Double Duty

If you walk up the sidewalk to the sales office at the Cave Hill Cemetery at Louisville, Kentucky, to your left on that path is a bronze statue of an exuberant little girl with her arms stretched as if she can reach the sky. The statue is titled “La Breeza – The Good Fairy”. The plaque on the base of the statue says that it is a reproduction of the original work of Oscar Mattison in the 1950s.

That same statue is used in the Lexington Cemetery at Lexington, Kentucky, atop the Wiggins Family Monument. The monument has a statue of “La Breeza – The Good Fairy” atop a square granite base. In this case the statue is used as part of their gravestone—not as freestanding art. Mattison’s sculpture is doing double duty.


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Homage to a Legend

The rural garden Spring Grove Cemetery at Cincinnati, Ohio, has a sculpture by artist Robert Koepnick of Dayton, Ohio, dedicated to Johnny Appleseed. The sculpture, dedicated in 1968, is placed in the middle of a stone circle with Johnny in the middle standing on a granite boulder. The bronze is of a barefoot Johnny Appleseed, book in one hand, the other lifting up an apple sprig—presumably towards the heavens asking for God’s blessings before it was planted.

The statue honors John Chapman, known better, as Johnny Appleseed because of his dedication to plant apple orchards and nurseries throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, the northern counties of West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, and eventually Indiana.

This piece of artwork is art as tribute, not as a monument placed over his grave, because he is not buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery.

Johnny Appleseed died in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is where is buried, though, the exact spot is disputed and the truth may never be known. Some believe he is buried close to the cabin in which he was living when he died, while others believe he is buried at the Archer Family Cemetery.

In any case, the sculptural homage to Johnny Appleseed is also accompanied by a plague in the floor of the stone circle that reads:


(JOHN CHAPMAN,  SEPTEMBER 26, 1774 – MARCH 18, 1845)


The day we visited the cemetery, some clever visitor left a small individual container of Mott’s applesauce at the foot of Johnny’s sculpture—homage to his love of the apple in all its forms!

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Beauty and the Beast, Pandora, and Sleeping Beauty all rolled into one

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Southern California is one of those landscaped cemeteries that has art for art’s sake on the grounds. One of the works is a replica sculpture of Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Eros’ Kiss, created in 1787. His original sculpture is now housed in the Louvre in Paris. The sculpture is a neoclassical masterpiece depicting the two lovers at the height of their passion—the moment when Eros’ lips awaken the sleeping Psyche.

In mythology, Psyche was the mortal woman who had been gifted with beauty and grace that reviled all others, including the Goddess Aphrodite. The jealous Aphrodite hatched a plot to have her son, Eros, poison men’s souls in order to kill their desire for the gorgeous Psyche. But, like others, he fell under the spell of Psyche’s extreme beauty and fell desperately in love with her, too.

Even though, many suitors came forward to ask for her hand in marriage, Psyche spurned all of the advances saving herself for the one true love she was waiting for. Her worried parents asked an oracle for help to marry off their gorgeous daughter. Surprisingly and to their horror, the oracle foretold that the lovely Psyche would marry an ugly beast—shades of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! And so, as they say in these myths, it came to pass—their beloved daughter did marry a beast, Eros as it turns out, who she could only be with after the curtain of nightfall fell. It was mysterious but his tenderness enthralled her and she was happy beyond her dreams.

Psyche’s sisters convinced her that the beast she married was evil and would eventually kill her. So she plotted to kill him first. She put her plot into action one night after he fell asleep creeping up on him with an oil lamp to illuminate the room in one hand and a knife in the other. When she saw the flawless and perfect form of Eros she was so startled that she spilled the oil on Eros. Eros fled saying Psyche had violated his trust and ruined their perfect love.

Eros was soon after imprisoned by Aphrodite in her palace. Psyche found out and pleaded with her to be re-united with her lover. Aphrodite agreed but laid out three tasks that Psyche had to perform before she would be allowed to see Eros again. The first two tasks she completed quickly but the third task took her to the underworld where she was to bring the box back to Aphrodite that contained a potion for eternal beauty. Though, Psyche was not to open the box (we’ve seen this before in mythological stories—remember Pandora?) her curious nature got the best of her. The box did not contain the coveted elixir but instead Morpheus the god of sleep and dreams. Upon opening the box Psyche fell into a deep sleep.

Eros, still in love, escaped from his imprisonment in the palace went directly to the big guy—Zeus himself—to beg for his help to save Psyche from her dream state. When Zeus realized how powerful the love between Eros and Psyche was, he did them a solid and made Psyche immortal so the star-struck lovers could be together forever. The moment when Eros leans over to kiss and awaken his bride is captured in the statue (Sleeping Beauty anyone?).

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Salvaged Goddesses

Many rural garden cemeteries not only have gravestones, monuments, and tombs that are works of art, but also have sculptures that are freestanding and not commemorating someone deceased. Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, the largest cemetery in the state of Indiana, is no exception.

