Train Wreck, 3–His Last Trip


Killed at New Albany

North Y. while on duty for the

Monon R. W. Co.


SON OF J. N. & E. A.



SEP. 15. 1880


DEC. 20. 1902


C. R. Salyards of Orleans, Indiana, carved the train on top of the gravestone for Emory Titzel in the Mount Carmel Cemetery at Stinesville, Bean Blossom Township, Monroe County, Indiana.


Emory Titzel was a brakeman on the Monon Rail Way Company when he was killed in a accident.

In addition to the intricate carving of the train engine, there is a glassed compartment in the center of the gravestone that housed the flowers from the funerals. The flowers have long since decomposed.


Even though the train marked the untimely death of Emory Titzel and his “last trip” on the Monon, other children of Joseph Newcomer and Edwina Ann (Williams) Titzel are memorialized on the stone:













DAU OFN. & E. A.



FEB. 1. 1875.


SEP. 5. 1875


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Train Wreck, 2


The Bohemian National Cemetery at Chicago, Illinois, practically has a small forest of tree-stump tombstones. They come in different styles and shapes, and some even in different materials and dot the old part of the cemetery. But, the one that is a surprise and unlike just about any of the others is the tree-stump tombstone of 40-year old Matej Sidlo.






10 SRPNA 1898





NAR. 1857 – ZEM 1930


Here Rests


Born at the Kloube District

Vodňan Region, city of PISEK


10 AUGUST 1898

At the age of 40 years

Rest in peace

Dear husband and father


BORN 1857 – DIED 1930


Sidlo and his brother, Jacob, both immigrants from Bohemia had found jobs at a local brewing company—R. Stege Brewing—in Chicago. They were to load their wagon with beer barrels and make deliveries for the company the daylong. And, their day was long. Matej and Jacob left home for work at the crack of dawn—4:45 am to get an early start.

According to newspaper accounts from the time, it was reported that the two men had climbed aboard their wagon, being pulled by two draft horses, and were making a crossing over the railroad tracks at 16th and Morgan, not far from where Matej lived on Morgan and 19th, when a train barreled down the tracks. Jacob spotted the train and was able to jump to safety in time, but the train hit the team and wagon tossing Matej to the pavement. His death certificate tells the story, Matej Sidlo “came to his death from shock and injuries caused by being thrown from a beer wagon hauled by two horses and belonging to the E. R. Stege Brewing Company. Said wagon being struck by engine No. 590 belonging to the CB & Q RR Company.” One newspaper account chalked it up to, “carelessness of railway employees” who were “again to blame for the untimely death of a man in the prime of his life.”

Matej was indeed in the prime of his life. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, Matej or Mike Sidlo was married to Josefa (Josephine) Sidlo, who was also an immigrant from Bohemia. They had six children living at the time: Anz/Ann born June 15, 1881; Joseph born August 29, 1882; Michael born May 6, 1887; James born October 1888; George born March 1893; and John born August 23 1895 . Their 7th child, Wenzel/Wenci, died as an infant.

Matej’s tree-stump tombstone, carved from limestone, was a part of the rustic movement of the mid-nineteenth century which was characterized by designs that were made to look like they were from the country. The gravestones were purposefully designed to look like trees that had been cut and left in the cemetery which was part of the movement to build cemeteries to look like parks.  In funerary art, the tree-stump tombstones were varied—the stonecutters displayed a wide variety of carving that often reflected individual tastes and interests of the persons memorialized.


The tree-stump gravestones themselves were imbued with symbolism. The short tree stump usually marks the grave of a person who died young—a life that had been “cut” short.  In this example, Matej is just 40 years old.  Twining up the face of the gravestone is ivy, a symbol associated with immortality and fidelity. Just below the place where the names are carved into the stone is a pair of clasping hands, a symbol of matrimony.

But what is different is the bas-relief on the front that displays the scene of his death. It shows the train engine, billowing smoke from its smokestack, barreling into the wagon with the beer kegs flying into the air.

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Train Wreck



BORN AUG. 2, 1870


APRIL 5, 1897

The small square-top tablet in the Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh displays a bas-relief of a locomotive at the top of the gravestone—not just any engine, but the likeness of the Pittsburgh Fort Wayne & Cleveland Run Woods that killed Charles Haggerty in a trestle span collapse.  The Monday, April 5, 1897 Pittsburg Press printed the following headlines:


Coal Train Wrecked at Ohio River Connecting Bridge.





