite grand.

Bell Bennett died at the age of 19.

White bronze is important to Iowa because Des Moines was home to the Western White Bronze Co. as one of Monumental Bronze’s subsidiaries, along with Chicago and Detroit. The Des Moines factory opened in 1886 and closed in 1908. In 1914, the government took over the plant to manufacture munitions during World War. I was pleased to see several white bronze monuments/markers at Woodland.

This marker is a nice example of a small white bronze while exhibiting a seal of a fraternal organization I’d never heard of. A native of Iowa, William S. Clark was a bricklayer/mason. He married Emma J. Sutton in 1878 and they had one daughter, Eva.

The Improved Order of Red Men might sound like an organization for Native Americans but it wasn’t.

Prominently displayed on Clark’s marker is the seal of the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM). The TOTE stands for “Totem of the Eagle”. This fraternal organization traces its origin to certain secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. They were established to promote liberty and defy the tyranny of the English Crown. Among the early groups were: The Sons of Liberty, the Sons of St. Tammany, and later the Society of Red Men. Originally called the Society of Red Men, the IORM traces its origins back to 1765. In 1834, they changed it to the Improved Order of Red Men.

IORM rituals and regalia are modeled after those used by Native Americans. The organization claimed a membership of about half a million in 1935, but has declined to less than 38,000. The ultimate irony is that the IORM did not allow any non-white members to join until 1974 and it’s doubtful any Native Americans have ever done so.

This small marker for Christina Wilhelmine Bacon is rather plain on the front.

Christina Wilhelmine Bacon died of tuberculosis in 1902 at the age of 23.

But it has the image of a figure pointing Heavenward on the other side.

A customer could choose from dozens of different motifs out of a catalog, from a cross to an anchor to even an ear of corn.

Herman and Julius Bleckmann’s monument is the most common type of white bronze I usually see. The broken chain can signify breaking the chain of death or the end of life. Born in Germany in 1852, Herman came to America with his parents Julius and Lisette Bleckmann as a child, and worked as a baker.

The top of the Bleckmann monument is in need of repair.

There’s something about the Bleckmann monument that puzzled me at first. I took a look on the base to see where it came from and was surprised to see this.

Why did the Bleckmann family order a white bronze marker from Detroit when they could get one from Des Moines?

If Des Moines residents had access to white bronze monuments in their own city where a factory produced them, why did this family get one from far-away Michigan? Then I realized that Herman Bleckmann died in 1882. The Des Moines factory didn’t open until 1886, four years after his death. So it makes sense that it came from Detroit after all.

Julius, Herman’s father, whose name is also on the monument, died in 1879. It’s possible the monument was made for him first and Herman’s name was added later but I don’t know.

Herman’s life was abruptly cut short, I did discover. He and a friend, George Crane, were celebrating the Fourth of July when something went wrong. At Herman’s front gate, George Crane allegedly shot Herman and he died. Although Crane was arrested and went to trial, he was acquitted. Herman was only 30 and I found no evidence that he ever married.

This large white bronze was for Samuel Van Cleve and two of his children. A native of Pennsylvania, he married Ruth L. Cook (daughter of a Baptist minister) in Ohio in 1850. They moved to Iowa in 1855 and had three children. Two died in infancy that are listed on the marker (William and Lillie) but their daughter, Marie Louisa, lived to adulthood and married David (or Daniel on some census records) Bringolf.

Portrait of Samuel Van Cleve taken from “Portrait and Biographical Album of Polk County, Iowa” published in 1890.

Samuel had a number of jobs in public works, most notably as superintendent of the water department and later as an assessor for the city. Samuel died in 1886 at the age of 61. Thanks to Ancestry.com, I was able to pull up his voluminous will.

A native of Pennsylvania, Samuel Van Cleve was superintendent of Des Moines’ water department and later, an assessor for the city.

According to his will, Samuel Van Cleve owned stock in the Western White Bronze Company at one time.

To my surprise, I found that Samuel owned stock in the Western White Bronze Co. From what I can tell, Ruth sold it after he died. The paperwork even included the bills for his casket ($125) and for the white bronze monument that you see above, which cost $465 at the time. You can also see a picture of the receipt for the monument, which she paid in 1888. If you adjust for inflation, the monument cost around $13,000. That’s not cheap!

Ruth lived with her daughter and her family in Des Moines after Samuel died. At some point after the turn of the century, the Bringolfs moved to Texas. Ruth died in 1910 and is buried in Myrtle Cemetery in Rock Hill, Texas. She was 93.

Ruth Van Cleve paid $465 for her husband’s monument in 1888. That would cost around $13,000 today.

There’s another white bronze at Woodland worth mentioning because it is not the usual gray/blue color. It has a silver color and a decidedly militaristic flavor.

Born in 1834 to Samuel and Mary Myers Orwig in Pennsylvania, Thomas Gilbert Orwig was a patent lawyer and Civil War veteran. There is little information on him prior to the Civil War.  He owned and operated the Union County Star with his brother Reuben, which they sold after a year of ownership.

I wasn’t sure what the objects on top of this monument were until a kind reader let me know they were artillery pieces. This makes sense considering Orwig’s military background.

On June 20, 1861, Orwig mustered into service with the 43rd Regiment, First Artillery, Battery E as a first lieutenant. In 1862, he was promoted to captain, and, in this capacity, served in the peninsular campaign and in the Army of the James. After a three-year term, Orwig resigned with his regiment on September 21, 1864.

He married Mary E. Sipp in Middletown, N.Y. in February 1864. They lived together in Yorktown until the end of his service. They had two children — Mabel, who was adopted, and Mary Gilberta Orwig born Feb. 24, 1865 and died January 26, 1867.

After the Civil War, the Orwigs moved to Des Moines and opened a patent office. I found a patent of his online (he had several) for a type of barbed wire that would prevent animal injury. Thomas also established a newspaper in Iowa known as The Industrial Motor in 1872, which was mainly devoted to mechanics, patent rights, and new inventions.

Oddly, the date of Thomas Orwig’s death is not on his marker.

Mary Orwig died on March 10, 1907 at the age of 67. One fact you can glean from the Orwig’s joint monument is that she was blind for 20 years of her life. I am guessing the monument was made when she died and that the information about Thomas was put on it at that time. His date of death is not on the monument anywhere but records confirm he died in 1910.

The last two monuments I wanted to mention are not white bronze but still stood out to me. The monument for the Rev. Ira Kenney is in the shape of a pulpit with a Bible on the top. A native of Truxton, N.Y., he was a graduate of Madison University and ordained the same year he graduated, 1849. He also married Mary E. Smith in the same year. I’m not sure when they moved to Iowa.

The Rev. Kennedy pastored several Baptist churches over the years. He also served as president of what was then known as the Des Moines University in the 1880s, which ultimately closed in 1929. The Rev. Kenney died in 1899.

The Rev. Ira Kenney’s monument looks like a church pulpit.

Finally, let’s talk about Landon Hamilton’s imposing monument. It’s one of the tallest in the cemetery and features the deceased’s face.

The Hamilton monument is one of the tallest at Woodland.

Born in Virginia in 1816, Landon Hamilton was described as “the dead recluse” by the Des Moines Register in an article written about him. His friend, Judge William Phillips, was one of the few who knew him well but wasn’t sure how Hamilton came to be in Iowa. Hamilton’s love of nature took the place of any family he might have had, he never married or had children. He earned his living by hunting and trapping.

A Des Moines Register article referred to Landon Hamilton as “the dead recluse.”

In later years, Hamilton catalogued his wide range of specimens, from animals to birds to fish to insects. When he died at the age of 81, his will instructed that his home and massive collection be left to the public for their enjoyment. Some articles claimed the state was going to do something with it, but it may very well have been auctioned off.

Hamilton also made specific plans for his monument at Woodland long before his death, down to the portrait etched on it. For a man who wasn’t known to enjoy mixing with people very much, he seemed to want to be remembered by them.

That brings my visit to Woodland Cemetery to an end. I’ll be moving on to other Iowa cemeteries in the weeks to come, but this one was definitely memorable.

Door of the DeCorpo mausoleum in Saint Ambrose Cemetery, which is part of Woodland Cemetery.

Hawkeye State Adventures: Visiting Des Moines, Iowa’s Woodland Cemetery, Part III

Yes, it’s Part III! Woodland Cemetery has enough to keep any “hopper” interested. Today I’m featuring three Des Moines businessmen that each contributed to the city’s history in different ways: Hoyt Sherman, Marcus Younker, and Henry C. Hansen.

While the Sherman mausoleum is not spectacular, the family is. Born the youngest of 11 children in 1827 to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Charles Sherman and Mary Hoyt Sherman, Hoyt Sherman came from a notable family. Brother John Sherman was U.S. Secretary of Treasury (under President Rutherford B. Hayes) and Secretary of State (under President William McKinley). But most will remember his more infamous brother, Union Major General William T. Sherman.

