Monthly Archives: August 2017

Cemetery of the Week #159: Trafalgar Cemetery

IMG_1368

Trafalgar Cemetery view and all photos that follow by Deb Dauber.

Trafalgar Cemetery
Gibraltar GX11 1AA, Gibraltar
Consecrated: June 1798
Closed: 1814
Size: small
Number of Interments: 108 or so

Gibraltar lies at the end of the Iberian peninsula at the mouth of the Mediterranean. While it shares its northern border with Spain, Gibraltar was captured by the British in 1704 and remains under British protection.

This pretty little graveyard, originally called the Southport Ditch Cemetery, is mostly filled with people who died in the recurrent yellow fever epidemics of the early 19th century. Consecrated in 1798, it was named for the Southport Ditch, part of the town’s natural defenses, that dates back to Gibraltar’s Spanish era in the 17th century.

IMG_1366

The headstone of Lt. Norman.

Among the approximately 108 people buried here lie two sailors wounded during the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. Lieutenant William Forster of the HMS Columbus and Lieutenant Thomas Norman of the HMS Mars succumbed of their injuries after the battle was over. Norman’s headstone records that he “…died in the Naval Hospital of this Place…after having suffered several weeks with incredible Patience & Fortitude under the Effects of a fever & Wound rece’d in the great and memorable Seafight of Trafalgar.”

All the men who died during the course of the battle with Napoleon’s fleet were buried at sea.

Victims of other Napoleonic sea battles are buried here, however. Among them are Thomas Worth and John Buckland of the Royal Marine Artillery. They were killed by the same single shot in the Bay of Cadiz in 1810.

Also here lies John Brugier, who served as purser on the HMS San Juan Nepomuceno. That Spanish ship was captured at the Battle of Trafalgar, then towed into the harbor to be used as a supply warehouse.

IMG_1365Many of the graves here remember children of British soldiers stationed here who died of disease. The hand-lettered monument to Amelia Walker mentions her father, a lieutenant, but says nothing of her mother.  Amelia died at two months and nineteen days in March 1812.

After 1814, the little cemetery was considered full. Its final burial took place in the tomb in the northeast corner in 1838.

When nearby St. Jago’s Cemetery closed early in the 20th century, its gravestones were set into the eastern wall in 1932. Other gravestones were moved from the Alameda Gardens.

In 1992, the Royal Navy donated an anchor as a memorial to those buried at sea during the Battle of Trafalgar.

Useful links:

Information on visiting the Gibraltar Cemetery

More information on sightseeing in the Gibraltar Cemetery

The travel snapshots post on Cemetery Travel that inspired this listing.

Cemetery of the Week #158: Staglieno Cemetery

Staglieno deathbed

This deathbed sculpture and the panorama below are taken from the Souvenir du Cimetiere de Genes, published in 1930.

The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
Piazzale Resasco, 16100 Genoa, Italy
Opened: January 1, 1851
Size: 250 acres
Number of interments: 117,600 gravesites

Thirty-five years after the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno opened in Genoa, Italy, the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro decreed that Staglieno was the most beautiful cemetery in the world. It is still considered one of the largest open-air museums in Europe, full of one-of-a-kind works of art in marble. It’s made many lists of the world’s most beautiful graveyards.

Staglieno panoramaThe cemetery occupies a space in Genoa’s suburbs.  Originally it was nothing special, but as the local merchants grew wealthy through the maritime trade in the 19th century, Staglieno became “an avatar of posthumous consumerism.” Many of its sculptures were commissioned pre-need, so that the living could enjoy them before being buried beneath them.

James Stevens Curl in his landmark book The Victorian Celebration of Death has this to say about it: “With its classical architecture, dramatic site, and essential urbaneness, [Staglieno] is unquestionably the grandest of all the cemeteries in Europe. Many connoisseurs consider it to be the most splendid cemetery in the world because of the excellence and quality of sculpture in its galleries.”

The cemetery’s central square is paved with marble grave markers, which are surrounded with thousands of sculptures. The Cemetery Book by Tom Weil says Staglieno is Italy’s largest cemetery.

Staglieno Oneto

The Monteverde angel from Staglieno: The Art of the Marble Carver

In Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain describes the cemetery: “On either side, as one walks down the middle of the passage, are monuments, tombs, and sculptural figures that are exquisitely wrought and are full of grace and beauty. They are new and snowy; every outline is perfect, every feature guiltless of mutilation, flaw, or blemish.” While industrial pollution has dimmed the snowy white statuary, it’s still remarkably lovely.

