A Father’s Monument for His Son

 

JOHN W. SHAW

Co. I. 40 VOL. IN.

SEPT. 26, 1876

KILLED IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLAND

MAY 14, 1900.

LOW WHERE THE SILENT MARBLE WEEPS

A SOLDIER AND A STUDENT SLEEPS.

SHAW

In the Wesley Cemetery, just outside Westport, Indiana, stands a monument commissioned by a father for his son who was killed in battle.

According to Pat Smith, writing for the Greensburg Daily News on May 14, 2014, “He was killed in action while on firing line by insurgents in Augean, Mindanao, Philippines about 1:30 p.m. May 14, 1900 during a charge up a hill. A bullet entered the right side of his neck two inches below his ear which opened his right carotid artery, and passing downward, backward and to the left emerged (in the back) through the left scapula. He went into shock due to hemorrhaging and died.”

His father, N. T. Shaw of Alert, Indiana, was notified seven days later by cablegram that his son had died in battle on May 14th.  His body was not returned but instead was buried in the Cagayan Cemetery on May 15th in Cagayan, Mindanao, Philippines, in grave number 8, thousands of miles from of his home and family in rural Indiana.

Several months later N. T. Shaw received his son’s personal effects: 2 blankets, 1 Fatigue coat, 3 pair of Khaki trousers, 1 blue blouse, 1 suit underwear, 2 pair drawers, 1 chambray shirt, 1 poncho, 1 pair calf shoes, 1 barrack shoes, 1 book, 15 shell buttons, 25 books and pamphlets, a bundle of private letters, 1 pair spectacles, 2 mirrors, 1 brush and comb, one towel, 1 handkerchief, 1 belt, 1 pair shoe laces, 1 campaign hat, 2 razors, 1 razor strop, 1 handy case, 1 memo book, 5 books of Shakespeare. The total value of John Shaw’s belongings was estimated at $7.35. But one thing was missing—his watch.  N. T. Shaw wrote to the Army to find out if the watch could be found and returned.  He noted the watch had no value other than sentimental.  There is no record of whether or not it was found.

To honor his son, N. T. Shaw commissioned a statue to be erected in the Wesley Cemetery, though his son’s body was buried in the Philippines.  The statue is a cenotaph as John Shaw is not actually buried underneath the monument.  The word cenotaph originates from the Greek word kenotaphionKenos means empty and taphos translates to tomb–together they form “empty tomb.

The limestone sculpture of John W. Shaw has been broken and damaged by vandals.  The gun barrel and stock of his gun is missing and the lines where the monument has been repaired stripe the statues’ legs.  But after care and repair, the monument once again looks out, like a sentinel, on the fields where John Shaw once lived.

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Burst the Chains of the Grave

GEORGE P. HIGGINS

DIED

Apr. 7, 1849,

AE. 22 ys. And 8 ms

My flesh shall slumber in the ground,

Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound;

Then burst its chains with sweet surprise,

And in my Savior’s image rise.

The broken white marble square-top tablet for George Higgins is laid on its back in pieces in the Bar Harbor, Maine, Village Cemetery.  The vivid imagery of his gravestone poem describes his death as sleep, waiting to wake up to the call of Gabriel’s trumpet the day of the Resurrection when he will “burst” from the chains of death, his body whole again in Heaven.

 

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A Son’s Epitaph

JOHN L.

Son of

Tobias & Mary

ROBERTS

DIED

Oct. 10, 1861

AE. 16 yrs.; 4 ms.

& 21 dys.

Happy now no unrest

With the Savior he is blest

Safe from sorrow, pain and fear

He is happier there than here.

The repaired rounded-top, white marble gravestone of 16-year old John Roberts in the Bar Harbor Village Cemetery is a testament of parent’s love for their child.  The epitaph is a parents’ wish that their child be in no pain and experience no sorrow, even if death gives relief.  The four lines of gravestone poetry attempts to offer comfort to parents who have suffered the painful and unimaginable loss of their son.

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Anchor

CAPT.

STEPHEN HIGGINS

BORN DEC. 31, 1804

DIED SEP. 4, 1862

AGED 58 YEARS 

We shall meet again, till then, farewell.

The sign marking the cemetery just a block off the town square in Bar Harbor reads in part:

“VILLAGE BURYING GROUND

Established before 1790 this cemetery holds in many unmarked graves the remains of those courageous men and women pioneers on the frontier of Downest Maine.  Sea captains, fishermen, shipwrights and hotelmen, selectmen and legislators, their wives and children, and the occasional sailor dying far from home also rest here….”

It is also true of marked graves, sea captains are buried in the cemetery, as well.  The white marble, pointed-top Gothic gravestone that marks the grave of Captain Stephen Higgins is an example of that.