I’m not sure why the Sherman mausoleum is missing its door and is bricked up.

Hoyt Sherman arrived in Iowa in 1848 and joined the Bar the following year. In 1850, he was appointed Postmaster and served until he resigned and was elected clerk of the the District Court in 1853. On Christmas day 1855, Sherman married Sara Moulton, an Ohio native. They had five children. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him the Army Paymaster at the start of the Civil War, with the rank of Major.

Hoyt Sherman’s brothers are better known than he is, but he made his mark on Des Moines. (Photo Source: Hoyt Sherman Place web site)

Sherman served as an organizer of the Des Moines Coal Company, the Des Moines Water Company, Equitable Life Insurance Company, and served on the board of directors for the Iowa and Minnesota Railroad, as well as the Narrow Gauge Railroad. He was also a pioneer member of many organizations and societies.

In 1877, Hoyt Sherman Place, the family home, was completed with the help of architect William Foster. Almost immediately, it was noted to be, “a society showplace of the grandest scale.” After Hoyt Sherman’s death in 1904, it served as the first location of Mercy Hospital. In 1907, it became the clubhouse of the Des Moines Women’s Club, who added an art gallery, the first public art museum in the city. In 1923, a 1400-seat auditorium was completed for Club programs.

Hoyt Sherman Place began as the home of a Des Moines pioneer but is now a vital music/arts venue and gallery. (Photo source: Brad Lane)

Today, Hoyt Sherman Place hosts everything from Ballet Des Moines performances to rock concerts. In 2003, the facility underwent a large renovation project to restore the spaces to their original grandeur and add present-day amenities including state-of-the-art electrical fixtures and heating/air conditioning systems.

If you’ve visited the Iowa/Nebraska area at all, you’re probably familiar with Younker’s Department Stores. They got their start when three brothers (Marcus, Samuel, and Lipman) from Poland arrived in New York City then settled in Keokuk, Iowa (about three hours east of Des Moines) in 1856.

Marcus Younker ran the store while his brothers sold merchandise in the country to those too busy or too far away to come to town. (Photo Source: Jewish Museum of the American West web site)

Soon after they arrived, the brothers opened Younker & Brothers, a dry goods store that sold a variety of items. Marcus managed the store while his brothers strapped packs of merchandise on their backs that they carried into the countryside to farmers too busy or far away to come to town to shop. The store was closed on the Sabbath and Jewish Holidays.

As Keokuk declined and Des Moines’ star rose, half-brother Herman opened a 1,320-square-foot dry goods store in the capital city. When Samuel died unexpectedly in 1879, the Keokuk store was permanently closed and headquarters moved to Des Moines. The store then became Younker Brothers. In 1899, the Des Moines store at Seventh and Walnut Streets became the flagship store and remained open until 2005.

The Younker’s store at Seventh and Walnut Streets was in operation from 1899 to 2005. (Photo Source: The Department Store Museum)

Lipman Younker eventually moved to New York City and was involved in the garment trade until his death in 1902. Herman also moved to New York City to handle the company’s purchasing office there. That left Marcus to run things in Des Moines.

Undated postcard of Younker’s Tea Room in Des Moines. (Photo Source: CardCow.com)

Over the years, Younker’s locations multiplied over seven states. But the Des Moines flagship store was special. Women lunched at the elegant Tea Room upstairs, hosting bridal showers and other important events. Teenagers took their dates there for dinner and dancing. The store even had a knitting classroom. Younker’s boasted Iowa’s first escalator in 1939 and was the first department store in the U.S. to air condition its entire building.

For many decades, it was a mainstay for shoppers until new parent company Bon-Ton announced in April 2018 that it was liquidating its Younker’s stores. Sadly, the last Younker’s stores closed on August 29, 2018.

Marcus Younker’s mausoleum is located in Emmanuel Jewish Cemetery, which is part of Woodland Cemetery.

Although he officially retired in 1895, Marcus Younker remained close to help his successors. He balanced commercial interests with religious duties, serving several times as president of the B’nai Jeshurun congregation. When he died in 1926, Younker’s lost the last of its original founders. He is interred in the Emmauel Jewish Cemetery area of Woodland with his wife, Annie, and all four of his children (who all lived to adulthood).

Despite a 2014 fire at the old Younker’s building on Seventh and Walnut Streets, it is now known as the Wilkins Building and was turned into apartments. The famous Younker’s Tea Room (now known as just “The Tea Room”) was renovated and re-opened in September 2017 as an event space.

Norwegian native Henry C. Hansen operated and expanded the Wellington Hotel in Des Moines.

Thanks to helpful Facebook friends with access to Newspapers.com, I was able to uncover the history of the Henry C. Hansen family. A native of Norway born in 1853, Hansen came to America with his parents Christopher and Martha Hansen in 1856. The family lived in Chicago before buying a farm in Wisconsin. After working for an uncle in the paint business, Hansen attended a Chicago pharmaceutical college and became a druggist. He arrived in Des Moines in 1876 and established the Hansen Drug Co.

His fortunes rose with his store and he eventually moved it into the Wellington Hotel, which he had built earlier himself. Over the years, he expanded and improved the hotel drastically. In addition, he started the Garfield Clothing Company in 1883 and was president of the Home Savings Bank for 17 years. Needless to say he was a busy man!

Photo of Des Moines pioneer Henry C. Hansen. (Photo Source: Newspapers.com)

At age 46, Henry married Rose Welton in 1899. She was 25 at the time, 21 years his junior. They had at four children together — Henry Jr., Marthareen, Rose Marie, and Emerett. Henry Jr. assisted his father with the Garfield Clothing Co. while Marthareen worked at the hotel. Emerett became an attorney and had an office in his father’s hotel.

Rose Marie also worked for her father until she married Herbert Hauge in 1936, who soon after served as an Iowa State Representative for one term. She and Herbert are buried together at Resthaven Cemetery.

Unfortunately, the senior Hansen did not always see eye to eye with his eldest son. A 1927 Des Moines Register article reported that Henry Sr. requested a restraining order against Henry Jr., claiming that his son was trying to taken over both the clothing company and the hotel after Henry St. suffered a slight stroke earlier that year. Henry Sr. went so far as to allege Henry Jr. had threatened to kill him.

Henry C. Hansen St. tried to take out a restraining order against his eldest son in 1927. (Photo source: Newspapers.com)

Despite the issues noted in the 1927 article, after Henry Sr. died in 1935 of a cerebral hemorrhage, Henry Jr. took over the Garfield Clothing Co., selling it to Emerett in 1957. Henry Jr. married in 1939 but his wife, Ruth, sought to divorce him in 1943 under charges of cruel and inhumane treatment. She also asked for a restraining order.

When Rose Welton Hansen died in 1962, Henry Jr. appeared to no longer have any ties with the family businesses. But when he learned that his mother left the bulk of her estate worth well over $100,000 to his siblings Marthareen and Emerett, he contested her will in court.

I’m not sure how that was resolved but Henry Jr. died in 1968 in a nursing home. Despite the turmoil over the years, he is interred with his parents in the Hansen mausoleum at Woodland. Later, he was joined by siblings Marthareen (who died in 1972) and Emerett (who died in 1989).

Note the different textures of the stones beneath the pillars on both sides of the doors. Speculative Masons use the ashlar (finely dressed stone) in two forms: one rough (left), just as it came from the quarry, representing Man in his uncultivated state. The other (right), finely finished and ready for its place, represents Man, educated and refined. Many thanks to Mason Todd Oberlander for sharing this information with me.

The Hansen mausoleum did not grab my attention until I was looking at my pictures from Woodland this week. To the left above the pillars and to the center are two Masonic symbols, the “G” and the double eagle representing the Scottish Rite.

However, if you look at the upper right hand corner above the pillars, you can see what I recently learned was the “death’s head” version of the insignia of the Knights of Pythias. Many American fraternal organizations, including the Masons, use the skull and crossbones in their symbolism. For the Masons, it signifies mortality.

I had to zoom in so it’s not very clear but you can definitely see the skull.

Founded in 1864, the Knights of Pythias was the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of Congress. Its founder was Justus H. Rathbone, who was inspired by a play by Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor, and friendship at the center of the order. On this seal, the FCB stand for “Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence”, the Pythian motto.

As a prominent businessman, it’s not surprising Henry C. Hansen belonged to several fraternal organizations like the Masons and the Knights of Pythias. And it’s true that you can find memento mori (Latin for “remember, you will die”) skulls decorating many a slate gravestone from the late 1700s to mid-1800s. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a skull on an American mausoleum.