The most famous statue in Staglieno is Giulio Monteverde’s angel standing over the Oneto family tomb. The androgynous angel holds one hand to his bare chest, gazing down with a fierce fixed expression. At his side he holds a long trumpet, indicating that he is the angel of resurrection who will blow the trumpet at the end of the world to call the dead from their graves. Monteverde’s angel has been copied in cemeteries around the world.

Staglieno Beautiful Death

David Robinson’s photo, which served as the cover of his book Saving Graces.

Ken Worpole’s Last Landscapes has this to add: “The cult of representing the agony of death and parting through the languid, eroticized figure of a female nude, or of a naked couple entwined in lovemaking, reached its apotheosis in a number of the sculptures in the Staglieno Cemetery.” Many of these erotic nudes appear in photographer David Robinson’s book Saving Graces.

Walter S. Arnold has examined Staglieno’s monuments from a sculptor’s point of view.  My review of his The Art of the Marble Carver is here.

Useful links:

Staglieno’s homepage

The American Friends of Italian Monumental Sculpture are working to restore the cemetery. Here’s some of the statuary in process of being conserved.

Atlas Obscura‘s listing on Staglieno, with beautiful photographs

Yet more beautiful photos of Staglieno

 

 

Cemetery of the Week #157: Normandy American Cemetery

American_military_cemetery_2003Normandy American Cemetery
Also known as the Omaha Beach Cemetery and Cimetière Américain de Normandie
14710, Colleville-sur-Mer, France
Dedicated: 1956
Size: 172.5 acres (70 hectares)
Number of interments: 9387
Open: Except on December 25 and January 1, the cemetery is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm from April 15 to September 15, and from 9 am to 5 pm the rest of the year. Admission closes 15 minutes before closing time. The cemetery is open on holidays in France. When it is open, staff members in the visitor center can answer questions or escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.

The most-visited American military cemetery outside the US stands above a stretch of beach south of the English Channel on the northern coast of France. More than 9,000 men and four women are buried in the Normandy American Cemetery under row upon row of white crosses and Stars of David.

On June 6, 1944 — D-Day — American soldiers joined Allied Forces for the liberation of France.  2499 Americans fell before the Allies chased the Germans from heavily fortified Omaha Beach.

Two days after the landing, the American dead were buried temporarily in the first American cemetery to be established in Europe in World War II.  Called St. Laurent-sur-Mer, the cemetery was a holding place for servicemen until their families could be contacted. Next-of-kin could request repatriation or permanent burial in France. Nearly 60% of the fallen were sent home, while the rest were interred on land donated by France in gratitude for America’s sacrifice.

normandy postcardA half-mile-long access road leads to the Normandy American Cemetery, which covers 172.5 acres on the headlands above the D-Day beaches. The cemetery is the largest US World War II graveyard overseas.  Buried there are 9383 men and four women, victims of various battles. 33 pairs of brothers lie side by side. The graves are aligned on a vast green lawn divided by paths.

A $30 million visitor center was dedicated by the American Battle Monuments Commission in 2007, on the 63rd anniversary of D-Day. The visitor center, which serves as the entrance to the cemetery, welcomes approximately a million people each year.

14880620948_98e6d602cb_z

Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

At the heart of the cemetery rises a 22-foot-high bronze nude called “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves,” sculpted by Donald Harcourt De Lue and cast in Italy. The statue is surrounded by gold letters that proclaim, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord.” Behind it stands a semi-circular limestone colonnade that says, “This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed.” At each end of the colonnade is a loggia which displays maps of the Battle of Normandy. The loggias are engraved, “In proud remembrance of the achievements of her sons and in humble tribute to their sacrifices, this memorial has been erected by the United States of America.”

A semicircular garden on the east holds the Walls of the Missing. Its dedication reads: “Here are recorded the names of Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and who sleep in unknown graves. This is their memorial. The whole Earth their sepulcher. Comrades in Arms whose Resting Place is Known Only to God.” Of the 1557 names listed, some are now marked with rosettes because they have since been discovered and identified.

Two of President Theodore Roosevelt’s sons lie here. Theodore Jr. was the president’s eldest son. He fought in both world wars and received the Medal of Honor. In WWII, he served as a general. He was one of the first Americans to come ashore in France. He landed at Utah Beach, two kilometers farther south than they’d planned, but he encouraged his men by saying, “We’ll start the war from right here!” A month after the landing, he died of a heart condition.

His brother Quentin had died in aerial combat during World War I. He had been buried in Chamery Cemetery in the Marne region of France, but he was brought here to lie beside his brother.

The pathway from the cemetery down to the beach was closed in April 2016, due to security concerns.  A viewing platform overlooks the battlefield, now a peaceful sandy beach that stretches as far as one can see.

