Monday, June 18, 2018

Stones and Bones 11 - Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston

Magnolia Cemetery, the Garden of the Dead. Like so many garden cemeteries in the south, Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery was founded on a former plantation. The Magnolia Umbra Plantation was a rice plantation owned by Colonel William Cunnington. The cemetery was founded nearly 170 years ago and is a beautiful example of a southern graveyard with large old live oak trees ladened with Spanish moss, ornate ironwork and the former plantation house serves as the Superintendent's office. The cemetery is full of notable burials that include former governors and other politicians, bootleggers, madams and planters. Join me as we explore one of the larger cemeteries in Charleston!

The Magnolia Umbra Plantation dates back to 1784. In 1805, Colonel William Cunnington built his home on the plantation. The structure was two stories and made from stucco-faced brick on the first level and clapboard-covered balloon framing on the second level.The north side of house has a two-story verandah. The windows had louvered shutters and the roof flared at the ends over the porches and were covered with standing-seam terne. That house still remains on the property and is used at the Superindendent's office. It is need of renovations and has termite damage though. Much of the vegetation here probably dates back to the plantation time. The live oaks are massive.

Magnolia Cemetery is laid out on 92 acres of the original plantation. The graveyard was founded in 1850 by a company formed by eight stockholders. Charlestonians opposed the establishment of a garden cemetery like Mount Auburn in Boston and Greenwood in New York. The town was filled with churchyards and that's the way they liked their graveyards. This company chose the plantation as their site and architect Edward C. Jones to survey and design the grounds. The Charleston Courier described Magnolia Cemetery in their paper dated July 30, 1850, "The grounds are already enclosed; the main avenues, embracing an extensive ride, are garded and constructed; the chapel, which is of the gothic style, is in rapid progress of erection; and a large portion of the ground has been laid out and surveyed into burial lots. The lake or lakes, which interest the grounds are to be supplied with water from Cooper River." The cemetery was dedicated with a religious ceremony, music and an address delivered by Charles Fraser.

The original design had a chapel, receiving tomb, formal garden and keeper's house. Three other structures were added in 1890. Only the plantation home and receiving tomb still remain. Magnolia is full of wonderful monuments and mausoleums. There is the Gibbes Mausoleum that was erected in 1888 and is a marble tomb that features the family coat of arms, an urn and two flanking angels that were sculpted in Italy. This is the final resting place of James Shoolbred Gibbes and seven of his relatives. His donation of $100,000 led to the Gibbes Museum of Art. He was worth over a million at the time of his death. What really makes this mausoleum unique is that it is sometimes called the Gibbes Mound because it has an earthen mound raised over its top. The plot is rather large with a wrought-iron gate around the perimeter.

Final resting places for children are some of the toughest to behold in a cemetery. Many have little lambs atop smaller than usual tombstones, reminding us of a life cut off way too early. The Raymond-White Plot is a stunning example of the heartache brought on by a child's death. Now imagine if you will, losing five of your eight children. That is the case for Blake and Rosalie White. Five of their children didn’t survive youth. One of their daughters, Rosalie Raymond, is immortalized in a portrait atop her stone cradle.

The W.B. Smith Mausoleum is Egyptian Revival in style and features a large pyramid tomb. William Smith left school at 15 and made his fortune in the cotton factor business. After his death in 1892, his body spent 30 months in the receiving tomb while his final resting place was designed by Edward C Jones and built by stonemasons of the Charleston Granite Works. There was a lot of thought put into this mausoleum. The front of the building faces true north, which allows maximum sunlight exposure to illuminate the Tiffany stained glass window of the south face. There is a rose colored mosaic tile floor and a hugh bronze door, with cast ornamental grates and panels with '18' and '94' on them for 1894, the year of construction. His wife had died before him and she was disinterred and joined him in the pyramid. Included in the tomb are their second daughter, a grandson, another grandson and his wife, a grand-daughter and a great-grandson.

Louis Comfort Tiffany didn't just design beautiful stained glass. He also created cemetery monuments at his Tiffany Studios. One of his pieces of funarary art is at Magnolia Cemetery and it was created for the wife of Charles Witte. Her name was Charlotte, but he called her "Lottie." At the top of the monument is a Celtic cross with the middle of the piece featuring the image of an angelic being. Some describe it as an angel, while others think this could be a depiction of the goddess Nike. The figure is holding a trumpet in her left hand and a palm branch in her right. The Wittes were a wealthy couple. Charles had immigrated to America from Germany when he was 22. He opened up Witte & Goodwin in Charleston in the mid 1800s as an importer and wholesale dealer in foreign and domestic wines, liquors and cigars. He retired, married Lottie who was 22 years his junior and had six daughters. He came out of retirement to become director and then president of the new People’s National Bank. Lottie died of cancer in 1890, at the age of 44.

The Vanderhorst Mausoleum was erected in 1856 and is also Egyptian Revival in style. This one is not pyramid in shape, rather it is just rectangular. The door has a Christian cross set into it, probably to soften the pagan overtones of the mausoleum. The cross is flanked with twin lotus columns. The Colonel William Washington Monument is a large fluted Doric column that was built in 1858. Rather unsettling is the rattlesnake that is entwined near the base. The monument is encircled by an iron fence. Hattie A. Bird's Monument has a fully sculpted, seated female figure and Ellen Turner's has a free standing angel writing in the Book of Death. The Elbert P. Jones Monument was designed by Francis D. Lee and features a pinnacled monument with central spire. The Micah Jenkins Tombstone is a large obelisk with a sword carved in relief upon it. Sally F. Chapin is buried here. She was an author and champion of the temperance and women's suffrage movement. Another interesting aside is that she sent a petition to the State Constitutional Convention to raise the statutory age of consent for women to eighteen years. The constitution was changed to sixteen years. Unbelievably,it had been ten years.  St. Julien Ravenel was an American physician and agricultural chemist who designed the torpedo boat CSS David that was used during the Civil War to attack the Union ironclad USS New Ironsides. After the war, he pioneered the use of fertilizers in agriculture.

William Aiken Jr. is buried here. He was born in 1806 and served as the 61st governor of South Carolina from 1844 to 1846. He also served in the U. S. Congressand ran for Speaker of the House in 1856 in “the longest and most contentious Speaker election in House history.” He lost. Aiken owned the largest rice plantation in the state on Jehossee Island. This was the largest plantation there and eventually Aiken owned all of the island. Rice was the top crop in South Carolina and Aiken became very rich. After the Civil War, the plantation produced 1.2 million pounds of rice. Aiken died in 1887. His house, the Aiken-Rhett House, is part of the Historic Charleston foundation and is said to be haunted.

