Roses of Yesterday

Glenwood Cemetery, Houston, Texas

Glenwood Cemetery, Houston, Texas

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (September 17, 1880 – January 1980) was well known Philadelphia-born sculptor who became famous for her sculptures of women—sleek, feminine, and classical.  Frishmuth studied with many of the great sculptors of her time, including Auguste Rodin in Paris, Cuno Von Uechtritz-Steinkirch at Berlin, and Gutzon Borglum and Karl Bitter while in New York. Her bronze sculptures of women became sought after. Her work won fame and awards.

"Speed" a sculpture by Harriet Frishmuth

“Speed” a sculpture by Harriet Frishmuth

She was commissioned to create many works of art, including funerary sculptures. The sculpture in the Glenwood Cemetery of Houston, Texas, for the graves of Walter Benona Sharp (December 12, 1870 – November 28, 1912) and Estelle Boughton Sharp (June 19, 1873 – August 30, 1965), was cast and titled Roses of Yesterday. The Sharps chose it for their memorial. Another casting of this statue can be found in the Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. The inscription on the sun dial is, “PERENNIS AMOR”, Latin meaning, “ENDLESS LOVE.”


Two other commissions can be found in Forest Lawn Cemetery at Buffalo and the Berwind Memorial in the Laurel Hill Cemetery at Philadelphia, where Frishmuth is buried.

The dramatic 10-foot bronze sculpture “Aspiration” was created in 1926 by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980) for the William Arthur Rogers (1851-1946) monument in the Forest Lawn Cemetery at Buffalo, New York.


In 1933, another version of the “Aspiration” was carved out of a single block of granite for the Henry Berwind (1859-1932) monument in the Laurel Hill Cemetery, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The stone version of “Aspiration” marks the grave of businessman Henry “Harry” Berwind, vice president of the Berwind-White Coal Company, run by his brother, Edward.


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The Dinky

Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois




25 DUBNA 1903








25 APRIL 1903




At the beginning of the 20th Century, Chicago was a busy sprawling urban city on the go. It was crisscrossed with over 500 miles of rail and trolley lines shuttling people all over the city with thousands of employees working to build, maintain, and keep the system humming. The heaviest populated parts of Chicago had stops as close as a quarter-mile apart.


Frank Ostrovsky (also listed as Ostrofsky) worked as a switchman for one of many trolley campanies, the Chicago Union Traction Company. On April 25, 1903, while he was working, he was caught between a streetcar and a dinky. Dinkies were short train engines used to pull cars into switchyards moving them from one rail line to another. Young Frank Ostrovsky died from the resulting injuries.


Ostrovsky’s’s tree-stump tombstone, carved from limestone, was imbued with symbolism. At the top of the tree-stump is the Crucifix—a display of the family’s faith. The short tree stump itself often marks the grave of a person who died young—a life that had been “cut” short.  In this example, Ostrovsky was just 28 years old.  He had been married less than five years. He and his wife, Barbara Posekany, were married on May 3, 1898, both immigrants from Bohemian. According to the 1900 U.S. Census, Ostrovsky was married with a small daughter named Mary, who had been born in May of 1899. She was less than 4-years old when her father was killed in the tragic street car accident.

But what is different is the bas-relief on the front that displays the scene of his death. It shows the two trolley cars. Above the panel, carved to look like a scroll with the tombstone’s inscription, is a faded photo of Frank Ostrovsky, husband and father.


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Train Wreck


The Bohemian National Cemetery at Chicago, Illinois, practically has a small forest of tree-stump tombstones. They come in different styles and shapes, and some even in different materials and dot the old part of the cemetery. But, the one that is a surprise and unlike just about any of the others is the tree-stump tombstone of 40-year old Matej Sidlo.






