Monday, May 14, 2018

Stones and Bones 9 - Saint Nicholas Orthodox Churchyard

Eklutna Historical Park is located in Chugiak, Alaska and within this park, one will find both the old and new Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. This church has a churchyard filled with unique graves that are known as spirit houses. They dot the landscape with color and are a symbol for how Christianity changed the way of life for the Inuit people who settled the land: the Dena'ina tribe of the Athabascans. Join me as we explore the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Churchyard!

The town of Chugiak is twenty miles northeast of Anchorage. The name "Chugiak" comes from a Dena'ina word meaning "place of many places". The Dena'ina were originally known as the Tanaina (tuh-nye-nuh), which means "the people." The native people of Alaska do not live on reservations, but rather in tribal villages. The villages of the past were led by a village chief. The Tanaina settled around the mouth of the Eklutna River in the 1200s. In 1650, they founded the village of Eklutna and they have remained there ever since. This village is the last of eight villages that existed before the construction of the Alaska Railroad. The Tanaina made earth homes that were made by digging an underground chamber and lining it with log walls that were then packed with layers of dirt for warmth and the roof was thatched. Russian missionaries arrived in 1830. This would change the way of life for the tribe. And the coming of the missionaries was not peaceful in some areas. Several of them were murdered.

Before the missionaries, the Tanaina would cremate their dead. The ashes would be placed in a birch bark basket which was put in a tree or by the  riverside. The Tanaina believed that the deceased spirit would then travel to the "High Country." The missionaries taught them to bury their dead instead. The missionaries also established the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church. The original church still stands, but is not used today. That old church was constructed out of hewn Spruce logs in Knik in 1870 and then moved to Eklutna in 1900. This is the oldest standing building near Anchorage and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior has no furnishings except for an oil stove, a table and an altar. The floor is made from plank puncheon. The Alaska Railroad brought colonists in 1915 and a railroad siding and station were built in 1918. More non-native people would come following World War II when a military installation was established here, but it no longer exists and those that remain in the village all have some native heritage. The new Russian Orthodox Church was built in 1962 and is painted white with light blue trim. The construction was spearheaded by Athabaskan Chief Mike Maxim Alex.

The Russian Orthodox denomination is said to have been founded by the Apostle Andrew who reached the area that is now Kiev and foretold the foundation of a great Christian city. He is said to have erected a cross there that is now where St. Andrew's Cathedral is located. The denomination is represented by a very unique cross that has three crossbeams with the lowest one being slanted. They adopted this from Byzantium. The upper arm represents the inscription over Christ's head and the  slanted bar represents the footrest. As to why the footrest is slanted, no one is really sure but many believe that the pointing upward part is towards Paradise for the Good Thief on Jesus' right who acknowledged Him and downward to Hell for the Thief on His left who mocked Him. Catherine the Second, who was the Empress of all the Russian territory, was the first to appoint clergymen for work in Russian America. Even after Alaska became the property of the United States in 1867, the Russian Church still continued its work in Alaska.

The new St. Nicholas Orthodox church features two of the Orthodox crosses and also two of the domes that are Particular to the orthodox church style. They are onion-shaped domes on top of the cupolas. Some historians believe that this is a Persian influence, but others think the origin is more practical and that it kept the snow off. Next to the two Russian Orthodox churches is the churchyard, which some refer to as Eklutna Graveyard. Upon entering, one immediately notices what makes this graveyard so unique and one of the most photographed in all the world: the spirit houses.

The spirit houses are made from wood and painted bright colors. These spirit houses are a uniquely Tanaina/Athabaskan tradition. The burial practices here are a long process and wonderfully unique. After a funeral, the graves are covered with stones and then a blanket. The blanket is meant to comfort the soul. The blanket is left for 40 days and then the spirit box is constructed right over the blanket. Most of these measure three or four feet in length and two or three feet in height. Some have glass windows and porches and even cupolas. Little houses built inside a house are done for a mother and child who died together. If a fence is put around a house, the person buried there didn’t live in the community. Prized possessions were placed in the spirit houses as well, like weapons, books or other tokens. Family members will then paint the spirit house in the colors that represent the family and add geometric shapes. Married couples will sometimes the blend the colors of both their families. Some of the graves just have a spirit house and others also have a Russian Orthodox cross. There are also graves marked only with crosses, honoring the resting places of the Orthodox non-native members of the church.

