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

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

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

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

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

A Dakota Pioneer

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

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

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

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

A New Cemetery for Sioux Falls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Lifetime of Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Mysterious Accident

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

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

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

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

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

“Summoned to the Other Side”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Sioux Falls, South Dakota!

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

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

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

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

Birth of Sioux Falls

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

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

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

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

History of Mount Pleasant Cemetery

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

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

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

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

Stained glass windows inside the Glidden Chapel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View of Mount Pleasant Cemetery on a sunny June day.

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

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

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

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

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

Louisa Gale died at the age of 51.

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

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

Kathleen Gale McKennan’s Legacy

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

Helen McKennan died at the age of 65.

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

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

William Stevens, Dakota Pioneer

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

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

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

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

Fled His Farm

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

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

Modern Memorial

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

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

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

The steps lead to an archway.

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

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

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


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

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

The view from Mount Carmel Cemetery.

The Jewish Community of Sioux City

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life of Rabbi Moses M. Matlin

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

Rabbi Matlin’s wife is buried beside him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strangers in a Strange Land

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

A sunny afternoon at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

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

A Successful Immigrant Family

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

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

A Tragic Union

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

Morton Blotcky’s marker stands alone without his parents.

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

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

Headed for the Falls

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


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

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

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

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

Who was Sergeant Charles Floyd?

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

Sergeant Charles Floyd was only 22 when he died.

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

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

Memorial plaque on the Sergeant Floyd monument.

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

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

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

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

A Young Life Cut Short

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

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

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

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

“From Earth to Heaven”

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

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

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

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

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

Short Life of Carl Wold

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

What caused Carl Wold’s early death is unknown.

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

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

Anchors Aweigh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Gambler at Heart

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

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

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

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

A Stormy Union

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

Ready for more Iowa cemetery hopping?

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

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

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

Wide Awake in Onawa

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

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

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

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

Onawa’s Civil War monument was erected in 1916.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into the Woods

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

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

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

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

Can you see the dove?

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

Kendall Branches

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

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

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

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

Was Angie Greene a widow or divorced?

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

“Re-united in the Home Above”

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

Florence was the last one in the family to die.

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

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

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

The Colbys

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

The Colby monument is only for two people.

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

Sudden Death

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

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

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

The Mystery of Alvin Perkins

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

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

Who was Alvin Perkins?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civil War cannon and military grave markers at Onawa Cemetery.


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

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

On the Road to South Dakota

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death of Abe Michaels

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

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

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

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

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

Abe’s Grave Moved to Graceland

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

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

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

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

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

A Noble Heart

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

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

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

What Do Oak Leaves Signify?

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

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

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

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

“Death, Thou Hast Conquered Me”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back on the Road

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

A last look at Graceland Cemetery.

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

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

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

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

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

Hutson-Peronneau Vault

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

The Hutson-Peronneau vault contains at least 18 people.

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

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

Lawyer, Politician, Lieutenant Governor

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

That’s quite a list of achievements.

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

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

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

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

The Actor Who Became a Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

“His Turn is Come”

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

John Warham was only 22 when he died in 1773.

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

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

Two Remarkable Portrait Stones

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

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

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

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

“A Heap of Dust”

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

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

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

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

“Arrested by the Hand of Death”

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

Mary Jane Smith was 55 when she died in 1795.

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

Two women weep on both sides of an urn.

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

What’s in a Wreath?

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

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

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

The broken column signified a life cut short.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farewell to Charleston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the last stop on my 2018 Charleston cemetery adventures. I’m ending on a true high note at the Circular Congregational Church (CCC) burial ground. If you visit Charleston and only have time to visit one cemetery/church yard/burial ground, pick THIS one because the rarity of what you can see here in the Southeast will literally blow you away.

Visually, it’s apparent where the church got its name. If you visit their web site, they do a good job detailing their history so I won’t talk too much about that. There are too many awesome stones to share.