The following excerpt of the article on the front page of the evening Pittsburgh Press published the dramatic details of the accident:

“The Employees Were Buried Under the Cars and Coal-McClure Avenue Was Completely Obstructed.  The Accident Caused Great Excitement in Lower Allegheny.

“A span of the Ohio Connecting railway bridge, over McClure avenue, Allegheny, gave way about 6:15 this morning, and a mixed freight trin which was crossing together with the engine, were precipitated to the street, fully 40 feet below.  The causalities were:

“CHARLES HAGGERTY, Fireman, killed.

“WILLIAM GRAHAM, engineer, fatally hurt.  Body badly mangled; now at St. John’s hospital.

“The train pulled out from the panhandle yards on the south bank of the Ohio, bound for the Ft. Wayne road.  It passed over the river in safety, but when about midway of the McClure avenue span the trestle gave way and the engine and 13 cars plunged to the street below.  Engineer Graham and Fireman Haggerty went down with the engine and were buried in the wreck.  The cars and coal were scattered in every direction completely bocking the street.  In addition to the coal cars, two cars containing structural iron were also piled in the wreck.

              The engine, tender and one car passed over McClure avenue in safety.  The third car was of the hopper description and was loaded with coal.  When it was directly above McClure avenue, the street span collapsed, fully 100 feet of the structure giving way.  The heavy weight pulled the engine, the tender and the first car back, and precipitated them into the street below.  Car after car followed, until the street was filled to the level of the trestle above.

              In the fall the engine turned completely over.  Graham and Haggerty were unable to jump and were caught in the falling train.  West-bound passenger train 101 on the Fort Wayne road, and east-bound train #42 on the Cleveland & Pittsburg road were passing when the bridge collapsed.  Both were compelled to stop.  It was by the east-bound train that the news of the disaster was first brought to Allegheny.  The wrecking trains of the Fort Wayne and Cleveland & Pittsburg roads were at once dispatched to the wreck.  Word was also sent to the Allegheny central police station and No. 3 patrol wagon and eight officers were sent to assist the wrecking crews.

              Work was at once commenced upon the lower end of the wreck, in order that the imprisoned engineer and fireman might be rescued.  Superintendent A. B. Starr, and other officials, arrived early at the scene of the accident, and at once assumed the management of the men engaged in the rescue.  The steam dome of the big engine was broken by the fall and the escaping steam permeated every part of the wreck.

              Almost 200 men were put to work with shovels, crowbars and saws, and shortly after 7 o’clock the cab of over-turned engine was reached.  Haggerty was found dead upon the cab floor, an iron bar having fallen upon the prostrate body, and cut it in twain.  The remains were carried out and the search continued for Graham.  The escaping steam and scalding water made it almost impossible to work but the wrecking crew continued bravely and shortly before 7:00 Graham was found crushed beneath the engine tender.  He was still alive, but the flesh was badly burned about the upper part of the body.  Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting the injured man from the wreck.  It was finally accomplished, and he was sent to St. John’s hospital.  The remains of Haggerty were taken to Thomas Payton’s undertaking room on McClure avenue…”

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Frighten the evil spirits

Robert H. Richards

January 18, 1830 – September 16, 1888

Josephine A. Rankin Richards

August 12, 1833 – December 14, 1910

The Robert H. Richards mausoleum, built by H. Q. French and Company of New York, in the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia, is considered one of the most beautiful in the cemetery—a cemetery not short on beautiful mausoleums. Richards was a London-born businessman who successfully opened Atlanta’s first bookstore but really made “bank” when he co-founded the Atlanta National Bank with Alfred Austell.

The warm-colored stone mausoleum located on a slice-of-pie-shaped lot, is a combination of architectural designs—Gothic revival and Romanesque.  The vertical design, with a quatrefoil window in the tower are common elements in the Gothic style.  The rounded arches above the door and in the tower each with a slight Gothic peak, are much more reminiscent of Romanesque architecture.

The structure’s four gargoyles, also a Gothic feature, on the tower feature bats facing outward—with their wings stretched backward as the entire animal juts forward.  The bat is a rare graveyard symbol. Like many symbols it represents one thing in Eastern cultures and quite another in the West. To the Eastern cultures the bat is seen as a symbol of good fortune.

Not so in the West. Since Medieval times, the bat has symbolized demons and evil spirits. In cemetery symbolism the bat is associated with the underworld. Think how often the bat is used as a Halloween decoration—it is part of all things spooky, creepy, and the macabre.  As if the bats weren’t scary enough, these have lion heads and talons.  According to Images of America: Historic Oakland Cemetery, by Tevi Taliaferro, (pages 42 and 43), they are “intended to frighten away evil spirits” and many a child, I imagine.