Next week, I’ll wrap up my series on Woodland Cemetery by featuring a few more eye-catching markers and monuments.

Hawkeye State Adventures: Visiting Des Moines, Iowa’s Woodland Cemetery, Part II

I barely scratched the surface at Woodland Cemetery last week so I hope you’ve come back for more.

Woodland has some unique children’s grave markers that I’ll refer to as “baby bed” graves because they resemble a child’s bed. While I have seen some akin to this because their framing looks like a bed or cradle, none had stone “pillows” as part of them. People sometimes call them “garden graves” because they plant flowers in them.

The first one belongs to three children of Jefferson Scott Polk and Julia Herndon Polk. Born in 1831 in Kentucky, J.S. Polk became an attorney. He married Julia Herndon in 1853. In the 1850s, Polk formed a partnership with Judge P.M. Casady and M.M. Crocker (both buried at Woodland). In 1861, Crocker entered the military service, and the firm became Casady & Polk, continuing until 1864.

Jefferson Scott Pike and his wife, Julia Herndon Polk, in their later years.

After Judge Casady retired, F.M. Hubbell (whom we talked about last week) took his place and for 25 years Polk & Hubbell was synonymous with the “push and enterprise in the town” (according to one account). Along with Hubbell, Polk helped found the Equitable Life Insurance Company. He was also instrumental in getting Des Moines’ street car service up and running, which included using it for mail delivery. When he died in 1907, one account of Polk’s funeral said 100 uniformed street car employees served as a guard of honor.

Jefferson and Julia are thought to have seven children buried at Woodland. Three of them (Mary, Lutie, and Daniel) all died under the age of 10 between 1863 and 1871. You can no longer see their names on the circles on the headboard.

The Polk children’s “bed” grave marker was recently restored. Three stone pillows rest against the frame. Their parents, J.S. and Julia Polk, are buried beside them.

I knew before visiting Woodland that the “baby bed” grave markers were in the process of being restored thanks to hard-working volunteers. Jean Wilson and Kelly Penman have unearthed these “beds”, some of which were sunken deep into the ground, along with reattaching the frames and cleaning off years of grime. The colorful pavers and gravel in the Polk “bed’ have replaced the thick weeds that were there before.

Herndon Hall was built in 1881 in the Queen Anne style. It was designed by the Des Moines architectural firm of Foster & Liebbe for the Polk family. (Photo Source: C.A. Tucker, Wikipedia)

Understandably, Julia greatly mourned her little ones. She would often spend hours mourning her children at Woodland, sometimes sitting beside their grave after it had turned dark outside. Worried about her, Jefferson required the carriage driver to stay at the cemetery during her visits until she was ready to return to their home, Herndon Hall.

Behind the Polk “baby bed” are two more for the Miller and Turner families. I don’t know the names of the children. They were still being repaired when I was at Woodland. Jean was kind enough to let me post these photos of the Miller “baby bed” grave, before and after.

The Miller children’s grave before it was fully unearthed. (Photo source: Jean Wilson)

This is what the Miller grave looks like now. (Photo source: Jean Wilson)

In a another part of the cemetery is a “baby bed” marker belonging to the Scribner family. A native of Connecticut, Henry Scribner was born in 1822 and lived in New York until the 1850s. He married Abigail Farnham in 1853 in Watertown, N.Y. Sometime after that, they moved to Des Moines. Henry found work in real estate and did well.

This is what the Scribner bed looked like before Kelly G. Penman unearthed it. (Photo source: Jean Wilson)

Until recently, the Scribner “bed” was in pieces and deep in the ground. Careful restoration brought it back to its original glory. The children’s names (Roger and Jennie) are etched on the pillows.

Their first child, Jennie, was born on Feb. 6, 1856 in Des Moines but died only a handful of weeks later. Two more children, Minnie and George, followed in 1857 and 1861, and they would live to adulthood. Their last child, Roger, was born in January 1869 but died exactly six months later.

Henry Scribner died in 1882 under mysterious circumstances. In September 1882, he was found lying unconscious in front of a coal office on Des Moines’ Sixth Street, having been brutally assaulted. He died the next day of his injuries, with no witnesses coming forward to name who’d done it. Despite a $500 reward offered by Governor Buren Sherman, the culprit was never found. Abigail died in 1904 at the age of 74.

One of the “baby bed” graves that I missed when I was there was the Harry Ashley grave. Jean Wilson photographed it before and after she had completed cleaning it up. I am borrowing her photo from Find a Grave for the after picture. Notice the Lilly of the Valley carved on the side of it.

Jean Wilson was able (with good old-fashioned “elbow grease”) to dig out the pieces of Harry’s marker. (Photo source: Jean Wilson)

The “baby bed” for Harry Ashley is a single. (Photo Source: Jean Wilson, Find a Grave)

Born on May 28, 1881, Harry was the son of brick mason William Martin Ashley and Rebecca Smith Ashley. He died on July 1, 1882 having lived just a few months over a year. The top of the headboard says “HARRY” and above the pillow on the inside of the headboard says “Our Darling”.

Toward the center of the cemetery are three mausoleums situated beside each other that puzzled me when I first saw them. A large white one, a brick one with only a last name and one almost completely overtaken by the ground it was built into.

The Baker mausoleum on the right is a bit of a mystery.

I could find out nothing about the Baker mausoleum on the far right, which appears to be crumbling. In the center, marked with a date of 1900, is the Giles brick mausoleum. A New York native, Elliott Marion Giles moved to Iowa in the 1860s and married Alice Wigton in 1868. Records indicate he worked as a druggist but later as an insurance salesman. They had three children together.

When Elliott died in 1919, he was living in Tulsa, Okla. with Alice, who died later in 1927. Why the vault is dated 1900 is interesting since Elliott Giles was supposedly the first person recorded to have been interred within it.

By comparison, the mausoleum on the far left was in stellar condition. From the small plaque on the front, I learned it was the final resting place of Iowa Governor Samuel Merrill (1868-1872). It wasn’t until I got home that I found out that the Merrill mausoleum had looked just as bad as its neighbors only a few years ago.

Iowa Governor Samuel Merrill worked in education, farming, and retail before entering politics.

Born in Turner, Maine in 1822, Samuel Merrill became a teacher and moved to the South. Finding his strong abolitionist views unpopular there, he returned to New England to try farming then entered the mercantile business. Merrill was first married to Catherine Thomas, who died in 1847, 14 months after their marriage. In January 1851, he married Elizabeth Hill of Buxton, Maine.

In 1854, Merrill was elected on the abolitionist ticket to the New Hampshire legislature. The Merrills moved to McGregor, Iowa in 1856 and Samuel was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1859. In 1862, he was commissioned Colonel of the 21st Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, serving until seriously wounded at the Battle of Big Black River Bridge in May 1863 as part of the Vicksburg Campaign.

General Ulysses S. Grant, who led the campaign, referred to Merrill as “eminently brilliant and daring” and that had Merrill not been a general officer at the time, he would have recommended him for the Medal of Honor.

Due to extensive damage caused by a falling oak tree and a century of neglect, the final resting place of Gov. Samuel Merrill became home to raccoons and opossums. (Photo source: Patriot Outreach web page)

In 1867, Merrill was elected Governor of Iowa on the Republican ticket, and served for two terms, from 1868 to 1872. His record as a civic-minded legislator and patriotic Army officer gave him significant political capital in postwar Iowa.

Samuel and Elizabeth Merrill had four children, three of them dying in childhood. Their son, Jere, lived to the age of 69. The couple eventually moved to California, where Elizabeth died in 1888. In 1897, Samuel was in a streetcar accident and never recovered. His remains were sent back to Iowa and interred in the Merrill mausoleum.

Over time, the Merrill mausoleum fell into disrepair. A falling oak tree damaged it and neglect adding to it becoming a haven for raccoons and opossums. As you can see in the photo above, it was in terrible shape.

The Merrill mausoleum as it looked in September 2017.

In 2016, several organizations and individual Iowans came together to bring the Merrill mausoleum back to its former glory, including Patriot Outreach, former State Senator Dennis Black, Westbrooke Construction, and others. Two-time Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s foundation, the Iowa History Fund, donated money as well. A special ceremony was held at Woodland in June 2016 to unveil the refurbished mausoleum.

One mystery was solved during the renovation — the whereabouts of Elizabeth Merrill’s remains. Cemetery records did not indicate that she had ever been interred in the mausoleum back in 1888 so nobody knew for sure. When the Merrill mausoleum was opened, her remains were found there with her husband’s.

Next time, I’ll be talking about more mausoleums at Woodland and some of the more unique markers there.

Hawkeye State Adventures: Visiting Des Moines, Iowa’s Woodland Cemetery, Part I

So why Iowa?