There are 850 Confederate servicemen buried in the Soldiers’ Ground. Overlooking it is the bronze statue of a soldier marching northward. The tombstones here are made of stone leftover from the Columbia, S.C., capitol building. And from World War II there are British war graves of five Royal Navy and Merchant Navy personnel.

Buried at the Hunley Circle are three crews of mariners who perished aboard the H.L. Hunley, which is considered the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. The story here begins in 1863 when H.L. Hunley and two Alabama Confederates decided to build the first fully submersible submarine. It was going to be used for privateering. The Hunley was a 40' by 4' torpedo-shaped tube that had a 20' spar carrying 90 pounds of explosive. Around eight men could fit in the sub and they hand cranked the center shaft to power the machine. The Hunley was brought to Charleston via train and crews started training. The spar made it possible that the submarine didn't have to fully submerge and a mine could  be rammed against the side of the enemy ship. Unfortunately, the first crew forgot to close all the hatches and they drowned on their training run. They were so bloated when the sub was recovered that slaves had to dismember the bodies to get them out. They were buried originally in a mariner's graveyard that was found under The Citadel's Johnson Hagood stadium. They were relocated to the Hunley Circle in 2000. Another crew suffered the same fate later when the seacock was not closed. Eight men died, including the builder H.L. Hunley. This was the first crew buried at Magnolia Cemetery. The Hunley had its final mission when it went after the Housatonic. It successfully managed to damage the ship so that it was unsalvageable. The Hunley signaled to Sullivan's Island with its blue lantern that it had been successful and then it disappeared. Until the year 1995. Best selling author Clive Cussler funded a search for the Hunley that resulted in its discovery. It would not be raised until the year 2000 and all eight crewmen were found still inside. The were given a full military funeral with the longest funeral procession Charleston had ever hosted, in 2004.*Fun fact: After the Civil War, P.T. Barnum offered up a $100,000 reward for the discovery of the lost vessel.*

Magnolia Cemetery is beautiful and has many historic burials. At one time it was a favorite picnic site for families. This is one of those cemeteries that should be on everyone's list to visit in their lifetime. And that was just a little about the Stones and Bones found here!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Stones and Bones 10 - Normandy American Cemetery


The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The original cemetery here was called the American St. Laurent Cemetery, which was established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944. The Americans needed a place to bury their dead during World War II and this was the first American cemetery established on European soil during that war. There are over 9,000 soldiers buried here and it is one of the most visited graveyards in the world. For those that visit, it is a truly moving experience. Join me as I explore the stones and bones found here.

The Normandy American Cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach, one of five beaches that was part of the Normandy Invasion. The beaches were all given codenames. Besides Omaha there was Sword, Juno, Gold and Utah. The Normandy Invasion occurred on a day that we all know as D-Day, June 6, 1944. This was the largest amphibious invasion in history.  Allied land forces were made up of troops from the United States, Britain, Canada, and Free French forces. They would later be joined by Polish forces and contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece and the Netherlands. The night before the invasion, German troops were softened by massive air attacks from the air forces of these nations along with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Overnight parachute and glider landings took place as well. Naval forces from all of these countries also bombarded the beaches the night before. The attacks were formally known as Operation Overlord. 

Troops from the United States landed on Omaha and Utah, Great Britain landed on Gold and Sword and Canada landed on Juno. The total number of troops that landed on D-Day was around 130,000–156,000, roughly half American and the other from the Commonwealth Realms. The fighting would last until July 9th. Over 425,000 men were killed, wounded or went missing during the invasion from both sides. This was a great Allie victory and the Germans had to push back to Paris. This was the beginning of the end for the Nazis. *Fun Fact: The D in D-Day stands for nothing. It was a term regularly used for the beginning of an assault, but after this invasion, it was forever made a permanent marker of this day.*

The Normandy American Cemetery was established on July 18, 1956 just to the east of the St. Laurent Cemetery. France granted the United States a special concession that lasts into perpetuity that gives them the land that covers 172 acres, free of any charge or tax. The bodies were all moved here from several temporary cemeteries. They were placed in wooden coffins that were put in metal vaults that were buried facing the United States. The remains of 9,387 American military dead are buried here, including 307 of the unknown and four American women. The image the graveyard creates is striking as rows of perfectly aligned crosses stretch across the acres in perfect lines laid out by string lines.

Most of the dead were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. There are also graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France dating back to 1942. The Walls of the Missing is a semicircular colonnade that has 1,557 names inscribed on it. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. At each end there is a loggia containing large maps and narratives of the military operations. In the center is a 22-foot-tall bronze statue called “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves” overlooking a reflecting pool. An orientation table overlooking the beach depicts the landings in Normandy. There is a circular chapel and, at the far end, granite statues representing the United States and France.

The American Battle Monuments Commission is a small independent agency of the U.S. federal government and it manages the cemetery. In 2007, the Normandy Visitors Center opened and dedicated on June 6, 2007 during the commemoration of the 63rd Anniversary of D-Day. The center is sited in a wooded area of the cemetery approximately 100 meters east of the Garden of the Missing. There are exhibits and they run three visitor films: Letters, On Their Shoulders, and Ok, Let's Go. There is a time capsule embedded in the lawn directly opposite the entrance to the old Visitors' Building. It contains news reports of the June 6, 1944 Normandy landings and is covered by a pink granite slab that reads: To be opened June 6, 2044. Affixed in the center of the slab is a bronze plaque adorned with the five stars of a General of the Army and engraved with the following inscription: “In memory of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the forces under his command.” 

Every person who laid down their life during the Normandy Invasion is notable, but obviously with so many thousands buried here, I can’t touch on everybody. We’ll look at some of those who are more well known and have more information on them out in the public space. Only some of those who died overseas are buried in the overseas American military cemeteries. After the war, family members were asked if they would like to have the bodies repatriated.

Lesley J. McNair was a U.S. Army general who served during both World Wars. He was one of the two highest-ranking Americans to be killed in action in World War II. He was born in Minnesota on May 25, 1883. He was a 1904 graduate of the United States Military Academy. During World War I, he served as assistant chief of staff for training with the 1st Division, and then chief of artillery training on the staff at the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters. He was so distinguished in his service at that point that he became the Army’s youngest general officer when he was promoted to brigadier general at the age of 35. During World War II, he was assigned as commander of Army Ground Forces. He was said to be the "unsung architect of the U.S. Army." Not all tacticians and historians agree with the ideas that General McNair made, but he is credited with modernizing the Army’s tactics. Unfortunately, he was killed by friendly fire while in France while commanding the fictional First United States Army Group. This group was used to mask the actual landing sites on D-Day and was called Operation Quicksilver. Operation Cobra was using heavy bombers to provide air support for infantry operations during the Battle of Normandy and an Eighth Air Force bomb landed in his foxhole.

