Tag Archives: Cincinnati

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/

Asylum Interments

There was a time in the latter part of the last century when facilities for those suffering from mental health issues were known as Hospitals for the Insane, State Colonies for the Feeble-Minded, Lunatic Asylums or Mental Institutions, and the regard for the patients was equally insensitive even in death. Many family members did not claim the bodies of their deceased relatives and they were buried in unmarked graves or graves identified with only a number.

Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum opened in 1842. Over population and a decrease in staff sadly led to mistreatment of patients. People died at an alarming rate and it is believed that 25,000 people are buried in the hospital grounds possibly in a mass grave. The Central State Hospital in Milledgeville as it became known closed in 2010. Cedar Lane Cemetery contains numbered iron markers of patients who died at the hospital. The historic marker at the cemetery states the following: In 1997 a cemetery restoration began here triggered a movement to memorialize patients buried at state psychiatric hospitals nationwide. After discovering nearby neglected cemeteries interred some 25,000 people, members of the Georgia Consumer Council pledged to restore the burial grounds and build a memorial. A grassroots campaign raised funds to erect the adjacent gate and display 2000. numbered iron markers displaced from graves over the years. A life-size bronze angel was placed 175 yards south of here to serve as a perpetual guardian.

Letchworth Village in Rockland County, Rockland County New York, opened in 1911 as a residential facility for the mentally and/or physically disabled. It closed in 1996 after years of reported abuse and a lack of funding. Graves are marked with rusting metal T-shapes embossed with a number.

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Image source: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/numbers-instead-of-names-on-the-forgotten-graves-of-asylum-patients

The Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum Cemetery in Wells, Somerset opened in 1874 and closed in 1991. The cemetery contains 2900 anonymous graves identified by numbered iron discs. A wooden sculpture by artist Peter Bolton lies on the ground beside the markers representing the anguish of mental health.

As recent as 2011, there was no road, no sign and no headstones for the 5776 patients buried at the Willard Asylum for the Insane. New York State operated 26 of these facilities.

Vermont Asylum for the Insane was founded  in Brattleboro in 1834 to care for the mentally ill. Initially deceased patients were buried in the Village Burying Ground (to later become Prospect Hill Cemetery), then the Asylum Burying Ground and finally in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery known as Fairview. None of the graves have identification.

“The eye of him that hath seen me shall
come no more. Why hast thou set in
me a mark against thee so that I am a
burden to myself? and why dost thee not
pardon my transgression and take away
mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the
dust and thou shalt seek me in the
morning, but I shall not be.” Sarah Culy

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Between 1871 and 1953, there were 3200 patients buried at the Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Oregon. They were represented by numbered stones which sank beneath the surface of the ground.  A granite stone has been erected over a mass grave to mark their lives and deaths.

 

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Image source: http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/clear-pixel-once-anonymous-graves-of-mentally-ill-at-wash-mental-institution-get-named-markers/

The Longview Asylum opened in 1860 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The hospital cemetery contains the bodies of patients who were unclaimed or died indigent. Grave markers consist of small square cement blocks bearing a number.

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Image source: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2350754

Spencer State Asylum Roane County, West Virginia, opened in 1893 closing almost 100 years later in 1989. Approximately 850 patients are buried on the hospital grounds.

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Image source: http://www.hurherald.com/cgi-bin/db_scripts/articles?Action=user_view&db=hurheral_articles&id=45196

The Mississippi Lunatic Asylum was established in Jackson in 1848 and asylum patients were buried on the grounds. The cemetery which has been consecrated also contains the ashes of many anatomical donors and is the repository for the ashes of infants who died at UMC and whose families wished them to be buried there. A Ceremony of Remembrance honors them in a fall service.

“By their extraordinary gifts these dead have taught the living how to touch, through them, we touch the body of the world”. John Stone M.D.

This monument was dedicated on april 16, 1996 as a memorial to all those who have donated their bodies to the University of Mississippi Medical Center since 1955 for professional education and research.

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Image source: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2161647

Public attitude has since changed 180 degrees with regards to mental health. Markers and/or memorial walls have been erected to recognize those who died and were buried with no ceremony. A new national memorial dedicated to the unnamed graves of the mentally ill broke ground at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2009.