10 SRPNA 1898





NAR. 1857 – ZEM 1930


Here Rests


Born at the Kloube District

Vodňan Region, city of PISEK


10 AUGUST 1898

At the age of 40 years

Rest in peace

Dear husband and father


BORN 1857 – DIED 1930


Sidlo and his brother, Jacob, both immigrants from Bohemia had found jobs at a local brewing company—R. Stege Brewing—in Chicago. They were to load their wagon with beer barrels and make deliveries for the company the daylong. And, their day was long. Matej and Jacob left home for work at the crack of dawn—4:45 am to get an early start.

According to newspaper accounts from the time, it was reported that the two men had climbed aboard their wagon, being pulled by two draft horses, and were making a crossing over the railroad tracks at 16th and Morgan, not far from where Matej lived on Morgan and 19th, when a train barreled down the tracks. Jacob spotted the train and was able to jump to safety in time, but the train hit the team and wagon tossing Matej to the pavement. His death certificate tells the story, Matej Sidlo “came to his death from shock and injuries caused by being thrown from a beer wagon hauled by two horses and belonging to the E. R. Stege Brewing Company. Said wagon being struck by engine No. 590 belonging to the CB & Q RR Company.” One newspaper account chalked it up to, “carelessness of railway employees” who were “again to blame for the untimely death of a man in the prime of his life.”

Matej was indeed in the prime of his life. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, Matej or Mike Sidlo was married to Josefa (Josephine) Sidlo, who was also an immigrant from Bohemia. They had six children living at the time: Anz/Ann born June 15, 1881; Joseph born August 29, 1882; Michael born May 6, 1887; James born October 1888; George born March 1893; and John born August 23 1895 . Their 7th child, Wenzel/Wenci, died as an infant.

Matej’s tree-stump tombstone, carved from limestone, was a part of the rustic movement of the mid-nineteenth century which was characterized by designs that were made to look like they were from the country. The gravestones were purposefully designed to look like trees that had been cut and left in the cemetery which was part of the movement to build cemeteries to look like parks.  In funerary art, the tree-stump tombstones were varied—the stonecutters displayed a wide variety of carving that often reflected individual tastes and interests of the persons memorialized.


The tree-stump gravestones themselves were imbued with symbolism. The short tree stump usually marks the grave of a person who died young—a life that had been “cut” short.  In this example, Matej is just 40 years old.  Twining up the face of the gravestone is ivy, a symbol associated with immortality and fidelity. Just below the place where the names are carved into the stone is a pair of clasping hands, a symbol of matrimony.

But what is different is the bas-relief on the front that displays the scene of his death. It shows the train engine, billowing smoke from its smokestack, barreling into the wagon with the beer kegs flying into the air.

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The Transformation of Mary


Many of the small mausoleums in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery have a window in the rear part of the tomb—often made of stained glass. Many of these windows are hand painted works of art, most often depicting religious figures. Two such windows depict the Virgin Mary but they are very different in nature. These two windows shown in this blogpost illustrate the evolution of Mary as Queen of Heaven to Mary as Mother.

Recently an art exhibition of paintings of the Virgin Mary displayed over 60 works Italian art, depicting Mary that explained the transformation of Mary in the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. An article in the December 11th issue of the Economist reviewed an art exhibition titled, “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea”, that opened at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. All of the paintings were of the Mary, Mother of Jesus, who until the 18th Century was the most painted woman in the art world.

Part of the article focused on the evolution of Mary as Queen of Heaven to the approachable Mary as Mother, the same difference found in the two stained glass windows.


According to the article, the “Pre-Renaissance Mary is represented as queenly: ennobled, enthroned, surrounded by angels and engulfed in celestial light.” The stained glass window from the Riviere Family tomb shows Mary as the Queen of Heaven, with a bright halo surrounding her head. She stiffly holds haloed baby Jesus, who is standing on a starred representation of the world—Kind of Kings, Lord of Heaven and Earth. This is a majestic, unapproachable depiction of Mary.

The second window from the Demonneanx Family tomb depicts a very different Virgin Mary. Here she is wearing the ordinary clothing leaning back and holding Jesus on her lap in what is almost a foretelling of the pieta.