If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know that my best friend, Christi, moved from Atlanta to Omaha in 2000. When I started cemetery “hopping” about six years ago, I started dragging her across Nebraska (with some stops in Kansas) to find cool cemeteries to explore.

So in the summer of 2017, as I planned my September visit, I decided it might be fun to fly into Des Moines, Iowa and we could stop by some cemeteries on our way back to Omaha. I knew we could hit some good ones if I planned it right.

A postcard of Woodland’s original formal entrance, comprised of the superintendent’s office attached to a chapel. They were torn down sometime before 1915.

After Christi picked me up at the Des Moines Airport, we swung by Glendale Cemetery so I could photograph the grave of a Medal of Honor recipient. The rest of the cemetery wasn’t that remarkable so we didn’t linger. My goal was the spend a few hours at Des Moines’ oldest cemetery, Woodland Cemetery. As we drove through the front gates, I could tell it was going to be a great place to “hop” around.

The pillars of Woodland Cemetery’s entrance were placed in 1915. The ironwork on top of Woodland’s gates was replaced in 2012.

Woodland was established in 1848 when five farmers donated land for the purpose of providing a city cemetery. Originally 5.5 acres, it was first called Fort Des Moines Cemetery with the first burial taking place in 1850.

The city took ownership of the cemetery in 1857, and purchased an additional 36.5 acres in 1864. Since then, Woodland’s coverage has expanded to 69 acres and now houses over 80,000 graves. A receiving vault was added in 1888 to store the bodies of those who died during Iowa’s cold winters when the ground was too hard to dig. They had to wait until the spring thaw to bury them. I don’t know how many bodies it held, but it looks fairly large to me.

Iowa winters are bitterly cold so a receiving vault to hold bodies until the spring thaw was built in 1888.

Within Woodland Cemetery is St. Ambrose Cemetery, which was relocated from the south side of Des Moines in 1866. It is on the back side of Woodland and we did explore it a little. Emmanuel Jewish Cemetery, founded in 1871, is also within Woodland and an an Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Woodland’s World War II Gold Star Memorial includes about 40 soldiers’ graves.

To the right of the front gates, you will find Woodland’s World War I Gold Star Memorial. The area contains the graves of about 40 Iowa soldiers who were originally buried in France after the war but later moved for burial in their home state.

Emory Jenison Pike as a cadet at West Point at the turn of the century.

Woodland has the honor of being the final resting place for a Medal of Honor recipient.  The son of the Rev. Elias Jenison Pike and Catherine Ricketts Pike, Emory Jenison Pike was born in 1876 in Columbus City, Iowa. In 1902, he married Ethel Fowler Trigg in Manhattan, N.Y. They would have five children who lived to adulthood.

A graduate of West Point in 1901, Pike served with the Second United States Cavalry in Cuba and the U.S. In 1914, he was a Distinguished Service Graduate from the Army’s School of the Line, and in 1915 completed the Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

In World War I, Lt. Col. Pike earned the Medal of Honor for rendering aid to a wounded soldier during heavy artillery shelling on September 15, 2018 near Vandieres, France. He was severely wounded when another shell burst near him. While waiting to be brought to the rear, Lt. Col. Pike continued in command, still directing the reorganization until the position could be held. He later died of the wounds he received.

Lt. Col. Emory J. Pike was 41 at the time of his death in 1918.

Major General J.M. Wainwright, Assistant Chief of Staff, 82nd Division, wrote to Lt. Col. Pike’s mother to inform her of his death: “He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor…When my time comes I only hope I can die as gallantly as did your son…” His youngest son, Zebulon, was only four when Lt. Col. Pike died.

Buried close to Lt. Col. Pike is Captain Edward O. Fleur. A native of Eksjo, Sweden, Captain Fleur was the son of C.J. Fleur and Mary Swanson Fleur. Born in 1876, Capt. Fleur had taken a three-year course in the Royal Swedish Military School in Stockholm before his arrival in America in 1890. He married Minnie Lawson in 1903.

Edward O. Fleur had worked his way up to the rank of Captain when he died in World War I in 1918.

Captain Fleur was active in the Iowa National Guard and served in various places during the first decade of the 1900s, including two years at Fort Yellowstone in Wyoming (the military managed the national parks in their early days) and the Philippines. He had attained the rank of Captain by the time he left Iowa for France in November 1917 with the Machine Gun Company of the 168th Infantry.

On May 27, 1918, Capt. Fleur was severely gassed at Village Negre and taken to the hospital in Baccarat. He died shortly thereafter and was buried in the cemetery at Baccarat, but his remains were sent home to America in 1921 for burial at Woodland.

Captain Fleur’s wife, Minnie, is buried across the lane from him.

As far as I know, Capt. Fleur and Minnie never had any children. Because women were not allowed to be buried with the soldiers, they buried Minnie across the lane from Capt. Fleur when she died in 1930. That was as close as they could get.

Near the Gold Star Memorial is the impressive Hubbell family mausoleum. One of its unique features is a casket elevator, which is used to lower remains to the lower level where all the family members have been laid to rest. I would love to get a look at that!

The Hubbell family mausoleum has the distinction of having an elevator for lowering caskets down to the lower level.

Born in 1839 in Huntington, Conn. to Francis and Augusta Church Hubbell, Frederick Marion Hubbell left Connecticut with his father and arrived in Fort Des Moines on May 7, 1855. Hubbell found work at the U.S. Land Office. During the 1860s and 1870s, Hubbell began building his Des Moines real estate empire by buying property in the downtown area and in a valuable industrial district known as the Factory Addition.

Frederick Marion Hubbell made his fortune in real estate in Des Moines’ early days.

Hubbell was also instrumental in many early Des Moines industries. He partnered with three others to start Des Moines’ first streetcar line in 1866, helped found Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa in 1867, helped establish the Des Moines Water Works in 1871, and created the Narrow Gauge Railway Construction Company in 1880.

A roaring lion’s head emblazons the door of the Hubbell mausoleum.

Hubbell married Frances Cooper in 1863 and they had three children together. The marriage of their daughter, Beulah, to Swedish Count Carl Axel Wachtmeister in 1899 at the Hubbell mansion (Terrace Hill) was reported in many newspapers across the country. Count Wachtmeiser and Frances had one son, Frederick. The three of them are buried together in Sweden. Frances Hubbell died in 1924 and Frederick Hubbell died in 1930.

Built in 1869, Terrace Hill is now the home of Des Moines’ Governor Kim Reynolds and her family.

Originally the home of Des Moines’ first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen, Terrace Hill was designed by Chicago architect William Boyington and completed in 1869. Allen sold it to Hubbell in 1884. Hubbell loved Terrace Hill and added many of its most well-known features such as the stained glass window and stunning chandelier.

A Hubbell lived in Terrace Hill until the family’s youngest son Grover’s death in 1956. It stood empty until 1971 when the Hubbell family donated the home to the State of Iowa to be used as the official residence of Iowa’s first family. (Note:  Kind reader Beth Jordan let me know that F.M. Hubbell’s great-great-grandson, Fred Hubbell, is currently running for governor. So there may be a Hubbell back in Terrace Hill after all. The current governor is Kim Reynolds.)

By contrast, the Allens are not interred in a fine mausoleum. As F.M. Hubbell’s fortunes were rising, B.F. Allen’s were plummeting.

Benjamin Franklin Allen was Des Moines’ first millionaire. But he would die a pauper in 1914 in California.

B.F. Allen’s uncle, Captain James Allen, one of the founders of Fort Des Moines in 1843, was instrumental in his nephew’s start in Iowa. In 1846, Captain Allen left for a new post, but died en route leaving all of his business holdings and land to his 18 year-old-nephew.

Over time, Allen became a a pillar of Des Moines society. He was a director or president of insurance companies, railroads, banks, the gas company, and various industrial firms, and even served a term in the Iowa Senate. Unfortunately, a series of poor business decisions resulted in charges of fraud and graft, along with a financial downturn in the market in the 1870s, led to Allen selling Terrace Hill to the Hubbell family in 1884.

The grave markers of Ben Franklin Allen and his wife, Mary Arathusa Allen, reflect their much reduced circumstances at the time of their deaths. (Photo Source: State Historical Society of Iowa)

When Allen died in 1914 in Hollywood, Calif. (his stone incorrectly says 1912), he was barely scraping by. A friend had to buy Allen’s burial plot for him, right next to the plot of his wife, Arathusa, who died in 1874 (some say from the stress of losing their fortune). I did not see their markers myself but am using an online picture so you can see the simplicity of them.

I’ve barely gotten past the front gates so I’ll have much more to share next time about Woodland Cemetery.

Stopping by Saint James Church Cemetery: Uncovering More South Carolina Stories, Part II

Last week, I introduced you to Saint James Church’s cemetery on James Island, S.C. and shared stories about the Ellis and McLeod families. Today we’ll focus on the Cornish and Lawton families.

