The Dogs of Springdale

There has always been a debate between dog and cat lovers about which furry little friend makes the best companion. I have many friends who have cats galore and swear by them, while others like myself, have dogs and always have. We see dogs as the old bromide tells us, “as man’s best friend”.  And, dogs have long been considered man’s best friend!

In fact, way back in 1821, the New York Literary Journal, Volume 4 ran a poem by C. S. Winkle that extolled just that:

The faithful dog – why should I strive

To speak his merits, while they live

In every breast, and man’s best friend

Does often at his heels attend.

According to the latest pet ownership statistics from 2012, 36.5% of American households (43,346,000) own an average of 1.6 dogs. That adds up to a whopping 69,926,000 dogs living with families in the United States. (Incidentally, fewer households own cats, but each of those households own more—2.1 per household for a total of 74,059,000 cats.) 

Given that love for our dogs, it is no wonder that dog owners want to honor their love of dogs with carved tributes to them on their graves.  These three examples are from the Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois.

Oh, and one cat!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Poem Mash Up

The zinc marker in the City Cemetery in Warsaw, Missouri, manufactured by the White Monument Company in the same city, has a trap door, unique to the design, that reveals an obituary for two—Martha Elmy Shrum and her daughter, Jennie Myrtle Shrum.  The obituary gives the life and death details for both—Martha was 33 years old, while her daughter was just shy of 4 years old.  While many epitaphs found on gravestones were chosen from a book and are fairly common, their epitaph is a combination of poems by two different poets—a mash up, if you will.

Martha Elmy Schrum

Daughter of Rev. W. K. and Mrs. Charlotte White.  She was born in New Market, Montgomery county, Indiana Aug. 13, 1865, and came with her parents to Benton county, Mo., in 1875.  In early life she joined the M. E. church, South.  She was married to Wm. J. Schrum, July 23, 1884.  She died at Warsaw, Mo., Sept. 5, 1898, after two years of suffering, which she endured with Christian resignation.  Her husband and two children—Ethel Maria and Frances J.—survive her.

Jennie Myrtle,

Daughter of Wm. J. Schrum and Martha Elmy Schrum was born July 2, 1885 and after nine weeks of suffering died May 16, 1889.

“There is a reaper whose name is Death,

And with his sickly keen

He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,

And the flowers that grow in between.”

  .           .         .        .         .

Death waits not for the lapse of time,

Nor spares the young in years:

He cometh in the glad spring time,

When hopes begin with fears;

‘Tis sad to lay so fair a thing,

Beneath the damp, cold, ground;

While all the fairest flowers of spring

Are blossoming all around.”

              Yes, it is sad, but we mourn not as those that have no hope, but look to the resurrection morn, when all the children and those that “die in the Lord” shall stand glorified with God.  Pray and trust on, loved ones, for “there remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God.”

              Hope may vanish away in this life; but there shineth a star that shall never grow dim; the one that stood in Bethlehem.

              Look up, ye saints, and ever wait, till God doth say, “it is enough.”

The first quatrain is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poignant poem, “The Reaper and the Flowers” first published in 1839.  It is significant, in this case, because the poem was written after Longfellow’s wife died having had a miscarriage.  Here, as with Longfellow, William Shrum lost his wife, and his daughter, Jennie, as well.

The second next eight lines, are from a second poem, this one written by Rose Ringgold, which appeared on pages 261-262 of the Southern Lady’s Companion which was a monthly periodical devoted to literature and religion and published in the late 1840s.  The book was printed in Nashville for the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Martha Shrum, as the obituary states, was a member of the ME Church and her father was a minister in that church, as well.  It is likely that the book was part of their personal library and the poem “Addressed to Mrs. – of Vicksburg, Miss.” was most likely known to the family.

Lines from the poem are in those eight lines, with two lines changed:

Death waits not for the lapse of time,

Nor spares the young in years:

He cometh in the glad spring time,

When hopes begin with fears;

‘Tis sad to lay so fair a thing,

Beneath the damp, cold, ground;

While all the fairest flowers of spring

Are blossoming all around.”