In 1962, the Marion County Courthouse in Indianapolis was razed. Some of the bits were salvaged and sold off, including 12 statues that adorned the magnificent Victorian building which was erected in 1873.  According to Memories of the Past: A Tour of Historic Crown Hill Cemetery, Recalling Nearly 200 Years of Indianapolis and Marion County History written by Wayne L. Sanford published by Crown Hill Cemetery in 1996, eight of the remaining statues were removed from the building and relocated to Holiday Park, on North Spring Hill Road—one of the statues is in a private collection. That leaves three of the statues that were purchased by the cemetery board to be relocated to the Crown Hill Cemetery at a cost of $250 per statue.

The three statues purchased by Crown Hill are of Greek goddesses. The first statue is of Themis, the daughter of Uranus and Gaia. Themis was a consort of Zeus—she was a goddess of consequence and made her home at Olympus. Themis, meaning divine law, was the goddess of law and order and is often shown with a tripod or the scales of justice.
The second salvaged Greek goddess, to be found in the Crown Hill Cemetery is Demeter, the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Demeter is often shown with a sheaf of wheat, bread, a cornucopia, or a torch. Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and of fertility. She can be found in section 46-B where she was placed in 1963.

There is a bit of mystery about the third goddess saved from atop the demolished Marion county courthouse building. According to Memories of the Past: A Tour of Historic Crown Hill Cemetery the statue that stands close to the underpass is either Persephone or Hebe. Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. The symbols that she is most often portrayed with are seeds of grain, the torch, flowers, deer, or the pomegranate. Persephone was the consort of Hades of the underworld. She carried out curses upon men and upon the souls of the dead. She was a formidable underworld character!

Hebe, on the other hand, was the cupbearer to the gods and the goddess of eternal youth.   She was also the daughter of Zeus but her mother was Hera. Along with a wine cup, she is also often portrayed with or as an eagle, ivy, the fountain of youth, and wings. Hebe served wine, nectar, and ambrosia to the gods. This statue is shown with a vessel, which would indicate this statue as being Hebe—but you decide.

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Neo-classical sculpture

Many rural garden cemeteries not only have gravestones, monuments, and tombs that are works of art, but also have sculptures that are freestanding and not commemorating someone deceased. In the Lexington Cemetery at Lexington, Kentucky, sculptures add to the park-like feel.

One example is a sculpture of a woman playing a lyre. The lyre is an u-shaped stringed instrument that was found in ancient Greece. The lyre was traditionally seen as a symbol of Apollo, the Greek god of music.

In Christian symbolism it can represent harmony and Heavenly accord and song in praise of the Lord.  In funerary art, however, the lyre can also represent the end of life.

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The tumulus is a mound form of burial that dates back to prehistoric peoples 4,ooo to 5,ooo years B.C.  Examples can be found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.  There are many examples in the United States from Maine to Georgia and as far west as the Dakotas and Kansas.  These artificial mountains or conicals, first built in North America in what is now Wisconsin, have been carbon dated to about 1200-1500 B.C.  The tumuli are dome-shaped hills used for ritual burials. Other examples, such as Effigy Mounds in Eastern Iowa, were built some 3,000 years ago for the same purpose of creating an imposing memorial to the dead.

Today, tumuli as a burial form, can be found in mostly large cemeteries.  This example is found in the Sinking Spring Cemetery at Abingdon, Virginia.

The cemetery brochure describes it this way, “This unusual ivy-covered mound encloses a stone tomb. Inside, behind a locked steel door, are the caskets of John Henry Martin, a wealthy carpenter and farmer who died in 1899, and his wife, Malinda. An illustrious person who was buried here, but just temporarily, was General John Morgan Hunt, a Confederate raider who was renowned for burning down trestles and generally bedeviling the Union forces. He was killed in Greenville, Tennessee, in September of 1864. The Confederates arranged for a truce and brought his body on a special train to Abingdon, where he had served as field director for the Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee campaign.  Morgan’s funeral was the largest one in Abingdon had ever seen. General George Crittenden led the3 procession along the three-mile lone rout from Judge Campbell’s home, Acklin, where Morgan had his office, to the Episcopal Church for the service, and then to the cemetery, where his body was laid in the Martin tomb.

After just a few days, Morgan’s body was taken by train to Richmond, where it lay in state until burial in the Hollywood Cemetery. In 1868, his body was exhumed and reburied in Lexington, Kentucky. Some say he traveled further after he died than he did while alive.”

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DIED AUGUST 21st 1849.



DIED OCTOBER 17th 1835.


The towering gothic John Wesley and Catherine Hunt monument in the Lexington Cemetery at Lexington, Kentucky, is the centerpiece of the family plot. A circle of Hunt family members’ gravestones surround the main monument. The epitaph on the main monument, “THEIR CHILDREN SLEEP AROUND,” indicates those in the circle are the children of John Wesley and Catherine Hunt—well, unless there is a hidden message in those words!

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