I wanted to love this book more than I did. It is written in a very dry way, so I wasn’t surprised to discover that the author is a professor emeritus at Cornell. Bess Lovejoy’s Rest in Pieces is a much more fun text on the same subject, although both books don’t really cover the same ground.
This book is exhaustive when it comes to American war heroes who were recovered from forgotten graves and reburied with more attention. In fact, if the Revolutionary War fascinates you, you will appreciate the “Siting and Reciting of Patriotism” chapter.
I wish the chapter on “Problematic Graves” had been longer. I hadn’t considered the tourist value of famous people’s graves beyond Jim Morrison and Hollywood Forever, so I was fascinated by the process of moving gravesites to be more accessible, along with the struggles cities went to in order to hang on to their favored sons.
In fact, the book is thick with dead white men. I wish the author had cast a wider net. I was excited when the African Burial Ground in Manhattan was mentioned. Jimi Hendrix could have been, too, or Martin Luther King Jr. or Hattie McDaniel (who wasn’t moved, in the end). The graves removed from Manzanar might have rated some attention, or the Chinese history of moving the bones back home during the Gold Rush…
I suppose it’s telling that the blurbs on the book come from historians, not from cemetery aficionados.
You can order your own copy of the book from Amazon.
This is an amazing book. It’s huge, heavy, stuffed with full-color photographs — and some weird stuff too, including 3D photos complete with cardboard glasses. The book explores 31 cemeteries, some glancingly and others in great depth. It’s definitely Chicago-centric in the gravesites it visits (and even indulges in visits to the author’s relatives), but there is much to attract a visitor or someone with even less familiarity with the Windy City.
I’m not entirely sure what order the cemeteries appear in, but I think it’s geographic. A map would have helped to orient me.
I was, however, very impressed that one of the first gravesites to be featured in the book is the marker in memory of Emmett Louis Till, the 14-year-old from Chicago who was mutilated and murdered because a white woman said he flirted with her. Dinah Washington is buried in the same cemetery, but her story is told in less detail.
The book talks about the one-of-a-kind architecture and artwork that graces Chicago’s cemeteries, as well as exploring the city’s history from trappers to farmers to railroads and stockyards to gangsters to politicians. Famous names appear — from Jesse Owens to Al Capone — but smaller stories sometimes have more emotional weight, like the tale of the creator of Cracker Jack, whose grandson posed for the original image of Jack, or Cale Cramer, who died in a train wreck saving his passengers. It visits the graves of those killed in the St. Valentine’s Massacre and the victim of Leopold and Loeb, but it tells love stories, too.
The lovely landscapes are captured in every season from the first buds of spring to snow blanketing the graves. I can’t say enough about the beautiful statuary captured by Broutman’s camera. Chicago really does have a wealth of artwork, available to anyone who walks in the cemetery gates.
If you are interested in American statuary, history, or cemeteries, this book is a must-have. Amazon is having on sale on it now — and the price is a bargain: https://amzn.to/2uDyDlt
I’m not sure why this book is so expensive. Yes, it’s full of black and white photographs, but really, $75? It’s not worth that.
Assembled from the Library of Congress’s photo archives, Cemeteries is a “visual sourcebook” of images of American graveyards taken by families, news photographers, stereograms, advertisers, and government agencies. Sections focus on gates, grave markers, mausoleums, and other details of graveyards — which is what I bought the book for and its most useful attribute.
Unfortunately, the author assembling the photos got lazy. Rather than show a variety of African Americans working in cemeteries across the country, he includes a series of photos of the same people in the same cemetery. I would’ve found comparison and contrast more interesting than depth, especially since the depth is at odds from the way the rest of the book is put together. The same cemeteries and photographers do keep coming up over and over more than is truly necessary in other sections, but “Comings and Goings in the Silent City” is the most repetitive. It’s disappointing.
If you are a cemetery fanatic, you might need to have this book (you can get it discounted on Amazon). The historical overview in the first section is particularly useful. The photos throughout lean toward documentary rather than art, but if you bring a fair amount of knowledge to the book, it will reward you, even as it frustrates you. It could have been really spectacular. Instead, it seems rushed.
These photos are borrowed from the Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery Facebook page.
Old Huguenot Cemetery
aka the Huguenot Cemetery or the Public Burying Ground of St. Augustine
A1A Orange Street
Saint Augustine, Florida 32084 Established officially: 1821 Size: one-half acre Number of interments: approximately 436 Open: Third Saturday of every month (see below for more details)
During the Spanish colonial era in Florida, this half-acre of land served as a potter’s field to bury criminals, other ex-communicants, and all non-Catholics who died in St. Augustine. The oldest graves have no markers, since the Spanish felt it was best to erase the memory of people who died outside the Church. Although the cemetery is named for the French Protestant movement, it’s unlikely any actual Huguenots are buried here.
When the United States took control of the Florida territory in 1819, the old potter’s field became the city’s only Protestant graveyard, opening officially in September 1821. Shortly thereafter, a yellow fever epidemic gripped the city. The mosquito-borne virus attacks the kidneys and liver, causing jaundice. Before a vaccine was developed, the disease was often fatal.
The cemetery’s owner, Reverend Thomas Alexander, deeded the land to the Presbyterian Church in 1832. The Presbyterians oversaw the cemetery until it closed in 1884. Since its closure, Memorial Presbyterian Church maintains it, aided more recently by the Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery.
Among the approximately 436 people buried here are US Congressmen Gideon Barstow, who retired to Florida and died in 1852, and Charles Downing, who also served as a Colonel in the Seminole War in 1836.
