The Smillie Family

Visitors to Green-Wood will often walk through the gates and up the hill on Battle Avenue to see the Civil War Memorial and the statue of Minerva–and of course the amazing view from the top of Battle Hill. At the top of the hill is a placard explaining that Battle Hill is the highest natural point in Brooklyn, and that Washington’s troops watched the harbor from up there for the British to arrive prior to the Battle of Brooklyn. And there’s this picture:
James Smillie's View From Battle HIll
James Smillie’s View From Battle Hill

This charming engraving is by James Smillie (1807-1885). James Smillie was from a whole family of artists and engravers–so many that I had a hard time telling them apart (it doesn’t help that they all have maddeningly similar names).

Here is the Smillie family plot, which I found–as usual–by wandering around and taking photos of anything that looked mildly interesting.

lts1

James Smillie, a native of Scotland, ended up in New York City in 1829, at the age of 22. His father was a jeweler in Quebec, and he sent young James to London and Edinburgh to learn silver engraving so that he could work in the family business. James’ talents were clearly more along the lines of drawing and etching, so he left Quebec after only a few years and struck out on his own in New York City. Within three years of his arrival, he was an admitted into the prestigious National Academy of Design.

James Smillie created the illustrations for the first written history of Green-Wood, Green-Wood Illustrated, which was published in 1846. According to historian Jeff Richman’s blog on the Green-Wood web site, he may have used the money from these illustrations to buy this large family plot.

Later in his life, James Smillie devoted himself to designing and engraving bank notes. In fact, from what I’ve read, almost every male member of the Smillie family worked as a bank note engraver at one time or another.

Check it out, I found one of his bank notes online at a stamp auction. $18,000!

James Smillie 500-dollar bill
James Smillie 500-dollar bill

James and Catherine Smillie had four children. Two of their sons, George Henry (1840-1921) and James David (1833-1909) were also well-known artists/engravers.

James David Smillie was trained by his father in the art of engraving starting at around age 4. They worked together on many projects, and he spent much of his professional life working as a bank-note engraver. His true passion, though, seemed to be drawing and painting landscapes.

His work is beautiful and meticulous:

James D. Smillie's Mirror Lake Yosemite
James D. Smillie’s Mirror Lake Yosemite

He liked painting landscapes and traveled a lot in California and Colorado, painting mountain scenes.

James David Smillie, Panoramic Autumn Vista with Snowcapped Mountains in the Distance, Watercolor
James D. Smillie’s Panoramic Autumn Vista with Snowcapped Mountains in the Distance, Watercolor

James D. Smillie was also one of the founding members of the American Watercolor Society, and served as one of its first presidents. He taught for over 30 years at the National Academy of Design. His work is in the collections of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He married in 1881 in his late 40s, and had 2 sons. Here’s a picture of him:

James David Smillie
James David Smillie

James’ brother George Henry Smillie was an equally successful artist. He studied with famed Hudson River School artist James McDougal Hart, who is also buried in Green-Wood. (OK, now I have to find him as well). Unlike his brother, George stuck mostly to the East Coast, painting quiet country landscapes and coastal scenes.

George Henry Smillie's Bronxville, 1912, oil on canvas
George Henry Smillie’s Bronxville, 1912, oil on canvas

Here’s a picture of George working in his studio. This photo is hilarious–after all, who doesn’t like to paint while wearing a 3-piece suit?

George Henry Smilliein his studio at 337 4th Ave., NYC
George Henry Smillie in his studio at 337 4th Ave., NYC

George’s wife Helen “Nellie” Sheldon Jacobs (1854-1926) was also a painter–they shared a studio on East 36th Street in Manhattan. He met her when she was one of his brother James’ private pupils. Here’s a picture of her from 1887:

Helen "Nellie" Jacobs Smillie
Helen “Nellie” Jacobs Smillie

And here’s one of her paintings:

Helen Sheldon Jacobs Smillie's Roses
Helen Sheldon Jacobs Smillie’s Roses

James & Margaret Bogardus and Father Maclay

James Bogardus’ grave caught my eye because of this small plaque at the base of it:

bogardus6

James Bogardus (1800-1874) is considered the “Father of Cast-Iron Architecture”. His invention of cast-iron building facades had a profound impact on contemporary architecture. For one thing, they were fire-proof, which was quite a plus during the days of gas lighting. Also, they were prefabricated; they could be built at his factory here in New York City, and then shipped to construction sites anywhere in the world. Used mostly in commercial and industrial buildings, these facades were more than just ornamental–their design was revolutionary. From the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

This method of supporting the weight of construction by columns, rather than the walls, was a significant step toward later development of skeleton framing and skyscrapers. Bogardus’ first use of these methods (1848) was in his own five-story factory in New York City.