A British cannonball blew up in the CCC graveyard during Sunday services in 1780. Earthquake, fires, and vandalism have also left their mark over the years.

Some important things to know are that the first meeting house on this site gave Meeting Street its name. While the CCC congregation was established around 1680 on this spot, the current building is its fourth and was built in 1892.

The church yard or burial ground (as it is listed on Find a Grave) was established around 1695. As a result, you get a true microcosm of the history of funerary style/art over two centuries. The skull and crossbones of the earliest slates evolve into the skull with wings, the angel’s head with wings, and then portrait busts, first primitive and then classical.

Most of the carvers of these stones never stepped foot in Charleston but lived in New England. So how did their work end up in South Carolina? Wealthy Charlestonians wanted to keep up with their Northern neighbors when it came to representing their wealth when they passed on. A simple gravestone would not suffice. So they paid top dollar to have New England carvers produce the same stones their society peers were demanding up North.

There’s a gate between the CCC burial ground and St. Philip’s West Cemetery. It was locked the day we were there but all we had to do was walk around to the entry by the bank drive-thru.

The CCC burial ground is located right behind the West Cemetery of St. Philip’s, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Most of the time, the gate between the two is unlocked and you can walk through. The day we took this photo, it was locked but all we had to do was walk around the block to where the bank beside the CCC is located. That entrance wasn’t locked.

That’s a bank drive-thru right beside the CCC burial ground. Is it a gentle hint that you can’t take it with you?

According to the CCC’s web site, while many gravestones have disappeared, more than 500 remain, with about 730 individuals named on those stones. Another 620 people are named in church records with indications they were most likely buried in the graveyard.

Statistics for gravestones currently in the graveyard:

  • Earliest unmarked grave: 1695
  • Earliest inscribed gravestone: 1729
  • Number of burials before 1776: 150
  • Number of burials for people who were born before 1800: 450

One of the oldest stones in the CCC burial ground belongs to one of its pastors, the Rev. Nathan Bassett, Jr. It’s located right beside the church building itself.

The Rev. Nathan Bassett, Jr.’s marker is thought to be the first portrait stone in America.

Born in 1701 in Roxbury, Mass. to blacksmith Nathan Bassett, Sr. and Mary Huckins Bassett, the Rev. Bassett arrived in Charleston in 1724 to pastor the CCC. The lengthy inscription on his marker is written completely in Latin. He died on June 26, 1738 of smallpox at the age of 36.

Two weeping angels flank a portrait of the Rev. Bassett.

There are some important things that set the Rev. Bassett’s marker apart. For one, scholars believe it’s the first example of a portrait-style stone in America, predating any seen in New England by a handful of years. Second, it was created by one of New England’s top carvers, William Codner. His signature, a rarity in itself, is on the bottom. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this when I photographed it. The grass was obscuring it so I never noticed it at the time.

There are at least 30 Peronnneaus buried at the CCC and a number of their markers were also carved by William Codner. This stone for Henry Peronneau (1667-1743) is just one of them. It’s another great example of a portrait stone.

The marker for Henry Peronneau was carved by William Codner.

Born in La Rochelle, France, Henry Peronneau came to Charleston in 1687 when he was 20. He and his family were some of the early Huguenots in the colony as well as members of the Independent Congregational Church in Charleston. A merchant, Henry Peronneau, his wife Desiree, many of their children and grandchildren were buried in the church yard.

Henry’s grandson, Alexander, is buried near him and his stone is another Codner creation that embraces the portrait style. In this photo, his grave is on the left.

Alexander Peronneau (left) died in 1747 at the age of 12. His mother, Mary, is to his right. She died in 1742.

To the right of Alexander’s marker is that of his mother, Mary Peronneau. She passed away when Alexander was seven years old. Her marker is thought to have been carved by the Lamson family of carvers in New England. You can find their work in graveyards all over Cape Cod. One distinctive trait of Lamson’s winged skulls are eyebrows with hooked ends.