Many of the people I’ve recently profiled were wealthy landowners or planters. In the case of the Rev. Andrew Ernest Cornish, his life was devoted to the church and helping others rather than amassing an earthly fortune. There isn’t a lot of material written about him but from what I can ascertain, he was one of the busiest men in Charleston.

The Rev. Cornish was the son of a clergyman, the Rev. John Hamilton Cornish and Martha Jenkins Cornish. While the elder Rev. Cornish was a native of Massachusetts, Martha hailed from Edisto Island. I’m not sure how the two met. By the time Andrew was born in 1861, the elder Rev. Cornish and Martha were living in Barnwell, S.C.

The Rev. Andrew Ernest Cornish was in charge of Saint James Church in the late 1880s.

Andrew followed in his father and older brother Joseph’s footsteps in pursuing the ministry as his vocation. He obtained his degree at the University of the South in Suwanee, Tenn. in 1885. A few years later, he assumed the rectorship of a church in Graniteville, S.C.

Andrew may have met his future wife, Sarah Catherine Fairbanks, through her father, Major George Rainsford Fairbanks. Not only was Major Fairbanks an attorney and Civil War veteran, he was a prominent lay leader in the Episcopal Church. A native of Saint Augustine, Fla., Sarah married Andrew in 1889. By this time, he was already settled in Charleston as a city missionary. From orphans to sailors to widows to the poor, he was often drawn to helping those most in need.

Over the next few decades, the Rev. Cornish dedicated himself to a number of churches (the years often overlapped) and causes. He served as rector of Saint James Church sometime around the late 1880s when the new building was constructed. Part of that work involved ministering to sailors at Charleston’s Seamen’s Home, those that labored on “The Farm” on James Island, and children living at the Sheltering Arms Orphanage. In looking through almanacs and directories, I connected the Rev. Cornish to several other ministries in the Charleston area.

While he served in many churches and ministries over the years, the Rev. Cornish’ family chose to bury him at Saint James Church Cemetery.

After purchasing land on Morris Island where a lifesaving station and lighthouse existed, Andrew moved the orphanage from James Island. He did his best to make the orphanage self sufficient by collecting overripe produce from the Charleston docks in addition to picking up broken cookies/day-old baked goods that local bakeries discarded. The orphanage had a school for the children and Rev. Cornish led services for them on Thursdays.

Still acting as Charleston’s city missionary, the Rev. Cornish was rector at St. John’s Episcopal Chapel on Hanover Street from 1893 to 1907. He and Sarah had four children, who all lived long lives. Their son, George, served with much distinction in the military and attained the rank of colonel.

The Church of the Redeemer and Harriott Pinckney Home for Seamen was built in 1916. Her first name was a non-traditional spelling of “Harriet”. (Photo source: Preservation Society of Charleston web page)

His final post would be as pastor of the Church of the Redeemer and Harriott Pinckney Home for Seamen at 24 North Market Street, which still stands today (but not as a church). Sarah died in 1918 and Andrew died two years later in 1920 at the age of 58. While he had ministered to many in several places, they were buried together at Saint James Church Cemetery. One of their daughters, Sarah Cornish Crawford, is also buried there.

On the other side of the church is a Lawton family plot, headed by patriarch Winborn Wallace Lawton, Jr. Altogether, there are 16 Lawtons buried at Saint James Church Cemetery and the family has deep roots in the South. This plot is surrounded by a fence that has no gate. Since I’m not even five feet tall, I couldn’t climb over it and thus, was unable to photograph all the graves.

The Lawton family plot is dominated by the monument for Winborn Wallace Lawton, Jr. and his second wife, Martha.

I believe Winborn Jr.’s father, Winborn Sr., was descended from Captain William Lawton, a native of Cheshire, England, who owned a plantation on Edisto Island. Married three times, the last name of one of his wives was Winborn. A memorial monument is erected at the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Cemetery in his honor, but he is buried at the Lawton-Seabrook Cemetery, which is still being cared for by Lawton descendants today. Captain Lawton died in October 1757, having amassed quite a fortune.

Born in 1782, Winborn Wallace Jr. was the son of Winborn Wallace Sr. and Mary Frampton. Winborn Jr. first married Margaret McLeod Frampton around 1805 and had at least five children. Margaret died in 1830 at the age of 44. I did not see her marker but there is a picture of it on Find a Grave, leaning against the side of the church. It may be in need of repair. He married Martha Waring Hughes that same year. Together, they would have at least five children.

Winford Lawton, Jr.’s mother, Mary Frampton Lawton, died in 1837.

In 1848, Winborn Jr. purchased the Heyward-Cuthbert House on James Island along with the 50 acres it is situated on. The house was originally built around 1740 and is considered by some to be the oldest house on the island that is still standing. After that, it was known as Lawton Plantation or Lawton’s Bluff.

Next to the monument of Winborn Lawton Jr. and his second wife, Martha, is the grave of their grandson, St. John Alison Lawton.

Martha died in 1856 and Winborn Jr. died in 1861. In his detailed will, he was quite generous to his children and grandchildren. I suspect that Winborn Jr. had learned a valuable lesson when his father, Winborn Sr., died intestate in 1809 with no will. This resulted in lengthy court proceedings that took time to sort out.

Also in the Lawton plot is the monument for Winborn Wallace Lawton III and his wife, Cecilia Lawton Lawton (yes, her maiden name was Lawton). Born in 1837, Winborn III was Winborn Jr.’s eldest son by his second wife, Martha. He served in the 10th Regiment of the South Carolina Infantry during the Civil War. He married Cecilia in 1864.

Winborn III and Cecilia would have four children but only one would survive. The first, Robert, was born in 1866 and lived only 18 months. He is buried in Lawtonville Cemetery in Estill, S.C. St. John Alison Lawton was born in 1869 and lived into adulthood, dying in 1947. He is buried beside Winborn Jr. and Martha’s monument.

Only one of the four children of Winborn Wallace Lawton III and Cecilia Lawton Lawton lived to adulthood.

A single marker of twin lambs was made for Winborn III and Cecilia’s last two children. I have seen many lamb markers for children over the years, occasionally one with two lambs. But this has to be the largest one I’ve ever seen before or since.

Infant mortality was high in the 1800s so parents were often fatalistic about the deaths of their children.

Cecilia was born in 1871 and died on Dec. 7, 1876 at the age of five. Herbert Singleton Lawton was born in March 1874 and died on Dec. 2, 1876, just five days before his sister. Both children died of diphtheria, a common illness that was often fatal in that time.

Winborn III died at the age of 69 in 1906 of “inanition” and “syncope”, which would be poor nutritional health and possibly a heart condition of some kind. Syncope was rarely the leading cause of death. Cecilia died in 1923 of cancer.

Finally, as an example of never knowing whom you might find in a cemetery, I present the grave marker of Jean “Jane” Scott Stiles. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Stiles and Hinson families buried at James Island Presbyterian Church’s cemetery. I mentioned that Martha Stiles Hinson’s father was Benjamin Stiles. Martha’s mother was his first wife, Sarah Staples Stiles, who died when Martha was about 10.

I had forgotten that Benjamin remarried in 1785 to Jane Scott (age 38) when he was 55. I don’t think they had any children.

I was surprised to find the second wife of Benjamin Stiles buried at Saint James Church Cemetery and not at the cemetery at Stiles Point Plantation.

First wife Sarah Staples Stiles is buried with Benjamin at the family cemetery at Stiles Point Plantation on James Island. But second wife Jane Scott Stiles is buried near her brother, Archibald Scott, and her nephew, Archibald Henry John Scott, at Saint James Cemetery. She died in February 1823 at the age of 75.

Why she is not buried with Benjamin at Stiles Point Plantation Cemetery is unknown, but it was a pleasant surprise to find her at Saint James Church Cemetery.

I could write much more about this cemetery but I think it’s time to move on. I’m not sure which cemetery I’ll be writing about next, it could be in Alabama, Iowa or Montana. But I promise wherever I go, I’ll take you with me.

The Dill family plot at Saint James Church Cemetery.

Stopping by Saint James Church Cemetery: Uncovering More South Carolina Stories, Part I

About two miles from the James Island Presbyterian Church’s (S.C.) cemeteries is Saint James Church on Camp Road. It is a large church and the cemetery not only surrounds the main chapel building but continues into the back as well. Find a Grave has ore than 400 memorials recorded for it currently.

The front of Saint James Church.

According to the Saint James Church web site, in the early 1700s, the original Anglican congregation met as a “chapel of ease” in a house with the rector of Saint Andrew’s Parish, the Rev. William Guy. In his report of August 1, 1722, plans for the building of a chapel were mentioned. That chapel was probably completed in that year, but the parish went into disuse several times over those early years. The first was during the American Revolution when it appears there was no priest from 1773 to 1787.