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When William Foote died, his wife, Ida, commissioned the great artist Lorado Taft to create a memorial for her husband.  The bronze memorial that Taft created has become known as the Foote Angel, even though, it does not have wings.  The statue is an allegorical figure representing “memory.”  The work was completed in 1923.  The monumental figure sits on a bench, with a stylus in one hand and an unrolled scroll across her lap.

Lorado Zadoc Taft was one of the great American sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th Century. His parents, a homemaker, and a professor of geology, homeschooled young Lorado before he went on to the Illinois Industrial University (which later became the University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign), where he received a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He then studied abroad at the famed Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts from 1880 to 1883, in Paris where he was widely recognized for his talent. He returned to the United States and settled in Chicago where he took up a career as an artist and a teacher. Taft was a widely published scholar on the topic and his work was highly sought after.  He was produced many private commissions and also many public works including The Soldier’s Monument in Oregon, Illinois, The Solitude of the Soul Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Fountain of Time in Chicago.

When Taft died, Taft’s ashes were scattered in the Elmwood Cemetery at Elmwood, his hometown. A monument to him was erected with a small replica of one of his own favorite sculptures mounted on top of a rose-colored granite base.

The plaque in front of his memorial states:










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Dec. 12, 1898.


Oct. 16, 1915

A precious one from

us has gone

A voice we love

Is stilled,

Her place is vacant

In our home That

Never can be filled.

The gray granite monument to Lottie Ham in the Crest Lawn Cemetery in Atlanta depicts two young women flanking a tombstone with the inscription bearing Lottie’s name and birth and death date and a well-known epitaph.  Lottie Ham was a 17-year old girl who was killed in a fire that swept through the Mutual Film Exchange Mion Building at no. 40—42 Luckie Street in Atlanta at 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, October 16th, 1915.

The Sunday morning, October 17th, Atlanta Constitution front page carried the following banner headline, “TWO GIRLS MEET DEATH IN FILM FIRE; NINE ARE INJURED BY FURIOUS BLAZE AT MUTUAL OFFICE.”  The article goes on to detail some of the tragedy, “…Two girls are dead, another dying and nine other victims’ badly burned and injured, as a result of a fire which originated in the inspector’s room of the Mutual Film exchange, Luckie and Cone streets…and quickly spread to all parts of the two-story building, cutting off every means of exit for those working in on the second floor…The cause of the fire is debatable.  Some of the employees state that it was caused by the fuse in the electrical machine which operates the renovator blowing out and the sparks igniting the highly combustible moving picture film in the inspector’s room.”


C.E. Kessnick, manager of the Mutual Film Exchange, on the other hand, believes that the origin of the fire was spontaneous combustion.”

Both young women who met their deaths were trapped in the small supply room at the rear of the second floor, into which they fled in order to escape out of the windows from the room  They were overcome by gas resulting from the combustion.”

According to the History of Service: Atlanta Fire Department Commemorative Yearbook, published by Turner Publishers in Paducah, Kentucky, 2000, “The fire originated on the ground floor near the stockroom and inspector’s room when a spark from an electric fan ignited scraps of film on the cutting table.  The flames flashed with explosive force through the first floor.  Most of the employees on this floor were able to escape without injury, but the flames swept up the stairs and enveloped the reels of highly combustible nitrocellulose film stored in the racks here…Thousands of feet of motion picture film were including several two-reel pictures of Charlie Chaplin, Harry Snubi, Harold Lockwood, Mabel Norman, Fatty Arbuckle and Chester Conklin.”

The two women who died the day of the fire were Miss Lottie Ham of 15 Dillon Street in Atlanta and Miss Clara Westbrook of Gordon Avenue of Kirkwood, Georgia. Clara was born Georgia Clara Westbrook and was born September 1, 1886 and died the day of the fire, October 16, 1915, and buried at the Union Methodist Cemetery in Canton, Georgia.

Over one hundred years have passed since Lottie’s gravestone was put in place, so it is impossible to know with certainty, the exact meaning of the two figures on the monument.  The two women could represent mourning figures, or seemingly depict two images of Lottie, as they are dressed the same, even with the same pendant necklace.  However, upon reading the news accounts, it just might be a tribute to Lottie and Clara who were together and died as a result of the fire—trapped in the same small supply room overcome by the gases released as the nitrocellulose film that was stored in the racks of the building went up in an explosive blaze.

