What’s In a Name?

Isaiah Sellers

1802 – 1864

It seems that in many social gatherings, one of the first questions people ask one another is, “What do you do?”  It is as if a person’s occupation is who they are.  And, in fact, some occupations carry with them a title that becomes part of their name—a doctor, for instance, Dr. Fauci—I don’t even know his first name; or someone in the military, such as, General Pershing.  Or even an honorary title that they carry with them throughout their lives, such as, the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, Colonel Sanders. 

Another example of this is a ship’s captain, always referred to by the title, Captain, followed by their surname.  Isaiah Sellers is one such person—Captain Sellers took it one step further, with his occupation on full display on his monument in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.  Sellers is credited with hundreds of accident-free trips between St. Louis and New Orleans.  That was during a time when the Mississippi River was rife with snags and sandbars that sank or damaged many a steamboat paddling up and down the river carrying goods.

According to various accounts, Sellers himself commissioned the white marble sculpture that now serves as his gravestone; clearly indicating that his occupation was central to who he was.  The monument shows the commanding river boat pilot at the helm.

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