Five of the buildings he designed/built are still standing. Four of them are in downtown Manhattan, and one is in Cooperstown, NY. Here are the four that are in NYC:

Bogardus was also a prolific inventor. In the 1830s he invented an engraving machine, and was subsequently hired by the U.S. Mint to engrave dies in bank notes. Other inventions include a machine for cutting watch dials, a gas meter, a cotton-spinning machine, and the “eccentric mill”, which is a machine used to grind and finish metal. It is still used today for lens grinding and for applying a smooth finish to the surface of ball bearings.

James Bogardus
James Bogardus

Despite his genius, Bogardus struggled financially for a number of years, and had to rely on income from his wife to get by. Which brings us to… Margaret Bogardus.

Margaret Bogardus (1803-1878) is just as intriguing as her husband. Margaret and James were married in a double wedding (with Margaret’s teenage sister) in her family’s home in 1831. Her father, the Reverend Archibald Maclay performed the ceremony (more on him to come). For many years the couple lived with Margaret’s family in their modest brick row house on East Broadway in Lower Manhattan.

Margaret was a renowned miniature portrait artist, and the living she made from selling her paintings was crucial to their financial stability. From Cast-iron Architecture in America: The Significance of James Bogardus, by Margot and Carol Gayle:

Painted portraits were much in demand until it became possible to product likenesses by photographic means. Those who could afford them commissioned pictures of family members or loved ones as tokens of affections, sometimes to mark such special occasions as weddings. …a miniature was a small portable personal memento that was more affordable (with standard prices ranging from $25 to $50 in the 1830s and 1840s).

Here are a few examples of her work:

These paintings are now in the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian.

Here’s a self-portrait she painted in 1842, when she was admitted to the National Academy of Design:

bogardus-11

This was a pretty big deal at the time–there were very few women allowed in the National Academy of Design. She also showed her work in London at the Royal Academy. Way to go, Mags!

Margaret’s father was the Reverend Archibald Maclay (1776-1860), a prominent Baptist minister. A native of rural Scotland, he spent thirty years as the pastor at the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Second Avenue in Manhattan. According to The life of Rev. Archibald Maclay, D.D., 1776-1860, by Isaac Walker Maclay (his grandson), he was greatly beloved by his congregation, and was affectionately nicknamed “Father Maclay”.

Here’s a painting of him by Margaret:
bogardus2

Father Maclay is not buried near his daughter and James, but he is buried in Green-Wood. He’s in a different lot some distance away. Just for fun, I tracked down his grave today, which took me FOREVER to find because it’s so worn-down:

Harvey Burdell & Emma Cunningham

burdell
Harvey Burdell’s monument is hard to miss; it’s oddly modern-looking and standing by itself at the corner of Lanscape and Oak, just down the street from Horace Greeley. Turns out, this headstone was actually placed there in 2007 thanks to the efforts of writer Benjamin Feldman, who felt as though this was a story worth preserving. And it is–it’s nuts.

Harvey Burdell (1811-1857) was a dentist who moved to New York to start a practice with his brother in 1834. Their offices were located on Bond Street, which at the time was a kind of seedy part of town with a lot of brothels. According to Murder by Gaslight‘s excellent account:

“While successful and highly regarded uptown, Burdell was also well known in the Bowery where he often went to gamble and visit brothels. He was also known to service the dental needs of prostitutes working in his Bond Street neighborhood and to take his fee in trade.”

Emma Cunningham
Emma Cunningham
In 1854, Burdell met Emma Cunningham, a recent widow with 5 children. Emma and Harvey were an instant item, and vacationed together in Saratoga Springs that summer. In the fall, she found out that she was pregnant. Burdell forced her to get an abortion, and according to pretty much every source I’ve read, “may have” performed it himself.