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A Big Comfy Chair

Horace Francis Ebert

1853 – 1893

Mary Ellen Dennett Bachelder Ebert

1855 – 1905

Edith L. Ebert Mulno

1873 – 1899


The Ebert Family gravestone in the Lowell, Massachusetts City Cemetery, is a remarkable replica of a tufted chair with dogs’ heads capping the arms.  An open book is left in the seat.  The book is inscribed, “1853 HORACE 1893.” The gravestone marks the grave of Horace Ebert.  Headstones next to the chair mark the graves of Mary Ellen Ebert, Horace’s wife, and their daughter, Edith.

In funerary art, the open book is a symbol commonly found on gravestones. The motif can represent the Book of Life with the names of the just registered on its pages.  Or, often the open book, can also symbolize the Word of God in the form of the Bible.  It can also represent the “story” of the deceased.  But like many symbols found in cemeteries, the interpretation and meaning can have a meaning that is particular to the family members involved in the design of the monument.  In this case, according to several Websites, the book represents Horace Ebert’s love of reading.  One can easily imagine Horace settled back in that comfortable chair reading a book.

The empty chair can symbolize the loss of a loved one.  However, in this case, the sculpted chair is a replica of Horace’s favorite chair which was made from black walnut and upholstered in leather.  The dogs are most likely an original part of the chair’s design and don’t signify any deeper meaning.  But dogs in funerary art symbolize the qualities we think of good dogs having—loyalty, fidelity, and vigilance.

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Profusion of Symbols


Wife of



June 8, 1849:


29 ys 7m & 8 ds.

I recently went looking for the Upper Mound Cemetery just to the West of Covington, Indiana.  Even though I located it on the map, I could not seem to find it.  I stumbled upon the small and very well-kept Lower Mound or Mound Cemetery—but not what I was looking for.  However, I did find a gentleman in the cemetery who gave me explicit directions to the Upper Mound Cemetery which, as it turned out, was only a mile or so away.  In fact, on my way to Lower Mound, I had passed right by it.  If it had not been for the directions from the stranger, I never would have located it.  There is no signage and the side of the lane next to the county road that takes you up to the cemetery is tree-lined and overgrown, completely obscuring a view of the graveyard.  It isn’t until you pull off the county road and look directly up the lane that you get a glimpse of gravestones that you know you are on the right track.

I was specifically looking for the gravestone of Juliet Rodgers.  I had seen a photo of the stone posted on one of the cemetery groups that I follow on Facebook and wanted to see the gravestone for myself.  The gray marble, square-top tablet is extraordinary.  A variety of lettering styles cut deeply and intricately, record the sad details of a far-too-young life cut short.

The top of the tablet depicts a curtain drawn back to reveal an elaborate tableau with a profusion of symbols rich with meaning. The curtain almost looks like it is pulled back as a stage curtain might be.   However, in funerary art the lifted curtain represents the passage from one realm to another; the veil that exists between the Earthly realm and the Heavenly one.

The lyre, the main symbol in the center of the tableau, is an u-shaped stringed instrument that was found in ancient Greece. The lyre was traditionally seen as a symbol of Apollo, the Greek god of music. In Christian symbolism it can represent harmony and Heavenly accord and song in praise of the Lord.  In funerary art, however, the lyre can also represent the end of life.  The lamb, seen here in the bottom left and laying down, is the symbol of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. It also represents innocence, often adorning the tombstones of infants and young children.

Twinning through the motif is a thistle.  The thistle is characterized by a purple or red flower that rests in a cup-shaped part of the stem and has prickly leaves and thorns that protect it from plant-eating animals. This flower, like so many symbols in funerary art, represents many different things. For instance, for Christians, the thistle, with its thorns, can symbolize the Passion of Christ—a reminder of Christ’s crown of thorns. It is also a symbol of earthly sorrow. After Adam ate of the Tree of Life, God said to Adam that the ground was cursed to him for disobeying Him and that Adam would eat in sorrow. God said that, “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee….”  The thistle is also the floral symbol of Scotland most likely adopted by the Scots because, as legend has it, a Norse army was about to attack a Scottish army encampment when an opposing soldier stepped on a thistle. The soldier cried out alerting the Scots to the presence of the Norsemen. This legend is also likely to be the origin of the Scottish motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, which is translated as, “No one attacks me with impunity” or “No one can harm me unpunished.” The motto is a fitting slogan for the thistle, as well, because to eat it or pick it, one must overcome the thorns.

With everything that is carved into the stone, it is difficult to spot but there are also oak leaves and acorns to be found.  Because of the hardness of the oak tree, it is traditionally thought of as a symbol of strength.