The stone has been badly damaged and repaired.  The shield on the face of the marker has Captain Higgins’ name, birth and death date, and his age engraved on its face.  Just underneath is the simple one-line epitaph.  Above the shield is an oval with a bas-relief carving of an anchor. The anchor is an ancient Christian symbol that has been found in early catacomb burials.  The anchor was used by early Christians as a disguised cross and also served as a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians.  Just as an anchor does not let a moored boat drift, the anchoring influence of Christ does not allow the Christian life to drift.  The symbolism is especially meaningful for a sailor, but in this case it most likely represents the fact that Stephen Higgins was a sea captain.

The Eastern Freeman newspaper in Ellsworth, Maine, the Hancock county seat and largest town in the county, published the following obituary notice on OCTOBER 3, 1862:

East Eden [now known as Bar Harbor], Sept. 4, 1862

Capt. Stephen HIGGINS, age 57 years [differs from the age carved onto the gravestone]. For more than 30 years Capt. Higgins has been known in this vicinity as a skillful and superior officer in the merchant service, and all bear testimony to his perfect integrity and uprightness, to his kind generous nature, and many will say a good man has left us; a noble generous friend has departed.

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The Portals

The doors to mausoleums are often imbued with symbolism.  In fact, the door itself represent a portal.  Portals come in many forms—a door, a window, even your eyes and your mouth are considered portals.  Many superstitions about death concern portals, many of which come from the Victorian Age, some of which still exist today.

The eyes, for instance, are considered the windows to the soul. Victorians believed the eyes were powerful, almost magical, even in death. When a person died therefore, the body had to be removed from the home feet first (most people died at home in the 19th Century). In that way, the eyes of the deceased could not look back and lure a live person to follow the dead through the passageway to death.

The Victorians also believed that as you passed by a cemetery that you needed to hold your breath. The fear was that if one opened one’s mouth, that a spirit from the dead residing in the cemetery would enter your body through the portal—the open mouth.

Another superstition had to do with the mirrors in the home. After a death, the family very quickly covered the mirrors. It was believed that mirrors were false portals in a sense. The Victorians believed that the spirit of the dead could enter a mirror and become trapped in the mirror. If the spirit did so, it would not be able to complete its trip through the passageway from the Earthly realm to the Heavenly realm, or in some cases, to warmer climes.

The door as a motif in funerary art symbolizes mystery.  The door is the portal from the Earthly realm to the next. In Christianity, the door is usually viewed with hope, charity, and faith.  The next life in the hereafter will be better than the one experienced here on Earth.

Two doors, pictured here are of markedly different styles but are imbued with similar symbolism.  Both mausoleum doors are from cemeteries in Barre, Vermont.

The top door is from the Hope Cemetery.  The morning figure’s eyes are closed and her head is bent in sorrow with her hands clasped.  This mourning figure is designed in clean, simple lines, reminiscent of the sculptures of the 30s and 40s.  Two symbols adorn the door—pine cones and leaves and laurel leaves.  As is the case with many plants that are adopted by Christians it’s their characteristics that define what they symbolize.  Pine leaves are evergreen, which mean they stay green during the winter.  So, in this way, pine leaves came to symbolize immortality of the soul.   The pine cone carries the seed of the tree, so it symbolizes fertility.

Growing up the side next to the morning figure are laurel leaves.  In funerary art, laurel is often represented in the form of a wreath which dates back to Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory.  The laurel was also believed to wash away the soldier’s guilt from injuring or killing any of his opponents.  In funerary art the laurel wreath is often seen as a symbol of victory over death.

The other mausoleum door is from the Elmwood Cemetery.  With her other hand the mourning figure is lifting part of her garment uncovering part of her face.  The veil represents the partition that exists between the Earthly realm and the Heavenly one–between life and death.  Again, this door has two main symbols—pine cones and leaves and laurel leaves.  The bottom of this door has one additional symbol nestled in with the laurel branches—the Easter lily. The Easter lily, as a funerary symbol, has many meanings including purity, innocence, virginity, heavenly bliss, majestic beauty, and Christ’s resurrection.  Christians believe that the trumpet-shaped blossoms announce the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   The Easter lily has long been associated with the Christian religion, commonly referred to as “White-Robed Apostles of Christ.” Early Christians believed that lilies sprouted where Jesus Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane.

White has typically been a color associated with virtues of purity and innocence.  Often the lily can be found on the grave of a child, the epitome of purity and innocence.

The white lily is also associated with virginity and marriage, in particular relationship to women.  On one hand, the lily represents virginity and innocence, which is an appropriate symbol for a young unmarried woman.  On the other hand, it is symbolic of majestic beauty and marriage, which makes it an appropriate symbol for all married women regardless of their age.