Eventually, he leased Emma the building his offices were located in, at 31 Bond. She and her five children lived on the first floor, and she ran a boardinghouse in the building. Harvey maintained his apartment and dental offices on the second floor. Things seemed idyllic for a while, but then their relationship started to fall apart after Burdell started a fling with his cousin Dimis. He also had sex with a lot of his patients (including prostitutes) in his office upstairs, which upset Emma. They fought a lot, and he started avoiding her and discretely started to make plans to replace her as the landlady of the boardinghouse.

On the morning of January 31, 1857, Burdell’s dramatically disfigured body was found in his blood-drenched office. He had been strangled and stabbed fifteen times with a dagger.

Murder-Room
Everyone in the household was questioned. Emma Cunningham produced a marriage certificate and claimed that she and Harvey had been secretly married. This, it turned out, was an elaborate scam: Emma had been married, but to another man who told the priest his name was Harvey Burdell (didn’t they check his I.D.?).

The police determined that the killer was left-handed. Emma was left-handed. She was arrested and charged with murder.

The trial began in May of the next year, and lasted only three days. It was a HUGE event at the time, pretty much the 1850s equivalent of the O.J. Simpson trial. Every square inch of the courtroom was packed with onlookers, and the newspapers carried every sordid detail they could find.

Harvey Burdell
Harvey Burdell

Emma Cunningham was found not guilty, unbelievably enough. And now the story gets super weird. While in prison, she claimed she was not only married to Burdell, but pregnant with his child. This was not true, but she wanted to lay claim to his substantial estate, so she came up with a plan that is right out of The Young and the Restless: Emma attempted to convince a doctor to supply her with a stolen baby from Bellevue Hospital, and then she’d pretend to give birth to it. This doctor–Dr. Uhl–was no dummy. He went straight to the district attorney’s office and told them what was going on.

When the time came to “give birth”, Emma dressed up like a nun and smuggled the baby in a basket from Dr. Uhl’s office. She then returned home and had Dr. Uhl fake-deliver her baby as she cried and moaned behind a closed door like someone in labor. As soon as she was finished and Dr. Uhl came out the door to present the baby, federal agents charged in and arrested her for fraud.

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Crazy!

 NEW YORK DAILY TIMES, August 5, 1857
NEW YORK DAILY TIMES, August 5, 1857

Emma Cunningham moved to California, where she eventually married again. (WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD MARRY THIS WOMAN?) She died in poverty in New York City in 1887.

By the way, it took me FOREVER to find Emma Cunningham’s headstone. I mistakenly thought it would be near Harvey Burdell’s grave and spent several hours (several idiotic hours) walking around that area. I could only find a few photos of it online, so I had to use the things I saw in the background as clues to where it was. I finally realized that I had been standing right next to this headstone when I went for a walk a few weeks back and stopped to look at a curious child statue at the rear of the Meyer family plot. Of course, I couldn’t remember where that was, which resulted in a lot more wandering. Now, I don’t mind wandering–after all, that’s what this whole blog is kind of about–but it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t find this headstone.

Well, long story short, I finally found it today:

emma-cunningham

And once and for all, here are some damned maps:

Oh, and on an entirely unrelated note, here is the curious child statue on the Meyer family plot:

hazel

Joseph Quadri

This one took a little digging, but I managed to get quite a bit of information. I’m glad I did.

I’ve been looking at the headstone for Joseph Quadri (1896-1918) ever since I moved to this neighborhood. It is right up the hill from my building. I see it every time I walk out the front door.

It is a profoundly sad monument. A weeping willow tree is draped over the top of the stone, and a mourning female figure is bent over the portrait of a young man in a World War I “Doughboy” uniform.

Joseph Quadri, Brooklyn native and first generation Italian-American, died October 9, 1918, during the Second Battle of the Somme. He was 22.

I am no World War I expert, but I have been doing some reading about it lately. The main thing I’ve learned was that World War I was pretty much hell on earth for everyone involved. And The Battle of the Somme was one of the most horrible, never-ending battles of the past several centuries.

By the time Joseph Quadri was sent to Germany to fight in the second Battle of the Somme, French and British troops had managed to halt the aggressive German offensive, pushing them back into German territory. Quadri’s division—the 27th—was absorbed into the 106th Infantry Regiment, which was sent to help reinforce dwindling British troops. Everyone involved in this battle–on both sides– suffered enormous casualties.