Another Lamson marker was done for Mary’s son (and Alexander’s brother) John, who died at the age of two in 1736. While Mary’s stone has a winged skull and John’s features a soul effigy, many of the decorative elements like the amoeba-like swirls on the border are very much the same.

Note that the swirls on the sides are similar to the ones on John’s mother’s marker.

Elizabeth Simmons’ marker is another portrait-style marker but it was done by Boston carver Nathaniel Emmes (1690-1750). William Codner apprenticed in his shop. You can see Codner’s influence on Emmes quite clearly in Elizabeth’s stone.

Like the Rev. Bassett’s marker, Elizabeth Simmons’ stone has two weeping mourners flanking the portrait. She died in 1740 at the age of 35.

Some of the features Emmes liked to include were ornate borders, graduated discs in the fineals, along with indented skulls and cross bones over the winged skulls.

Another carver whose work you can find at the CCC is that of Capt. John Homer of New England. Homer enjoyed using the combination of a skull and crossbones over a soul effigy. He did an especially fine job on this stone for Charleston merchant David Stoddard, who died at the age of 30 in 1769.

A stark skull and crossbones sits atop a more detailed soul effigy. David Stoddard’s father, William, was from Boston. David died in 1769 at age 30.

Finally, let’s take a look at the graves of the children of William and Sabina Ellis. From what I can tell on Ancestry, the couple had at least nine children. The eldest and the youngest are the only two whom appear to have lived well past their 20s. Five of their children were buried at the CCC between 1753 and 1765. Let’s take a look at the four that I managed to photograph.

Second son William was four months and 19 days old when he died on June 14, 1753. He is buried to the left of his younger brother, John, whose marker I did not get a complete photo of. The soul effigy on William’s marker has a happy expression, with its wings folded down on the sides. 

William Ellis was probably the second child of William and Sabina Ellis.

Next was daughter Sabina, who lived 11 months and 20 days before she died on June 6, 1757. Her stone was probably done by the same carver who did William’s marker.

I believe Sabina was the Ellis’ fourth child.

Finally, we have John and Margaret Ellis. John lived only a month and 11 days before he died on July 19, 1758. Margaret, who is to his left, lived three months before she died on Jan. 4, 1765.

Siblings Margaret and John Ellis are buried next to each other.

You can see that the soul effigy on William’s grave marker has wings that point up.

The contrast between Margaret and John’s two markers is quite interesting. Margaret’s marker is more like William and Sabina’s, with the soul effigy having down-turned wings. But John’s marker has a soul effigy with its wings turned up. They’re also not nearly as well detailed.

There’s so much more to discover at the Circular Congregation Church burial ground. Join me for more stories among the stones next time.



More Charleston, S.C. Cemetery Hopping: Remembering St. Philip’s Churchyard and West Cemetery, Part II

Last week, I introduced you to St. Philip’s Episopal Church and its churchyard in Charleston, S.C. Now we’re going to step across the aptly-named Church Street to visit St. Philip’s West Cemetery.

St. Philip’s West Cemetery has about 3,000 recorded memorials on Find a Grave.

I wrote about the most famous person buried in St. Philip’s West Cemetery back in 2013 so I’m not going to repeat it all here but he’s worth mentioning. John Caldwell Calhoun served as U.S. Vice President from 1825 to 1832. He was a controversial figure then and after his death, so much so that his remains were moved across the street to St. Philip’s Churchyard during the Civil War to keep them safe. They were returned to the West Cemetery years later.

John C. Calhoun was strongly in favor of secession and slavery, earning himself the nickname “the Cast Iron Man” for his ideological rigidity.

One of the older graves in the West Cemetery belongs to Col. William Rhett (1666-1722), a native of London, England. He’s interred in an above-ground box tomb. There is no easy way for a short person like me to properly photograph the inscription on top of it but thankfully, someone erected a sign telling you exactly what it says.

Col. William Rhett came to America from England in 1694.

