Coming Apart at the Seams

Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

SARAH ELLIS

DAUGHTER OFJ.A. & S. B.

LAURIE,

DIED FEB. 12, 1879

AGED

19 YRS, & 3 MOS.

 

TAKE THEM O FATH

ER IN THINE ARMS

AND MAY THEY

HENCEFORTH BE

A MESSENGER OF

LOVE BETWEEN,

OUR HUMAN

HEARTS AND THEE.

 

GEORGE MANN

FISKE

SON OF

REV. J.A. & S.B.

LAURIE,

DIED APR. 14, 1882

AGED

3 YRS. & 3 MOS.

 

“White bronze” or zinc cemetery markers were manufactured from the 1870s until 1912.  The markers are distinguished by their bluish-gray tint.  The markers are not bronze but actually cast zinc.  The zinc is resistant to corrosion but the zinc becomes brittle over time and cracking and shrinking can occur.

In this example found in the Lakewood Cemetery at Minneapolis, Minnesota, the zinc marker has a figure of a child praying. It is clear that the seam is separating, and in fact, it looks as if a repair or patch has been attempted.

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The praying child zinc marker is not an uncommon marker and, in fact, could be ordered from one of the companies that manufactured these markers on different bases. The praying child marker from the Somerset Cemetery at Somerset, Ohio, has the same figure with a different and more elaborate base.

Somerset Cemetery, Somerset, Ohio

Somerset Cemetery, Somerset, Ohio

These grave markers came in a wide assortment of sizes and shapes and were somewhat like grave marker erector sets.  The more elaborate markers had a shell of sorts and then various panels could be attached according to the tastes of the family ordering the grave marker.  In this way, each marker could be “customized” to the tastes of the individual.  The markers were designed to look like traditional markers and from a distance, except for the tale-tale bluish-gray color, they do.  The markers they produced often mimicked the gravestones that were being produced in stone.  What traditional stone carvers created in marble and granite, the Monumental Bronze Company produced in cast zinc. Though the base is quite different on each of these grave markers, there is no mistaking the similarities between the statues of the child. The praying child gravestone carved in white marble is located in the Green-Wood Cemetery at Brooklyn, New York.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

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The Anchor and the Cross

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

Often when found on a gravestone, the anchor represents an ancient Christian symbol. Early Christians used the symbol in catacomb burials beneath the city of Rome.  There it was used as a disguised cross.  The anchor also served as a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians.  But, sometimes the anchor is an anchor, representative of a profession, rather than a religious symbol.

The gravestone of Silas Bent Sr. displays a cross with an anchor tied to it. The anchor in this case is symbolic of Bent’s time as a sailor in the United States Navy. According to Bent Family in America: Being Mainly a Genealogy of the Descendants of John Bent who settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1638, with Notes upon the Family in England and Elsewhere, Silas Bent was born in South St. Louis, Missouri, on October 10, 1820. “His education was received at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. He became a midshipman July 1, 1836, master in 1849, and lieutenant August 1, 1849.” This lead to a life on the seas and many adventures, including assisting in the surveying of the Japanese coast.

The cross on his tombstone is likely a nod to his role as senior warden of the Christ Church at St. Louis.  Bent married Ann Eliza Tyler, who was from a family from Louisville, Kentucky, which explains why this St. Louis man was buried in the Cave Hill Cemetery at Louisville.

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Temple of Love

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

PRESTON POPE

SATTERWHITE

SEPTEMBER 28TH 1867

DECEMBER 27TH 1948

BUT THANKS BE TO GOD

WHICH GIVETH US

THE VICTORY

THROUGH OUR LORD

JESUS CHRIST

 

FLORENCE BROKAW

SATTERWHITE

NOVEMBER 1ST 1857

MAY 1ST 1927

HER WAYS ARE WAYS

OF PLEASANTNESS

AND ALL HER PATHS

ARE PEACE

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Horace Trumbauer, noted Philadelphia architect, was hired by the prestigious Dr. Preston Pope Satterwhite of Louisville, Kentucky, to design a memorial for his late socialite wife, Florence Brokaw Martin Satterwhite.

Trumbauer based his design on the Temple of Love at the Palace of Versailles created by Richard Mique specifically for Marie Antoinette.  Mique oversaw the building of the last of the monuments at the Palace before the French Revolution and the fall of King Louis XVI.  For his part in what was thought to have been a conspiracy to save Marie Antoinette, Mique and his son were found guilty by a tribunal and sentenced to death—three weeks before the end of the Reign of Terror.