Here’s a picture of the 106th Infantry’s Farewell Parade on August 30th, 1917–according to the caption, this is the 27th Division:

106th Infantry Farewell parade 1917
106th Infantry Farewell parade 1917

From The New York State Military Museum web site:

At the commencement of active fighting, the 106th had a total effective strength of 3,003 officers and men… During its service in World War I, the 106th sustained 1,955 casualties including 1,496 wounded, 376 killed, and 83 who later died of their wounds.

Joseph was born in 1896 to Victor and Antonia Quadri, both Italian immigrants. Victor was a stonecutter, which may account for why Joseph has such a beautiful memorial. Antonia is listed on census records as doing “housework”. Victor and Antonia had 4 children: Elizabeth, Joseph, Andrew, and Victor, Jr., all of whom were just a few years apart in age. The 1915 census lists 18 year-old Joseph’s occupation as “machinist’s apprentice”. They lived here in Brooklyn, at 716 42nd street right by Sunset Park.

Joseph enlisted on April 3rd 1917. He died October 9th, 1918. On October 21st 1918, his entire division was relieved. If only he could have hung in there another couple of weeks.

Here’s his military card that shows his service, and record of death:

quadri-military-card

And here is the only picture of him that I could find. This is from “A Short History and Illustrated Roster of the 106th Infantry United States”:

Joseph Quadri

Precious Georgie

georgieI have this dumb rule when I walk around Green-Wood: If you see a hill, walk up it. There is almost always something interesting at the top of a hill. Here’s one result.

“Precious Georgie” and his twin brother Theodore were born in 1863, to renowned Presbyterian minister Theodore Ledyard Cuyler. Georgie died suddenly from scarlet fever when he was five years old. Clearly the family was heartbroken, so much so that his father went on to write a book about the experience, entitled “The Empty Crib, A Memorial of Little Georgie”. It concludes with this passage:

I close this love-tribute to my boy, in the very room whence his spirit took wing for heaven. The pillow in the crib is all smooth and undisturbed to-day. A picture of Jesus blessing little children hangs before me on the wall. Every shelf in yonder closet is filled with his keepsakes; and on the nail hangs his little velvet cap. As I look at all the playthings, and at the precious little slate on which he tried to mark, with feeble hand, on his dying day, I cannot believe that he is dead. He must be somewhere in my dwelling yet.

I actually got sucked in to reading this book online, and practically read the entire thing. It’s genuinely sad and heart-felt, particularly the part about his brother Theo coping with his twin’s death. You really feel for the Cuylers.

Georgie and his brother Theo
Georgie and his brother Theo
The sides of the monument are inscribed with the story of his last exchange with his mother before dying:

He look up at his mother and whispered, “Does Jesus love me? What will He say when he first sees me?” All through that April Sabbath with head on the mother’s breast the sweet child murmured of Jesus ’till the sun was low in the west. Then the door of Heaven opened that had been ajar all day. And our darling alone could answer what will Jesus say.

Ack! Heartbreaking.

It is worth noting that this beautiful portrait was created by sculptor Charles Calverley (1833-1914), who is responsible for a number of beautiful monuments throughout Green-Wood. (I’ll have to keep an eye out for more of his work.)

Theodore Cuyler
Theodore Cuyler
Georgie’s father Theodore Ledyard Cuyler (1822-1909) was a prominent religious figure in the 1800’s. On top of writing several books, he founded the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church here in Brooklyn, which to this day boasts the largest Presbyterian congregation in the country. He also lead The New York Anti-Suffrage Association (no fun), and was a staunch proponent of the temperance movement (really no fun).

On a side note, there are two other small markers nearby for an infant son born to the Cuylers on December 25th, 1873, who only lived for about 10 days; one of the stones simply reads, “Our Christmas Gift”.

James Gordon Bennett

Another random find. And this is why I love Green-Wood.

James Gordon Bennett
James Gordon Bennett
James Gordon Bennett (1795-1872) is best known for founding The New York Herald in 1835. It wasn’t long before The Herald was the most popular newspaper in the country, and Bennett’s strong editorial opinions were helping shape the political landscape during this tumultuous time in America. The Herald was truly revolutionary; it was the first newspaper to utilize interviews and first-hand observations in its reporting, rather than simply stating dry fact. It was also the first to cover more sensational, gossipy stories.

