May “Mollie” Cash Neal
Born 1844, Louisiana
Died October 1894, aged 49-50
Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Neal
Born 1867, Louisiana
Died June 17, 1889, aged 21-22
The monument in the historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta of two women sitting next two each other could be of two goddesses or two sisters. The monument, however, was carved to represent a mother and a daughter.
The sculpture on the left is thought to represent May “Mollie” Neal, wife of Captain Thomas Benton Neal (born October 21, 1838, Pike County, Georgia—Died April 12,1902, aged 63, Fulton County, Georgia).
The sculpture to the right represents Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” the Neal’s daughter, who suffered from rheumatism for several months before her death. The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana June 23, 1889, Sunday) wrote, “Miss Mary Lizzie Neal of Atlanta, Georgia…was long a sufferer of the fatal disease, paralysis of the heart, which has at last snapped the tender cord and torn her from adoring parents and sister. She was formerly a Minden girl and a general favorite with her numerous friends here and elsewhere who mourn her untimely end.”
According to Images of America: Historic Oakland Cemetery by Tevi Taliaferro (Arcadia Publishing, 2001, page 99), the Neal monument was “Designed in the neo-classical style, the Neal Mother and Daughter monument features both women dressed in flowing Greek or Roman robes.” Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery, An Illustrated History and Guide by Ren and Helen David (page 66) states Thomas Neal had the monument erected in memory of his mother and daughter. A Celtic Cross, symbolizing eternal life, faith, and redemption, towers over the sculptures of the two female figures.
One figure holds and open book as she looks upward. The open book likely represents the Bible. The other figure looks downward with one hand she holds a palm frond. The palm frond is an ancient symbol of victory, dating back to Roman times when victors were presented with palm fronds. The palm fronds were also laid in the path of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. So, for many Christians, the palm represents righteousness, resurrection, and martyrdom, symbolizing the spiritual victory over death associated with the Easter story. On her lap rest a closed book which most likely indicates a completed life. Between the two women rests a wreath. The wreath is round—a completed circle—symbolizing eternity. A laurel wreath represents victory over death and dates back again to Roman times.
This monument is not an original—that is there are others that look similar, like the Frank and Mary Lang monument in the Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana. The white marble monument is weathered and worn, but is unmistakably the same.
Asleep in Jesus, blessed thought.
In memory of
Died March 26, 1892
Aged 80 years
Mary C. his wife
Aged 77 years.
There is also the Morris monument in the Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
Has anyone spotted others?