The statue inside the memorial was created by Sally James Farnham, the same artist who created the Vernon and Irene Castle memorial at Woodlawn Cemetery at Bronx, New York.

Farnham was well known for her heroic 15-foot statue of Simon Bolivar in Central Park.  Unlike the delicate Castle commission, this statue is commanding and large. The centerpiece of the temple is the statue of Flora, indicated by the bouquet of flowers she holds in her left arm.  Farnham designed the statue and it was sculpted in marble by Robert A. Baillie.

What is also remarkable is that Sally was entirely self-taught—she had no formal training, and yet, created magnificent sculptures that show range from the massive equestrian statue of Bolivar to the tender and delicate collapsed dancer to the centerpiece of Satterwhite memorial.

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Collapsed Dancer

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

MY BELOVED HUSBAND

VERNON CASTLE BLYTH

BORN MAY 2, 1887

WAS KILLED FEB. 15, 1918

IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY

CROIX DE GUERRE

 

IRENE CASTLE

MCLAUGHLIN ENZINGER

HUMANITARIAN

BORN APRIL 7, 1893

DIED JANUARY 25, 1969

Vernon and Irene Castle were one of the most famous dance couples of the 20th Century.  They were HUGE. Today they would be called superstars.  They became famous for their versions of trots—the Turkey Trot and the Foxtrot—among other dances they helped popularize.

Vernon and Irene Castle

Vernon and Irene Castle

Both were dancers in a dance troupe.  They went on tour in France and became the toast of Paris.  When they returned to the United States in 1912, they starred in Broadway musicals, vaudeville, and movies, eventually opening their own dance studio, where they were in high demand to teach dance.

At the height of their stardom, Vernon, a native of Great Britain, joined the Royal Flying Corps.  Vernon flew over 300 missions downing two enemy aircraft.  He was awarded the Croix de Guerre, a French military decoration awarded to French and Allied service men.  He was transferred to the United States to train American flyers.  On February 15th, 1918, at the Benbrook Airfield near Fort Worth, Texas, Vernon was killed in a training accident.

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Irene had seen a small bronze sculpture of a tired ballet dancer titled, End of the Day, created by artist Sally James Farnham.  The statue depicts a nude dancer who is coiled into a ball after an exhausting day of dance practice.  The statue was recreated for a memorial for Vernon’s grave—and became the image of a distraught and weeping mourning figure collapsed in grief framed by a Doric colonnade.

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Worldly Achievement

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The modern Romanesque mausoleum in the Rosehill Cemetery at Chicago has carved on it the laurel leaf. The vine starts half way up the rounded arch and leads to the top of the mausoleum where it culminates in a square on either side featuring the leaves of the plant. The laurel leaf represents special achievement—success and a triumph of worldly accomplishment. The mausoleum itself is a sign of worldly achievement but underscored by the symbolism of the laurel leaf.

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Disguise

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On this plain rounded-top white marble tablet in the Springhill Cemetery at Nashville, Tennessee, the anchor cross is carved into the oval inset at the top of the gravestone. The anchor cross is an ancient Christian symbol that has been found in catacomb burials as early as the First Century and as late as the Third Century.  Romans persecuted early Christians—feeding them to the lions, forcing them battle to the death in the arenas, or burning them at the stake. The Christians who hid in the catacombs and practiced their religion in secret left messages of hope carved next to the anchor cross symbols.  In this way, the anchor was used by early Christians as a disguised cross.

Some Church historians believe that the anchor cross was adopted when Emperor Trajan had Saint Clement tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea for proselytizing and converting Romans to Christianity. Others believe it was a clever way to disguise the most Christian of symbols—the cross.

Over time, the anchor served as a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians.  Just as an anchor does not let a moored boat drift, the anchoring influence of Christ does not allow the Christian life to drift. The anchor cross is also called the Mariner’s Cross. It is viewed as a symbol of hope. It can also represent a “fresh start”.

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Slight Variations on a Theme: The Door

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The door as a motif in funerary art symbolizes mystery.  The door is the pathway from the earthly realm to the next.  In all five examples from mausoleum doors, a mourning figure waits at the door.  In some cases her hand is close to door, almost as if she is hesitating to pass through.  In another case, the mourning figure holds a laurel wreath–the traditional symbol of victory over death.  In one case, she hold an Easter lily, the symbol of resurrection.  In Christianity, however, the door is usually viewed with hope, charity, and faith.  The next life will be better.

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