Crying Mary

Johannes Decker 1839 – 1910

Ruth Decker 1840 – 1925

Lila Decker 1869 – 1872

Baby Decker 1875

Often legends that spring up about gravestones and monuments in cemeteries are born of fantasy and imagination.  One such example is the so-called “Crying Mary” statue in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The statue was commissioned by Ruth Decker in 1911, after her husband Johannes Decker died.  Nellie Verne Walker, an Iowa sculptress who was working in Chicago at the time, created the monument.  The monument now marks the graves of Johannes, Ruth, and their two children—Lila, who died of scarlet fever, and Baby, who was born stillborn.

The bronze statue of a woman symbolizes “Memory.”

Currently, the statue has been polished to reveal the original bronze color.  But after the statue was placed in the cemetery in 1911, after many years the bronze oxidized, and a green patina appeared.  The pattern around the eyes made the goddess Memory appear to be weeping.  She looked as if she had tears streaming down her face.  Then someone reported that they had actually seen the statue weep and she wept every night at midnight.  The legend continued to grew—people were whispering that it wept because she had murdered her six children.

Some, trying to explain the myth with an “logical” explanation, falsely claimed that tubing was inserted in the base of the statue up to the eyes to draw up moisture and make “Crying Mary” cry!

Of course, the rumors and the legend surrounding the statue are untrue but even with the statue sandblasted and the original bronze color revealed, it continues….

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