Category Archives: USA

PLAGUE PITS

The Covid-19 pandemic seems an appropriate time to talk about plague pits, an informal term used to refer to mass graves in which victims of the Black Death were buried. The disease was called the Black Death because several hours after death, the corpses turned black.

The Black Death traveled from Asia to Europe, leaving devastation in its wake during the years 1346-1353. Some estimates suggest that it wiped out over half of Europe’s population. It was caused by a strain of the bacterium Yersinia Pestis that was spread by fleas on infected rodents. The bodies of victims were buried in mass graves.

Yersinia Pestis also referred to as the Bubonic Plague, wiped out a great deal of 17th-century Britain and was one of the deadliest and most infamous outbreaks that the city of London had ever seen. By the time the plague ended about 100,000 people had died, and mass graves known as ‘plague pits’ were created to dispose the bodies which were hastily buried without coffins, care or ceremony.

Source: https://bitaboutbritain.com/the-bodies-at-bunhill-fields/

Although the rural location of Bunhill Fields, only a short distance north of London, became the final resting place for 120,000 plague victims there is no memorial to recognize them. The last burial in Bunhill Fields took place in January 1854 and it was later designated as a public park and underwent some remodelling in the late 1860s. One of London’s many overcrowded cemeteries, Bunhill Fields was re-landscaped as a public space in the 1860s.

Between June and September 1645 seventy villagers in East Coker, including Archdeacon Helyar and the Vicar, died of plague. They were buried in a communal grave just outside the churchyard in East Coker. In 2003 a gravestone was erected in their memory.

Edinburgh was devastated by the disease when half of the population died during the outbreak which hit Scotland between 1645 and 1649. The percentage of deaths in the port of Leith was even higher perhaps due to the steady influx of ships from all over Europe.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/

The Devilla Forest in Culross, Fife is the burial place for three children Robert, Agnes and Jeanne Bald, who succumbed to the plague on the same day – 14th September 1645. Flowers can sometimes be seen on the children’s grave.

Yellow Fever, carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, experienced a population boom in Philadelphia during the particularly hot and humid summer weather of 1793. It wasn’t until winter arrived and the mosquitoes died out that the epidemic finally stopped. By then, more than 5,000 people had died.

A monument erected in 1858 to honor the doctors, nurses and druggists who went to Virginia in 1855 to combat a raging yellow fever epidemic died of the disease themselves.

Erected by the Philadelphia Contributors, in memory of the Doctors, Druggists and Nurses of this City, who volunteered to aid the suffers by Yellow Fever, at Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, and died in the discharge of their duties—Martyrs in the cause of humanity.

Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/45154449/yellow_fever_monument#view-photo=24064932

It raged through Warren, Grafton County, New Hampshire in 1815, and well over 50 people (10% of the population) perished in just a few weeks time. In total 180 victims of the deadly plague were buried in unmarked graves in the Warren Village Cemetery. Donations made by the Town and the Historical Society facilitated the erection of a memorial stone in remembrance.

Afraid of Storms

Florence Irene Ford died in 1871 at the age of 10, from yellow fever. Her grave is located in Natchez City Cemetery, Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi, USA.

When storms terrified little Florence she always ran to her mother for comfort. Her mother, Ellen, had a small window fitted at the head of her daughter’s coffin, and a narrow stairway built six-feet down to the level of the window. Ellen had hinged metal trapdoors installed at the top of the stairs so she could shut them during storms, protecting her from the wind and rain as she sat by her daughter’s coffin, reading or singing to her until the storm passed.

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Creative Commons License, Natalie Maynor. Source:

The epitaph on the gravestone reads: Sacred / To The Memory Of / Florence Irene/ Daughter Of / Washington & Ellen H / Ford / Born Sept 3rd, 1861 / Died Oct 30th 1871 / As Bright And Affectionate A Daughter / As Ever God With His Image Blest. Behind the gravestone the metal trapdoors can still be opened today.

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A concrete wall was built at the bottom of the stairway in the mid-1950s to cover the glass window, thus preventing any potential acts of vandalism.

The Flaming Tomb

Josie Arlington (1864-1914) became a prostitute as a teenager, and her great beauty made her wealthy enough to open a bordello in the notorious red light district of Storyville in New Orleans, Louisiana.