Jimmie Waters Monteith Jr. was a United States Army officer whose heroic actions on D-Day led to him being awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Jimmie was born in Jul of 1917. He joined the fight during World War II in Algeria when he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division known as the Big Red One. The division moved to Sicily in July 1943, and he received a field promotion to 1st lieutenant during the campaign. The Big Red One joined the Normandy Invasion, arriving in England in November of 1943. He was killed on D-Day. Jimmie’s grave can be found in section I, row 20, grave 12. The following citation was issued with his Medal of Honor:

“The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Jimmie W. Montieth Jr., United States Army for service as set forth in the following CITATION: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, while serving with 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in action near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. First Lieutenant Monteith landed with the initial assault waves on the coast of France under heavy enemy fire. Without regard to his own personal safety he continually moved up and down the beach reorganizing men for further assault. He then led the assault over a narrow protective ledge and across the flat, exposed terrain to the comparative safety of a cliff. Retracing his steps across the field to the beach, he moved over to where two tanks were buttoned up and blind under violent enemy artillery and machinegun fire. Completely exposed to the intense fire, First Lieutenant Monteith led the tanks on foot through a minefield and into firing positions. Under his direction several enemy positions were destroyed. He then rejoined his company and under his leadership his men captured an advantageous position on the hill. Supervising the defense of his newly won position against repeated vicious counterattacks, he continued to ignore his own personal safety, repeatedly crossing the 200 or 300 yards of open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen links in his defensive chain. When the enemy succeeded in completely surrounding First Lieutenant Monteith and his unit and while leading the fight out of the situation, First Lieutenant Monteith was killed by enemy fire. The courage, gallantry, and intrepid leadership displayed by First Lieutenant Monteith is worthy of emulation.”

Two of the four Niland brothers are buried here, Preston and Robert. The Niland brothers were Irish-Americans from Tonawanda, New York. All four boys enlisted to serve during World War II. At one point during the war, it was thought that three of the boys had been killed in action and this led to orders to have the one remaining brother, Frederick "Fritz" Niland, pulled out of action and shipped back home. This story inspired the Steven Spielburg movie “Saving Private Ryan.” It would later be discovered that another brother, Edward, was actually alive and a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp in Burma. He had parachuted from his B-25 Mitchell and was captured in the jungles of Burma. He was a POW for a year and after the war returned to Tonawanda where he lived until his death in 1984 at the age of 71. Fritz was awarded a Bronze Star for his service and died in 1983 in San Francisco at the age of 63. His brother Bob was 25 when he died in Normandy. He was serving with D Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He volunteered to join two other soldiers to man machine guns to holdoff the Germans while their company retreated from Neuville-au-Plain. He was killed while manning his machine gun; the other two men survived. Preston was a Second Lieutenant with the 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was killed in action the day after D-Day near Utah Beach. He was 29-years-old.

Frank D. Peregory was a United States Army technical sergeant who posthumously received the Medal of Honor. He had already received the Soldier's Medal for rescuing another soldier from drowning. Peregory was only 15-years-old when he lied about his age in order to join the Virginia Army National Guard. That unit was activated in December 1941. Peregory saved a fellow soldier while guarding a beach. He would take heroic action again when his unit was assigned to the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He risked his life by single-handedly attacking a fortified German machine-gun emplacement, killing several and taking more than 30 prisoners. He managed to do this unscathed. But the Medal of Honor had to be awarded posthumously because he was killed in action six days later.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. He directed troops at the Normandy Invasion on Utah Beach. He received the Medal of Honor for his service during that attack. His original track in life was not military. He was educated at private academies and Harvard University and he went into business. He enlisted with the Army when World War I started and he was given a reserve commission as major because he had attended a Citizens' Military Training Camp. He served primarily with the 1st Division, took part in several engagements including the Battle of Cantigny, and commanded the 26th Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant colonel. He helped form the American Legion and after the war, he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1921–1924), Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–1932), and Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–1933). He returned to active duty when World War II started and received promotion to brigadier general as assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division. He helped lead the North Africa landings during Operation Torch and then went on to the Normandy Invasion. He survived through that but died a month later from a heart attack. He had been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism at Normandy, but it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor after his death. He was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops and he was the oldest man in the invasion at 56. His son also landed on that day.

Quentin Roosevelt was the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt. He joined the United States Army Air Service where he became a pursuit pilot during World War I. He was a daring pilot with the 95th Aero Suadron who flew a Nieuport 28. He was shot down in aerial combat over Chamery in France on Bastille Day.  Two machine gun bullets struck him in the head. The German military buried him with full battlefield honors and used wire from his plane to bind two pieces of basswood saplings together to form a cross. Eleven years after the World War II American Cemetery was established in France at Colleville-sur-Mer, Quentin's body was exhumed and moved there. He is buried next to his brother Ted and the basswood cross was put on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton Ohio.

A really cool thing is that over a decade ago, a French couple founded an organization that matched French families with a serviceman’s grave and they lay memorials there since most have families that cannot do that personally. This truly is a moving cemetery. And that was just a little about the stones and bones found here!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Stones and Bones 9 - Saint Nicholas Orthodox Churchyard

Eklutna Historical Park is located in Chugiak, Alaska and within this park, one will find both the old and new Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. This church has a churchyard filled with unique graves that are known as spirit houses. They dot the landscape with color and are a symbol for how Christianity changed the way of life for the Inuit people who settled the land: the Dena'ina tribe of the Athabascans. Join me as we explore the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Churchyard!

The town of Chugiak is twenty miles northeast of Anchorage. The name "Chugiak" comes from a Dena'ina word meaning "place of many places". The Dena'ina were originally known as the Tanaina (tuh-nye-nuh), which means "the people." The native people of Alaska do not live on reservations, but rather in tribal villages. The villages of the past were led by a village chief. The Tanaina settled around the mouth of the Eklutna River in the 1200s. In 1650, they founded the village of Eklutna and they have remained there ever since. This village is the last of eight villages that existed before the construction of the Alaska Railroad. The Tanaina made earth homes that were made by digging an underground chamber and lining it with log walls that were then packed with layers of dirt for warmth and the roof was thatched. Russian missionaries arrived in 1830. This would change the way of life for the tribe. And the coming of the missionaries was not peaceful in some areas. Several of them were murdered.

