This is not a game most people play, but if you’re a cemetery hopper like me, it comes up more often than you might think. It’s called Guess Who’s in the Mausoleum.
While doing research on Forest Hills Cemetery’s mausoleums, I found myself eye-deep in this game. That’s understandable because they’re locked up and it’s sometimes difficult to see inside. As I did last week, I had to use Forest Hills’ online records (which includes pictures of the actual ledgers with details on who was put where and when). It was fascinating to read the notes.
The figure on the door of the Price mausoleum has an Art Deco feel but from what I could figure out from the records, the mausoleum wasn’t completed until June 1953. Some Prices who’d died earlier were disinterred from their graves and moved into the mausoleum at that time. I was curious to learn who made it inside.
Born in 1840, Dr. Samuel Vance Price was a native of Tennessee who spent his adult years in Walker County, Ga. He married Sarah Jane Bonds a few years before serving in the Confederate Army. Together, they had 12 children and only one died in infancy.
The Doctor Meets a Violent End
Dr. Price’s life was cut short at the age of 45 after he presented a bill to a patient, named William Powell. According to a Jan. 26, 1886 newspaper article, “Powell was shot in the abdomen and Price’s skull was crushed with a billet of wood. Both are fatally injured.”
Dr. Price died about a month later on February 27 and is buried at Garmany Memorial Gardens in Walker County, Ga. Sarah did not remarry but lived another 40 years, dying in 1926. She is buried at Forest Hills but not in the Price mausoleum.
Some of the brothers remained in the North Georgia/Tennessee area, but three headed west to (then) Oklahoma territory and two married Native American brides. The youngest of the Price children, Paul, met a tragic end. He married and divorced, running a pool hall in Chattanooga in his final years. He committed suicide at the age of 47 in 1932. He is buried at Forest Hills in Section K with his mother, Sarah.
Second son Samuel Sterling Price, who married Lula Hixson in 1896, was operating a saloon in Chattanooga by 1900. His mother, a sister and two brothers (one of who helped him in the saloon) were also living with them.
A Young Life Cut Short
Sam did well, operating as a liquor dealer in his later years, having four children with Lula. Their youngest son, James died in 1925 at the age of 18 while attending the Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater. He and his classmates were on the firing range when a student accidentally discharged his weapon, striking and killing James. Sam died in 1948 at the age of 86 and Lula died in 1958 at the age of 82.
So who actually rests in the Price museum? Inside are Samuel S. Price, his wife, Lula, his sons, James, Henry, and Charles, and Charles’ wife, Elsie. I did find it interesting that after the mausoleum was built in 1953 that his mother, Sarah, was not moved inside. When his unmarried sister, Fannie, died in 1959, she was buried with their mother, Sarah, and brother, Paul, in Section K. My guess is that there simply wasn’t enough room.
A Look Through the Glass
In the case of the Wills mausoleum, there are only two occupants. I figured that out by looking through the door. William Frederick Wills and his wife, Eva “Elsie” Wills are interred within. He was an auto parts supplier and later worked in finance. Elsie died in 1965 in Chattanooga and William died in 1970 in Florida. Census records don’t indicate they had any children.
The outside of the Wills mausoleum has some beautiful scroll work on the doors. But when you look inside those doors, you can see that the stained glass looks quite a lot like the Price mausoleum but Jesus is praying in the opposite direction. Even the Bible verse at the base of the glass are the same. It’s highly possible they were made by the same company.
Despite their immigrant origins, the Scholze family had deep roots in Chattanooga. Wilhelm Robert Scholze, born in 1843 in Germany, emigrated to America with his family to Pittsburgh, Pa. He and his bride, Anna, operated a dairy before opening a tannery in Chattanooga. His brothers, Ernst and Julius, ran other businesses nearby, including a soap factory, an ice plant and a packing house.
Pillar of the St. Elmo Community
Robert and Anna had five children together and the business prospered. He was known as a generous employer and once quietly purchased a debt-laden Lutheran church about to be auctioned off, giving it to the congregation as a gift. He was also one of the St. Elmo schools’ directors, often helping financially.