From “The Penny Press”. A Brief History of Newspapers in America:

“James Gordon Bennett’s 1835 New York Herald added another dimension to penny press newspapers, now common in journalistic practice. Whereas newspapers had generally relied on documents as sources, Bennett introduced the practices of observation and interviewing to provide the stories with more vivid details… Bennett reported mainly local news, and corruption in an accurate style. He realized that, ‘there was more journalistic money to be made in recording gossip that interested bar-rooms, work-shops, race courses, and tenement houses, than in consulting the tastes of drawing rooms and libraries.’ He is also known for writing his ‘money page’ which was included in the Herald and also coverage of women in the news. His innovations made others want to imitate him as he spared nothing to get the news first.”

James Gordon Bennett
James Gordon Bennett
Bennett’s newspaper first rose to fame in 1836 when it covered the murder of society prostitute Helen Jewett. This was a very dishy story at the time: Jewett had become romantically entangled with 19 year-old Richard Robinson, who was by all accounts a good kid from a good family (except, I guess, for the part where he sleeps with prostitutes). He was accused of hitting her three times in the head with a hatchet and setting her bed on fire. Despite the testimony of several eye-witnesses who placed him at the brothel the night of the murder, he was found not guilty at his trial. This story had everything–sexual deviance, steamy love letters, prostitution, a love affair, a murder. The Herald‘s readership ate it up. Competing newspapers–such as fellow Green-Wood resident Horace Greeley‘s Tribune–had to follow suit with similarly sensational reporting.

Bennett was also a sharp critic of Abraham Lincoln, who was elected President in 1861 at the height of The Herald‘s popularity. Bennett was in and out of favor with the Lincoln Administration throughout the Civil War; at one point he donated a yacht to the administration, in exchange for insider information and favors (such as a cushy position for his son).

vanity fair illustration about Bennett "badgering" Abraham Lincoln
vanity fair illustration about Bennett “badgering” Abraham Lincoln

The Herald also detailed the comings and goings of Mary Todd Lincoln, who was vacationing one summer in Long Branch, New Jersey. Bennett assigned a charming and socially wily millionaire named Henry Wikoff to ingratiate himself to Mrs. Lincoln and her Society pals. The regular column, “The Comings and Goings of Mrs. Lincoln” was all ridicule of the First Lady at the beginning–but that changed quickly when she started writing letters personally to Bennett in response. They struck up an unlikely friendship, and Bennett realized that he could garner favor and gather inside information by changing the tone of this column to one of flattery (almost to a ridiculous extent). At one point, Wikoff was able to charm his way in to Mrs. Lincoln’s inner circle and steal an advance copy of Lincoln’s Congressional address, which was then published by The Herald.

(On a side note here, Henry “Chavalier” Wikoff sounds absolutely fascinating. He was born into great wealth, and spent his entire life traveling, writing, hob-knobbing with the rich and famous, and of course romancing the ladies. His relationship with Mary Todd Lincoln was the subject of a lot of scandal at the time.)

Bennett was known as a workaholic who spent endless hours obsessing over the news at his desk, which was built out of two barrels and some planks of wood (love that). A native of Scotland, he had a thick Scottish brogue, and his eyes were severely crossed. He married Henrietta Crean in 1840, just five years after founding The Herald.

The monument is lovely, but very sad–it shows a mourning woman kneeling in front, and a seemingly gravity-defying statue of an angel releasing an infant into the heavens. On the front, you can see two young children listed: Cosmo Gordon Bennett, who was five, and three-month-old Clementine Bennett. Sad.

Commodore McKeever

“The post of danger is the post of honor.”

As the placard will tell you, Commodore Isaac McKeever, 1791-1856, had a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Navy.

Commodore McKeever’s father, Captain James McKeever was a wealthy Scotsman who emigrated to Philadelphia just before the Revolution. James McKeever was one of the first people to come up with the idea of using steam to power and navigate boats. He even dragged his teenaged son Isaac along on a raft filled with machinery down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers in an attempt to engineer such a feat. The experiment failed (and he was ridiculed), but he kept working on this idea for pretty much the rest of his life.

commodore-mckeeverIsaac McKeever joined the navy in 1809 (at 18 years old) as a midshipman. By the time the War of 1812 broke out, he had become a Lieutenant. In 1814, McKeever was commanding a gunboat on Lake Borgne in Louisiana, when the British forces attacked.

