Posts Tagged ‘massachusetts’

This is my 3rd post on my most viewed photos. I find it very enlightening to see what other people find interesting, and I also remind myself that more people would probably find more of my photos if I would keep up with labeling them.

The 7th most viewed cemetery photo in my Flickrstream is the breaking point I’ve been wondering about – up until this point, the grave markers have been famous because of what or who they commemorated, rather than for the markers themselves. And as I suspected, the first famous marker to get hits without necessarily marking the burial place of a particularly famous person is the Haserot Angel.

Haserot Angel in Snow

This statue has to be on of Lake View’s most famous, and it is only natural that my photo of it would receive a lot of views.

The next most viewed are back to famous people. First we have a monument to Rebecca Nurse, executed in Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Rebecca Nurse grave

Next is the grave of famous suffragist Susan B. Anthony, a scan of a photo taken on an old cheap camera that isn’t really even readable.

Susan B. Anthony's Grave

Rounding out the top ten is the marker for Eliot Ness, whose ashes were scattered at Lake View Cemetery in 1997.

Ness Monument

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The internet is a strange place. People come looking for all sorts of things, and occasionally they stumble on my blog and photographs. About once a week I check on the stats for the blog to see what brings people here, and I probably look at my Flickr stats about once a month to see what photos are getting the most views.

For reasons that I have yet to fathom, my most viewed photo on Flickr is a fairly grainy shot of my grandfather’s hunting themed birthday cake that probably predates my birth. But what I wanted to look at today was my most viewed cemetery photos.

The most viewed cemetery photo of all (4th most viewed of all photos) is one from the Nurse family cemetery at the Rebecca Nurse homestead in Danvers, Massachusetts. It lists the names of the people who testified on Rebecca Nurse’s behalf during the Salem Witch Trials.

Salem Monument

This makes a lot of sense to me, as the Salem Witch trials elicit a lot of interest even today. My 4th most viewed cemetery photo is the stone cenotaph for Rebecca Nurse at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

Rebecca Nurse stone

Number two is my rather poor photo of the stone for Helen Pitts Douglass from Rochester, New York. I’m guessing it gets the hits it does because Frederick Douglass, her husband, is mentioned in the description.

Grave of Helen Pitts Douglass

The third and fifth most viewed cemetery photos are for Confederate general’s graves in the same town: Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

Stonewall Jackson's grave

Robert E. Lee's tomb

These photos, poor as many of them are, have received well over 100 views each. I’m going to revisit this again, because I am curious about what photos of mine that aren’t of famous people’s graves get visitors.

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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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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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Sometimes when I am doing cemetery photography, my aesthetic sense and my intellectual interest end up butting heads. I love the look of this photo:
Boston Massacre
It’s visually interesting – the sparse dapples of sunshine that have manged to slip past the shade tree’s branches to actually fall on the tombstone and flag make it look different. When I look through my old photographs from this trip to Boston, this still catches my eye.

But the shade and sunshine obscure the writing on the tombstone. Can’t tell what it is? It’s the marker for the five victims of the Boston Massacre and Christopher Snider, a young man who was shot two weeks before the event during an altercation between Loyalists and colonists sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. The stone is in the Old Granary Burial Ground in Boston. Someone has helpfully posted a more readable photo on Find-a-Grave.

I still enjoy the photo visually. I guess I’ll just have to make it to Boston again to take more photos…

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Sometimes, the interesting thing about cemeteries is knowing the what the tombstone doesn’t say.  In the summer of 2001 as part of a college course, I visited Fall River, Massachusetts, and stayed overnight in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and Museum. (Apologies to those who would like photographs – the roll of film containing the Lizzie Borden house and cemetery plot photos disappeared. )  For those unfamiliar with the story, in 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts. Andrew’s eldest daughter Emma Borden was visiting friends at the time, and his youngest daughter Lizzie was tried for the murders.

Even before the murders, all was not sweetness and light in the Borden household.  Andrew’s first wife Sarah died in 1863,  and Emma considered caring for young Lizzie to be her duty to her deceased mother.  When Andrew remarried Abby, Lizzie had two competing mother figures in her sister and stepmother, and testimony at the  trial indicated that Emma had won that conflict.  Exacerbating those tensions was Andrew’s control over family finances and property – at the time of the murder, Andrew was dividing up family property in ways that Emma and Lizzie were unlikely to appreciate.  Some scholars of the case have also implied that Andrew could have been abusive to Lizzie.  Just before the murders, the entire family had come down with a mysterious illness that Mrs. Borden had feared was malicious poisoning, but the doctor attributed it to simply food poisoning. And then one hot summer day, August 4, 1892, Andrew was struck down with so many hatchet swings as he lay on a couch in the parlor.  Lizzie found (or “found” him) and called for the maid, Bridget Sullivan.  Soon after, Bridget found Abby Borden bludgeoned in the guest room just to the left at the top of the main staircase.

Suspicion immediately fell on Lizzie, and she was arrested 7 days later.  Lizzie Borden was acquitted  for the murder of her father and stepmother, but the court of public opinion judged her differently. Even though a number of other suspects for the Borden murders have been suggested over the years, Lizzie has always been primary, because it simply seems impossible that she could have been in the house and not been aware of her stepmother and father being killed with a hatchet.  Many residents of Fall River were convinced that Lizzie had gotten away with murder.  One worker at the Bed and Breakfast and Museum said that his grandmother used to cross the street to walk on the other sidewalk if she saw Lizzie Borden coming towards her.  Plenty of people I meet still know the childhood jump-rope rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe, Gave her mother forty whacks When she saw what she had done Gave her father forty-one.

(The pedants among us will now note that the likely murder weapon was a hatchet rather than an axe.  And it was her stepmother.  And both combined weren’t hit 40 times.)

But neither Lizzie nor or Emma left Fall River.  They bought a bigger house called Maplecroft in the ritzier section of town and then had their own falling out in 1905.  Although Emma retained ownership of half the house, the two sisters lived apart.  But when they died just 9 days apart in 1927, Lizzie and Emma were buried up in the family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery. And to this day, the family is all together again in the cemetery.  Lizzie, Emma, and their sister Alice who died a toddler are buried their with their father, mother, and stepmother in a comfortable little family plot.  Their small, uniform individual footstones sit in a neat row in front of the family monument, belying the chaos and strife that marked their lives and deaths.

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