Rhett arrived in America in 1694, along with his wife Sarah. In addition to becoming a a prominent rice farmer, Rhett was a member of the South Carolina Assembly. Eventually, he became colonel of the Provincial militia, receiver-general of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, surveyor, and comptroller of customs for Carolina and the Bahama Islands.

This sign includes the words inscribed on the top of Col. Rhett’s box tomb. More information about him is on the other side.

But it was his actions on the high seas that garnered him the most attention. Rhett was an active merchant captain, sailing the vessel Providence between the Carolinas and the Bahamas. In April 1699, the Providence was attacked by Dutch pirate Hendrick van Hoven (alias Captain Hyne or Hind). He was known as “the grand pirate of the West Indies.” Rhett survived the attack and lived to sail another day.

Col. William Rhett had little patience for pirates robbing Carolina merchant ships. Portrait by Henrietta Deering Johnston. (Photo source: Gibbes Museum of Art/Carolina Art Association.)

In 1716, Rhett provided two vessels to be fitted out as pirate hunters – the Henry and the Sea NymphHe served as captain of this small flotilla and led it to victory in the 1718 Battle of Cape Fear River, capturing the infamous Stede Bonnet, the so-called “gentleman pirate.” Bonnet was close friends with Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, who gave him many pointers on how to (ARGH!) be a pirate.

Stede Bonnet had a prosperous life as a plantation owner in Barbados but turned to piracy in 1717.

Bonnet escaped from jail with the help of local merchant and fellow pirate Richard Tookerman. He made it as far as Sullivan’s Island before Rhett again captured him. On Nov. 10, 1718, Bonnet was charged with two acts of piracy. Judge Nicholas Trott sentenced Bonnet to death. Bonnet was hanged in Charleston on Dec. 10, 1718. A marker on the Battery in the area formerly known as White Point Garden notes the event.

White Point Garden (not Gardens as the marker says) became a public park in 1837. It was first known as Oyster Point, then White Point due to the amount of sun-bleached oyster shells that piled up at the water’s edge. (Photo source: Wally Gobetz, Flickr)

In 1721, Rhett was appointed governor of the Bahamas, but died in Charleston on January 12, 1722, just as he was preparing to leave for his new responsibilities. He was 55 years old.

The Bones of Thomas Pool

I talked about Thomas Pool’s marker back in 2013 but his marker is just too cool not to share again. I mean, how often do you see a skeleton reclining against an hourglass?

Thomas Pool’s ghoulish marker is unlike any I’ve seen before or since.

Born in Bosport, England on April 20, 1717, Thomas Pool was a sailor. He met his untimely end in a shipwreck on March 20, 1754. The final lines of the inscription (spelling errors and all) on his marker are as follows:

He was a sober industrious and skilfull pilot
Obliging in his Conversation, a kind
Husband, a tender Parent, and a usefull
Member of Society & was much regretted
by everyone that knew him.

Here’s a close-up look.

The words written above the grinning skeleton are “Yesterday for me, is to Day for thee.” Note that the final “e” in “thee” is vanishing into the skeleton’s teeth. Not only do we get a grinning skeleton, he’s leaning against a winged hourglass, emphasizing how “time flies”. These motifs fit in well with the notion that the living are destined to die and nobody can escape it.

The Classical Influence

A less ghoulish marker was carved for Thomas Moore, whom we know little about. He was born in 1750 and died on April 4, 1794 at the age of 44. His stone is topped by am elegant draped urn, which I’ve talked about before. It appears on many grave markers. But as I researched this particular stone, I learned a bit more about why the urn was so popular during the mid to late 1700s.

Thomas Moore’s sandstone marker was carved by Scotsman Thomas Walker.

With America becoming a new republic, comparisons were being made to the old Classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. Urns became popular since that was part of the celebrated architecture and art of that era. It was also quite common to see thes themes incorporated into English homes at the time.