From the Military Hall of Honor:

The [U.S.] gunboats mounted collectively 23 guns, and were manned by 182 men. The British expedition consisted of 42 large barges and other boats, manned by over 1,000 seamen and marines. The engagement, which was very severe, lasted more than three hours, and over 200 of the British were killed and wounded. Lieutenant McKeever’s vessel was the last one attacked, and he was severely wounded, together with most of his officers, before he surrendered.

During his 47-year career in the navy, he was promoted through the ranks from Commander to Captain, and finally Commodore in 1850. A mere 4 years before he died, he commanded the flagship Constitution, a.k.a., “Old Ironsides” down in Brazil, and helped to maintain peace while revolution was threatening Buenos Aires (and that is making a very long story short).

Old Ironsides is still around. It’s now a museum boat, docked in Boston:

constitution

It’s worth noting that Commodore McKeever’s second wife was Mary Thomson, daughter of the famous Captain Thomas Thomson.

He died at the Norfolk, Va., Navy Yard, in 1856. From The Heroes of the American Revolution and Their Descendants, by Henry Whittemore:

In 1855 he had charge of the navy yard at Norfolk Va when a pestilence broke out in that city and the adjoining towns which terrified the people of the whole southern country. Commodore McKeever was authorized by the navy department to suspend operations in the yard for a time should he see fit but he decided to remain in order that work might be given to those who depended upon it for support of their families. His reply to the department was, “The post of danger is the post of honor.” His death was attributed directly to his overtasked energies during this terrible period.

 

William Tecumseh Sherman & Family

I try not to get too personal here because I know that the Internet is made up of 90% axe-murderers, but in this case it can’t be avoided. I do not spend all of my time getting lost in cemeteries–I am also a painter. And a few years ago, I found myself captivated by Mathew Brady’s photographs of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman.

These may be my favorite photographs of all-time. They are just endlessly fascinating. When you look at Sherman, you see his entire crazy, mixed-up world come shining through. You see the past and present weighing on him. You also see a number of raw emotions, including a rage that seems to simmer just below the surface. I could look at these photos forever.

So I painted one:
sherman
And another:
sherman2
And another:
sherman3

And from there, I was off and running. I painted 14 more portraits (not all of Sherman, of course), and created The American Civil War series, which you can see on my web site.

So as you can imagine, I was pretty excited (and a little bit surprised) to find out that General Sherman was buried in Calvary Cemetery, in my hometown of St. Louis, MO.

The Sherman family plot is located somewhat close to the entrance to Calvary–it was pretty easy to find (despite the fact that I am hopeless at reading a map, ANY map, and cemetery maps are the worst). William Tecumseh Sherman is buried alongside his wife, daughter, son, and a number of other relatives.

Sherman’s stone itself can best be described as venerable-looking. Located at the top between two American flags is the badge for the XV Corps, which had been commanded by Sherman in Vicksburg.
fortyrounds

This badge has a great story behind it–from Sherman’s Memoirs:

“It was on this occasion that the Fifteenth Corps gained its peculiar badge: as the men were trudging along the deeply-cut, muddy road, of a cold, drizzly day, one of our Western soldiers left his ranks and joined a party of the Twelfth Corps at their camp-fire. They got into conversation, the Twelfth-Corps men asking what troops we were, etc., etc. In turn, our fellow (who had never seen a corps-badge, and noticed that every thing was marked with a star) asked if they were all brigadier-generals. Of course they were not, but the star was their corps-badge, and every wagon, tent, hat, etc., had its star. Then the Twelfth-Corps men inquired what corps be belonged to, and he answered, ‘The Fifteenth Corps.’ ‘What is your badge?’ ‘Why,’ said he (and he was an Irishman), suiting the action to the word, ‘forty rounds in the cartridge-box, and twenty in the pocket!'”

A number of people have left coins on the stone:

sherman-coins

I noticed that a lot in the cemeteries I visited in St. Louis: People leave coins rather than pebbles–and not just on military stones, on all graves. I rarely see coins on graves in Green-Wood. Huh.

eleanor shermanSherman’s wife, Eleanor “Ellen” Boyle Ewing Sherman is buried next to him.

