Mitchell Family Monument



JUNE 3, 1854 – NOVEMBER 8, 1915


JULY 2, 1855 – JUNE 11, 1945



William Whittier Mitchell was a successful businessman—who took over his uncle’s sawmill upon his death and expanded the operations. He and his wife, Ella Yost Mitchell, are buried in the Maple Hill Cemetery in Cadillac, Michigan. 

The couple has an impressive monument—the exedra on each side of the sculpture is made of polished granite.  The centerpiece of the monument, however, is the bronze statue of a goddess-like woman, described by the Smithsonian Art Survey as a “heroic-sized female figure dressed in a long, flowing garment and coat stand[ing] on a pedestal.  Here hair is in a bun and her arms are partially outstretched.  The pedestal is flanked by exedras which slope downward towards large urn which stand at each end.” 

The bronze cast by the Florentine Brotherhood Foundry of Chicago, Illinois, was sculpted by Iowa artist Nellie Verne Walker (1874-1973).

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The Shippey Family Monument





Charles Webster Shippey was a real estate dealer who was struck down by a locomotive killing him just a few feet away from the station where he was to board a train.  According to the August 13, 1906 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Shippey was crossing the tracks to climb aboard a train to carry him to join his family who were already vacationing.  He was buried in Grand Haven, Michigan and likely his remains were removed and reburied in the family plot in Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery.

The Shippey Family monument is a sculpture of a hooded female figure holding a scroll. The scroll represents both the life of the deceased and the time spent on Earth. Like so much symbolism found in the cemetery, the scroll can have many meanings.  The scroll likely represents the life of the deceased that has come to an end and been recorded by the angels.


1858 – 1906


1862 – 1941


1896 – 1981


1898 – 1991

The monument was carved by Nellie Verne Walker.  Walker was a protégé of the great American sculptor Lorado Taft.  She was born December 8, 1874, in Red Oak, Iowa. She first picked up a hammer and chisel in her father’s Moulton, Iowa, shop carving gravestones. But, by age 17 she carved her first work of art—a limestone bust of President Abraham Lincoln. In a mere 24 days, she had created the bust for the Columbian Exposition being held in Chicago in 1893. Her first piece is now on display in the Moulton City Library.

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Quakers, Shakers, and Lollipops

The Protestant Reformation spawned many different religious sects, including splinter groups from sects that had already broken away from mainstream Protestant churches.  One such group was known as The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.  This group became known colloquially as the “Shakers” and was an offshoot of the Quakers and the French Camisards. 

The Quakers, or Society of Friends, founded by George Fox in 1652, were named such because of the tremblings and “quakings” during worship.  The “Shaking Quakers” or “Shakers” split from the Quaker church.  Ann Lee, daughter of a blacksmith in Manchester, England, joined the Shaker sect in 1758.  On May 10, 1774, after receiving a vision to establish the church in American, Ann Lee and a small band of believers set sail for America.  She led the group to the US and became the leader of the Shakers in America establishing over 20 communities of Shakers in the Northeast, Ohio, and Kentucky.

The Shakers became known for their enthusiastic and physical worship including spontaneous dancing, trembling, shaking, and whirling—hence their name. In addition to their ecstatic practices during church ceremonies, the Shakers held many beliefs that were considered radical at the time—celibacy, pacifism, racial and gender equality, and communal living.  Because the Shakers remained celibate and therefore did not believe in procreation, the members adopted children and recruited converts to the religion to be able to grow the church membership.

Ann Lee settled in the community of Colonie, New York, the first Shaker community in the United States.  Mother Ann Lee, as she was known, the charismatic leader, is buried in the small Shaker Cemetery close to what is now the Albany Airport.  The communities’ egalitarian beliefs are conspicuously on display in the cemetery.  One of the first things you notice as you look at the orderly cemetery is that all 445 gravestones are square-top white marble tablets—the same shape and the same size.  Only the name, the date of death, and the age of the deceased appears on the stone.  They are buried as they died one after the other.  The exception is the gravestone of Mother Ann Lee, whose gravestone is taller than all of the rest of the gravestones in the cemetery and also contains more information:





Feb. 29. 1736.


