Tag Archives: brooklyn

Francis B. Spinola

spinola1This rather distinguished and eye-catching memorial belongs to Francis B. Spinola (1821-1891). Spinola is best known as the first Italian-American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But really, that doesn’t even begin to sum up the life and career that Spinola enjoyed. Born near Stony Brook, Long Island, Spinola grew up in a wealthy, influential family. After a swanky private education, he set up practice as a lawyer in Brooklyn.

In the 1850s he was part of the “Secret Police” that helped to keep peace on the gang-ridden streets of New York. He was an alderman several times, a member of the NY State Assembly, a NY State Senator, and also the Commissioner of the New York Harbor–all before the age of 40.

During the Civil War, Spinola enlisted and was commissioned as a Union Brigadier General. At one point he recruited and organized his own bridge of 4 regiments referred to as “Spinola’s Empire Brigade.”


After the Civil War he served as alderman again, and eventually landed a position in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Our Most Holy Trinity Cemetery

I decided to go on a little adventure today, so I took a trip out to see the Our Most Holy Trinity Cemetery here in Brooklyn. It is way to hell out on the outskirts of Bushwick, located on the end of a desolate street. I’ve included a map of where it’s located, in case anyone is interested in seeing this strange little cemetery. It’s worth the trip–and if you are in Manhattan, you can take the L train directly there. (Or you can drive like I did, and end up getting hopelessly lost on your way home.)


While this little Roman Catholic cemetery is not nearly as huge or beautiful or just plain nuts as Green-Wood, it has one unique characteristic: almost all of the monuments are made out of metal.

According to the Our Most Holy Trinity Cemetery web site “…from the earliest days, stone monuments were not allowed because no distinctions were permitted to be made between the rich and the poor.”

I found this cemetery wonderfully strange and serene. There were no other people there besides me and a very bored looking security guard. I asked him if a lot of people visited, and he answered, “over 100 years old”. Then I asked him why there were so many Virgin Marys sunk in the ground and he replied, “people buried underground.” So needless to say, I quit trying to ask the security guard questions.

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:


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

Little Rosa and her Mother

Happy Mother’s Day! Let’s celebrate by being confused about a dead child and her dead mother. Hooray!

Couldn’t find out too much about this one. I can’t seem to find anything about this family on the Internet. I also am not even really sure which family this monument belongs to–there are several stones nearby, most of which are for the Mead and Shute families. I couldn’t find out anything about them online, either. Internet! What good are you?


It looks like Rosa and her mother were both named Rosa–it’s difficult to read, but the badly decayed back-side of the stone lists “Rosa Marion” and “Rosa Virginia.” Sadly, that was about all I could make out.

I also didn’t recognize the expression across the bottom, “Even so father”. Turns out the full phrase is, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight” and it’s from the Old Testament (Matthew 11:26). From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:

26. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good—the emphatic and chosen term for expressing any object of divine complacency; whether Christ Himself, or God’s gracious eternal arrangements.

Still doesn’t make sense to me, but ah well.

Peter and Jensine Lawson

map-lawsonThis is one of my favorites. I don’t think it needs too much explanation, just look at the photos. Peter Lawson–“Grandpa”–died at age 84 in 1887. His granddaughter Jensine (love that name) died a year later at age 24. In the statue, she is holding a rose to his lapel.

The earth, the earth has lost a gem,
Heaven has gained a star
The Angels saw it shining here
And called it from afar.