Ellen was from a prominent family; Her father was Thomas Ewing, an important Whig politician, and three of her brothers served as generals in the Civil War. Thomas Ewing was good friends with Charles Sherman, William’s father. When Charles Sherman died suddenly in 1829, Thomas Ewing adopted the young William and raised him as his own.

Wiliam and Ellen grew up together in the same home, eventually falling in love. Oh, the drama in that house must have been grand! They were married in 1850. From what I’ve read, her father did not quite approve.

Ellen was a devout Catholic, and one of the key organizers of the Catholic Indian Missionary Association. She was also active in politics; she was a staunch supporter of Abraham Lincoln, despite the fact that women weren’t allowed to vote at this time.

Ellen and William had eight children together. Their second-oldest daughter Mary Elizabeth Sherman (a.k.a., “Lizzie”) is buried to the left.
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I couldn’t find out much about her other than the fact that she never married, and died in Massachussetts in 1925.

willie-sherman
But perhaps the most poignant part of the Sherman family plot is the stone for Sherman’s 9-year-old son, “Our Little Sergeant Willie”. Willie and his brothers and sisters had joined their father in Mississippi after the surrender of Vicksburg. They stayed with him at the military camp on the Big Black.

Apparently, Willie loved the military, and was a great favorite with not just his father, but with all of the soldiers, who made him an honorary sergeant.

He died from “Camp Fever” while bound for Memphis on the steamer Atlantic:
atlantic-steamer

Apparently, Sherman held himself responsible for his son’s death. He believed it was his fault for bringing his family down to Mississippi and exposing them “to so fatal a climate at so critical a period of the year”. Many believe that he was driven mad with grief, which explains why he marched through the South burning and killing with a vengeance.

Here’s an article about Sherman’s funeral from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

Nez Perce Monument

I recently traveled to St. Louis and had the opportunity to visit Calvary Cemetery. Calvary is pretty much the Green-Wood of St. Louis, and is a very well-kept and serene 470 acres. It seems a lot less dramatic than Green-Wood by comparison (nothing too big or crazy), but it is nonetheless a gorgeous and historically rich place. I spent a couple of hours in there and managed to locate several interesting sites, including this tribute to the Nez Perce Indians who traveled to St. Louis in 1831.

The Nez Perce were a fairly peaceful tribe of about 4,000 living in villages just west of the Rocky Mountains. They hunted buffalo, fished for salmon, and did some light farming. When Lewis & Clark first explored the West, they became quite close with the Nez Perce–in fact, Clark later had a child with a Nez Perce woman.

Decades later, four warriors from the Nez Perce tribe traveled over 2,000 miles to St. Louis: Black Eagle, Speaking Eagle, Rabbitskin Leggings, and No Horns on His Head. The fact that no one spoke their language made communication nearly impossible for them, so it remains a bit unclear as to why they traveled so far. Many claim they were seeking to be converted to Christianty, other stories say they were interested in simply learning.

According to Black Eagle descendant Allen Pinkham on the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers site:

“They were wandering around St. Louis, and no one could understand their language or their sign language. Finally some people got the idea that they were looking for the Bible. That was the beginning of us being inundated by missionaries. Black Eagle and Speaking Eagle said they were looking for the book of Heaven. There are five versions of what that is. My father told me it was the book of knowledge, that they were looking for what went into a book and how you convey knowledge. We didn´t need a new religion. We had our own ways that were a way of life.”

Unfortunately, their bodies were not accustomed to being exposed to the kinds of diseases that ran rampant in a predominantly white urban population in the 1800s. Within the first two months of their visit, both Black Eagle and Speaking Eagle died. The other two warriors–Rabbitskin Leggings and No Horns on his Head died on their journey back West. As the monument notes, their burial place is unknown.

Black Eagle and Speaking Eagle’s final resting places were moved a number of times over the years. Finally, in 2000, National Park Service researcher Robert Moore located the two unmarked graves in Calvary Cemetery in this mass burial site for Native Americans.

According to the monument, this site contains 15,000 graves. As you can see from the picture, the monument sits alone in the middle of a large, empty field (empty except for a million ghosts!). This beautiful monument was erected in 2003, and features a carving of two eagle feathers designed by Lapwai historian Crystal White.