SEPT. 8. 1784.

The historical sign just outside the cemetery fence reads in part:

This cemetery is part of the first Shaker settlement in the US.  Following their charismatic leader Mother Ann Lee, a small band of Shakers traveled from Manchester, England to New York City in 1774 seeking a place to worship freely.  Twelve Shakers arrived in Albany in 1776.  Known as the Watervliet or Niskayuna Shakers, they eventually established four “Families” or villages within a mile of this sit.  They owned or leased over 4,000 acres between here and the Mohawk River.

The 445 burials reflect the equality of all Brethren and Sisters.  There are a number of African-Americas, including Violet Bennet who was the first burial in 1785.  A few Shakers who committed suicide are included among the burials, not shunned.  Graves in the first row re “World’s People” (as the non-Shakers were known) who had lived with the Shakers or wished to be buried near their Shaker relatives.  While the Shakers were pacifist, you may see flags marking some graves.  There were veterans who joined the community after they fought in the Revolutionary War of other conflicts.  The original stones were replaced by the Shakers in 1880.

Mother Ann Lee, her brother William Lee and one other man were originally buried on what is now Albany Airport property.  Their graves were move here in 1835.  Mother Ann’’s stone is the only one that does not reflect the equality of all other community members….”

Another Shaker cemetery, this one in Harvard, Massachusetts, displays the same orderly layout as the cemetery in Colonie, New York.  The grave markers also contain only the name, the date of death, and the age of the deceased on the markers.  They are buried as they died one after the other in the order of death.  The difference is that each of the more than 300 markers, with the exception of about a dozen marble tablets, are made of cast iron and from a distance have a shape roughly appearing to look like a lollipop. 

Because of that, Harvard Shaker Cemetery has been nicknamed the Lollipop Cemetery.

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Firefighters Monument

Leonard Wells Volk, written about in the two previous blogposts, is not only buried in the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois, but two of the monuments he designed are also in the cemetery. 

As you drive through the main gate toward the Our Heroes Monument and look to the right, you can see the 40-foot-tall white Carrara marble monument built to honor Chicago volunteer firefighters.

Volk entered his design in an heated competition.  Many designs were entered in the contest and considered but the Firemen’s Benevolent Association committee chose Volk’s.  The monument was erected in 1864 at the cost of $15,000 remains an inspirational commemoration and memorial to firefighters. 

Atop the Doric column stands a vigilant firefighter holding a trumpet to sound the call to action. 

At its base is a firehose wrapping its way round the column.  The four corners of the memorial display old-style fire hydrants.  Three of the four panels on the lower part of the monument depict bs-reliefs of old-style fire hand-pump fire engine and hook and ladder trucks.  The fourth panel depicts a scene of firemen fighting the conflagration on Lake Street where 23 firefighters lost their lives. Unfortunately, all but one of the panels is very badly eroded.

The memorial commemorates the firefighters who were killed in the line of duty and a granite marker at the base of the monument lists their names and the year they died in the line of duty.

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Tribute to War Heroes and to Volk’s Artistry

Leonard Wells Volk, written about in the previous blogpost, was buried in the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.  Not only is there a statue monument commemorating his burial plot, but one of the first monuments one sees through the castellated main gate—driving up the motorway is the soaring heroes monument designed by none other than Leonard Volk—another monument to him, this time displaying his talent as an accomplished sculptor.

Each of the four sides of the column honor a different branch of service:





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Leonard Wells Volk


11 – 7 – 1828

8 – 19 – 1895



8 – 23 – 1832

5 – 28 – 1895


4 – 17 – 1864

8 – 9 – 1865



4 – 23 – 1853

10 – 31 – 1855


7 – 13 – 1861

12 – 13 – 1928


Leonard Wells Volk was an artist most noted for the live mask he made of Lincoln’s face and hands shortly before Lincoln was elected president.  Ironically enough, Volk’s patron was Stephen Douglas, who was Lincoln’s political revival.  Stephen Douglas was a first cousin to Emily Volk, Leonard’s wife.  Douglas paid for Volk to study sculpture in Italy and later supported him when he opened a small studio in Chicago. 