Before the missionaries, the Tanaina would cremate their dead. The ashes would be placed in a birch bark basket which was put in a tree or by the  riverside. The Tanaina believed that the deceased spirit would then travel to the "High Country." The missionaries taught them to bury their dead instead. The missionaries also established the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church. The original church still stands, but is not used today. That old church was constructed out of hewn Spruce logs in Knik in 1870 and then moved to Eklutna in 1900. This is the oldest standing building near Anchorage and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior has no furnishings except for an oil stove, a table and an altar. The floor is made from plank puncheon. The Alaska Railroad brought colonists in 1915 and a railroad siding and station were built in 1918. More non-native people would come following World War II when a military installation was established here, but it no longer exists and those that remain in the village all have some native heritage. The new Russian Orthodox Church was built in 1962 and is painted white with light blue trim. The construction was spearheaded by Athabaskan Chief Mike Maxim Alex.

The Russian Orthodox denomination is said to have been founded by the Apostle Andrew who reached the area that is now Kiev and foretold the foundation of a great Christian city. He is said to have erected a cross there that is now where St. Andrew's Cathedral is located. The denomination is represented by a very unique cross that has three crossbeams with the lowest one being slanted. They adopted this from Byzantium. The upper arm represents the inscription over Christ's head and the  slanted bar represents the footrest. As to why the footrest is slanted, no one is really sure but many believe that the pointing upward part is towards Paradise for the Good Thief on Jesus' right who acknowledged Him and downward to Hell for the Thief on His left who mocked Him. Catherine the Second, who was the Empress of all the Russian territory, was the first to appoint clergymen for work in Russian America. Even after Alaska became the property of the United States in 1867, the Russian Church still continued its work in Alaska.

The new St. Nicholas Orthodox church features two of the Orthodox crosses and also two of the domes that are Particular to the orthodox church style. They are onion-shaped domes on top of the cupolas. Some historians believe that this is a Persian influence, but others think the origin is more practical and that it kept the snow off. Next to the two Russian Orthodox churches is the churchyard, which some refer to as Eklutna Graveyard. Upon entering, one immediately notices what makes this graveyard so unique and one of the most photographed in all the world: the spirit houses.

The spirit houses are made from wood and painted bright colors. These spirit houses are a uniquely Tanaina/Athabaskan tradition. The burial practices here are a long process and wonderfully unique. After a funeral, the graves are covered with stones and then a blanket. The blanket is meant to comfort the soul. The blanket is left for 40 days and then the spirit box is constructed right over the blanket. Most of these measure three or four feet in length and two or three feet in height. Some have glass windows and porches and even cupolas. Little houses built inside a house are done for a mother and child who died together. If a fence is put around a house, the person buried there didn’t live in the community. Prized possessions were placed in the spirit houses as well, like weapons, books or other tokens. Family members will then paint the spirit house in the colors that represent the family and add geometric shapes. Married couples will sometimes the blend the colors of both their families. Some of the graves just have a spirit house and others also have a Russian Orthodox cross. There are also graves marked only with crosses, honoring the resting places of the Orthodox non-native members of the church.

There are around one hundred burials in the churchyard. And some of the spirit houses are in a serious state of decay because the Athabaskan believe that everything should return to the earth and that includes the houses. The houses were not just meant to serve as markers, but also were a place to hold the spirit as they took the journey to Heaven. This would keep the spirits from bothering the living. Many of the graves have no names, which makes it harder to get a record of who is buried here. I did find one that was a baby who was born and died on the same day in 1958 and his name and that of his parents is on a marker: Thomas Wayne Alex and his parents were Herbert and Elisabeth Alex. There is a white fence around the grave, meaning that the baby was outside of the community. Another spirit house has a metal roof and the name on it reads Dan Alex. Another house has several inch-wide holes drilled all around the walls. Not sure the purpose.

One of the guides for the cemetery is Aaron Leggett and most of his family is buried in the churchyard. The most striking spirit house belongs to his grandmother, Marie Rosenberg. The house is white with blue trim around miniature windows and a red roof. It was built on a welded-steel frame by Leggett's uncle Frank. The house stands about 4 feet high and looks like a dollhouse with all the detail. It is a model of a two-story white clapboard house and is based on the girl's dormitory at the Eklutna Vocational School that was operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1925 to 1945. An icon of the Virgin Mary peers out from one of the windows. Leggett's grandmother passed away in 2003.

The cemetery is left to grow wild and wildflowers are everywhere along with long grasses. A path of rocks winds around the outside. Evergreens line the area around the graveyard and it just seems to be the perfect setting for an Alaskan churchyard. The only thing that seems out of place are the bright colors of the spirit houses. And that was just a little about the stones and bones found here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stones and Bones 8 - Chicago's Graceland Cemetery

Suggested by listener: Kim Gasiorowski

Hundreds of Chicago's most noted historic figures are buried behind the stone and iron gates of the 121 acres that make up Graceland Cemetery. This graveyard is clearly one of the best examples of a garden cemetery featuring rolling hills, lush landscaping and peaceful winding paths. The monuments and memorials that mark many of the graves here are unique and beautifully sculpted. Graceland hails back to the Victorian Era and for that reason, the cemetery is oozing with history.

Like so many large cities of the era, Chicago found that its first city cemetery, founded in 1843, was becoming overcrowded and the city was encroaching on the cemetery. People believed that cemeteries were hotbeds for disease as well and they did not want them so close to the city. The selling of plots stopped in 1859 and bodies began to be disinterred and transferred to other cemeteries at that time. One of the cemeteries where these bodies were taken was Graceland Cemetery. Graceland Cemetery was founded in 1860 by attorney Thomas B. Bryan. Several landscape designers had a hand in shaping the cemetery. The original designs were created by William Saunders, who was an experienced designer of parks and cemeteries. Those designs were implemented by Swain Nelson. Nelson went on to landscape Lincoln Park. William Le Baron Jenney designed three of the lakes and an expansion. In 1870, H.W.S. Cleveland sodded the paths and plots to produce a uniform surface. Finally, the biggest impact to Graceland was initiated by Ossian Cole Simonds who served as Graceland’s superintendent from 1883 to 1898. He created more naturalistic landscapes and shaped long-view vistas. The cemetery was awarded a medal of excellence at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Simonds worked at Graceland until his death in 1931. Because of Simonds direction and vision that he had for making the graveyard a beautiful symmetry of monuments and nature, landscape historians regard Graceland Cemetery as "one of the most remarkable park-like cemeteries of the Western world."

