Archive for May, 2010

Last weekend at Lake View Cemetery I experimented with some of the color settings on my camera. I haven’t done black and white photography in the past, but I have an appreciation for the different mood that black, white and grays can evoke, especially in a cemetery. So here are photographs I took of a few Lake View monuments in black and white.




Behind Burke Mausoleum

More informative posting when I get home from the weekend.

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Romeo and Rosa Casino

On May 15, 1929, a fire broke out in the main building on Cleveland Clinic’s campus in a room where nitro-cellulose x-ray films were stored. The nitro-cellulose films deteriorated and produced toxic gases when heated, causing the fire. The three possible heat sources considered at the time of the fire  were a steampipe leak, an incandescent lightbulb, and a discarded cigarette or match. The bulb has emerged as the mostly likely explanation.  One was hanging near the x-ray films.

The films warmed and released a toxic gas which ignited.  The toxic gases, described everywhere as being yellowish brown vapors, first exploded and traveled up through the building through pipes. The fire was not the killer that day – a few died from debris from the explosions, but most were victims of the deadly gases.  Some victims died within moments of their exposure, but other succumbed hours after first inhaling the gas.  These victims assisted in treating other with oxygen or leaving the immediate vicinity reportedly feeling fine, and then later collapsed.   By the time the deaths were tallied, 123 were dead – 80 visitors or patients, 43 Clinic employees. Another 92 people were injured.  The Casinos were among their number.  They were laid to rest in Lake View Cemetery, with an epitaph that reminds us that they, like so many others that day, died unexpectedly.

You can find the Casinos on this scanned newspaper list from the St. Petersburg Independent of the victims of the disaster. This transcription lists the dead, their home towns, and some of their reasons for being there that day. The Cleveland Memory Project has photographs as well as a copy of a report written about the disaster a month later.

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The Wards have a Celtic cross with a corpus in the center:

The Britton, Byrne and Rochford families’ intermarriages are recorded on these two stones with crosses.
Byrnes, Brittons, and Rochfords


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This weekend during our steamy visit to Lake View Cemetery (the humidity was obnoxiously high), we encountered a tour group. When we converged on the same section, close enough to speak, the guide smiled at me and asked if we were heading over to the same monument they were. I wasn’t until I saw the direction she was pointing. This unique monument for the Hughes family is shielded by the trees and faces inward, away from the roads.


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During the women’s history roadtrip, we visited sites associated with the Salem witch trials, including the Rebecca Nurse Homestead and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

Rebecca Nurse home

Rebecca Nurse was a 71 year old woman at the time of the Salem Witch Trials.   Nurse was the matriarch of a large family and a respected member of the church and community.  She was vigorously defended by more than 40 residents of Salem (some of whom would later be accused of witchcraft themselves) who signed a petition to the court attesting to her piety and good character or wrote individual letters asserting the same.   The arrest of Rebecca Nurse for witchcraft has been noted by scholars as a significant moment in the witch trials – by acknowledging the possibility that such an upstanding member of the community could be a witch, the court was stating that anyone could be.   Nurse was initially acquitted, but then the magistrate asked the jury to reconsider their verdict.  The jury’s second verdict was guilty and Nurse was sentenced to be executed by hanging.   She, along with 4 others, was hanged on July 19, 1692.

The story of Nurse and her family is the focus of the film Three Sovereigns for Sarah. The Sarah of the title is Sarah Cloyce, and the film follows her quest to clear the names of her executed sisters Mary Easty and Rebecca Nurse. The reconstructed meetinghouse used in the film sits on the Nurse property and is part of the tour.

Salem Meeting House

According to descendants, Nurse’s children brought her body back to the property after her execution and buried her somewhere in the family graveyard on the property. In 1885, the Nurse family erected a monument in her memory.
Rebecca Nurse grave

The monument includes a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:
“O, Christian martyr! who for truth could die,
When all about thee owned the hideous lie!
The world, redeemed from superstition’s sway,
Is breathing freer for thy sake today.”

The other side of the monument reads:
“Accused of witchcraft she declared “I am innocent and God will clear my innocency.”
Once acquitted yet falsely condemned she suffered death July 19, 1692.
In loving memory of her Christian character even then fully attested by
forty of her neighbors This monument is erected July 1885.”

Rebecca Nurse grave

Another monument, added in 1892, stands to those who defended Nurse:
Salem Monument

Rebecca Nurse’s second memorial is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. In Salem, there is a memorial that was dedicated in 1992 to the victims of the trials. A small park adjacent to the Charter Street Cemetery (or Old Burying Point)  is surrounded by a stone wall. A few trees provide cool shade. Jutting out from the stone wall are 20 rough-hewn slabs, each engraved with the name and date of death of one of those executed during the trials. The entrance is engraved with the protestations of innocence of those memorialized here- – but cut off, explained to “symbolize society’s indifference to oppression.”