In the original poem the second couplet reads:

He cometh in the glad spring mourn,

When hopes begin to bloom

And ends with:

And when the tufted moss has grown

Above each loved one’s tomb!

Perhaps that was just too grim and sad for them to quote the poem in its original verse.  Below is the poem in its entirety.

I KNOW thee not—may never hear

Thy sweet-toned voice of love;

May never clasp they gentle hand,

Till friend meets friend above,

And yet if in the world of ours

The spirit wanders free,

May I not seek thy home of flowers,

And sigh or weep with thee?

Thine is an early grief—too soon

Thine eyes are dimm’d with tears;

Ah! Death waits not the lapse of time,

Nor spares the young in years!

He cometh in the glad spring morn,

When hopes begin to bloom—

And when the tufted moss has grown

Above each loved one’s tomb!

I know not the delicious thrill

Of thy maternal breast,

When first to thy young, trusting heart

The infant boy was prest—

The delicate young blossom

Of thy warm and tender love—

With thy white arms folded o’er him,

Like the white wings of a dove!

Yet I have wept as thou dost weep—

Have sigh’d as thou dost sigh—

For a gentle one, that fell asleep,

To waken in the sky.

We could not call it death, so sweet

The lips unshadowed close!

She looked a sleeping cherub,

In her beautiful repose!

‘Twas sad to lay so fair a thing

Beneath the damp, cold ground,

While the fairest buds of early spring

Were blossoming around!

We raised no marble o’er her mould—

No sculptured columns rare—

But soon the simple violets told

How young she was and fair!

Three summers, and three autumns,

And three winters have passed by—

And three gay springs have blossomed

Since we saw this loved one die!

She lies in the lone church-yard,

Yet her grave is ever green,

And flowered by angel footprints,

Though the angels are unseen.

God stay thee, stricken mother,

In thy agony and tears—

And bend the bow of promise

Where the shadow now appears!

Oh! Turn thy gaze, mourner,

Where the stars are hung on high,

Thy cherub boy smiles on thee,

From the portals of the sky!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Grief, in Bronze

Many Victorian cemetery monuments are imbued with a multitude of symbolism.  In David Robinson’s book, Saving Graces, mourning figures from some of the most beautiful and famous cemeteries in Europe show sculpted beautiful, young, and voluptuous women often wearing revealing clothing mourning the dead.

Robinson identified four categories of “Saving Graces”–first, women completely overcome by grief, often portrayed as having collapsed and fallen limp on the grave. Second, are the women who are portrayed reaching up to Heaven as if to try to call their recently lost loved one back to Earth.  Third, are the women who are immobile, and grief stricken, often holding their head in their hands distraught with loss.  Lastly, he describes the last category of “Saving Graces” as the mourning figure who is “resigned with the loss and accepting of death.”

In this example from the Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois, the monument of prominent railroad builder, Philander Cable (1817-1886), displays a young classically clad female figure leaning against the base of the sarcophagus. In her right hand she holds a long 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. In this example, the mourning figure seems to fall within the second and fourth category.  She is reaching upward placing the palm frond but is also forlorned and grieving.

The spectacular bronze monument was commissioned in 1891 by Philander Cable’s son in honor of his father and cast in Brussels. The monument was sculpted by the Belgian artist Paul DeVigne (1843-1901).  DeVigne was born in Ghent and trained by his father, who was also an artist.  DeVigne began exhibiting his work as early as 1868.  Most of his works were created for public monuments in Belgium and France.   

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Soldier’s Last March


memory of

Benjamin Buckman

A revolutionary


Who was born in Hadley,

Mass. April the 16th 1759;

Died Oct. the 1st 1842.