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Calla Lily

In loving remembrance

of

MARY E.

Wife of

John P. Eimer,

Born Aug. 12, 1855,

Died Sept. 28, 1888

Tis hard to break the tender cord

When love has bound the heart

Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words

Must we forever part.

 

The white marble obelisk resting on a plinth and base, marks the grave of Mary Eimer, a young wife of 33 years old.  Carved on the sides of the gravestone are the names of the two sons, Georgie and Freddie, she lost before she herself died.  A single symbol of a hand holding a calla lily adorns the obelisk.

The calla lily is a stunner with its long slender stem, brilliant white flowers, and broad leaves.  Though it is called a lily it is actually not in the flower family liliacea.  The South African native is actually a cousin to the jack-in-the pulpit and is in the family of araceae. In Africaans the calla lily is called the Varkoor, or pig’s ear, because that is what they believed it resembled. The calla lily was imported out of South Africa in the later part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  It almost immediately became associated with Easter and is sometimes referred to as an Easter lily.

The calla lily represents majestic beauty and purity and is often used on gravestones to symbolize marriage.  In some cases, the calla lily can also represent the resurrection.

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A Bedford Stone Carver’s Artistry

ANISE E. HART

DEAR PARENTS WITH A

REVERENT HAND,

THIS TO THY MEMORY GIVEN

WHILE ONE BY ONE THY

HOUSEHOLD BAND,

GOD REUNITES IN HEAVEN.

(On the front of the gravestone)

 

Anise E. Hart

September 28, 1897

July 28, 1909

(on a separate gravestone next to the monument)

 

JAMES F. HART

JAN. 1, 1861 – JAN. 28, 1922

ALICE C. HART

FEB. 20, 1865 – MAR. 10, 1931

(On the back of the gravestone)

 

In the book, Guardians of the Soul: Angels and Innocents, Mourners and Saints—Indiana’s Remarkable Cemetery Sculpture, by John Bower, the author writes eloquently about the sculptures of children that are found in cemeteries that dot the countryside.  “Without a doubt, the statues of children are the most poignant I’ve come across in cemeteries.  These innocents who were supposed to outlive their parents, but didn’t—having passed away on, barely tasting life—leave a deep, enduring ache in the hearts of those left behind.”

Bedford, Indiana, is the home of many limestone quarries and also the home of many very fine stone carvers.  One of those talented carvers was Ira Correll.

The August 27, 1978, Indianapolis Star article by PHYLLIS J. REED, read, “The talents of Bedford’s stone sculptors were eagerly sought by leading architects and builders of yesteryear who wanted to adorn their structures with classical beauty. One of the most distinguished names among this elite group of artisans was Correll. This family’s art spans more than 100 years and can be found in cities nationwide. Hoosier born Ross Correll, now 81, makes his home in Houston, Texas, and still recalls those early days when he trained under the guidance of his grandfather, George Paul Correll, his father, Ira, and his two uncles. “My father carved hundreds of Civil War soldiers when I was a youngster both Yanks and Rebels. They were so beautifully lifelike that they would take my breath away,” he muses.  He also carved the figure of 12-year old Anise E. Hart in 1909, which was erected in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Montgomery, Indiana.

According to the Smithsonian Save Outdoor Art, Indiana Survey, the limestone statue of the young girl was carved by Correll from a photograph of Anise.

The description from the Smithsonian survey describes the statue as “wearing a dress, a layered blouse with fluffed sleaves, a belt, high-laced shoes, and a bracelet on her proper left wrist. Her hair is in long ringlets, caught with a bow in the back. She holds a small bunch of roses in her proper right hand.”  The limestone figure stands upon a red granite base decorated with small Corinthian columns, and a cross.

Other examples of Ira Correll’s work are:

  • Statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Old Settler’s Park in Odon, Indiana
  • The Boy’s Town statue at Omaha, Nebraska, of a boy carrying another lad on his back, inscribed ‘He ain’t heavy he’s my brother.’
  • Two Texas Rangers for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Austin
  • Statue of Stephen Austin at the Texas Statehouse
  • And countless statues, including Civil War soldiers who fought for the North and those who fought for the South

Roy Bear, another well-known and highly-regarded Bedford stone carver, and Ira Correll partnered for several years in the late 20s and early 30s to create other architectural monuments and statues:

  • A dozen Grecian Ionic capitals on fluted columns were made for the Art Museum of Houston, Texas;
  • Four large Egyptian-style murals for the Athletic Club in Chicago, Illinois
  • Four great eagles for a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, bridge
  • The Benjamin Franklin Memorial on the Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with full-dressed Corinthian capitals on fluted columns

The work of artists like Roy Bear and Ira Correll can be found all throughout Indiana and the United States.

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