Graceland is the final resting place of several victims of the tragic Iroquois Theater fire, which happened on December 30, 1903 and left 600 people dead. Many of those in attendance to see the matinee performance of Mr. Blue Beard were children as school was out for the Christmas break. Fire codes of the time were non-existent and several factors led to a deadly event. First, the theater had only one entrance. And although fire ordinances required separate stairways and exits for each balcony, the theater was not built that way. The area where scenery was hung was unusually large as were the other backstage areas. There were no sprinklers, alarms or any kind of water connections. And yet, the theater was coined as fire-proof. The firefighting equipment that was available was for use on low burning fires, not ones that started high like what was going to happen at the Iroquois Theater. During the second act, the orchestra started playing a dreamy waltz called "Let Us Swear by the Pale Moonlight." Suddenly, an arc light on the left side of the stage sputtered and ignited a strip of paint-saturated muslin on a drape. Nobody saw the fire start. But they soon realized there was a problem when blazing drapery fell to the stage. The performers bolted from the stage, save for one who tried to calm the crowd. It didn't work and everyone bolted for the 27 exits. The stampede crushed some and many succumbed to smoke inhalation as they pressed for the exits. Before the chaos was over, corpses were stacked seven feet deep. Thankfully, the tragedy spurred changes in safety standards of public buildings.
 
Inez Clark Monument is a mystery unto itself. The story goes that a little girl who was struck by lightning was named Inez Clark and she is buried here. A legend claims that the memorial disappears during thunderstorms for this reason. But the truth of the matter is that the little girl buried here is most likely Inez Briggs, the daughter of Mary C. Clarke from a previous marriage. She died of diphtheria. The memorial is beautiful and features a sculpted little girl encased in glass that was made by Andrew Gagel.

Marshall Field of Marshall Field and Co., the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago, which he founded with John D. Rockefeller, is buried here. He died after contracting pneumonia while golfing. His monument was designed by Henry Bacon, the same man who designed the Lincoln Memorial, and the sculptor was Daniel Chester French. His early partner was Potter Palmer who developed much of State Street in Chicago. He sold his stake in the company to focus on real estate and one of the places he built is known today as the Palmer House Hotel, which we covered in Ep. 161. He died in 1902 and was laid to rest beneath the grand Potter Mausoleum which is a large structure of corinthian columns.

Martin Ryerson was a lumber baron in partnership with Henry Getty. The Martin Ryerson Tomb was commissioned by Ryerson in 1887 and designed by noted Chicago architect Louis H. Sullivan, who was considered the father of the skyscraper, and features an Egyptian Revival style. This one is pyramid shaped with a slant-walled mastaba at the base that features three windows. Highly polished Quincy granite was used to build the mausoleum and the roof is topped with a tower that has a stepped pyramid capping it. There is no outside decor like sphinxs. The interior has one of Sullivan's trademark arches framing a bust of Ryerson.

The Carrie Eliza Getty Tomb has these really amazing ornamental bronze gated doors that have patinated green over time. The doors are so beautiful that they were plaster casted and exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and won an award. A semi-circular archway stretches above the top of them and other intricate octagonal designs are inlaid into the limestone. The sides of the tomb feature their own semi-circular, bronze-clad windows that are similar in style to the doors. Lumber baron Henry Harrison Getty commissioned the mausoleum to be built in 1890 for his wife, Carrie Eliza. Architect Louis Sullivan designed this one as well. He had designed the Ryerson Mausoleum and since Ryerson had been Getty's partner, the lumber baron was familiar with how beautiful Sullivan's designs were. The tomb stands on its own triangular plot of land and is thought by many to be the most significant memorial in the cemetery. It is certainly the beginning of Sullivan's career in the architectural style known as the Chicago School or Commercial School. This style mostly pertains to commercial buildings and is represented by steel frame buildings with terra cotta and large plate-glass windows. These windows are referred to as Chicago Windows and have three parts: a large central window flanked by smaller windows on each side. Henry Getty died on March 31, 1919 in Paris and his body was shipped back to the US where he joined his wife in the mausoleum. Their daughter Alice was also laid to rest here in 1946. BTW, Louis Sullivan is buried here too.

George Pullman was an American industrialist and Engineer and is probably known best for his design of the railcar that bears his name. The Pullman was a sleeping car and revolutionized railway travel. At first, Pullman was a good employer building a company town and hiring black men to work as porters. But when the economy took a turn downward, he lowered wages and required longer hours of labor, and did not lower the standard of living in the company town. This resulted in the Pullman Strike of 1894. President Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to squelch the strike and 30 workers died. Eventually, Pullman was court ordered to divest from the company town. Because of these labor struggles, when Pullman died he was placed in a lead-lined mahogany casket and was buried in the Pullman District Tomb, which was encased in steel and cement because his family thought labor supporters might try to dig him up and desecrate the body. The monument features a Corinthian column flanked by curved stone benches. The design is by Architect Solon Spencer Bemen, who designed the company town of Pullman.

The Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum is Egyptian Revival in style, built from gray granite and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The architect was Richard E. Schmidt and he made the mausoleum for the Peter Schoenhofen family. Schoenhofen was a brewer and the Schoenhofen Brewing Company was among the largest in Chicago in 1880. The pyramid structure has a square base and the typical sphinx  of Egyptian Revival design. But then the Egyptian theming is broken up with an angel statue to the left of the entryway, which has doors that are inspired after the gateways at Karnak, in Egypt, and they are 40 inches wide by 84 inches high and feature cast lotus designs with coiled asps around the handles. A bronze molding of bundled reeds surrounds the door.This is one of the most famous monuments in the cemetery.

Victor Lawson was the Chicago Daily News publisher from 1876 to 1925. His memorial is marked with a medieval knighted figure known as The Crusader and was designed by sculptor Loredo Taft. Taft was an American educator, writer and sculptor. He studied sculpture in Paris. As a fun little rabbit hole, which goes perfectly with what I'm about to tell you, Taft was making sculptured adornments for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and he was running behind schedule. He asked if he could use some of his female students as assistants. At the time, it was not socially accepted for women to work as sculptors, but the man in charge said, "Hire anyone, even white rabbits if they'll do the work." The group of talented women Taft put together included Enid Yandell, Carol Brooks MacNeil, Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Janet Scudder, Julia Bracken, and Ellen Rankin Copp and their group came to be known as the "White Rabbits."