About 2,400 soldiers, commanded by General George Washington, gathered at the water’s edge of the Delaware River late on Christmas day, 1776.  Earlier, a large collection of boats of various sizes and kinds had been assembled to ferry the troops and artillery across the icy waters.  The plan was to cross the river and mount a surprise attack on the Hessian soldiers stationed in and around Trenton.  The plan was daring and a victory for the rag-tag army was much needed—the Continental troops were demoralized, and the force was shrinking due to expiring enlistments and desertions. 

In the face of driving winds and hard rain, Washington and his men successfully completed the crossing in three hours.  However, two other contingents of the army were not able to cross and join up with Washington.  Against mounting odds, Washington made the fateful decision to march his army to Trenton on the morning of December 26—the trip took about four hours but positioned the Continental Army in Trenton early with 18 pieces of artillery aimed at the Hessian barracks.  The two armies skirmished and over 1,000 Hessian soldiers were captured.  Washington’s bold plan gave the Continental Army a much-needed victory and re-ignited the cause of freedom.

One of the brave soldiers who fought alongside General Washington that bitterly cold night, was 18-year-old Benjamin Buckman, who enlisted right after the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Buckman first served with General Arnold in his wilderness march through Maine.  Buckman was taken a prisoner at Quebec and held for six months before his release.  His next harrowing battle was with the Continentals at Washington Crossing.

After the war, Buckman moved to Salem, Indiana, where he lived until his death at the age of 84. Benjamin Buckman was buried in the Masonic Cemetery on October 1, 1845.  However, after the cemetery was abandoned, his remains and limestone tombstone were moved the more than 30 miles to the Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana—”his last march.”  His tombstone gives a nod to his membership in the Masonic Lodge.  The eagle with a ribbon in its beak with the simple inscription “Independence” bears witness to his service in the cause of freedom and our fledgling country.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Rival

Much has been written and documented about the zinc markers produced by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Though the company billed their markers as “white bronze” they were actually cast zinc.  The markers are distinguishable by their bluish-gray tint and easily identifiable. The company set up their first subsidiary in Detroit, Michigan. Others followed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, St. Thomas, Ontario, Des Moines, and Chicago. Enterprising salesmen carried a catalog door-to-door with them to show customers the many styles and price ranges of the product line. In many cemeteries you can find evidence of highly successful salesmen who sold large numbers of the markers. These grave markers came in a wide assortment of sizes and shapes and were somewhat like grave marker erector sets. The more elaborate markers had a shell of sorts and then various panels could be bolted on according to the tastes of the family ordering the grave marker. In this way, each marker could be “customized” to the tastes of the individual.  The company began manufacturing in the 1870s until the company closed shop in 1912.

There was another company producing zinc markers, as well.  The White Monument Company of Warsaw, Missouri.  According to The History of Benton County, Missouri: Volume 3—The People, written and complied by Kathleen Kelly White and Kathleen White Miles, 1971, page 459, “Behind his furniture store was the Monument Works operated…by Mr. Mahlon White. The plant manufactured monuments or tombstones from zinc and finished [them] in a dull satin finish by sandblasting the smooth metal.”  The company held two patents issued to Thomas Benton White.  The first patent, issued on December 2, 1901 (No. 688,043) described how the markers were to be constructed, “The structure embodies an outer metallic casing combined with an inner metallic casing or core with an interposed filling and means for permitting a circulation of air for the purpose of equalizing the temperature and for allowing for expansion or contraction of the metallic parts without danger or fracture.”  The space between the outer core of zinc and the inner core of zinc had a composite filling to give the structure stability.

The second patent, also issued to Thomas Benton White (patent no. 695,774 March 18, 1902) was for an unique and inventive way to display a image and/or obituary of the deceased, “An inscription-frame for monuments and the like, comprising a continuous internal bead, a door enclosed by the frame at one side of the bead, an inscription-holder enclosed by the frame at the opposite side of the bead consisting of transparent parallel plates, a weatherproof binder-strip uniting all of the edges of said plates, a cushion of metal fiber surrounding the edges of the holder, a layer of flexible cement arranged next to the cushion and serving to enclose the same, and a seal of weatherproof cement covering the flexible cement.