Normandy American Cemetery is the largest overseas World War II graveyard, but the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery from World War I contains the remains of 14,000 Americans.

This clip from Saving Private Ryan was filmed in the Normandy American Cemetery:

Useful links:

American Battle Monuments Commission page for the Normandy American Cemetery

Directions to Omaha Beach

Other American military cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery, Mackinac Island, Michigan

San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, California

Mare Island Cemetery, Vallejo, California

Cemetery of the Week #156: Glenwood Cemetery

IMG_8316

Red granite obelisk and Whiting’s white granite temple at Glenwood Cemetery, Flint

Glenwood Cemetery
2500 W. Court Street
Flint, Michigan 48503
Telephone: (586) 677-5400
Founded: 1857
Size: 47 acres
Number of interments: no public number available

IMG_8357Jacob Smith, the man credited with founding the Michigan city of Flint, is buried in lovely Glenwood Cemetery with his descendants. The first white settler at the Grand Traverse of the Flint River, Smith was such good friends with the local Native American chief that the men considered themselves brothers. The chief gave Smith the name Wah-be-seens or White Swan, which appears on the back of Smith’s gravestone. Smith had originally been buried behind his trading post near what is now Water Street in Flint. He died in 1825.

Founded in 1857, two years after Flint became a city, Glenwood is one of the few early cemeteries in Michigan laid out in the rural style popularized by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts. Its winding roads are shaded by tall oaks, maples, and pines. In fact, the cemetery is an arboretum with nearly 1,000 trees. The 56 species are predominantly natives, but include a very rare Chinese Yellowhorn tree and a huge, gnarled catalpa tree that predates the cemetery itself. Each of the trees is identified and you can pick up a free map to them outside the cemetery office.

Over all, lovely Glenwood makes the most of hilly terrain above the south bank of the Flint River. Its 47 acres includes two heavily wooded ravines, which shelter deer and other wildlife. The day I visited, it was filled with birdsong and butterflies.

The original 41 acres of the cemetery were purchased in March 1857. In addition to Jacob Smith, buried there are families who built the agricultural, lumbering, industrial, and automotive businesses in the area.

At Glenwood are buried 38 Flint city mayors, two Michigan state governors (Josiah Begole and Henry H. Crapo), Flint’s only lieutenant governor, and other politicians and diplomats, including Fenton McCreery, who served in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras, before joining the Paris office of the American Commission during World War I.

IMG_8323

The Mott mausoleum stands on an island at the crest of the cemetery.

Also buried here are the men who founded the automobile industry in Flint. J. Dallas Dort headed up the largest carriage manufacturer in the world, before investing in Buick, General Motors, and Chevrolet. In 1905, Dort persuaded Charles Stewart Mott to bring his Westen-Mott Company to Flint to build wheels and axels for Buick Motor Company. General Motors eventually bought the company and Mott served as a GM director for over 60 years, as well as acting as executive vice president and chief of staff. His philanthropic foundation continues to fund educational and environmental projects around the world, as well as offering support for the arts.

After serving in the Civil War, James Whiting came to Flint. Eventually, he oversaw Flint Wagon Works, which built 50,000 vehicles a year. He and his associates bought the Buick Motor Company in 1903 and moved it from Detroit to Flint. An auditorium thatWhiting funded in Flint’s Civic Center bears his name and continues to welcome traveling theater and music.

Arthur Giles Bishop worked his way up from teller to president of the Genesee County Savings Bank, before serving on the Board of Directors for General Motors and Chevrolet. He donated land for the city’s airport in 1928.

In addition to the local bigwigs, common people are also buried in Glenwood. Orphans from the Michigan School for the Deaf had been buried in an unmarked graves during an epidemic in the 1880s. A researcher located their grave in 2014 and it is now marked with an obelisk. Several soldiers and generals from the Revolutionary War were transferred here to lie with their families.

IMG_8361In 1901, seven more acres were added on the eastern side of Glenwood Cemetery. That space, with its own separate entrance, is dominated by a neoclassical mausoleum that opened in 1914.

The cemetery was added to the State Register of Historic Places in January 1988. A walking tour map is available at the office for free.

Useful links:
Glenwood Cemetery’s homepage

Notable burials at Glenwood

Marking the grave of the orphans from the School of the Deaf

A Place of Peace

The change of management at Glenwood

Other Michigan cemeteries of Cemetery Travel:

Sunset Hills, Flint

Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek

White Chapel Memorial Park, Troy

Lakeside Cemetery, Colon

Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery, Mackinac Island

Detroit Cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

Elmwood Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodmere Cemetery