Memorializing Victorian Children

This gravestone in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Washington, Indiana, is illegible and the boy’s name is lost, his birth and death years appear to be 1888 – 1895.

The gravestones of children are the ones that are uniquely poignant.  It is not natural for  parents to have a child die before they do—children are the future.  The loss is devastating and leaves the parents bereft.  A hole is left in their hearts and their lives.  Gravestones for children take many forms displaying a multitude of symbols—lambs, booties, broken buds, and doves with broken wings, for example. Another way that children were memorialized during the Victorian era was to have their image carved into a monument for the child’s grave.  In many cases the likeness was reproduced from a photograph or painting of the child.  This was done for sons and daughters and continue to be some of the saddest gravestones found in cemeteries.

EDNA MIRIAM PAUL

BORN AUG. 23, 1897 — DIED MAY 2, 1907.

Many hopes are buried here

The likeness of 9 ½ year old Edna Miriam Paul in the St. Luke Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois, was created in the Victorian style of memorializing children in funerary statuary.  The realism of the statue is remarkable as her funerary statue is a recreation of the photograph on the front of the base of her monument.  Edna is depicted in her finest clothing and, as in the photograph, she is wearing a necklace. Her curly hair cascades to her shoulders accentuated by a bow, matching the bow on her dress. True to the image, even her stance is the same in the statue as in the picture.  The epitaph on the gravestone, “Many hopes are buried here,” speaks to the sadness and loss her parents felt.

GEORGE A.

SON OF E.J. &S.A. BLOUNT

BORN SEPT. 26, 1867.

DIED FEB. 14, 1873.

The following can be found on a plaque in the Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio: ““Georgie” Blount was five when he fell from a banister in the family owned American House Hotel on February 7th, 18873, striking his head on an iron stove.  He passed on February 14th.  The community mourned the loss of this well-known and well-loved child, and this monument was made from a portrait painted shortly before his death.”

Mary Ella McGinnis

Born December 15, 1869

Died August 6, 1875

The likeness of Mary Ella McGinnis was created in the Victorian style of memorializing children in funerary statuary.  The realism of the statue is remarkable.  Mary Ella is depicted in her finest clothing, the eyelet lace still visible in the bottom of her skirt.  She is portrayed holding flowers in her apron with one hand and a single flower in her other hand.  Because of the weathering of the soft marble, the kind of flower is not discernible.  The act of placing the single flower on a grave is a common motif and expresses the transitory nature of life. The flower she holds in one hand is a floral metaphor for a young flower that did not have time to fully bloom on Earth, a poignant visual message coupled with the image of this young girl.

Corliss Randle Ruckle

Born Dec. 19, 1877

Died Dec. 4, 1889

One of the most sought out monuments in the sprawling Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, Indiana, is that which was carved for Corliss Randle Ruckle, who was born December 19, 1877, and died of diphtheria December 4, 1889, just shy of his 12th birthday.  Corliss was the only son of Nicholas R. Ruckle, who had been a captain in the Civil War in Company E in the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was promoted to Colonel of the 148th Rec’t Indiana Infantry.  His mother was Jennie Moore Ruckle.  Corliss Randle Ruckle is depicted in a white-collared shirt tied with a bow, wearing knee breeches, button-up shoes, while sitting on a spiral staircase, with an open book and a small bouquet of flowers.  His family memorialized young Corliss in a lifelike statue.

ANISE E. HART

DEAR PARENTS WITH A

REVERENT HAND,

THIS TO THY MEMORY GIVEN

WHILE ONE BY ONE THY

HOUSEHOLD BAND,

GOD REUNITES IN HEAVEN.

(On the front of the gravestone)

Anise E. Hart

September 28, 1897

July 28, 1909

This gravestone is in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Montgomery, Indiana, dedicated to Anise E. Hart, the twelve-year old daughter of James and Alice Hart.  This example was carved by Bedford, Indiana, stone carver Ira Correll. According to the Smithsonian Save Outdoor Art, Indiana Survey, the limestone statue of the young girl was carved by Correll from a photograph of Anise.  The description from the Smithsonian survey describes the statue as “wearing a dress, a layered blouse with fluffed sleeves, a belt, high-laced shoes, and a bracelet on her proper left wrist. Her hair is in long ringlets, caught with a bow in the back. She holds a small bunch of roses in her proper right hand.”  The limestone figure stands upon a red granite base decorated with small Corinthian columns, and a cross.

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1 Response to Memorializing Victorian Children

  1. gsb03632 says:

    Thanks for this very useful and interesting compendium! You’re right about the sadness of these monuments on all counts. Might the “first name” in your first figure in fact be the word “Little”? Then what we thougnt was the surname will actually be a first name. I can’t make it out either.

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