The name plates were affixed to the markers with a cement.  These zinc markers manufactured by the White Monument Company produced several different models, several of which can be seen in the Warsaw City Cemetery and other cemeteries in central Missouri.  Four have been spotted in the country West Haven Cemetery outside Washington, Iowa, and some as far away as Colorado.  These zinc markers, often referred to as “zincies” by cemetery aficionados, mimicked designs that were commonly found carved from stone.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Many cemeteries are like outdoor sculpture gardens, with statues of angels, allegorical figures, weeping women, and saints at nearly every turn.  And in some cemeteries even some of the most renowned sculptors of the 19th and early 20th Century can be seen and enjoyed, great artists such as, Robert Ingersoll Aitken, Karl Bitter, John Gutzon Borglum, Alexander Milne Calder, Sally James Farnham, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, James Earle Fraser, Mario Korbel, Martin Milmore, Brenda Putnam, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Lorado Taft, and Daniel Chester French.  I still remember discovering an original Daniel Chester French in the Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs, Iowa—the so-called “Black Angel” as it is called locally, sculpted for Ruth Anne Dodge.  The very same Daniel Chester French who sculpted the monumental Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Occasionally, however, an artist’s name doesn’t ring a bell and the research begins.  The fun part is making a discovery.  The angel in question was created by an artist named Leonardo Rossi.  A perfect name for a sculptor—clearly the boy had the name of an artist and had grown into his name.  But when you Google “Leonardo Rossi” his name comes up at askART, “Evidence suggests that this is a fictitious name being used by companies in Thailand and Germany to produce fakes by other artists….”  Then the site refers the reader to—Art forgery.  And Wikipedia defines forgery as “creating and selling of works of art which are falsely credited to other, usually more famous artists. Art forgery can be extremely lucrative, but modern dating and analysis techniques have made the identification of forged artwork much simpler.”

So, this angel is made by an unknown artist, most likely in a factory by a talented artist known only by his fictitious name Leonardo Rossi.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Portals—Heavenly and “Not So Much”

A common and oft heard remark from Christians is that when they die, they will go to Heaven and meet with St. Peter at the “Pearly Gates” when they enter the Kingdom.  This is such a popular scenario that there are entire Web sites devoted to St. Peter-at-the-Pearly-Gates jokes!  There are also many and varied representation of the Gates of Heaven that can be found in cemeteries across the United States.  Often the Gates are shown in conjunction with other symbols, such as the star, or a dove, or an upward pointing finger, or a crown.  And nearly always, the Gates are open, as if they are inviting the soul of the deceased to enter.

In religious paintings, St. Peter is often shown with keys, referring to the Matthew 16:18-19: “And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The term “Pearly Gates” also has its origin in a Biblical passage, Revelation 21:21: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate (sic) was one pearl; and the street of the city pure gold, and it were transparent glass.”

The Crandall Family gravestone, in the Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois, is in that tradition, gates slightly ajar as an invitation.  But what makes this gravestone different is that it is free-standing and not an incised design carved into the face of a column.  And, there are two elements not usually found in front of the gates—the master’s dog and his tools of trade.   

Interpreting gravestone symbolism can be tricky, especially without the benefit of knowing the deceased, the person or person’s responsible for commissioning the gravestone, or being able to discuss the symbolism with the carver.  But at first glance, it almost looks as if the deceased got to the gates with his dog and tools and had to leave them behind to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some of the symbolism is well known.  The open gates are central to the Last Judgment.  As a funerary symbol, the gates represent a passageway from one realm to the next.  The gates are the portal for saved souls to make their passage from the Earthly realm to the Heavenly realm upon Christ’s return.  The dog is typically seen representing fidelity and loyalty.  And, it is highly likely that Eugene Crandall was carpenter given the tools—saw, plane, square, and hammer—left in front of the gates.