There are around one hundred burials in the churchyard. And some of the spirit houses are in a serious state of decay because the Athabaskan believe that everything should return to the earth and that includes the houses. The houses were not just meant to serve as markers, but also were a place to hold the spirit as they took the journey to Heaven. This would keep the spirits from bothering the living. Many of the graves have no names, which makes it harder to get a record of who is buried here. I did find one that was a baby who was born and died on the same day in 1958 and his name and that of his parents is on a marker: Thomas Wayne Alex and his parents were Herbert and Elisabeth Alex. There is a white fence around the grave, meaning that the baby was outside of the community. Another spirit house has a metal roof and the name on it reads Dan Alex. Another house has several inch-wide holes drilled all around the walls. Not sure the purpose.

One of the guides for the cemetery is Aaron Leggett and most of his family is buried in the churchyard. The most striking spirit house belongs to his grandmother, Marie Rosenberg. The house is white with blue trim around miniature windows and a red roof. It was built on a welded-steel frame by Leggett's uncle Frank. The house stands about 4 feet high and looks like a dollhouse with all the detail. It is a model of a two-story white clapboard house and is based on the girl's dormitory at the Eklutna Vocational School that was operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1925 to 1945. An icon of the Virgin Mary peers out from one of the windows. Leggett's grandmother passed away in 2003.

The cemetery is left to grow wild and wildflowers are everywhere along with long grasses. A path of rocks winds around the outside. Evergreens line the area around the graveyard and it just seems to be the perfect setting for an Alaskan churchyard. The only thing that seems out of place are the bright colors of the spirit houses. And that was just a little about the stones and bones found here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stones and Bones 8 - Chicago's Graceland Cemetery

Suggested by listener: Kim Gasiorowski

Hundreds of Chicago's most noted historic figures are buried behind the stone and iron gates of the 121 acres that make up Graceland Cemetery. This graveyard is clearly one of the best examples of a garden cemetery featuring rolling hills, lush landscaping and peaceful winding paths. The monuments and memorials that mark many of the graves here are unique and beautifully sculpted. Graceland hails back to the Victorian Era and for that reason, the cemetery is oozing with history.

Like so many large cities of the era, Chicago found that its first city cemetery, founded in 1843, was becoming overcrowded and the city was encroaching on the cemetery. People believed that cemeteries were hotbeds for disease as well and they did not want them so close to the city. The selling of plots stopped in 1859 and bodies began to be disinterred and transferred to other cemeteries at that time. One of the cemeteries where these bodies were taken was Graceland Cemetery. Graceland Cemetery was founded in 1860 by attorney Thomas B. Bryan. Several landscape designers had a hand in shaping the cemetery. The original designs were created by William Saunders, who was an experienced designer of parks and cemeteries. Those designs were implemented by Swain Nelson. Nelson went on to landscape Lincoln Park. William Le Baron Jenney designed three of the lakes and an expansion. In 1870, H.W.S. Cleveland sodded the paths and plots to produce a uniform surface. Finally, the biggest impact to Graceland was initiated by Ossian Cole Simonds who served as Graceland’s superintendent from 1883 to 1898. He created more naturalistic landscapes and shaped long-view vistas. The cemetery was awarded a medal of excellence at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Simonds worked at Graceland until his death in 1931. Because of Simonds direction and vision that he had for making the graveyard a beautiful symmetry of monuments and nature, landscape historians regard Graceland Cemetery as "one of the most remarkable park-like cemeteries of the Western world."

Graceland is the final resting place of several victims of the tragic Iroquois Theater fire, which happened on December 30, 1903 and left 600 people dead. Many of those in attendance to see the matinee performance of Mr. Blue Beard were children as school was out for the Christmas break. Fire codes of the time were non-existent and several factors led to a deadly event. First, the theater had only one entrance. And although fire ordinances required separate stairways and exits for each balcony, the theater was not built that way. The area where scenery was hung was unusually large as were the other backstage areas. There were no sprinklers, alarms or any kind of water connections. And yet, the theater was coined as fire-proof. The firefighting equipment that was available was for use on low burning fires, not ones that started high like what was going to happen at the Iroquois Theater. During the second act, the orchestra started playing a dreamy waltz called "Let Us Swear by the Pale Moonlight." Suddenly, an arc light on the left side of the stage sputtered and ignited a strip of paint-saturated muslin on a drape. Nobody saw the fire start. But they soon realized there was a problem when blazing drapery fell to the stage. The performers bolted from the stage, save for one who tried to calm the crowd. It didn't work and everyone bolted for the 27 exits. The stampede crushed some and many succumbed to smoke inhalation as they pressed for the exits. Before the chaos was over, corpses were stacked seven feet deep. Thankfully, the tragedy spurred changes in safety standards of public buildings.
 