Volk designed his own funerary monument which was carried out by the Gast Monument Company.  The sculpture sits on a circular plot in the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.  Volk is depicted seated as if he is resting on a rocky ledge.  He leans against a closed book that has a bas-relief profile of a woman—presumably of his wife, Emily. In one hand he is holding a walking stick and by his feet is a tattered hat. 

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Glass Trumpet Angel

In the article, “Embodying Immortality: Angels in America’s Rural Garden Cemeteries, 1850—1900”, pages 56 – 111, 2007 edition of Markers, XXIV, written by Elisabeth Roark, she writes of the eight most common types of graveyard angels found in cemeteries—grouped by the task they performed: soul-bearing; praying; decorating and guarding; pointing; recording; trumpeting; sword-bearing (archangel Michael); and child angels.  Of the eight, only the trumpet angels are commonly found in cemeteries before the 1850s. “Trumpet angels not only foretell of the impending apocalypse and that the last Judgment is at hand but also as “embodiments of the resurrection.”

An example of that can be found in a stained-glass window in a mausoleum in the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.  Here the angel is blowing a horn while walking down a path.  The angel does not have wings.  However, angels weren’t originally depicted with wings until the 4th Century.  In her article, “The Development of Winged Angels in Early Christian Art,” Therese Martin writes, “The shift to winged angels took place during the fourth century…it no longer sufficed to represent angels, who held a position somewhere between God and people simply as men.  Between God and man is the sky, a conceptual place where divinity had always been localized, a physical place occupied exclusively by winged creatures.”  She further writes that the concept winged angels can be found as early as Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 240), an early Christian author, who wrote, “Every spirit is winged, both angels and demons.”

After the 1850s, trumpet angels appear more frequently and often as full figures in sculptures rather than bas-reliefs and in glass. The angels are often depicted looking toward to Heavens with an almost serene expression unlike the trumpet angels found in the Book of Revelation. The seven trumpet angels in Revelation “are a ferocious lot; each trumpet blow brings a disaster that destroys earthly life.”  The trumpet angels found in rural garden cemeteries are watchful and calm by comparison.  This angel strolling along almost looks like the Pied Piper!

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Gothic Style – the simple and the sublime

The Gothic Revival in the United States began in the late 18th Century.  At first, there were only small features of the Gothic style that were incorporated into buildings such as tracery and other minor embellishments but after a few decades the Gothic style was full on mainly in churches.  But the influence did find its way into the American cemetery not only with the design of mausoleums but with tombstones and monuments—everything from the simple to the sublime.

The gravestone of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, in the Pioneer Cemetery in rural Indiana close to Lincoln City, is an example of the influence of the Gothic revival.  Here, the plain unadorned white marble tablet is carved with a simple pointed arch as it’s only form of decoration.  Yet, the pointed arch, a significant feature of Gothic architecture, was visually lighter than the Romanesque rounded arch.  And, even though it looked more elegant, it was stronger and allowed churches and cathedrals to be built higher and higher.

The Caroline Padelford white marble tablet is a more elaborate example of the influence of the Gothic Revival pointed arch.  The gravestone mimics a window with a pointed arch complete with tracery that frames the arch.  Another feature of Gothic style is the highly ornamented and decorated surface treatments which is evident on the top of the pointed arch.  The arch is also topped with an ornate finial. 


The Edward and Elizabeth Padelford white marble monument in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia is a Gothic confection.  The plinth sits on layers of stacked bases each progressively smaller and atop that is a canopy supported by four columns with highly decorated capitals.  Lining the inside of the pointed gables are rows of round ball-like stylized buds known ballflowers which were characteristic of 14th Century English architecture.  The four pinnacles flanking the pointed gables are decorated with stylized foliage projecting from the edges known as crocket and topped with decorated finials.