According to the art historian writing for the Economist, it was “in the late Middle Ages she becomes more approachable, appearing more often in the garb of an unassuming peasant. The humanist conception of Mary gained further traction in the Renaissance: she is less empress of heaven, more mother—sewing, nursing and playing with the infant Jesus. It is a representation that is crucial to the doctrine of Jesus’s “authentic humanity”: Mary is his link to human nature and earthly experience. Engaged in these quintessentially female activities, she also provides the archetype of Christian womanhood”.

There is another difference in these two depictions. In the first Mary looks down, a show of her humility. In the second, Mary looks directly at the viewer. In the exhibit, there are few examples of Mary gazing directly at the viewer. “Her eyes are invariably downcast, suggesting solemnity, a soul turned inward, and the tragic foreknowledge of her son’s fate”. There was also a notion that a woman’s direct gaze was impure.


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FEBRUARY 8, 1831

NOVEMBER 22, 1882



APRIL 18, 1835

OCTOBER 20, 1903



MAY 11, 1871

OCTOBER 22, 1938



APRIL 4, 1858

APRIL 25, 1859



DECEMBER 25, 1863

SEPTEMBER 26, 1864



DECEMBER 11, 1865

SEPTEMBER 22, 1927

In the cemetery, much of the iconography represents a life ended—the winged death’s head, the hanging bud, the broken wheel. This gravestone in South Park Cemetery at Greensburg, Franklin County, Indiana, combines two such symbols—the broken column and the broken chain. The white marble monument has a broken chain that twines around the broken column.


The broken column symbolizes a life cut short. Some sites say that it represents the loss of the head of the family—others that it represents the life cut down in its prime.

This broken chain symbolism dates back to Medieval times when people believed that the soul could be held to the body by a golden chain. Once the chain was broken, the soul took flight and rose from the body leaving Earth and ascended to Heaven.

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The Fraternal Order of Eagles


The Fraternal Order of Eagles metal grave markers come in many shapes and forms, including the various iterations found in the South Park Cemetery at Greensburg, Decatur County, Indiana.  Each marker version contains the letters F O E representing the words Fraternal Order of Eagles and some contain the letters L T J and E that relates to liberty, truth, justice, and equality found in the organization’s mission statement:

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international non-profit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.


Founded February 6, 1898, by six Seattle, Washington, theater owners John Cort, John W. and Tim J. Considine, Arthur Williams, Mose Goldsmith, and Harry Leavitt organized as “The Order of Good Things”.  Within two months, in April of the same year, the fraternal order changed its name to The Fraternal Order of Eagles and adopted the American bald eagle as their emblem.


The Eagles organize local chapters into aeries, (the chapter number is on the center of the marker–859) so named for the nests of eagles which are usually high and difficult to access.  Nearly since their inception, the Eagles have lobbied for causes important to the organization, such as the creation of Mother’s Day in 1904, later in the 30s for Social Security, and in 2006 to keep the two words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Eagles also contribute to many charities, such as, St. Jude’s Hospital, a Disaster Relief Fund, Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa, Art Ehrmann Cancer Fund, D. D. Dunlap Kidney Fund, among others.


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Satan’s Defeat


St. Michael’s Cemetery in Brookville, Indiana, features two sculptures of St. Michael. The deep bas-relief statue at the entrance of the cemetery is made of a polished and unpolished red granite giving the statue a duo-tone effect.  Here St. Michael stands on the back of the devil himself who is holding his head in agony.  This statue represents the triumph of good over evil.


The statue at the rear entrance is painted stone.


Both statues depict St. Michael ready with sword. This sculpture shows Him wearing a plumed helmet, and an armor breastplate, his sword blade broken off. Here he is standing on a dragon representing Satan. Again, this statue symbolizes good over evil. St. Michael points to the Heavens to show the source of victory.


St. Michael is a favorite found in many Catholic cemeteries. Only the Archangel Michael, one of three angels mentioned by name in the Bible, is clothed in armor.  The sword he carries represents a cross but also a weapon in his war against the devil’s warriors.


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