Moore’s sandstone marker was carved by transplanted Scotch carver Thomas Walker, who began a carving dynasty that carried down to his sons, sons-in-law and grandsons. He was echoing what he had seen in the U.K., especially the work of architect Robert Adam.

The part of Moore’s inscription that I can make out reads:

Lo where this silent marble weeps
A Friend, a Husband, a Father sleeps
A Heart, within whose sacred cell
The peaceful Virtues loved to dwell
Affection Warm and faith sincere.

The Widow & the Urn

This next stone was carved over 50 years after Thomas Moore’s and also features an urn but includes the “weeping widow” motif we’ve come to know well in Charleston churchyards.

Fortunately, I found a death notice for Oliver. L. Dobson, who was born in Ireland sometime around 1788 to 1790. I say that because his obituary states he was 58 when he died but his marker states he was 60. At some point, Oliver came to America, married a woman named Naomi, and had at least one child, a son. He also had step-children. He “filled the offices of Assessor of Taxes and Eacheator of the Parishes of St. Philip and St. Michael, and several other posts of trust and confidence.”

Despite being 170 years old, Oliver Dobson’s marker looks quite good.

I don’t know who carved this stone but it’s cleanly done and has stood the test of time. Note that the widow’s gown is contemporary to the era in which is was carved, the 1850s. Women’s attire featured defined waistlines and fuller skirts than the early 1800s. She appears to be holding a handkerchief as well.

Oliver died on March 26, 1850 of dropsy of the heart, which often involved fluid build up leading to congestive heart failure. He did leave a well, which left most of his estate to his wife, Naomi, with some bequests to his step-daughter, Elizabeth, and other family and friends.

Sweet Little Lamb

Off to the side of cemetery, it’s less orderly and more untamed. The ivy runs a bit wild there and you have to watch where you’re walking.

I’m going to finish my time at St. Philip’s West Cemetery with a simple stone that could be seen at just about any burial ground, even today. But for some reason, it hit me hard to see it. Because the last name of this child is unknown and all that we know about her is on the stone itself. She died on April 24, 1861, having lived only a year, six months, and 24 days.

Her marker done by William T. White, one of the best carvers in Charleston.

Julia was only about 19 months old when she died.

The inscription reads:

This lovely bud so young and fair
Called hence by early doom
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise would bloom.

Next time, we’ll be right next door at the Circular Congregational Church Burial Ground to wrap up my Charleston, S.C. adventures.

More Charleston, S.C. Cemetery Hopping: Exploring St. Philip’s Churchyard and West Cemetery, Part I

Still in Charleston!

I wrote about St. Philip’s Episcopal Church back in 2013. However, it wasn’t a lengthy post because of an encounter I had there with a lovely woman named Dotty who (as it turned out) was personally connected to one of the graves I was looking for. I felt that story needed its own post because it was so special.

Churchyard and Cemetery

I wanted to write about St. Philip’s again because it has such a delightful combination of funerary styles. It also has the distinction of having both a churchyard (graves surrounding the church building itself) and a cemetery across the street. As I wrote back in 2013, the West Cemetery of St. Philip’s (which is across the street from the church) is said to have opened for “strangers and transient white people.”

Members, however, were later buried in the cemetery as well when space in the churchyard filled up. It is an active cemetery and St. Philip’s has a growing membership. So if you go on Find a Grave, just look for St. Philip’s Cemetery because it lists both burials at the churchyard and the West Cemetery.

I’m going to focus on the church and the churchyard in today’s post. If you look up at the permanent banner of this blog on top of the page, that photo comes from St. Philip’s churchyard. My husband, Chris, took that picture in 2013.

Side view of St. Philip’s showing the gate to the churchyard. A local law that states no building in Charleston can be taller than the church’s steeple. (Photo source: Chris Rylands)

Established in 1681, St. Philip’s is the oldest church congregation in the state of South Carolina. After they moved to their Church Street site in 1710, they built a church that lasted until it was wiped out by a fire. The current building was constructed in 1835 and boasts a beautiful, tall steeple.