What is also clear from the gravestone, is that it was carved by an expert.  Often the carver’s identity is lost, but in the case, the carver was Italian immigrant, Joseph Petardi/Petarde, who was born into a family of stone carvers in Rome, Italy.  Joseph immigrated to New York and was soon working for a building firm.  One of his early jobs took him to Peoria where he was to cut stone for bridge pilings.  As fate would have it, Joseph met Hannah Partridge and the two met, married, had eight children, and he stayed the rest of his life in Peoria. 

One of his sons, Clyde, followed in Joseph’s footsteps, and the two of them carved some intricate statues for their own home in Peoria.  One porch support depicted a man holding up his loin cloth.  Typically, male supports were referred to as Atlas figures and were popular in Classical and Baroque Architecture.  The porch also had two female figures holding up the front porch.  Columns that were personified as females are referred to as caryatids and common in Greek architecture.   

In Greek Revival architecture the caryatid “represents the way women have traditionally carried large burdens on their heads.”  But to the horror and shock of the neighbors, all three support figures were semi-nude and too much for the neighbors’ Midwestern sensibilities.   In fact, the next-door neighbor who was an occasional visitor to the Crandall residence refused to pass through the door on the front porch in protest of the scantily-clad sculptures!  That was one portal that was “not so” Heavenly!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Trompe L’œil

Three mausoleums in the Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois, employ the use of the visual illusion of trompe l’œil.  For instance, from the street the J. LEE NEWTON Jr. Mausoleum looks like it has an elaborate filigree bronze door—detailed and set back from the columns that frame it.  But at closer look, the doorway has been plastered over and the bronze door is painted to look as if it an actual three-dimensional object. 

This technique is called trompe l’œil, “fooling the eye”, for it is meant for the viewer to see something that is not actually there.

The HALL Family Mausoleum is also painted to give the viewer the impression that the tomb has an elaborate bronze door.

The WINKELMEYER Family Mausoleum depicts and angel and mimics other mausoleum doorways made of sculpted angels or mourning figures.

The artist of these three works is artist, Don Kettleborough, who receive his Bachelor’s Degree in art education at Northern Illinois University and received his M.A. from Bradley University.  At first, Kettleborough put his art education degree to use by teaching art but after 16 years made the decision to go full time creating his own works of art.  His masterful artwork now can be found in homes and galleries across the US—and even on greeting cards!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Empty Bassinet



BORN NOV. 12, 1886

DIED MAY 8, 1887

The gray marble gravestone of Jamie Sax, who died just shy of being 6 months old, is an empty bassinet.  The intricately carved basket weave is still clear after over 130 years since it was erected.  The turned down blanket, the pillow, and the empty bassinet has a simple inscription that says, “JAMIE”.  The neighboring family monument gives the details of his birth and death dates. 

The symbolism is obvious.  The marker is clearly for an infant and represents the emptiness and incomparable sadness of the loss of a child.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

HE is Risen






Two monuments, one in the Rock Creek Cemetery at Washington D.C. and the other in Cave Hill Cemetery at Louisville, Kentucky, depict an opening or gateway with a rock rolled away from the opening.

The Hamilton Tomb has two Bible verses carved into the face of it that indicate that the opening of that monument is meant to portray Jesus’s entry into Heaven, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The second Bible verse, Revelation 21:21, goes on to describe the destination, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.”

The second monument, that of Zachariah Madison Sherley, a prominent riverboat fleet owner and pilot and his wife Susan Wallace Cromwell Sherley, also depicts a rock next to an entryway. This one, too, depicts the Resurrection of Jesus.

Many places in the Bible describe the Holy event, as does John 20:1 – 2, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. 2. Then she runneth and cometh Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them. They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.”


Z. M. SHERLEY, 1811 – 1879


However, the Bork Family monument in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Tiffin, Ohio, depicts Jesus’s ascension to Heaven. Here Jesus leaves the Earthly realm for the Heavenly realm—this is the Resurrection of Christ.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments