This is the final installment in my series on Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum. Today I’m simply going to share some images from my visits that I really liked. There’s no rhyme or reason to them. In fact, two of them are almost identical.
One thing I always enjoy at any cemetery I visit is peeking inside mausoleums. Sometimes there’s nothing much but on occasion you get some surprises. The Gerrard family mausoleum would fit the latter description.
Rise of the Cantaloupe King
Born in 1860 in the Cincinnati-area community of Cherry Grove, Stephen Gerrard came from a poor family and had little formal education. He supported himself in his youth as a street peddler, but ultimately made his fortune by taking advantage of refrigerated rail cars to transport cantaloupes nationwide, selling them far more widely than previously possible.
His sales of Colorado melons throughout the country’s central and eastern regions made Gerrard wealthy, gaining him the nickname of “Cantaloupe King”. According to his Find a Grave page, he hybridized the Elberta peach and the Honeydew melon.
In 1915, Gerrard and his wife Estelle built a grand mansion at 748 Betula Ave. to show off his hard-won wealth. The Gothic Tudor Revival home featured a variety of decorative touches uncommon in most houses of the era, such as gargoyles, stained glass windows, marble columns, carved plaster ceilings, elaborate fireplace mantles, and Tennessee marble floors.
In 1928, a music room was added as a birthday gift to Estelle that included a huge pipe organ designed by W.W. Kimball of Chicago, earning the mansion the honor of having the largest residential pipe organ in the U.S. (and the first self-playing organ in the world).
End of an Era
Despite severe financial losses during the Great Depression, the Gerrards managed to barely hold onto their mansion until Stephen’s death after a stroke at age 75 in 1936. The mansion was sold in the late 1930s for only $65,000. Estelle, who moved in with her daughter, died in 1947.
The house went through much neglect over the next decades, destroying the functionality of the pipe organ. After being restored and made livable, Gerrard’s mansion was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1987. As of 2017, a young couple was living in the Gerrard mansion.
The Gerrard mausoleum was one of the last of the grand mausoleums built at Spring Grove. Its architecture is typical for the era with a blend of modern classicism and Art Deco. Because the mausoleum was on the property of Spring Grove, the bank technically could not seize the $125,000 structure to pay off Gerrard’s debts.
I especially like the doors. One of the standards of Arts and Crafts architecture and ornament was the use of natural materials and when that was not possible, as in the case of these bronze doors, to use ornament to express the natural world.
Fortunately, I was able to look through the openings in the doors to see inside. While I couldn’t get a good picture of the stained glass, the four statues were impressive. I learned later that they are thought to represent the four seasons.
Grumpy Beer Baron
When I visited Spring Grove back in 2013, I didn’t have time to photograph many grave stones. But I did remember this fellow. When it came time to label his photo in my records, I referred to him as “Grumpy Dead German Guy” so I’d remember it. That probably wasn’t very nice of me but it fits.
My research on George Franz Eichenlaub is a bit spotty. He arrived in America from Germany in the 1830s from a brewing tradition and became a Cincinnati beer baron. He went into business with another German brewer, his son-in-law Joseph Kauffmann, and they were quite successful. Eichenlaub died in 1870 and his frowning visage is on the back of the monument shared by his daughter, Marianne, and Joseph.
The Tiffany’s of Cincinnati
I must have liked the Duhme monument a lot because I photographed it during both of my visits to Spring Grove. The family, originally from Germany, founded a jewelry store in the 1830s that would go on to become known as the Tiffany’s of Cincinnati.
Brothers Henry (born in 1814) and Herman (born 1819) opened up Duhme and Co. on the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets soon after they arrived in America. At first, they sold high-class goods but by the 1860s they were making and selling silver and jewelry. It became a popular showplace for some of the most beautiful jewelry and silver in the city.
Herman was the one who figured more prominently of the two, in his business and personal life. His first marriage ended in a messy divorce and a rather unhappy second one, although both resulted in the birth of several children. He died in 1888 in St. Clair, Mich. at age 69. Duhme & Co. continued under various iterations until 1928. You can still find Duhme & Co. silver from time to time.
The monument I referred to earlier is actually for Henry, who died in 1874, and his family. The figure of a woman holding an open book on her lap with a child at her knee evokes maternal imagery. Henry and his wife, Louisa, did have several children and I believe only the first, Henry, died in infancy.
The monument was ordered by the New England Granite Works from Westerly Granite in Westerly, R.I., who was responsible for many Spring Grove monuments. The base is made of red Westerly granite and the pedestal/statue of white Westerly granite. It was ordered on Feb. 18, 1889 and arrived on Dec. 13, 1889. This was not long after Herman’s death and his plainer marker was also ordered from Westerly Granite in 1889.
In my research on Westerly Granite, I learned that they also made four of the mausoleums at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.
Bringing Home the Bacon
I was also rather taken with the Brill family monument but it wasn’t until this week that I learned that it had a connection to the Duhme monument. It turns out they were both made by Rhode Island’s Westerly Granite.
Born in Germany in 1824, Jacob Brill married Catherine “Katie” Jacobs in their native country sometime in the 1850s. Their only child, Katie, was born around 1855. I’m not sure exactly what year the Brills emigrated to America. But by the 1880 U.S. Census, Jacob was working as a butcher.
Jacob eventually operated his own pork packing facility in Camp Washington and did quite well. He died on Oct. 1, 1896 at age 72. According to newspaper reports, his will left everything to his wife to the tune of over $100,000. That was a lot of bacon back in the day!
On March 1, 1897, Katie ordered the monument via New England Granite Works from Westerly Granite for $4,000. Factoring in inflation, that would have amounted to over $100,000 at that time. I’m not entirely sure that $4,000 figure is correct. Like the Duhme monument, the base is made of red Westerly granite and the pedestal/statue of white Westerly granite.
Female Pallbearers Chosen
Katie died on Sept. 19, 1898 at the age of 68. I found a rather detailed funeral notice for her in the Cincinnati Enquirer. There is no mention of her daughter, Katie, at all. But you can read in the notice that Mrs. Brill had some of her best female friends serve as four of the eight pallbearers, which was highly unusual. The other four pallbearers were her nephews.
Daughter Katie would marry at the age of 44 in 1899 to attorney Carl Nippert, becoming his second wife. Sadly, he died only five years later in 1904 at age 50 of kidney failure. Katie died several years later in 1928 at age 73. Both she and Carl are buried with her parents in the Brill family plot.
You might be amazed to find (as I was) that there is an exact duplicate of the Brill monument’s statue at Spring Grove. The Kreimer family must have seen the Brill one and liked it so much that they contacted New England Granite Works to purchase one just like it for them from Westerly Granite.
However, the Kreimer monument is made of Barre granite (found in Barre, Vermont) instead of Westerly granite and cost considerably less at $1,200. I’m not sure why. Part of me wonders if the Brill monument actually cost $400. But the two monuments are about the same size. The two bases do have a number of style differences.
Along with his father, Henry, Charles. H. Kreimer operated Kreimer & Brother Furniture Co. He was married to Emma Roehl in 1880 and they had four children together. Son Alfred took over the family business after Charles died of heart failure on July 24, 1923 at the age of 61.
After I posted these two monuments on Twitter, Paula Lemire responded with a photo of the same statue on a monument at Albany Rural Cemetery in New York. That one actually has an anchor on the book the statue is holding.
Sands Through the Hourglass
The last grave marker I’m going to share is not very large or stunning. But I do think it’s a bit out of the ordinary.
Born in Germany in 1825, Conrad Windisch worked for his father in the family brewing business. During the German Revolution of 1848, he emigrated to America and moved around a bit working in breweries in Pittsburgh and St. Louis before landing in Cincinnati in 1850. In 1854, Windisch married Sophia Kobmann, who was from his village back in Germany.
Windisch started his own brewery in 1862 and sold his interest in 1866 to focus on his own interests. With his brother-in-law, Gottlieb Muhlhauser, as well as Muhlhauser’s brother, Henry, Muhlhauser-Windisch & Company was born. It was commonly known as the Lion Brewery because of two stone carved lions atop each of the two gables at the entrance. They were among the first to introduce ice machines and was the city’s second largest during the 1880s.
Conrad Windisch died in 1887 at age 62. His son, William A. Windisch, and later another son, Charles Windisch, kept the brewery going until 1920 when Prohibition forced them to cease operation.
It’s hard to describe Conrad’s marker. It almost looks like an old brick wall with a Medieval window carved out of it. A cut off tree leans in front of the window, symbolizing a life cut short, along with ivy. To me, it evokes a feeling of Conrad’s Old World roots when he was working alongside his father in Germany as a young man.
It’s the winged hourglass at the top of the marker that give it that added charm, emphasizing how times goes so quickly as the years of our life fly by.
As I come to the end of my Spring Grove adventure, I’d like to thank Ken Naegele for taking the time to show me around. Without his guidance, I doubt I would have seen as many of the gems this beautiful burial ground has to offer. Hopefully, we can meet up again when I’m next in Ohio so I can see what I missed.
Next time, I’ll be visiting Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio again. I have several family members buried there. You won’t want to miss it.
Richard Kuhlman said:
Is it true that George Reeves, who was Superman on TV in the early 60’s, is buried in Spring Grove?
Hello, Richard! You ask a question that I meant to cover in my series but simply forgot about. The truth is that while George Reeves’ remains did spend three years at Spring Grove Cemetery, he is not buried there.
The story is that Reeves’ mother never believed he committed suicide. She had his body removed from California and brought to Cincinnati for autopsy. His remains were then kept in the White Pine Chapel (which is where they stored bodies awaiting burial at that time) at Spring Grove while she figured out what to do. What she wanted to do was have a mausoleum built for him on the plot where his grandparents were buried but there wasn’t enough room. In the end, she had his remains cremated and sent back to California. You can visit Reeves’ memorial at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California.
Tom Foster said:
Traci – That’s what I discovered too. He died in 1959…not ’58 asI had thought.
Tom Foster said:
Another good documentary that shows beautiful creative tombstones and mausoleums.
The question from Richard Kuhlman aboutmmovie/TV actor, George Reeves ( aka “Clark Kent-Superman) …wouldn’t that be interesting. I’ll look into it, also to see if so. I would have thought he would be in one of L.A.’s popular cemeteries like Forest Lawn. The day I heard and saw in my birth hometown in 1957 or ’58 via TV news and local newspapers in Indianapolis of Reeves death was shocking to me as a 7 or 8 year old youngster. “Superman…dead?!” “No way!” He’s invincible!