After the Revolutionary War, the Rev. Thomas Mills came as a minister of St. Andrews. He preached at St. Andrew’s Chapel of Ease on James Island once a month. The third chapel building was completed just as Rev. Mills’ tenure began in 1787.

Saint James Church is located on busy Camp Road.

Between 1839 and 1842, Stiles Mellichamp (whom I mentioned in last week’s post) rose to be a liturgical and spiritual lay leader on the Island. Freshly ordained, the Rev. Mellichamp (1842-1851, 1853-1863) took Saint James as his first church. He preached three or four times each Sunday to both white and black congregations.

In 1862, services were discontinued during the Civil War when all communicants of Saint James left the island. The church was destroyed by fire in 1864 unrelated to the war and services were held in the Presbyterian church after everyone returned. From 1864 to 1897, few services were held. However, in 1898, Saint James Church was organized as a mission again and a Gothic-style church was built. The current church building was constructed in 1960.

While Camp Road is quite busy and a little noisy, when you start walking around the buildings into the cemetery, it becomes quite peaceful among the Spanish-moss laden trees. Two small markers caught my attention right away because they were made of wood. It’s almost unheard of for wooden markers to survive past a few decades because of their fragile nature and weather conditions over time.

I learned from a news article that during the Civil War, all of Saint James Church’s records were taken up to Winnsboro, S.C. Alas, Sherman went through Winnsboro and burned everything up there, so the church lost all records prior to 1860. So while we don’t know who these markers are for, they are still intact.

The identities of the two people for whom these wooden markers were made are unknown.

I noticed several graves for the Ellis and McLeod families nearby. Dr. Daniel Wadsworth Ellis, son of Dr. William DeLoach Ellis and Susan Emily Hay Ellis, was born in Barnwell, S.C. in 1853. His older brother, William, fought for the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was a prisoner of war near the end. Upon his release, he eventually moved to Atlanta to pursue a law career, becoming a prominent judge there. He and their mother, Susan, are both buried in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.

Dr. Ellis got his medical degree from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1888. But before that he married Rena McLeod in Charleston sometime around 1881. Of their three children, Rose, Annie and Reginald, only their eldest, Rose, would survive into adulthood.

Born in October 1883, Annie Ellis died at the age of two on January 3, 1886.

Born Nov. 18, 1885, Reginald Ellis was 10 months old when he died on October 3, 1886.

It was the birth of Reginald on Nov. 18, 1885 that led to the death of his mother, Rena. She died on the same day.

Rena McLeod Ellis died at the age of 29th after the birth of her third child.

Rena was the daughter of William Wallace McLeod and Susan Lawton McLeod, who married sometime before 1848. Born in 1820, William was the son of Robert McLeod and Mary Mikell McLeod. He acquired what became McLeod Plantation from William McKenzie Parker II in 1851, a vast property of nearly 1,000 acres with many slaves on Wappoo Creek on James Island.

The house William built on it was used as a Confederate field hospital during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, then as camp quarters for the black Union troops of the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Volunteers in 1865. The house, slave quarters, and grounds are now owned and maintained by the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission.

The McLeod Plantation house, slave quarters, and grounds are now owned and maintained by the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission. (Photo source: Traveler of Charleston magazine)

Rena’s mother, Susan Lawton McLeod, died in 1859 at the age of 37. She is buried to the right of her husband William Wallace McLeod’s cenotaph.

Susan Lawton McLeod died in 1859 at the age of 38.

After Susan died in 1859, William remarried to Martha Styles Royall in 1860. She was 24 at the time of their marriage. Sadly, she died on August 8, 1861.

Martha Stiles Royall McLeod was the second wife of William Wallace McLeod.

William enlisted in the Confederate Army in March 1862 at Grahamville, S.C. He was mustered as a private in Company K, 4th South Carolina Cavalry. Records indicate that from March 1 to August 31, 1864 he was was detailed at a regimental hospital as Assistant Commissary on July 17, 1864. He is thought to have died in February 1865. A cenotaph was erected in his honor at St. James Church’s cemetery as his final resting place is unknown. It is situated between his wives’ grave markers.

William Wallace McLeod’s final resting place is unknown.

One of William and Susan Lawton McLeod’s children is buried beside her. I include her marker because of the sad little angel face at the top of it. It was carved by prominent Charleston carver, W.T. White. Margaret was Rena McLeod Ellis’ sister.

There is no birth or death date on Margaret McLeod’s marker. We only know that she was eight years and eight months old when she died.

Let me go back to Dr. Ellis. After Rena died, he remarried in 1890 to Mary Seabrook Rivers. She was the daughter of Elias Lynch Rivers and Cornelia Rivers, who are both buried at James Island Presbyterian Church cemetery. Dr. Ellis and Mary had three children who all lived to adulthood, including Daniel Wadsworth Ellis, Jr., who became a doctor like his father. Dr. Ellis Sr. died in 1928 at the age of 75. Mary, died in 1937 at the age of 67.

At the bottom right is the grave of Dr. Daniel Wadsworth Ellis. His second wife, Mary, is buried to his left. To her left is their first child, Katherine Rivers Ellis Dickson.

We’ve got more ground to cover at Saint James Church’s cemetery, including some folks with ties to families previously featured in this blog from James Island Presbyterian Church’s cemeteries.

Exploring James Island Presbyterian Church’s Cemeteries: On the Other Side of the Azalea Bushes, Part III

I’m finishing up my series today on the James Island (South Carolina) Presbyterian Church cemeteries.

Beside the Robert Rivers Bee Jr. family plot is the Stiles-Hinson plot. You may recall that Robert Jr. was married to Martha Stiles Hinson, daughter of Juliana Bee Rivers Hinson and Joseph Benjamin Hinson Jr. As I told you last week, there was quite a bit of “cross pollination” between the Bee and Rivers families. The Hinsons were also a part of that mix.

This is the Stiles-Hinson plot at James Island Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

Joseph Hinson Jr.’s father was Captain Joseph Hinson Sr., born in 1772 in South Carolina. The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston has a miniature portrait of him. A ship’s captain, Hinson traveled the route between the Carolinas, England and Bermuda. He married Martha Stiles in April 1797. Together, they had three children that included Joseph Jr.

Captain Joseph Hinson Sr. died at sea in 1801. (Photo source: The Gibbes Museum of Art)

At 29, he was presumed lost at sea in 1801 so he has no grave site. That left Martha a relatively young widow at the age of 26. She remarried in 1805 to William Godber and they had a son, William Stiles Godber. This would be Joseph Jr.’s half brother.

I don’t know when William Godber died (he is not buried with his family and he has no memorial on Find a Grave) but Martha died on Dec. 5, 1846 and William Stiles Godber died a few days later on Dec. 10, 1846. It’s possible another yellow fever plague was ravaging Charleston/James Island at the time. Both Martha and William (her son) are buried in the Stiles Family Cemetery at Stiles Point Plantation on James Island. Stiles Point Plantation was owned by Martha’s father, Benjamin Stiles. You’ll here more about this later.

Joseph Hinson Jr., born in 1801, married Juliana Bee Rivers and they had eight children together. Joseph was a successful planter and did well. They are both buried at JIPC’s cemetery. Joseph’s monument is rather plain compared that that of his wife.

Joseph Hinson Jr.’s monument notes that he was “born and died at Stiles Point.” He was 80 when he died.

Juliana would die in 1870 at the age of 63. Her cross monument is bolstered by a base that resembles a rock with a vine or branch growing up through it.

Juliana Bee Rivers Hinson was the daughter of Henry Sterling Rivers. You can see her husband’s monument behind hers.

There’s something interesting about Juliana’s cross that bears mentioning. I tell people not to only photograph the front of a monument. Look at every side if you can because there may be an epitaph or even the record of another person inscribed there. This was true for Juliana.

Juliana Hinson’s epitaph is brief.

It reads:

Her Virtues We Forebear
To Tell, They Are
Registered In Heaven.

In other words, her good qualities are so numerous that we can’t list them all here in this rather small space.

Joseph and Juliana’s son William Godber Hinson is someone I did find a good deal of information about. Born in 1838, William served in the Confederate Army in the Rutledge Mounted Rifleman and Horse Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant and was wounded three times in the line of duty. Family history says he was almost killed when his horse was shot and fell on him.

William Godber Hinson, who reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was wounded three different times during the Civil War. (Photo source: “James Island”, editing by Carolyn Ackerly Bonstelle and Geordie Buxton)

The Charleston Museum has in its collection a detailed 1887 map of James Island drawn by Robert Eliot Mellichamp, whose father was the Rev. Stiles Melilchamp. On the back of the map is a document called “Sketch of James Island” that was written by William Godber Hinson, which I’ve added a link to above in case you want to read it.