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Gothic Styles

In the ‘Nineteenth Century Mortuary Architectural Styles’ post by Jason Holm, he writes, “Victorian sensibilities merged with Romantic tendencies and thrust revivals of Gothic, Classical, and Egyptian architectural styles in the mainstream.”  There was not one Gothic style but many:

Venetian Gothic

The Spotts Family Mausoleum erected in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville Kentucky is designed in the Venetian Gothic style which combined several architectural styles—Moorish, Gothic, and Byzantine—into a single style reminiscent of the building designs that brought a confluence of cultures together to create a flourish and lightness to the canals of Venice.  During the Victorian era, several architects drew from the Venetians for creative building designs that was part of a larger revival that intertwined several styles into one pleasing to the eye.  At the time the Spotts Family Mausoleum was constructed the local newspaper, the October 14, 1866 issue of the Louisville Daily Democrat wrote, “It is of Moorish style architecture…this mausoleum is one of the most permanent and tasteful structures yet erected in our far-famed ‘city of the dead.’”  It is likely that the mausoleums was constructed and built by the Steam Marble Works in Philadelphia.

Victorian Gothic

The massive Dexter Family Tomb in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnat, Ohio has many features of the medieval cathedral from which it was inspired.  Typical of Gothic architecture, are the pointed arches which became popular in Western building designs during the 12th Century.  Visually the pointed arch is lighter and also allowed builders to create taller windows which gave the buildings an airy feeling.  In addition to the visual lightness, the pointed arch was stronger than the rounded arch which was popularized in Romanesque architectural designs.  The arches are highly decorated with multiple moldings giving the windows a delicate appearance.  In addition to the decorative moldings each arched window has small decorative points projecting from the curves in the arch—this is known as cusping.  These are formed using small curves.  It is where these small curves meet and form a point or cusp.  Lastly, each window has a hood molding that forms at the side of the window and then culminates in the pointed arch.  Flanking both sides of the tomb are flying buttresses.  These highly decorative arches gave additional support to the walls within a building.  The buttresses were positioned at the points of greatest stress and added additional structural support.  Each of the flying buttresses are decorated with tall pinnacles which add weight to the buttress.  The connecting pieces between the buttresses and the building are referred to as flyers and even those are highly decorated with tracery and quatrefoils.

French Gothic

The Belmont Mausoleum, in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, is a near replica of the Chapel of Saint Hubert; the original is in Amboise, France, and is the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci.  The mausoleum was completed in 1913 and is a masterpiece of late-fifteenth-century French Gothic architecture.  The front façade displays two intricately carved sculptures.  The chapel has many architectural features that were common to Gothic design:  Gargoyles—The spouts that were designed to divert rainwater away from the building were often elaborately designed to look like grotesque animals and human forms known as gargoyles.  These figures became popular in France during the Middle Ages, though they can be found in other countries during that time, as well.  Hood molding—If you look above the scene of the stag, there is a three-sided molding, also known as a drip molding.  Pinnacles—These ornamented structures are usually pointed and are found on the corners of the Saint Hubert Chapel.  They are often found on the buttresses of Gothic buildings.  Stepped buttresses—in the chapel, the stepped buttresses can be seen of the front of the building’s sides.  These are a mass of masonry built against a wall to give the building additional support and strength.  The buttresses on the chapel are stepped, meaning in this case, the buttress has a wider segment, then on top of that is a smaller one, and still one more smaller buttress on top of that.  Topping the buttress is a gargoyle. Trefoil window—In the middle of the gable on the front of the chapel is a roundel, a small circular frame.  Inside the roundel is a trefoil—three-lobed form—in this case, a window.  Spire—The tall, oxidized copper structure tapering up from the roof is a steeple or a spire.

Castellated Gothic

The main gate at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago was build in 1864, designed by famed architect William Boyington.  The gate is constructed of Joliet limestone in the Castellated Gothic style which is easily identifiable because of the distinctive battlements at the top of the building.  The gate, at first glance, looks like an ancient castle—hence the name of the style!  The massive square tower and the hexagonal towers that punctuate the building give it power and strength.

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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

Frank Lang

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?

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