Famous names aren’t what draw most people to this old cemetery. By many accounts, the Huguenot Cemetery is the most haunted place in the ancient city. One ghost story begins with the body of a fourteen-year-old girl abandoned at the nearby city gates during a yellow fever epidemic. Since no one claimed her and she couldn’t be proven to be Catholic, she was buried in the Huguenot Cemetery. It’s said her ghost, clad in a flowing white dress, still wanders the cemetery after midnight. Sometimes she waves at visitors. She’s even been seen atop the cemetery gate.
The most famous ghost in the Huguenot Cemetery has been identified as Judge John Stickney, who died in 1882. When his children had him exhumed years later, the gravediggers opened his coffin to find the judge reasonably well preserved. In the mob of people watching the exhumation hid a thief, who stole the judge’s gold teeth right out of his skull in the commotion. Although Stickney’s body was moved to Washington, DC, the tall dark figure of judge’s ghost continues to prowl the cemetery, searching for his missing dental work. He’s been sighted day and night.
The fragile old cemetery is usually locked, but until earlier this month, the Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery opened it on the third Saturday of each month.
When Hurricane Irma tore up Florida two and a half weeks ago, it swept across St. Augustine and over the old cemetery. A hurricane-spawned tornado toppled one of the centuries-old magnolias. Other damaged trees landed on fragile old tombstones. Damage is estimated to amount to $25,000.
Despite this, the Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery hope to open the cemetery on October 21 for its regular third Saturday visitation day.
If you’d like to help with the costs of tree removal and conservation of the gravestones, please email Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery President Charles Tingley at catingley (at) gmail (dot) com. The Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.
Saint Ann’s Cemetery
also called Sainte Anne’s Cemetery or the Catholic Cemetery
Garrison Road & Custer Street
Mackinac State Park
Mackinac Island, Michigan 49757 GPS: Lat: 45° 51′ 29″N, Lon: 84° 37′ 16″W Founded: early 1850s Size: 2 acres Number of interments: approximately 1000 Open: Daily from sunrise to sunset Information: Ste. Anne Catholic Church, PO Box 537, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
North of Michigan’s lower peninsula lies an island 8 miles in diameter. The local native tribes used it as a burial ground. Since it lies at the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the French based fur trading operations there. The British occupied Mackinac Island during the Revolutionary War and built a fort. After the War of 1812, the island came under American control, was minimally staffed during the Civil War, and eventually became a resort for the wealthy of Detroit and Chicago.
Motorized vehicles were banned on Mackinac Island in 1898, so to this day the chief modes of transportation are bicycles and horses. The island, with its restored fort, livery stables, and fudge shops, is the #1 tourist attraction in Michigan.
Originally, Mackinac Island had only a Catholic burial ground, set up by French fur traders in 1779. That graveyard lay down near Sainte Anne’s Church, close to the water. For nearly a century, Mackinac Island simply had no Protestant community. Not until the fishing industry began in earnest toward the end of the 1800s did Calvinist missionaries come to preach to the fishermen and convert the natives.
Eventually that original Catholic cemetery filled to capacity. As early as 1852, islanders buried their dead on military reserve land near the Post Cemetery behind the fort. This was one of the few areas on the rocky island where the topsoil was deep enough to dig graves.
By the 1880s, most bodies from the first Catholic cemetery had been moved to Saint Ann’s. Not all the graves were transferred, however. Several stray headstones have been discovered in the weeds in town over the years. One now resides in the village museum. The site of that original Catholic cemetery, on Hoban and Market Streets, is prime land in the village now.
This newer Saint Ann’s Cemetery sprawls across an irregularly shaped piece of land, bounded by the curves of Garrison Road on the north and Custer Street on the west. The oldest graves lie on the Garrison side. Lots of stones date from the last half of the 19th century. They were ordered and shipped from the “mainland,” as islanders call Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
The oldest marked grave in Saint Ann’s Cemetery belongs to 8-year-old Mary Biddle, who died after falling through the ice in December 1833. Her parents, Edward and Agatha Biddle, paid for a stone carved by W. E. Peters in Detroit (he signed his work) to mark her grave, which had been moved from the earlier cemetery. Her father Edward, who served as the village president, was buried in the Post Cemetery across the road.
Mary’s epitaph sums up the brevity of many children’s lives at the time:
“As the sweet flower that scents the morn
but withers in the rising day,
Thus lovely was this infant’s dawn,
Thus swiftly fled its life away.”
Also buried in the cemetery is Lieutenant G. A. Graveraet, a 22-year-old who oversaw Confederate prisoners of war at Camp Douglas, the notoriously unsanitary camp near Chicago, before leading the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters Company K into battle at Spotsylvania. His tombstone says he died in Washington of wounds received before Petersburg. Sharing his monument is 1st Sgt. Henry G. Graveraet, 57, one of the “boys” in Company K, who died in the battle. Henry was G.A.’s father and died under his command.
In Summer 2011, a place in Saint Ann’s Cemetery was set aside for the burial of bones repatriated to the Sault Sainte Marie Chippewa by the Smithsonian Institution.
Later that year, when the foundation for a new hotel was being excavated at the site of the old cemetery in town, human remains were uncovered. Although no anthropological analysis seems to have been performed, the bones were considered Native American. Since the Chippewa believe that the body has two souls — one that travels to the land of the dead and one that remains with the body forever, soaking into the soil — they believe the soil surrounding the bones should be preserved with the same respect as a body.
Because of that, a dumptruck was brought to the island. It was filled with earth and a jumble of bones and unloaded in the Catholic cemetery, where a turtle mound has since been built. Nearby a totem pole was erected, along with a sign reading “Jiibay Gitigaan” in Ojibwa, which translates to “Spirit Garden.” The turtle mound has 13 sections, for the 13 moons of the year celebrated by the Ojibwa.
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