As her health deteriorated sometime around 1910, Josie Arlington purchased a cemetery plot at Metairie Cemetery which was an impressive and fashionable graveyard containing giant mausoleums and monuments. This news enraged the city’s elite of which many were regular customers of the bordello. On May 11, 1911, Josie, who had accumulated a lot of money, signed a contract with sculptor Albert Weiblen to create a magnificent final resting place. The tomb features a red granite stone with two flaming stone urns. On the threshold stands a bronze female figure carrying flowers with arm outstretched to open the door.

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Creative Commons License. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josie_Arlington

Josie died on 14 February 1914 and was buried at Metairie Cemetery and her family soon began fighting over her money and property. The tomb was eventually sold to Jose Antonio Morales, a New Orleans attorney. Cemetery officials had Josie Arlington’s remains removed to a remote, undisclosed location in the cemetery, and the name at the top of the tomb was changed to J. A. Morales. The name of his wife and four children are also engraved on the tomb.

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Source: https://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=663de6ec-af08-44d0-8c51-bed744562e1c

The site has become a curiosity and a tourist attraction. With reports of the stone urns bursting into flames, dancing lights and an eerie red glow, it soon became known as the Flaming Tomb. Rumours continue to flourish with claims that the statue bangs on the door to be let in and leaves its post at the door to walk amongst the other graves. It is thought to symbolize a virginal girl being turned away from the Arlington door, following Arlington’s claim in life that no woman’s innocence was taken on the grounds of her establishment.

The Angel of Death Victorious

Located in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio, is the grave of Francis Haserot whose family were among the elite and wealthy of Cleveland during the early twentieth century. Their fortune was earned in the food industry and so highly successful that the company continues to distribute high-quality canned foods across Ohio and Michigan.

wikimedia ccl Ian MacQueen
Creative Commons License, Ian MacQueen. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Matzen#/media/File:Angel_of_Death_Victorious.jpg

Seated on a marble dais the statue, commonly known as the Haserot Angel, is also referred to as the Weeping Angel although its technical name is The Angel of Death Victorious. The sculpture was created in bronze by Herman Matzen in 1923 for the Haserot family. Herman Matzen was an American sculptor and educator, born in Denmark (July 15, 1861 – April 22, 1938).

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The life-size statue is seated with raised wings. Her hands rest on an inverted torch with flame extinguished. Inverted torches are the more common version of this symbol of death and a life extinguished. It represents mourning.

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With solemn face and blackened eye sockets she appears to be weeping black tears. This eerie effect is caused by a process called patination. Bronze sculptures acquire a green patina formed by the metal’s reaction with carbon dioxides and sulfur dioxides. Although this patina is the equivalent to rust on iron, copper in the bronze reacts with different colors. (Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper).

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Will The Real Mother Goose Please Arise

In the United States, the Granary Burial Ground in Boston contains a slate gravestone dedicated to Mother Goose. It is located at the rear of the cemetery off one of the main paths. A pile of pennies at the headstone are left in recognition by visitors. The inscription reads:
Here lyes ye body of / Mary Goose wife to / Isaac Goose; aged 42 / years decd October / ye 19th 1690 / Here lies also susana / goose ye 3d aged 15 ms / died august 11th 1687

Translation from Olde English:
Here lies the body of / Mary Goose wife to / Isaac Goose; aged 42 / years deceased October / the 19th 1690 / here lies also Susana / Goose the 3rd aged 15 months / died august 11th 1687.

Isaac Goose was a wealthy landowner in Boston who married Mary Balston. She died at the young age of 42 in 1690 after bearing ten children. After Mary’s death, Isaac married Elizabeth Foster of Charlestown in 1693. She had six children before dying in 1758.

One of those children also named Elizabeth married a printer/publisher named Thomas Fleet who was responsible for publishing a collection of stories in a book entitled Songs for the Nursery. Although commonly believed that this book is the basis of Mother Goose nursery rhyme fame, French texts from as early as 1626 reference stories from Contes de ma Mère l’Oye (Tales of My Mother Goose).

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In London, England there is an information board at the entrance to the graveyard of St. Olaves which identifies the grave of Mother Goose interred on 14th September 1586. The burial register records the name as mother Goose (no first name recorded) therefore possibly a mother with the last name of Goose.

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Rabies Death

This gravestone is located in Cedar City Cemetery, Utah, USA

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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.

Fritz Family Tree

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.

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Source: https://www.facebook.com/pg/sgcemetery/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10150383943175536

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.

