Throughout the centuries as Lithuania fought for independence from the Soviet Union the people prayed at the Domantai Hill Fort in northern Lithuania. They brought with them crosses made from different mediums and of all sizes. Although the site was bulldozed by the Russians several times there was an estimated 100,000 crosses in 2006. Pope John Paul declared it as a site of hope, peace, love and sacrifice in 1993.
This gravestone is located in Cedar City Cemetery, Utah, USA
The death of Martha Jane McCune (her name is misspelled and should read McEwen) when she was only 17 years old is a tragic story.
Martha was born on January 22, 1838 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Three years later her family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois and finally settled in Fillmore, Utah in 1853. She married James W. Farrer and the couple moved to Cedar City. James, who was a teamster, had to leave for three weeks on business, and as Martha did not feel comfortable staying alone because of the Indians her friend’s family let her stay with them.
Early one morning Margaret McConnell and Martha awoke to strange sounds in the chicken coop and ventured out to see what was causing the disturbance. When they opened the doors to the coop they discovered a coyote sitting in the corner. Martha made a swatting motion with her hand and the animal lunged at her sinking its teeth deep into her throat. Margaret’s father, Jehiel McConnell who had been summoned by his daughter, wrapped his hands around the coyotes’ throat forcing it to unclench its jaw and eventually killing it.
The following is purportedly a recollection of the event by Martha McConnell.
“My girlfriend, Mary Jane McCune and I gathered wild food together and planned what we would do after we grew up. Then Mary Jane got married. One night she was staying over with me while her new husband, James W. Farrer, made a freighting trip to Salt Lake. She couldn’t stay alone because of Indians. Mary Jane and I heard a commotion in the adobe chicken coop, and when we opened the door we could see a coyote crouching in one corner, its eyes gleaming in the semidarkness. Mary Jane flung her hand out to frighten the animal away, but instead of retreating, it darted at her, sinking its fangs into her throat. I ran screaming to the house for Papa.
Taking in the desperate situation at a glance, Papa saw he could not pull the animal off without tearing Mary Jane’s throat to pieces. He sank the fingers of one hand around the coyote’s throat, slowly strangling it, at the same time prying its jaws open with the other hand to release the girl’s throat as the animal relaxed in death. And then the full horror of the situation came on us, for the coyote, frothing at the mouth, had rabies. In its madness, it had burrowed under the adobe wall of the coop to get at the chickens.
For a few days all of Cedar City watched the situation, and we all breathed a little easier as Mary Jane’s throat healed remarkably fast. Almost a month went by, then one day she began to develop unmistakable signs of rabies. She steadily became so vicious and violent that several strong men could not hold her, and it became necessary to bind her and peg her to the floor to keep her from attacking others. She would beg piteously for people to come near her so she could kiss them, but when anyone approached, she would snap at them like a mad dog. As the disease progressed to its horrible end, the stricken girl’s suffering became so unbearable that her family finally smothered her to death between two feather beds to shorten her agony.
Papa, fearing that he might have been infected while prying loose the coyote’s jaws, insisted that he be chained to the wall for two weeks to forestall any possible violence on his part. He was not contaminated by the encounter, and remained well. Mary Jane’s husband of only several months returned to find his young wife and unborn baby tragically dead and buried.
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio is the third largest cemetery in the United States. Within its gates is the 9-10 feet tall Fritz Tree Memorial carved in sandstone by H. Suhre in 1873. His mark resembles a tire, H. Suhre/Maker. Herman W. Suhre was a German immigrant who established the Suhre & Oberhelman monument company.
The oak tree (Germany’s national tree) is embellished with ivy (symbolic of immortality), and oak leaves and acorns (ripe old age). Ivy vines emerge from the ground giving the impression of four legs. A sculpture near the ground reveals two hands holding a long handled axe which undoubtedly created the hatch marks on the trunk and the severed limbs with smooth cut surfaces for engraving.
The marble figure on top of the monument represents the Fritz family’s German heritage and is a representation of ‘Germania’; historically a robust woman with long, flowing, reddish-blonde hair, wearing armour, wielding a sword and holding a shield. This statue holds the sword in her right hand and in her left hand is a wreath resting against a shield decorated with stars and stripes.
Directly beneath Germania is the statue of a priest dressed in long robes with lace trim. Standing on two severed branches, it gives the impression that he is in a pulpit. An open book resting on a log at the base of the tree may have fallen from his hands. Depictions of an open book are often used on the gravestones of ministers or clergymen. However, it is sometimes found on gravestones of very devoted religious people.
The memorial, adorned with iconography, contains many epitaphs to members of the Fritz family.
Oak leaves and acorns droop over a joint epitaph for Wilhemina/Fritz/Wife Of/J. Fritz Born/June 18, 1837/Died January 1/1876/Age 38/Years 6/Months. A feminine hand denoted by the flower on the cuff points with outstretched finger to Wilhemina’s inscription. Her husband, Jacob/Fritz/Born Aug 2/1833/died March 20/1884 was a butcher at Salisman Sausage Co. in Cincinnati.
Katharina/Fritz/Born Oct 30/1841/Died Jan 29/1904. A hand descends from Heaven with outstretched finger pointing to her epitaph.
A joint epitaph for William and Elizabeth is attached to a sculptured log. A vine separates the two inscriptions, Wm Fritz/April 11, 1858/April 29, 1911 and Elizabeth/Fritz/1863-1937. Situated at the stump of a branch is a padlock attached to three links of a chain (everlasting love) or it could be symbolic of the key to the gates of Heaven.
A hand emerges from within oak leaves and acorns with outstretched finger pointing to the epitaph of a young boy named H.E. Charles Fritz Born/Nov 15th 1862/Died May 18th 1873/Age 10 years 6 months 3 days.
A hand with outstretched finger pointing down symbolizes the hand of God descending from Heaven. The finger points to the epitaph of Jacob F. Fritz/Oct 31, 1884/May 24, 1927. The scroll also contains a Masonic symbol.
A hand descends from Heaven with outstretched finger pointing to the epitaph of Lillian Fritz 1889-1963.
In the upper regions of the tree is an anchor with entwined snake (symbolic of immortality). The anchor is suspended by a chain hanging from a protruding scroll. The scroll contains an inscription using Blackletter font, part of which reads Geboren Warden which means to be born.
The fight between good and evil is represented by a dove (peace) pecking at the tail of a squirrel (Satan). There is what appears to be a padlock above which is also a Freemasons icon.
A ribbon wreath encircles a small bouquet of flowers.