Highest Point in Charleston

A gentleman we spoke with at St. Philip’s in 2013 said there’s a local law on the books that no building in Charleston can be built taller than the steeple. At one point during the Civil War, it was used for sighting during the Union’s bombardment of the city and suffered damage. St. Philip’s chapel bells were actually melted down for the Confederate war effort. You might recall that the same was done to the bells over at First Scots Presbyterian Church.

The interior of St.  Philip’s is stunning so if you’re exploring the churchyard or cemetery, go inside the church and look around. It’s usually open, with helpful guides to tell you all about it.

The chancel and apse were altered after a fire in 1920 by Albert Simons. (Photo source: Chris Rylands)

We could have spent hours staring up at the detailed carvings amid the rich wood accents.

A winged cherub peeks down from the ceiling.

There are some memorials lining the walls of St. Philip’s and Chris photographed this one for William Mason Smith, which I recently re-discovered. Here’s the story behind it.

Born in Charleston in 1788, William Mason Smith was the son of the Rev. Robert Smith, who was made Bishop of South Carolina in 1795, and Anna Maria Tilghman Smith of Maryland. After graduating from Brown University in Rhode Island, William did a stint in the Navy before marrying Susanna Pringle. His brother had married Susanna’s sister, Elizabeth in 1812.

In addition to owning a large plantation called Smithfield that was 30 miles from Charleston and a handsome townhouse on Meeting Street, William was active in St. Philip’s Church and eventually became a vestryman there. He was also on the committee that helped in the rebuilding efforts in 1835.

The mourning widow motif leaning over an urn is the theme of this memorial. Note the wine cup and bowl of what look to be bread cubes at the foot of the pedestal, along with a Bible.

After William died at the age of 50 on Aug. 7, 1838, Susanna commissioned this handsome memorial for him from famed sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey. Known for his statue of King George IV in London’s Trafalgar Square, Chantrey was a leading portrait sculptor in Regency-era Britain. You can see his name on the base of the memorial below the figure’s foot. Chantrey died in 1842, just a year after it was installed at St. Philip’s.

William and Susanna (who died in 1846) are both buried in St. Philip’s churchyard but both of their stones are now part of the walkway, although the inscriptions are still readable.

Wandering the Churchyard

I didn’t know that our visit in 2013 was going to be the one time I would get to freely wander around St. Philip’s churchyard. On the occasions that I’ve stopped by since that time, most of it has been closed off to visitors because they were doing restoration work. Here’s my picture of the right side of the churchyard, which is similar to Chris’ photo at the top.

Chris’ version of this view is sharper/cleaner. I took this one with my trusty phone.

One person I don’t want to leave out is one of the churchyard’s more famous burials. Charles Pinckney (1757-1924) was a United States Constitution signer, a U.S. senator, a U.S. congressman, and a four-term governor of South Carolina.

Historic plaque indicating that St. Philip’s churchyard is the final resting place of two South Carolina governors.

The Pinckney name is well known throughout the state and there are 43 Pinckneys buried in St. Philip’s churchyard and cemetery. Charlest Coatsworth Pinckney, whom I wrote about earlier and is buried at St. Michael’s Churchyard, was Charles Coatsworth Pinkney’s cousin. The two men were both among the men selected to be South Carolina’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, Pa.

After being admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1779, Charles Pinckney was elected to the State’s Third General Assembly representing Christ Church Parish. (Photo source: National Park Service web site)

In between his third and fourth terms as governor of South Carolina, Pinckney served as the Minister to Spain from 1801 to 1805. He rounded out his career by serving a term in the U.S. House of Representatives before dying in 1824 at the age of 67.

Pierce Butler, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (his first cousin), and John Rutledge were selected as South Carolina’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, Pa.

St. Philip’s also boasts another South Carolina governor and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Edward Rutledge. But I didn’t get a photo of his grave, sad to say.

