My dear friend Jeff is on a continuing mission to travel to all the ends of the earth. He’s just returned from Cuba and sent me these photos from the Colon Cemetery in Havana. With his permission, I share them with you.
You can see Jeff’s photos of his trip to Croatia and Bosnia here.
Monument to Harry Blackstone, Harry Blackstone Jr., and Harry Blackstone III
a.k.a. the Magicians’ Cemetery, Colon Cemetery
Section 10, Farrand Road/County Road 145
Telephone: 269-432-3371 (the cemetery sexton) Founded: mid-1800s Number of interments: More than 2300, according to Findagrave
Grave of Don Alan McWethy, “one of the 100 most influential magicians of the 20th century,” according to Magic Magazine.
Colon is a small town of about 1200 people, significantly fewer than reside in the cemetery. Every August, the town hosts Abbott’s Magic Get-Together, “a four-day convention featuring seminars, demonstrations, and public performances by some of the world’s leading illusionists,” as well as a tour of the cemetery. This year’s Get-Together was August 7-10.
Colon became a magical town in 1925, when Harry Blackstone, who would become the most popular stage magician of the mid-twentieth century (with both a network radio show and a comic book) bought property in the area. He and his troupe spent summers in Colon, working out their new shows before going out on the vaudeville circuit. Each year, Blackstone debuted his new show at Hill’s Opera House for the locals before taking it on the road.
The grave of Bill Baird, the Magnificent Fraud
One of Blackstone’s summer visitors was Percy Abbott, an Australian magician who built tricks. After settling in Colon, Abbott founded Abbot’s Magic Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest producer and mail-order purveyor of magic paraphernalia. In 1934, he sponsored the first of the yearly Magic Get-Togethers.
According to Rootsweb.com, records for the rural graveyard did not begin to be kept until 1900. The only record of burials previous to that are the stones that mark those graves. That makes me uncertain how many people are buried in Lakeside.
Lund founded of the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan, which has the largest collection of magic artifacts on display in the US.
Among them are three generations of Harry Blackstones, playing card manipulator Don Alan, billiard ball master Bill Baird, pickpocket Ricki Dunn, founder of the American Museum of Magic Robert Lund, magical family the Amazing Conklins, Jack Gwynne who could make all kinds of amazing things appear out of mid-air, and more.
I’ve had a huge amount of fun researching this cemetery of the week. I hope you’ll enjoy some videos of the performers buried here, but not forgotten.
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