The monument for Dexter Graves was sculpted by Loredo Taft as well and is called Eternal Silence. Some call the creepy figure the Statue of Death and legend claims that if you look into the eyes of the statue, you will see your own death! The sculpture is made from bronze and is set up against a black granite block. Dexter Graves led a group of thirteen families in 1831 from Ohio to Chicago. he died in 1844 and was buried in the old City Cemetery. He was relocated to Graceland and the monument was built in 1909 after his son Henry died in 1907. His son had left in his will, $250,000 in funds for the monument.


Kate Warne was the first female Pinkerton detective. She was hired in 1856. Pinkerton described her as a "commanding person, with clear cut, expressive features...a slender, brown-haired woman, graceful in her movements and self-possessed. Her features, although not what could be called handsome, were decidedly of an intellectual cast... her face was honest, which would cause one in distress instinctively to select her as a confidante." In 1858, Warne was able to bring the Maroney couple to justice after they stole $50,000 from the Adams Express Company. She worked her way  into the confidence of the wife of the prime suspect, Mr. Maroney. With Warne’s help, $39,515 was returned and Mr. Maroney was sentenced to ten years in jail. In 1860, Allan Pinkerton put Warne in charge of his new Female Detective Bureau. The Pinkerton Agency was hired to investigate secessionist activity and threats of damage to the railroad in Maryland in 1861. Warne was one of five agents sent to Baltimore, Maryland to investigate the hotbed of secessionist activity. While the investigation was unfolding, a plot to assassinate President Lincoln was discovered. This plot was to assassinate Lincoln on his way to take office for the first time. Warne took the aliases Mrs. Cherry and Mrs. M. Barley to conduct the investigation and she discovered the secessionist plot to kill Lincoln and it was as follows: "Just as Mr. Lincoln would be passing through the narrow vestibule of the Depot at Calvert St. Station, to enter his carriage. A row or fight was to be got up by some outsiders to quell which the few policemen at the Depot would rush out, thus leaving Mr. Lincoln entirely unprotected and at the mercy of a mob of Secessionists who were to surround him at that time. A small Steamer had been chartered and was lying in one of the Bays or little streams running into the Chesapeake Bay, to which the murderers were to flee and it was immediately to put off for Virginia." They managed to keep Lincoln from danger. Warne did a lot of spying during the Civil War. Warne died of a pulmonary edema on January 28, 1868. She was buried in the Pinkerton Family Plot at Graceland Cemetery. Her name is misspelled as Warn. Obviously, Allan Pinkerton is buried in this plot as well.

Other notable people buried here include the brother of Charles Dickens, Augustus Dickens, who died penniless in Chicago, Ernie Banks who played for the Chicago Cubs from 1953 to 1971 and was known as Mr Sunshine, John M. Kranz who was a Chicago candy maker, Daniel Hale Williams who was a black surgeon who performed one of the first successful operations on the pericardium and Cyrus McCormick who invented the mechanical reaper used in farming. William Wallace Kimball who founded Kimball Piano Company and has a memorial of large corinthian columns, The Goodman Mausoleum was built for Kenneth Goodman, a naval officer who died of the 1918 flu. He was a playwright and the Goodman Theater was also built in his memory. Dr. Christopher Manuel, anesthesiologist at Rush University, died at 41 in 2005 and has a statue of a boy playing a flute on his grave. The Hoyt Family memorial is crowned by three female statues. One holds a cross, the other an anchor and the third is nursing a child. Emilie Hoyt died with her three children in the Iroquois Theater Fire. Her father was a successful wholesale grocer in Chicago.

Graceland Cemetery is a beautiful example of a historic garden cemetery. Famous sculptors and architects are buried here, along with the movers and shakers who helped build Chicago. The monuments and memorials here are unique and the lush landscaping beautiful. This is a must see for any taphophile visiting Chicago! And that was just a little bit about the stones and bones found here!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Stones and Bones 7 - Kawaiaha'o Churchyard

The Kawaiaha'o Churchyard is located at 957 Punchbowl Street in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The church here was a product of the Mission Church movement that began in Boston, Massachusetts in 1819. The inside of the church is beautiful and it's easy to understand how some refer to it as Hawai'i's Westminster Abbey. Here there was a beginning. And it represents the end for many Hawaiians. Some are well known, others who are buried here have no name or headstone. Join us as we explore Oahu's Kawaiaha'o Churchyard!

Before we talk about the changes that Christianity brought to the Hawaiian Islands in regards to religious beliefs and burial practices, let's examine what was practiced there originally. Traditional Hawaiian beliefs were based on mana. Mana was in all things from animals to people and even places. People's actions could affect their mana and maintaining balance was essential. There were two ways to increase one’s mana, and this was through violence and through sexual means. The forces of nature were personified as the main gods of Ku (God of War), Kane (God of Light and Life), Kanaloa (God of Death), and Lono (God of peace). When a Hawaiian died, there were several interment practices and these included Exposure for people who had no family to take care of the remains, Cremation which was used as a type of punishment, Sea/Freshwater Disposal was used if the individual’s family guardian spirit was a sea animal, Volcanic Pit Disposal, Cave Disposal, Sand and Earth burial, which was most common, Cists, Monuments, burying the person under the house or burial in a Heiau, which was a temple.

Kawaiaha’o Church was at one time the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The church was also the chapel of the royal family. The name comes from the Hawaiian phrase Ka wai a Haʻo, which means the water of Haʻo, because the church was built near a spring and freshwater pool in the care of High Chieftess Haʻo. The church has become known as Hawaiʻi's Westminster Abbey. The beginnings of the church with the royal family started with King Kamehameha III who ordered the original sanctuary to be built. That building was designed by Rev. Hiram Bingham in the New England style of the Hawaiian missionaries. Construction began in 1836 and was completed in 1842. The building was thatched with grass and 14,000 thousand-pound slabs of coral rock quarried from an offshore reef on the southern coast of Oʻahu were used for the structure. To quarry that rock, Hawaiian divers dove three to six metres below sea-level to chisel out each coral block with hand tools. The upper gallery of the church has 21 portraits of Hawaiian royalty (Aliʻi).

Kamehameha III was Hawai'i's longest reigning monarch and he ascended to the throne when he was only nine. He shared his rule initially with Ka`ahumanu, who was the favorite wife of Kamehameha I. She had announced after her husband's death that he had wished for her to share governance over the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi with his 22-year-old son Liholiho, who became Kamehameha II. A council of advisors created a new position for her called kuhina nui, which was similar to a modern-day prime minister. She then went on to co-regent with Kamehameha III. She was thought to be ahead of her time and she pushed for more rights for the Hawaiian women.