One of my favorite monuments at St. Philip’s churchyard is this one for Captain Edward Rutledge Shubrick. Perhaps he and Edward Rutledge are related in some way.

Capt. Edward Shubrick died of illness on a sea voyage at the age of 50.

Born in 1793 in Charleston, Edward Shubrick was the third of four brothers that had distinguished careers as mariners. A captain in the U.S. Navy, he married Hester Mary Berlin in 1820. They had one son, Edward, in 1832.

Thanks to an article in the Mississippi Free Trader, I learned the fate of Capt. Shubrick that caused his death on March 12, 1844. He was in charge of the U.S. Frigate Columbia on a voyage from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Cadiz, Spain when he became ill, likely caused by a chronic liver ailment he suffered from. He died after 30 days.

“Beloved and Lamented Commander”

The letter that communicated his death from the ship written by one of the men under his command said, “He was universally loved and and esteemed by all who knew him.” On his monument, it says it was erected by the officers and mariners of the U.S. Frigate Columbia. I especially like the detailed depiction of the ship, which you can see below, including small figures standing on the rolled up sails.

The detail of the carving of the ship is amazing.

I’m going to finish today on the other side of the churchyard. In the picture below, you can see the can see in the back St. Philip’s Parish House, built in the 1920s for church administration and events.

St. Philip’s Parish House was built in the 1920s.

The last marker I want to share for you is for William Pritchard, whose marker has a bugle and a Masonic symbol on it. I was eager to unlock the puzzle behind this young man.

Born on Feb. 11, 1832 in Charleston, William was the son of William George Pritchard and Margaret Pritchard. W.G. died in 1838 of influenza at the age of 30 when his son was only six years old. It was the same age William, his son, would be when he died.

William Pritchard was loved by his comrades in arms and by his fellow fire fighters. The bugle indicates his high rank in the fire company.

I could only find William identified as working as a clerk and there’s no proof he was married. But he was definitely a member of the Washington Light Infantry, Company A. Established in 1807, it’s one of the nation’s oldest militia units, founded when America was anticipating a second war with Britain, which became the War of 1812. The company fought in the Seminole Wars (1836) and the Mexican-American War (1842).

When South Carolina seceded from the Union in early 1861, the Washington Light Infantry reformed into three distinct companies and served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. A total of 414 men served in the unit during the war, 114 of which were killed.

An obelisk was erected in 1891 in Charleston’s Washington Square to honor the men of the Washington Light Infantry. William Pritchard’s grave is only a few blocks away. (Photo source: Susie Hyman)

In 1891, an obelisk meant to resemble the Washington Monument was erected in Washington Square in Charleston to honor the men of the Washington Light Infantry. William Pritchard is one of the names inscribed on it. He is listed as a private.

“Tribute of Respect”

Records note that William died on Aug. 15, 1862 of typhoid fever, a disease common in that era.

William’s fellow soldiers were so shaken by his death that one of them penned this moving obituary that appeared in the Charleston Mercury on Sept. 17, 1862.

This lengthy obituary written to memorialize William Pritchard describes a man who was much-liked and admired by his comrades. (Photo source: Charleston Mercury, Sept. 17, 1862)

William’s marker says nothing about his affiliation with the Washington Light Infantry. In fact, it says:

By the Officers and Members
of the Vigilant Fire Engine Co.
In Memory of
Their Late Vice President
William Pritchard
Who Died Aug. 15, 1862
Aged 30 years, Six Months
And 4 Days

According to records, the Vigilant Fire Engine Co. may have been the first volunteer fire engine company in Charleston, submitting an application for incorporation in 1793. Many more would follow. It’s possible that William and his fellow volunteer firemen helped fight the infamous 1861 fire that destroyed much of Charleston.

The bugle on William’s marker, I learned, marked his high level of leadership as vice-president of the company. This indicates, as his fellow soldiers had, that the men with whom he fought fires also regarded him with respect and appreciation,

Next time, we’ll be across the street at the West Cemetery. I promise you won’t want to miss it.