On the back of this map of James Island was written the document “Sketch of James Island” by William Godber Hinson. (Photo source: The Charleston Museum web page.)

The document contains not only the history of James Island (from Hinson’s point of view) but mentions items of agricultural, historical and archaeological interest. Names of property owners are included. It’s quite a historical gem, all things considered.

After the war, William returned to James Island. He inherited Stiles Point Plantation from his uncle, William Godber, for whom he was named. He became a successful planter, a community leader, and a well-read scholar. His death certificate indicates he never married.

One interesting point I’d like to share is what William did to the Stiles-Hinson House at Stiles Point Plantation. Originally built in 1742 by his paternal grandfather Benjamin Stiles, William added the 1891 portion of the house and continued to keep the plantation active until the early years of the 20th century. The back-to-back arrangement of a relatively unaltered 18th-century cottage and a late 19th century Victorian mansion is most unusual and unique in that area.

Three different views of the Stiles-Hinson House at Stiles Point Plantation. The one on the bottom right shows where the two houses were attached.

According to the 1973 National Register of Historic Places application, despite their “wedded interior”, the exterior of both houses are characteristic of their respective historic periods. The Stiles portion of the house is an example of a mid-18th century planter’s house, with a modified bell-cast gambrel roof, projecting shed dormers, and the double shouldered brick chimneys. The structure is one-and-a-half stories and rests on a low foundation.

The Hinson house is a Victorian structure with a high ceiling, bracketed cornices, a mansard roof, and wooden balustrades. This addition is two-and-a-half stories and is supported by low brick piers above a partial basement.

Today, the Stiles-Hinson House is situated among three, four and five-bedroom single-family properties that range from $480,000 to $1.5 million that were built on Stiles Point Plantation land. It’s definitely a well-heeled neighborhood.

Although he has no descendants, William Godber Hinson made his mark on James Island history.

William spent the rest of his days at Stiles-Hinson House, as did his father, Joseph B. Hinson, Jr., and a number of other family members over the years. His agricultural expertise made him a sought-after resource on James Island, helping to found the James Island Agricultural Society in 1872. He died in 1919.

Private Stiles Mellichamp Hinson died in a Richmond, Va. hospital in April 1864. (Photo source: “James Island”, editing by edited by Carolyn Ackerly Bonstelle and Geordie Buxton)

The Stiles-Hinson plot also includes another of Joseph and Juliana’s children. Born in 1836, Stiles Melichamp Hinson was recruited to serve with Company A of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen and Horse Artillery. On July 1, 1862, he enlisted as a private into this command for the duration of the war. His unit would officially become known as Company B, 7th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry. His brother, William, served in the same unit.

Stiles Hinson’s marker bears the same South Carolina palmetto and flags as that of his brother, William Godber Hinson.

During a skirmish at Fussell’s Mill, Va. in August 1864, Stiles received “a gunshot wound thru the right arm … the ball passing in [his] body lodging” next to his spine. Receiving treatment at General Hospital Number 9 in Richmond, Va., it was a wound he would not survive. He died on August 15, 1864 and was buried at JIPC Cemetery. He was 28 years old.

Finally, I’d like to include another Hinson sibling. Her monument is the largest in the Stiles-Hinson plot and was carved by W.T. White, whose work was well known in Charleston. It is a tall column with the stop broken off, indicating a life cut short.

Born in 1833, Sarah Rivers Hinson married bookkeeper Paul States Lee Lockwood on March 20, 1856 at the age of 23. She gave birth to their daughter, Sarah Pauline Rivers Lockwood, on August 22, 1857.

Sarah Rivers Hinson Lockwood was only 24 when she died.

Sarah died only six months later on Feb. 28, 1858. According to Paul’s will, it appears that he sent Sarah Pauline to live with her grandparents, Joseph and Martha Stiles Hinson, then moved to Mobile, Ala. to be near a brother. In 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. Paul Lockwood would die in July 1862, serving in the Third Alabama Infantry.

Sarah Pauline lived well into adulthood, married John Mikell and died in 1933. She is buried at the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island Cemetery. Paul Lockwood’s burial site is unknown.

I’ve got one more cemetery to show you before leaving James Island. I hope you’ll come back for that journey.

Exploring James Island Presbyterian Church’s Cemeteries: On the Other Side of the Azalea Bushes, Part II

In my last post, we spent some time wandering through the Burn Church Cemetery of James Island Presbyterian Church (JIPC). Let’s walk between the azaleas bushes to see the other cemetery of the church. To be blunt, this was originally known as the “white” section because that was who it was for. It is now open to all.

This walkway is the main path through the JIPC cemetery.

According to Find a Grave, there are about 420 recorded burials here. I’m sure there are more unmarked that haven’t been noted. Some stones are impossible to read. But a number reveal the history of those who were among the first white residents of James Island and Charleston.

Three of the oldest markers at JIPC’s cemetery belong to the Witter family. The son of Quaker parents, James Witter was born in 1736. He married Jane Manigault and we know had at least one child, Samuel, because he is buried beside them. He was born in September 1764 and died in October 1766.

The graves of the Witter family are among the oldest in the cemetery.

James Witter’s marker is in good condition considering its age. It features the winged face or “soul effigy” that was so popular at the time. You can see dozens of these in cemeteries throughout Charleston.

James Witter lived to the age of 58 and died on August 18, 1794.

I had a difficult time reading the epitaph on James Witter’s marker but I think I managed to figure it out. I have typed it as it is spelled, including the errors:

Come to this grave each friend and drop a tear,
Bedew his memry, with a grief sincere:
Forget him not tho he lies under ground.
But let his worth on every tongue resound.
To thee, O stone, we recommend this dust,
Commanding the in faith to keep thy trust.
Take, take this body and secure entomb
Until the day of resurrection come.

Jane Witter died in 1802, eight years after her husband.

James died in 1794 and while records indicate he did not leave a will, his estate appears to have passed directly to Jane. She has her own stone with an epitaph I attempted to write out. Hers was even harder to make out. The style indicates it was probably written by the same person who did her husband’s epitaph. The question marks are the words I could not figure out.

Reader approach and ? the cold remains
Of her who was beloved this tomb contains
With every worth the dignified her life
The tender Mother and the virtuous wife
Long since her spirit fought, her kindred ?
And here in ? her ? relics lie
While on this shore her children speak her worth
And with there tears bedew the hallowed earth.

Two surnames that you’ll see a lot in this cemetery are Bee and Rivers. And the two “cross pollinated” quite often. The son of William Bee and Keziah Rivers Bee, Robert Rivers Bee Sr. was born in 1799. He married Mary Flora Morrison on Feb. 4, 1830.

Little is known about Robert Rivers Bee Sr., who married Mary Flora Morrison in 1830.

A tragic marker stands beside the obelisk shared by Robert and Mary that records the deaths of four of their children. Robert William Rivers lived only nine months, having died in June 1832. It is my guess that he was their firstborn. The marker notes that three other children, Julia Adeline (5), Kezia (2), and John (11 months), all died within 10 days of each other with a date of August 6, 1838. I don’t know exactly what killed them but 1838 marked a yellow fever epidemic in Charleston, so that may have been the culprit.

Robert and Mary Rivers would lose three children within 10 days of each other.

Robert and Mary’s four other children did live past childhood. Born in 1846, Sandiford was their youngest child. At the age of 16, he enlisted on December 29, 1862 as a private in the 27th Regiment of the South Carolina Infantry, Company D (also known as the Sumter Guards).

The 27th is often called Gaillard’s Regiment, named after Col. Peter Charles Gaillard. It was a consolidation of the Charleston Infantry Battalion and the First South Carolina Battalion Sharpshooters. The unit was assigned to General Hagood’s Brigade.

The exact cause of Sandiford Bee’s death during the Civil War is unknown but it was likely from either disease or wounds received in combat.

The 27th served at Fort Sumter, then moved to Virginia. Here it participated in the conflicts at Drewry’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, and took its place in the Petersburg trenches. The Second Battle of Weldon Railroad took place in August 1864, with the 27th losing two men in battle, 22 wounded and 71 missing.

Sandiford died on Oct. 6, 1864 in Sumter, S.C. I suspect he may have been one of the many wounded or ill soldiers from Weldon Railroad. Mary, his mother, died only six days later on Oct. 10, 1864. Having lost four children in childhood to illness, it must have been quite a blow to lose her youngest from wounds received in combat. Robert St. died in April 1865.

In a nearby plot, you can find another one of Robert Sr. and Mary’s sons, Robert Rivers Bee Jr. and his family. He was born in 1839 and married his first wife, Martha Stiles Hinson. The only occupation I have ever found for him was in 1902 as a “rice shipper”.