Inez Clark Monument is a mystery unto itself. The story goes that a little girl who was struck by lightning was named Inez Clark and she is buried here. A legend claims that the memorial disappears during thunderstorms for this reason. But the truth of the matter is that the little girl buried here is most likely Inez Briggs, the daughter of Mary C. Clarke from a previous marriage. She died of diphtheria. The memorial is beautiful and features a sculpted little girl encased in glass that was made by Andrew Gagel.

Marshall Field of Marshall Field and Co., the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago, which he founded with John D. Rockefeller, is buried here. He died after contracting pneumonia while golfing. His monument was designed by Henry Bacon, the same man who designed the Lincoln Memorial, and the sculptor was Daniel Chester French. His early partner was Potter Palmer who developed much of State Street in Chicago. He sold his stake in the company to focus on real estate and one of the places he built is known today as the Palmer House Hotel, which we covered in Ep. 161. He died in 1902 and was laid to rest beneath the grand Potter Mausoleum which is a large structure of corinthian columns.

Martin Ryerson was a lumber baron in partnership with Henry Getty. The Martin Ryerson Tomb was commissioned by Ryerson in 1887 and designed by noted Chicago architect Louis H. Sullivan, who was considered the father of the skyscraper, and features an Egyptian Revival style. This one is pyramid shaped with a slant-walled mastaba at the base that features three windows. Highly polished Quincy granite was used to build the mausoleum and the roof is topped with a tower that has a stepped pyramid capping it. There is no outside decor like sphinxs. The interior has one of Sullivan's trademark arches framing a bust of Ryerson.

The Carrie Eliza Getty Tomb has these really amazing ornamental bronze gated doors that have patinated green over time. The doors are so beautiful that they were plaster casted and exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and won an award. A semi-circular archway stretches above the top of them and other intricate octagonal designs are inlaid into the limestone. The sides of the tomb feature their own semi-circular, bronze-clad windows that are similar in style to the doors. Lumber baron Henry Harrison Getty commissioned the mausoleum to be built in 1890 for his wife, Carrie Eliza. Architect Louis Sullivan designed this one as well. He had designed the Ryerson Mausoleum and since Ryerson had been Getty's partner, the lumber baron was familiar with how beautiful Sullivan's designs were. The tomb stands on its own triangular plot of land and is thought by many to be the most significant memorial in the cemetery. It is certainly the beginning of Sullivan's career in the architectural style known as the Chicago School or Commercial School. This style mostly pertains to commercial buildings and is represented by steel frame buildings with terra cotta and large plate-glass windows. These windows are referred to as Chicago Windows and have three parts: a large central window flanked by smaller windows on each side. Henry Getty died on March 31, 1919 in Paris and his body was shipped back to the US where he joined his wife in the mausoleum. Their daughter Alice was also laid to rest here in 1946. BTW, Louis Sullivan is buried here too.

George Pullman was an American industrialist and Engineer and is probably known best for his design of the railcar that bears his name. The Pullman was a sleeping car and revolutionized railway travel. At first, Pullman was a good employer building a company town and hiring black men to work as porters. But when the economy took a turn downward, he lowered wages and required longer hours of labor, and did not lower the standard of living in the company town. This resulted in the Pullman Strike of 1894. President Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to squelch the strike and 30 workers died. Eventually, Pullman was court ordered to divest from the company town. Because of these labor struggles, when Pullman died he was placed in a lead-lined mahogany casket and was buried in the Pullman District Tomb, which was encased in steel and cement because his family thought labor supporters might try to dig him up and desecrate the body. The monument features a Corinthian column flanked by curved stone benches. The design is by Architect Solon Spencer Bemen, who designed the company town of Pullman.

The Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum is Egyptian Revival in style, built from gray granite and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The architect was Richard E. Schmidt and he made the mausoleum for the Peter Schoenhofen family. Schoenhofen was a brewer and the Schoenhofen Brewing Company was among the largest in Chicago in 1880. The pyramid structure has a square base and the typical sphinx  of Egyptian Revival design. But then the Egyptian theming is broken up with an angel statue to the left of the entryway, which has doors that are inspired after the gateways at Karnak, in Egypt, and they are 40 inches wide by 84 inches high and feature cast lotus designs with coiled asps around the handles. A bronze molding of bundled reeds surrounds the door.This is one of the most famous monuments in the cemetery.

