TO THE BLESSED MEMORY OF OUR BELOVED MOTHER
RUTH ANNE DODGE
BORN MAY 23, 1833 DIED SEPTEMBER 4, 1916
THIS MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED
BY HER TWO DAUGHTERS
ELLA AND ANNE
“HER CHILDREN RISE UP AND CALL HER BLESSED PROV. 31:28.
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD MATT. 5:8
AND HE SHOWED ME A PURE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE
CLEAR AS CRYSTAL PROCEEDING OUT OF THE THRONE
OF GOD AND OF THE LAMB REV. 22:1
LET HIM THAT IS ATHIRST COME AND WHOSOEVER WILL
LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY” REV. 22:17
There are many accounts in history of famous people describing their visions of death. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, described a dream that he had about two weeks before his assignation. He described hearing sobbing. When he sought out the source of the crying, he was guided to a room with an open casket. When he asked who had died he was told the president had been killed. Many believe Lincoln had foreseen his own death.
Carl Jung, too, had visions of death. Jung’s dream about the death of friend was so vivid that it led him to believe in telepathy.
Ruth Anne Dodge was married to General Grenville Dodge, famous Civil War general and railroad magnate. Ruth Anne’s visions of death occurred to her on three separate occasions. Each time Ruth Anne was transported to a place unknown to her and each time a specter appeared. The supernatural being came out of a light mist being carried on a barge of flowers and was draped in a white gown, her hair glimmered as if was made of spun gold, and she carried a Grecian urn that had water shimmering from it as if it were made from thousands of sparkling diamonds. On the first two occasions the specter told Ruth Anne of the water that flowed from the urn and described it as a blessing. The angel urged Ruth Anne to drink the water but she was not ready. During the third dream the angel explained that the water pouring from the urn was the water of life. Ruth Anne drank of the water and told her two daughters that the water, “gave me immortality.” She died a few days later.
The Dodge daughters, Ruth and Eleanor, wanted to commemorate their mother’s dreams in a statue and commissioned the great American sculptor, Daniel Chester French, to recreate the angel as seen in the dreams. The sculpture he created is cast bronze and turned black with age. Since its creation after Ruth Anne Dodge’s death in September of 1916, it has become known as the black angel. Oddly, the black angel was erected in the Fairview Cemetery, even though, Grenville and Ruth Anne Dodge are buried in a classically-designed mausoleum in the Walnut Hill Cemetery at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Dodge died on Jan. 3, 1916, in Council Bluffs and Ruth Anne died eight months later – on Sept. 4, 1916. Three times in the nights before her death, Ruth Anne Dodge dreamt that an angel urged her to drink from an urn. She finally drank, ensuring immortality, she thought. She died within hours.
Whatever the truth of this story, at some point after the installation of the angel, Eddie’s monument was moved from its original location to its present site alongside the angel. His remains, along with the ashes of Nicholas Feldevert, were placed in a repository under the angel’s base. Teresa died of cancer on November 18, 1924, her ashes were also placed beneath the angel and soon after, the strange stories began.
Known locally as the “Black Angel,” this solid bronze statue was inspired by three visions experienced by Mrs. Dodge in the fall of 1916, before her death. This prominent Council Bluffs resident was the wife of Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, chief construction engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad. After her death, two of Mrs. Dodge’s daughters commissioned Daniel Chester French to sculpt a likeness of the angel in their mother’s vision. The statue took approximately two years to complete, at the cost of $40,000. French created the seated statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He subsequently said he felt the “Angel” was his best work. It is signed and dated by him on the bottom of the statue. The monument was dedicated in 1920 and has three Biblical inscriptions. In June 1984, restoration of the monument, along with additional landscaping began. Corrosion was cleaned off the statue and water began to flow again from the Angel’s vessel. The stone aggregate basin was rebuilt and the original steps were reset. Lighting, walkways and wrought iron fencing were also added around the monument.
The Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial, popularly known as the Black Angel, is a monument in Fairview Cemetery in memoriam to the wife of Grenville Dodge. The memorial was dedicated in May of 1919 by Ruth Anne’s daughters, Anne Dodge and Ella Pusey. The memorial depicts an angel holding a jug of water and was created by Daniel Chester French, who also created the Minute Man statue in Concord, Massachusetts, and the sitting Abraham Lincoln statue in Washington D.C. The angel is based on a recurring dream of Ruth Anne. In it she was standing on a shore line, when a boat appeared with an angel on it who offered her a drink from her jug. Mrs. Dodge told her daughters in her dream she at first refused to drink. She claimed the jar contained the water of life and not until near her death did she accept a drink from it; but, when she did, the water gave her immortality. Throughout the years, folklore has grown about the memorial. People have claimed to have seen ghosts in pictures taken around the statue or felt eerie presences around it. These reports have lead to incidents of vandalism on numerous occasions. Local authorities state that every Halloween different objects have been placed in the angel’s hands, hats placed on her head, and graffiti all around it. In 2002, a 1% hotel-motel tax paid for a two year, $50,000 renovation to both the memorial and the surrounding land. In 2003 the city spent another $5,000 to restore the memorial, and clean up much of the graffiti surrounding it. The money for this came from a mixture of donations and city funds. In 2009 the city installed a $6,000 surveillance camera in the hopes of avoiding any more vandalism.
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