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachsdame/sets/72157603320074532/with/1215132407/

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.

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachsdame/sets/72157603320074532/with/1215132407/ource:

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.

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Source: http://hobgoblintaphophile.blogspot.com/2015/11/fritz-tree-stone-spring-grove-cemetery.html

A hand descends from Heaven with outstretched finger pointing to the epitaph of Lillian Fritz 1889-1963.

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachsdame/sets/72157603320074532/with/1215132407/

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.

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A ribbon wreath encircles a small bouquet of flowers.

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachsdame/sets/72157603320074532/with/1215132407/

Murdered by Human Wolves

Within the grass of Konawa Cemetery, Kenowa, Oklahoma, the grave of Katherine Cross is most memorable for the epitaph: Murdered By Human Wolves. In a continuation of her sad story the gravestone was stolen in 2016.

Her gravestone was engraved with an arch, open gates, and a star.
The arch is a symbol of triumph and victory in death. It also represents being joined with a partner in Heaven. Open gates symbolize the soul entering heaven. The star piercing the darkness symbolizes the spirit overcoming evil and rising to heaven.

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Source: http://www.405magazine.com/October-2013/77-Counties/

There are many legends surrounding her death including a fictional account in a novel written by Steven E. Wedel.

The facts: Katherine was the first born child of ten to John Taylor Cross and his wife, Mary Katherine Diehl Cross.
Katherine Dau. Of J.T. & M.K. Cross Mar. 13, 1899 Oct. 10, 1917 

An arrest and charge of first degree murder was made against Dr. Yates, a Konawa physician, for performing what is believed to be an abortion on Katherine who was three months pregnant. The father of the child was Fred O’Neil, the married principal of the Vamoosa School.

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Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7423442

Seminole County News later reported that Katherine’s death was downgraded from first-degree murder to first-degree manslaughter.

 

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial at the west end of the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. was created by Frank Gaylord, a Vermont sculptor. The memorial was intended to “confront visitors with the reality of actual war” without glorifying it.

The sculptures cast in stainless steel represent American soldiers in their rain ponchos making their way through the rough terrain of Korea wooded areas. Various branches of the armed forces are represented including fourteen Army personnel, three Marines, one member of the Navy, and one member of the Air Force. The sculptures also represent an ethnic cross section of American society; fourteen Caucasians, three African-Americans, two Hispanics, one Oriental, and one Native American soldier. Regardless of where you are situated at the memorial, one of the soldiers will always be looking at you.

aviewoncities
Source: https://www.aviewoncities.com/washington/koreanwarmemorial.htm

Military times
Source: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2015/10/12/korean-war-veterans-memorial-gets-1m-donation-from-samsung/

A black granite mural wall almost 164 feet long complements the statues. Designed by Louis Nelson it consists of forty-one panels showing 2,400 etched faces of military support personnel, (nurses, truck drivers, medics and chaplains) and equipment from all the branches of the armed forces.

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Creative Commons License, Wally Gobetz. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/3630221015

The Korean War Memorial was dedicated in 1995 by President Bill Clinton and President Kim Young-sam of South Korea.

Our Nation honors her Sons and Daughters who answered the call to defend a Country they never knew and a people they never met. 1950 Korea 1953

Bear Beard

In Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York City, you may be surprised to find an enormous bear sitting atop what appears to be a blank gravestone.

beard bear
Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12451565/william-holbrook-beard

Jeffrey I. Richman, historian, discovered that a famous artist named William Holbrook Beard was buried within the cemetery in Section 115, and yet there was no marker identifying his grave within a 14’ x 27’of the Beard family plot.

In 2002 a ceremony took place to erect a memorial to the 19th-century painter of animal scenes. As his favourite subject was the bear, a Colorado sculptor, Dan Ostermiller agreed to donate a bronze sculpture of a bear reflecting the humour that Beard often used in his art.

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Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12451565/william-holbrook-beard

The front of the granite stone is blank reflecting that the exact place of Beard’s remains is unknown. The rear is engraved; William / Holbrook / Beard/ 1824-1900/ American Artist/ L’Ours (the bear) sculpture by Dan Ostermiller, Sc. / Gift of the artist 2002

William Holbrook Beard died on 20 February 1900 from apoplexy (hemorrhage or stroke) at age 75.

find a grave
Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12451565/william-holbrook-beard