Robert died on April 7, 1907, as he and his son, George, pulled out of their driveway, and their horse bolted. Robert was thrown from the buggy into a telephone pole. He died that evening of a ruptured blood vessel in his head. He was 63 years old. Anna died 30 years later in 1937 at the age of 91. Robert and Anna are buried next to each other at Forest Hills.
In his will, Scholze left the tannery and saddlery his five children. In 1931, a fire destroyed the tannery so George Scholze bought out the other shares and continued to manage it until he died in 1947. His son, George Scholze Jr., assumed control. The tannery ceased production in 1987, and the buildings were demolished.
The Scholze mausolseum has its own unique look, with four columns and seating on each side of it.
George Scholze and his wife, Elizabeth Windsor Scholze, had two children, Nell and George Jr. Nell was much loved by her parents and they were devastated when she died at the age of 24 in 1931 from a bowel obstruction. She was buried at Forest Hills.
George died on March 8, 1947 from coronary issues. According to cemetery records, his body was placed in the “public receiving vault” until the mausoleum was completed in July 1947. If this vault is located at Forest Hills, I did not see it. Daughter Nell’s remains were also moved into the mausoleum at that time.
When George’s wife, Elizabeth, died in 1951, she was also placed in the mausoleum. The other occupants are the first wife of George Jr., Virginia Reeves Scholze, who died in 1963. George Jr. died in 1972 and is also interred there. His second wife, Maurine Davis Schulze, died in 1982 and was placed in the last vacant crypt in the mausoleum.
Struck by Lightning
The outside of the Miller mausoleum isn’t particularly impressive but peeking inside, I saw a beautiful angel on the stained glass window. I also saw a bottle of Windex and a broom but oddly enough, I see a lot of those in mausoleums (including gangster Sam Giancana’s in Chicago).
I learned that Mike, a native American, was born in Oklahoma in 1896. He married Annie Williams and they lived in Chattanooga. He died on August 27, 1941 when he was struck by lightning. I could find nothing else about his death. He was buried at Forest Hills but according to records, the family mausoleum was completed in September 1962. His remains were then moved into it.
I was guessing that Annie must have died that same year but she actually passed away in Texas in 1966. Only she and Mike are interred within the mausoleum.
The last mausoleum I’m going to talk about today is the Milne mausoleum. Older than the others, it has a special charm to it.
Thanks to Harmon Jolley, I learned a lot about Walter Scott Milne. A native of Ontario, Canada born in 1864, Walter purchased the Cleveland Chair Company in Cleveland, Tenn.) in its fourth year of operation in 1893. He renamed it the Milne Chair Company. After a fire at the factory, Walter moved the operation to Chattanooga and built a new one on 35 acres in the Avondale community. He boasted in a Chattanooga Times advertisement that his factory was “the most modern electrically-equipped chair factory south of the Ohio River.”
At the factory opening in 1913, Walter’s daughter, Margaret, turned the switch to activate power throughout the plant. Guests were given chair spindles as souvenirs.
Walter married fellow Canadian Mary Butland in 1894 and together they had five daughters. Walter died after an extended illness in 1924 and the business was put in the hands of a son-in-law and a brother to manage but both died in the 1940s. The business closed in May 1951, and the auction of the Milne property included brick buildings totaling 245,000 square feet of space and 34 acres.
When Walter died in November 1924, his body was placed in a temporary mausoleum at Forest Hills (I could not make out the name) until the Milne mausoleum was completed in September 1925. When wife Mary died in 1961, she joined him.
The other occupants are eldest daughter, Sterling Milne Morrison, who died in June 1961 shortly before her mother. Sterling’s husband, Hal Morrison, died in 1949 and is interred within. Daughter Mary Milne Holton, who died in 1975, and her husband, William Holton, who died in 2000, are also inside. Daughter Margaret Milne Record, and her husband W.D.L. Record, died within about a month of each other in 1983, are interred in the Milne mausoleum.
Part III is coming soon so stay tuned for more stories from Forest Hills.