Salem Witch Memorial

Salem Witch Memorial

Rebecca Nurse stone

Photographs of all the individual stones in the memorial can be found here. Documents from the Salem Witch Trials can be found here.  While researching this post, I discovered a 3rd memorial that includes Rebecca Nurse: the Salem Village Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial in Danvers.

By the time the Salem Witch Trials ended, over 150 people had been accused, and 25 had died – 5 in jail, 19 by hanging, and 1 by being pressed to death with stones.

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About a month ago, I wrote about my great-grandmother’s brother, Ralph Allis.

Today we went to East Cleveland Township Cemetery armed detailed maps, but I knew what we were going to find. When I marked his grave on the map from the scanned burial records on the cemetery website, I saw that it was right next to the road. I’d been past that spot on every visit to the cemetery.

But we checked anyway. We startled a few members of the cemetery association who were mowing the grass and clearing branches when we drove in. I found the two family plots that are supposed to lie at my uncle’s head and feet. No marker with the surname Allis on it. We walked a little away from the area and checked nearby stones to make sure that the headstone hadn’t been moved over time. No Ralph.

I know, within a matter of a few feet, where my uncle Ralph Allis lies. Next time I go to East Cleveland Township Cemetery, I will take him flowers.

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Rev. Joseph Badger

I saw this tombstone and assumed that it would be easy to find out more information about Reverend Joseph Badger – after all, how many men named Joseph Badger could be running around the Western Reserve preaching in its early days? (I had originally phrased that question as “how many Badgers could be running around the Western Reserve in the early 19th centuries?”, but I thought better of it.)

The answer to my revised question turned out to be two. No, I am not kidding. There were two Rev. Joseph Badgers who were both preachers in the Western Reserve in the first half of the 19th century.

The Reverend Badger that this tombstone commemorates is likely to be the first missionary in the Western Reserve, although historians are not as willing to state that as definitively as the memorial is. Born in Massachusetts in 1757, Badger had already served in the American Revolution and been a teacher and weaver before he became a preacher. Badger studied at Yale University and was ordained in Massachusetts. In 1800 Badger traveled as a missionary into the Western Reserve under the auspices of the Connecticut Missionary Society. Badger’s initial duty was to serve the religious needs of the settlers, but he also attempted to convert Native Americans. He established churches, including the first one in the Western Reserve (second in what would become Ohio) in Austinburg in 1801, and served as chaplain and postmaster for soldiers during the War of 1812. By the time Badger died in Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1846, he had traversed nearly the entirety of northern Ohio in his missionary duties. He also left his memoirs behind.

There is a chapter in this book on Badger and a photo of his tombstone from the early 20th century.

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George Buttermore

Patrolman George Buttermore of the Shaker Heights Police Department was thrown from a motorcycle sidecar and died instantly. He was 50 at the time, and left behind a wife Ellen and a son Charles.

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Not surprisingly, there are a lot of Celtic crosses marking the graves at Glendalough in County Wicklow. When you first approach the gate, the tallest monument inside the complex is a majestic Celtic cross with a bit of moss now growing on it.

As you turn the bend to the right, you come to more Celtic crosses, including a monument to theLaurence Kavanaugh and his children which has a corpus inside the Celtic cross. This was something I had never encountered before I visited Ireland.

Kavanagh Tombstone

Another family of Kavanaghs rests nearby, also memoralized with a Celtic cross.

I took some more detailed shots of the distinctly Irish motifs on this Kavanagh marker.


The final Celtic cross on our walk today is nicknamed St. Kevin’s cross. It is reputed to mark the final resting place of St. Kevin, the founder of the monastic settlement. Although not definitive proof of Kevin’s burial, our guide told us that there is evidence an older, medieval burial there.
St. Kevin's cross

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While in Lowell, Massachusetts, visiting the Lowell Mills, we made a detour for the sole purpose of visiting the grave of Jack Kerouac. In the interest of full disclosure, I have only ever read some bits and pieces – some of On the Road and a few poems – by Jack Kerouac – Travels with Charley – and they don’t register as particularly memorable or moving for me. For more devoted fans, I’m sure that visiting the grave is more exciting than I found it. What did strike me about Kerouac’s grave were the grave offerings – alcohol, cigarettes, and flowers. Not being a regular cemetery visitor, I hadn’t been exposed to this kind of cemetery tourism or homage to the dead. I have since learned, of course, that taking alcohol to a grave is a tradition in multiple places. (Some day, I will get to Edgar Allen Poe’s grave.)

My photograph of Kerouac’s grave marker is lost to time, but it’s not hard to find. A photo of it can be found on find-a-grave.

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