This is the Robert Rivers Bee Jr. family plot.

Robert’s grave has a CSA (Confederate States of America) marker on it but I’m not exactly sure which unit he served in. He may have been in the 7th Regiment of the South Carolina Cavalry or Trenholm’s Company, Rutledge Mounted Riflemen and Horse Artillery, South Carolina.

The grave of Mary Julia Bee, who was the daughter of Robert Bee Jr. and his second wife, Mary Julia Lockwood Bee, is in the back left of the photo.

There are three small markers with a single flower in the Robert Bee Jr. plot that only say “Our Baby 1861” then years “1868′ and “1870”. I don’t know their names. The only child of Robert and Martha that I know of that lived beyond childhood is Sandiford Bee, who was born in 1866 and died at the age of 63.

One of the children of Robert Rivers Bell Jr. and Martha Stiles Hinson Bee.

Martha died on July 5, 1870. I don’t know if this was before or after the death of the infant whose grave is marked 1870. It’s possible Martha died giving birth to this child.

Martha Stiles Hinson Bee may have died in childbirth in 1870.

Robert Jr. remarried to Mary Julia Lockwood and they also had several children. Two daughters, Mary and Martha, both lived long lives. A son, Robert St. Clair Bee, was born in 1878 but only lived to the age of 3.

One marker presents a mystery that someone may have the answer to. It is for two  children, J.B. and Rob. There are no birth or death dates, only how long they lived. Neither child appears on any census records I found. I am fairly sure they are the children of Robert Jr. and Mary Julia (not Martha) but beyond that, I know nothing more about them. It may have been another epidemic that caused their demise.

No exact birth or death dates are on these children’s marker.

The carving of the sheep at the top is particularly skillful, I think.

Two little lambs for two little boys.

Mary Julia died in 1916 while Robert Jr. died in 1918 of chronic nephritis (kidney disease).

Next time, we’ll finish up by exploring the Stiles-Hinson plot.

Exploring James Island Presbyterian Church’s Cemeteries: The Burned Church and Gershwin’s Inspiration for “Porgy and Bess”, Part I

I’m still in South Carolina but this week, we’re exploring a different part of the Sea Islands that edge the state’s shore.

I’ve mentioned before that every summer, my in-laws invite us to join them for a week at Folly Beach. Folly Island is located in front of James and John Islands. We drive through James Island to get to Folly Beach and located on the main road is James Island Presbyterian Church (JIPC).

It wasn’t until last summer that I explored the cemetery (or rather cemeteries) in front of JIPC. I didn’t know I’d be encountering the grave of the man who inspired one of Gershwin’s most famous musicals.

James Island Presbyterian Church was founded sometime around 1706 by the Rev. Archibald Stobo (who came to America from Darien, Scotland in 1699) with land donated by hatmaker Johnathan Drake. The first church building was erected in 1724 but it burned down during the Revolutionary War period.

The current James Island Presbyterian Church building was erected in 1910. This is just the front entrance.

The second building also burned down, supposedly due to an accidental fire during the Civil War, and was replaced by a simple wooden building. That’s when it earned the name “the Burned Church”. This third building was torn down and the current Gothic Revival structure built in 1910, with an addition put on in the 1950s.

JIPC actually has two cemeteries separated by a line of azalea bushes. The larger cemetery (in terms of space) closest to the road is the cemetery that was dedicated to black burials when slaves were members of the church. In 1853, over 200 of the church’s membership was black. In fact, James Island was predominantly black until after the turn of the century with about 150 whites and over 4,000 African-Americans in 1914.

After the Civil War, freed blacks built their own church nearby but continued to bury their loves ones at what is sometimes referred to as the “Burn Church Cemetery” at JIPC. I saw burials as recent as the 2000s so it is still an active cemetery.

Although black members of James Island Presbyterian Church built their own church after the Civil War, they continued to bury their dead in the Burn Church Cemetery.

On the other side of the hedge is the official JIPC cemetery, which was for white members in the church’s earlier days but is now open to all members of any race. I’ll get to that side of the azalea hedge next week.

One of the very first stones I saw in the Burn Church Cemetery was fairly new from 1986, erected for an impoverished man who died in 1924. His name was Samuel Smalls but he was better known as “Goat” or “Goat Cart Smalls” because he got around Charleston in a goat-drawn cart due to his physical disabilities. It’s said he sold peanut cakes from his cart. Smalls was known to hang out at a gambling spot on Charleston Neck called the Bull Pen, where he shot craps while his goat faithful waited outside.

Samuel “Goat” Smalls probably suffered from polio, making it nearly impossible for him to walk. He and his goat-drawn cart weres well known around Charleston.

Playwright DuBose Heyward read about Smalls in a News & Courier article recounting Smalls’ arrest after he’d tried to shoot a woman. The police caught Smalls after he and his goat led them on a chase down several alleys. This article is said to have inspired Heyward to base the character of Porgy on Smalls in his novel “Porgy and Bess” that was published after Smalls died in 1925.

Act 1 Scene 1 of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” performed at the Colonial Theater in Boston, Mass. in September 1935. (Photo source: The Charleston Museum web site.)

DuBose and his wife, Dorothy, turned his novel into a play that debuted in 1928 at the Guild Theater in New York with an all African-American cast. But it was George Gershwin’s musical based on Heyward’s novel that debuted in Boston in 1935 that truly got the world’s attention. I learned that after two attempts to desegregate the Dock Street Theater, the opera would not be performed in Charleston until 1970.

Samuel “Goat” Smalls finally got his own grave marker in 1986.

Smalls, who was born on James Island, was buried in an unmarked grave at the Burn Church Cemetery. It wasn’t until 1986 that a marker was made and placed in his honor. It is close to the edge of the JIPC parking lot and easy to find.

As I’ve found in a number of African-American cemeteries, the markers at Burn Church Cemetery encompass a mix of styles. The older slave graves are not marked, the wooden crosses used decades ago long since gone. But you can see some other marker styles and epitaphs unique to this cemetery. I also discovered dates that often didn’t match death certificates.

The marker for Henry Graham is a good example of the rustic styles I saw. Born in 1884 on James Island to Ben Graham and Susan Harker Graham, he was married to Florence Brown Graham. They had at least two children according to the 1920 U.S. Census.

The font of the words inscribed on Henry Graham’s marker can be found on several at Burn Church Cemetery.

At the time of his death in 1926, Henry was a cook at the U.S. Quarantine Station located at Fort Johnson on James Island. Starting in 1922, the facility was used for ships entering Charleston. The buildings are now owned by the Medical University of South Carolina but a 2016 news report indicated MUSC wanted them torn down due to their poor condition.

The “K of P” written at the top of Henry’s marker indicates he was a member of the Knights of Pythias, the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who was inspired by a play by Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor, and friendship that are the center of the order.

I saw a number of other markers with the same font style and the anchor entangled in a vine at the top. The anchor often indicates a strong faith in Christ. Hebrews 6:9 refers to it as “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”.

Henry’s marker also features a beautiful epitaph:

Another Link is Broken
In Our Household Band
But a Chain is Forming
In a Better Land

Joe Gilliard’s grave marker is almost exactly the same, including the epitaph. The death date recorded on it is May 25, 1925 but his death certificate says 1924. Both his marker and death certificate show he was born in 1826. The son of Cuffie and Alice Gilliard, Joe was probably born into slavery and spent his life on James Island.

Having lived to almost 100 years old, Joe Gilliard died of tuberculosis in 1924.

Nancy Fludd Washington’s marker has the same font (type style) but the decoration at the top is simpler. Oddly, her death certificate has her birth year as 1884 when it is actually 1871 on her marker. She died at the age of 60 from a heart ailment.

Nancy Fludd Washington’s sons are buried near her but her husband, William, appears to be buried elsewhere or has an unmarked grave.

Nancy’s son Jessie James Washington has a much more rustic stone. Born in 1911, he died of pneumonia in 1947 on New Year’s Eve.

Jessie James William died at the age of 38 from pneumonia.

Finally, I’d like to include the grave of Irene Chavis Gilliard. She was the daughter of Paul and Betsy Matthews Chavis and spent her life on James Island. She died of influenza in 1949. Her grand-nephew, Eugene Frazier, recalled that on the day she died the family learned that her sister, Alice Chavis McNeal, had also passed away.

Irene Chavis Gilliard’s grand-nephew remembers when she sold vegetables in downtown Charleston from a pushcart.

Oddly, her death certificate (which misspelled her last name as “Galliard”) indicates she was born in 1905 but her crudely etched marker says 1895, as does her grand-nephew’s book “A History of James Island Slave Descendants & Plantation Owners: The Bloodline” published in 2010.

Next time, we’ll peek over the azalea hedge and explore the JIPC cemetery.