On opposite sides at the top of the lyre is an apple and a rose giving the motif balance as both are cylindrical.  The apple is a symbol of sin, representing the Fall of Man when Adam ate the from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.  However, some see the apple, because of the round shape as a symbol of eternity—the circle.  In the context of the apple being held by Jesus Christ, the apple represents salvation.

Maybe fittingly, the last symbol to note, is the rose—that represents love.  Romantics have waxed poetic about the rose and the connection to love for centuries which has made the rose an undeniable symbol of love.  On this gravestone, it is likely Elisha was expressing his love for his young, 29-year-old wife, Juliet.  The rose also has a religious meaning, differing by color.  The white rose symbolizes purity while the red rose represents martyrdom and the messianic hope that Christ will return.

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In Covington, Indiana, there are two small cemeteries at the North edge of town—Prescott Grove Cemetery and St. Joseph’s Cemetery.  The two are on the same plot of land but separated by a common road that leads into the cemeteries and cuts them in half.  Like many Catholic cemeteries the focal point of the cemetery is a crucifix.  In the case of the St. Joseph Cemetery, the figure of Jesus Christ is painted which has the effect of giving the sculpture a lifelike appearance.  Above the head of Christ is a small rectangular plaque which is called a titulus, or title, with the initials “INRI.”  In Western Christianity, many artists depicted the crucifix with a parchment or plaque, though, some did carve the initials directly into the cross.  The initials, INRI, represent the Latin inscription IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM which in English translates to “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.”

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The Gift of a Pineapple

North Bend, Ohio, is where the tomb of William Henry Harrison is located across from the Congressional Green Cemetery which draws the odd history buff to its grounds in search of the ninth president’s grave.  As a president, Harrison is known for two things, his campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too” and the fact that he only served 31 days in office before he died of pneumonia.  He gave his inaugural address in the rain, as a macho demonstration that, even though, he was 68, he was still a tough man.

But not far from there, the village of Cleves has its own cemetery, Maple Grove.  That cemetery has some obvious aliases, it is also known as the Miami Township Cemetery (so called for the Township in which it lies) and the Valley Junction Cemetery (named for the road that travels south of Highway 50 and leads to its gates).  The cemetery has five or six sections within the gates.  Generally, the most interesting sections are the older ones—displaying a variety, in this case, of symbols that were popular during the Victorian era when there was an explosion of motifs that replaced the grim and dour Puritan symbols of death and mortality.

However, a gravestone in one of the newer sections stood out.  It is a gray, unpolished granite stone built in several pieces.  The entire gravestone is topped with a pineapple, beautifully carved—nearly good enough to pull off the stone, slice and eat.  That pineapple carving rests on the cap—the piece that looks like the roof of a house.  The piece of stone that looks like a solid block is called the die and on one side has the names of the two people being remembered carved into it, and on the other features a incised design depicting James Earle Fraser’s “End of the Trail” sculpture.  That block or die rests of the plinth which has the family name carved on to it on one side and an epitaph on the other.  And that rests on the base.   That is a lot to decipher.  One thing at a time, so, let’s start at the top.

The pineapple is not a common motif in cemetery art.  Sometimes you will see it on metal work around a family plot but less often on an actual gravestone.  After checking several sources, including various books and websites on the topic, the consensus is that the pineapple represents “hospitality and a good host.” According to those in the know, the pineapple came to symbolize hospitality because seafarers often gave it as a gift after returning from a long journey.  These days, you are most likely to find the motive in tropical hotels.  The exotic fruit, in the context of a cemetery, seems curious.  If that is true, that it represents “hospitality and a good host,” who is the host?  Who is showing the hospitality?  Does it mean that the deceased was a good host?  Or that Heaven welcomes the deceased with open and hospitable arms?

On one side of the marker is a bas-relief replica of the sculpture, The End of the Trail, which was created as a powerful tribute mourning the loss of the Sioux people, by the famous western sculptor, James Earle Fraser, also recognized for the art he created for the United States Mint, for the “Indian Head” Nickel.  Fraser created the sculpture for the Panama Pacific Exposition held in 1915 in San Francisco.  The End of the Trail is also a fitting metaphor for the end of one’s life.

Lastly is a memorable and cautionary epitaph:

When you were born, you cried

And the world rejoiced.

Live your life so that when you die,

The world cries and you rejoice.

Even though, for the most part, newer gravestones don’t seem as interesting, make sure not to overlook what at first appears to be the mundane.  You never know when you will find a hospitable old sea captain’s gift of welcome!

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