There was a period of rebellion during the rule of Kamehameha III and this caused him to look towards the government of the West for guidance in how to move forward. It was through him that Hawai'i began to move from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. This was made formal with the signing of Hawai'i's first constitution in 1840. This established a declaration of rights and a judicial and executive branch of government. Later, he pushed a system of land ownership under the Mahele of 1848. His reign was described as "The age of Kamehameha III was that of progress and of liberty—of schools and of civilization. He gave us a Constitution and fixed laws; he secured the people in the title to their lands, and removed the last chain of oppression. He gave them a voice in his councils and in the making of the laws by which they are governed. He was a great national benefactor, and has left the impress of his mild and amiable disposition on the age for which he was born."

For a time, Kamehameha III practiced Christianity, then he mingled in Hawaiian spiritual practices and then he returned to the Christian system with the building of Kawaiahaʻo Church. He would begin the tradition of the chiefs of the Hawaiian Islands coming to the church. Missionaries were the ones to bring the Christian faith and traditions to Hawai'i and they also brought the tradition of marked burials inside a fenced churchyard. So the Kawaiahaʻo Church was built with its own churchyard. No one is sure of how many people are buried here. There are 296 headstones and around 200 unmarked gravesites, but some believe there are as many as 600 bodies in the churchyard. This estimation comes from the idea that more than one body can be buried under many of the headstones. Early converts could not afford tombstones and so they may have been buried with someone else or in an unmarked grave. The tombstones bear the names of Hawaiians as well as Haole, or white, names of people coming from places as far-flung as Ireland, England, Germany, and Nova Scotia.

Among the graves in the churchyard lie several missionaries. One of these is Hiram Bingham Jr., the son of the man who designed Kawaiaha’o Church. He was born in Honolulu and continued the work of his father. He authored a native language dictionary, as well as a translation of the Bible. Fun Facts: His son, Hiram Bingham III, was an explorer who became a US Senator and Governor of Connecticut. He re-discovered the largely forgotten Inca city of Machu Picchu. His grandson, Hiram Bingham IV, was the US Vice Consul in Marseille, France during World War II and he rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

Another missionary was James Kekela, known as Kekela O Ka Lani. He was ordained in 1849 making him the first Hawaiian Christian minister. As a missionary, he went to the Marquesas Islands in 1853 and spent 49 years there preaching against cannibalism and tribal warfare. And about that cannibalism, President Abraham Lincoln recognized him in 1861 for rescuing an American seaman from cannibals. His marker reads, "O ke aloha, ota ka mole o na, Mea fono ame na mea oiaio a pau," which translates to "Love is the root of all that is good and true."

King Lunalilo was the sixth monarch in Hawai'i. He was known as the People's King, but ruled for a very short period of time. His rule only lasted from January 8, 1873 until February 3, 1874. Lunalilo was elected as king at Kawaiaha’o Church in 1873, after Kamehameha V died without naming an heir. He contracted tuberculosis and so only served 13 months before dying. The King did not want to be buried in the Royal Mausoleum where Hawaii's two prominent royal families, the Kamehameha Dynasty and the Kalākaua Dynasty, are laid to rest, so he is buried in the courtyard. His tomb was one of the earliest concrete block buildings in Hawaii and stands near his mother’s grave on the northwest side of the churchyard.

Sanford Ballard Dole was a lawyer in the Hawaiian Islands who advocated for Hawai'i to move towards Westernization. He helped orchestrate the overthrow of Queen Liliukolani. She took the throne in 1891 and would be the final Hawaiian monarch. The Hawaiian constitution at that time had given much of the monarchy over to an elite class of mostly American businessmen and wealthy landowners. The Queen restored the previous monarch powers and a U.S. military-backed coup deposed her in 1893. A provisional government was then formed and in 1894, Hawaii was declared a republic. Queen Liliuokalani signed a formal abdication in 1895. Dole would serve as President of the Republic of Hawaii between 1894 and 1898 and then he became Governor of the Hawaiian Territory after its annexation by the United States in 1898. His cousin James founded the Dole Pineapple Company and is buried on Maui.

David Douglas was a botanist for the Hudson Bay Company and he cataloged plants all throughout the Northwest. The Douglas Fir is actually named for him. He came to Hawaii in 1833 to study its plants and in a freak accident, he fell into a pit that was dug for capturing wild animals and it killed him. A plaque on the church wall is dedicated to his memory and his body is buried somewhere unknown in the churchyard.

The Kawaiaha'o Churchyard offers a tropical paradise as a final resting place for many prominent people who met their end in Hawai'i. The church and graveyard are a historic marker of the changing religious beliefs in Hawai'i as well. And here was just a little about the stones and bones found there.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Stones and Bones 6 - Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague

Prague is considered a mystical city. The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is just as its name indicates, quite ancient. The earliest headstones date back to 1439 and people were buried here for hundreds of years. The cemetery avoided demolition by the Germans during World War II because Hitler took a liking to it and figured it would make a great setting for a museum he would build dedicated to his victory and the annihilation of the Jews. Thankfully, Hitler did not get that chance, but the cemetery does serve as a museum of sorts, to the history of the Jews in Prague. Join us as we wander among the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery!

The first Jewish cemetery in Prague was the Jewish Garden. That graveyard was closed in 1478 by order of King Vladislaus II. The citizens of the area had complained about it and that was enough to shut it down. What was left of it eventually disappeared beneath the streets of New Town of Prague. We're not entirely sure what the complaints were about, but they could not have been related to the fact that it was Jewish as the Old Jewish Cemetery had been established some time in the early 1400s. The oldest headstone that can still be read, belongs to a rabbi and poet named Avigdor Kara who died in 1439. Because of its age, one would think that many of the headstones would be broken or falling apart, but it is actually in fairly good condition. One thing that a visitor will notice right away though, is that there are many people buried here and the headstones are practically right up against each other.

There was a real problem at the Old Jewish Cemetery when it came to space. There was not much room and it is forbidden in Jewish customs to disinter a body or move the burial. Many times, the Jewish elders would approach the city seeking to buy more land and most of the time they were denied, so they needed to come up with other ideas. One idea is similar to what we found in many of the old burying grounds in Boston and that is this practice of burying bodies on top of each other in the same space. A new layer of soil was heaped up on an older burial and there are actually some locations in the cemetery with as many as twelve layers. The older gravestone would be pulled up to the uppermost layer and the new gravestone for the new burial would be placed right next to it. This is why the cemetery appears to be a dense collection of gravestones. This also has resulted in the surface of the cemetery being raised several meters higher than the streets that surround the graveyard. Burials continued here until 1787. Emperor Josef II had banned burials inside the city walls of Prague because they were worried about disease, particularly the Plague. Prague Jews then had to use a cemetery in Žižkov.

Strolling amongst the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery is both a history tour and education. There are two kinds of matzevots, which means burial monuments in Hebrew. The first is a rectangular shaped headstone made from either wood or stone. The second is a Tumba. These look like little houses or tents. Every stone is marked is marked with Hebrew lettering indicating name and dates. The earliest headstones here are very simple, but the 16th century seems to have inspired creativity and the symbolism starts to appear on the markers. This was also when brief eulogies of the individual were added. Various ornamentations were added in the 17th century like false portals, volutes, which are scroll spirals, and pilasters.

Here are some of the symbols found on the tombstones. There is, of course, the hexagram. A carved crown indicates the person had a good reputation. Wine grapes symbolize a good and prosperous life. There are also those that are specific to family names like Cohen. This family line was decended from temple priests and their symbol is a pair of praying hands. Those that are Levites have a jug and a bowl on their stone. While we believe every life is significant as it touched someone else's life, there are those that history gives special note of and we have a few here. The graves of Mordecai Katz ben Gershom and his son Betzalel are here and they were well known Prague printers. Their work, "Prague Hagadah" was published in 1526. The Prague Haggadah was the first Passover Haggadah book to be printed in Central Europe after the Jews were expelled from Spain, which happened in 1492. The Haggadah was the story of the Passover and is read at the Seder table. The Prague Haggadah is the first illustrated Haggadah to be preserved in its entirety. It really is a beautiful edition and was the first to use a new technique that printed woodcuts. The lettering is fine with a flair on the initials and the general layout is aesthetic pleasing. The craftsman who created the woodcuts is believed to be a man named Hayyim Shachor or Schwartz. He may not have made all of them as his initials are not carved on all the woodcuts.

David Gans was born in 1541 and was buried here in 1613. His gravestone is small and features a triangular ending and engraved symbols of Magen David and a goose, "gans" means "goose" in German. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer and historian, whose chronicle "Cemah David" includes also  a lot of Czech history. A tumba with a hexagram on the top of the front wall, belongs to Rabbi David Oppenheim who died in 1736. His book collection constitutes an important part of the Hebrew section of Bodleian Library in Oxford. Aharon Meshulam Horowitz died in 1545 and at that time he was the richest Jew and built the Pinkas Synagogue. A synogogue in the Jewish Quarter is named for businessman Mordecai Maisel who was buried here in 1601. His tumba is the oldest in the cemetery. Another tumba here belongs to Joseph Solomon Delmedigo. He was a physician and scholar born in Crete, who worked in many scientific fields. The Nephele Hill is the baby nursery here. The nephele means miscarriage in Hebrew. There are also remains that needed to be re interred buried in this area. A tumba belonging to Hendl Bassevi, who died in 1628, is decorated with lions seated on the gables of the tumba. They carry the coat of arms of Hendl's husband Jacob Bassevi. He was the first Jew in Habsburg Empire to receive a title of nobility.

Rabbi Judah Löw ben Betzalel and his wife rest under another tumba, decorated with symbols of a lion and wine grapes. Scholars know Rabbi Judah as The Maharal. He wrote numerous religious and philosophical treatises and he is the subject of a 19th-century legend that he created the Golem of Prague. The Golem was an animate mythological being fashioned from clay. There are several versions of the Golem of Prague, but the basic premise is that Maharal formed the Golem from the clay of the banks of the Vltava River and this was a creature meant to protect the Jewish community from being expelled or killed under the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. The Golem was brought to life through rituals and the creature could summon spirits of the dead and make itself invisible. The Rabbi would put it to sleep on the Sabbath to protect the Sabbath, but one day he forgot and the Golem fell in love with a woman.When she rejected him, he flew into a rage and went on a murderous rampage, which is where it gets its bad reputation from. The legend further claims that the Rabbi immobilized the Golem and it fell into pieces. Those pieces were stored in the attic of the Old New Synagogue, and it is said that it is still there just waiting to be reactivated when needed. A renovation of the attic in 1883 found no Golem.

The oldest burial that can be read dates back to 1439 and is the final resting place of Rabbi Avigdor Kara who was also a poet. He wrote an elegy that describes a great pogrom of the Prague Ghetto in 1389 and this is still recited on Yom Kippur in the Old-New Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Europe. The former Jewish Ghetto in Prague, now known as Josefoy, has a long history, going back to the 12th century. It was not a ghetto when it first was established., but was known as the Jewish Quarter and it was enclosed by a wall with six gates. That wall was built to protect the Jews from attack. Most of them were fairly safe in Prague because they paid taxes, but anti-semitic views and violence were rising throughout Europe. The biggest Catholic council of the Middle Ages known as the Fourth Council of the Lateran had issued edicts against the Jews.

The protection the Jews of Prague had been under, lifted in 1389. A violent uprising against them began on Easter of that year. It is thought that it started with a Jew throwing a rock at a Catholic priest who was walking down the street with the Communion cup. This was declared a desecration of the Host and the rock throwers were arrested. The area was becoming inflamed as residents grew tired of the King protecting his Jewish financiers. An attack on the Jews would then also be an attack on the King. One priest had preached in an earlier message, "One key sign [of his advent] is the prosperity of the Jews, who are multiplying and gathering everywhere, favored with such great immunity that we must greatly fear the wrath of the Lord, lest he permit the Antichrist to come. For you see well that the clergy and the Christian faithful are daily supplanted and subordinated in their rights and liberties and endure many injuries. The synagogue profits more than the church of Christ, and among princes, a single Jew can accomplish more than a nobleman or a prelate. Indeed, princes and magnates are impoverished by unheard-of interest rates as if [the Jews] could enrich and assist their lord Antichrist with those treasures." The pogrom that followed would be the biggest anti-Jewish pogrom in the middle ages. Around 3000 citizens of the Jewish Quarter were killed and their homes were plundered and burned. The walls of the Old – New Synagogue went dark with blood.

The Old Jewish Cemetery celebrates the lives of so many of the former Jewish residents of Prague. It also bears witness to a past that is troubling and hopefully reminds us to never repeat these same things again. And that is just a little bit about the stone and bones found here!