Victor Lawson was the Chicago Daily News publisher from 1876 to 1925. His memorial is marked with a medieval knighted figure known as The Crusader and was designed by sculptor Loredo Taft. Taft was an American educator, writer and sculptor. He studied sculpture in Paris. As a fun little rabbit hole, which goes perfectly with what I'm about to tell you, Taft was making sculptured adornments for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and he was running behind schedule. He asked if he could use some of his female students as assistants. At the time, it was not socially accepted for women to work as sculptors, but the man in charge said, "Hire anyone, even white rabbits if they'll do the work." The group of talented women Taft put together included Enid Yandell, Carol Brooks MacNeil, Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Janet Scudder, Julia Bracken, and Ellen Rankin Copp and their group came to be known as the "White Rabbits."

The monument for Dexter Graves was sculpted by Loredo Taft as well and is called Eternal Silence. Some call the creepy figure the Statue of Death and legend claims that if you look into the eyes of the statue, you will see your own death! The sculpture is made from bronze and is set up against a black granite block. Dexter Graves led a group of thirteen families in 1831 from Ohio to Chicago. he died in 1844 and was buried in the old City Cemetery. He was relocated to Graceland and the monument was built in 1909 after his son Henry died in 1907. His son had left in his will, $250,000 in funds for the monument.


Kate Warne was the first female Pinkerton detective. She was hired in 1856. Pinkerton described her as a "commanding person, with clear cut, expressive features...a slender, brown-haired woman, graceful in her movements and self-possessed. Her features, although not what could be called handsome, were decidedly of an intellectual cast... her face was honest, which would cause one in distress instinctively to select her as a confidante." In 1858, Warne was able to bring the Maroney couple to justice after they stole $50,000 from the Adams Express Company. She worked her way  into the confidence of the wife of the prime suspect, Mr. Maroney. With Warne’s help, $39,515 was returned and Mr. Maroney was sentenced to ten years in jail. In 1860, Allan Pinkerton put Warne in charge of his new Female Detective Bureau. The Pinkerton Agency was hired to investigate secessionist activity and threats of damage to the railroad in Maryland in 1861. Warne was one of five agents sent to Baltimore, Maryland to investigate the hotbed of secessionist activity. While the investigation was unfolding, a plot to assassinate President Lincoln was discovered. This plot was to assassinate Lincoln on his way to take office for the first time. Warne took the aliases Mrs. Cherry and Mrs. M. Barley to conduct the investigation and she discovered the secessionist plot to kill Lincoln and it was as follows: "Just as Mr. Lincoln would be passing through the narrow vestibule of the Depot at Calvert St. Station, to enter his carriage. A row or fight was to be got up by some outsiders to quell which the few policemen at the Depot would rush out, thus leaving Mr. Lincoln entirely unprotected and at the mercy of a mob of Secessionists who were to surround him at that time. A small Steamer had been chartered and was lying in one of the Bays or little streams running into the Chesapeake Bay, to which the murderers were to flee and it was immediately to put off for Virginia." They managed to keep Lincoln from danger. Warne did a lot of spying during the Civil War. Warne died of a pulmonary edema on January 28, 1868. She was buried in the Pinkerton Family Plot at Graceland Cemetery. Her name is misspelled as Warn. Obviously, Allan Pinkerton is buried in this plot as well.

Other notable people buried here include the brother of Charles Dickens, Augustus Dickens, who died penniless in Chicago, Ernie Banks who played for the Chicago Cubs from 1953 to 1971 and was known as Mr Sunshine, John M. Kranz who was a Chicago candy maker, Daniel Hale Williams who was a black surgeon who performed one of the first successful operations on the pericardium and Cyrus McCormick who invented the mechanical reaper used in farming. William Wallace Kimball who founded Kimball Piano Company and has a memorial of large corinthian columns, The Goodman Mausoleum was built for Kenneth Goodman, a naval officer who died of the 1918 flu. He was a playwright and the Goodman Theater was also built in his memory. Dr. Christopher Manuel, anesthesiologist at Rush University, died at 41 in 2005 and has a statue of a boy playing a flute on his grave. The Hoyt Family memorial is crowned by three female statues. One holds a cross, the other an anchor and the third is nursing a child. Emilie Hoyt died with her three children in the Iroquois Theater Fire. Her father was a successful wholesale grocer in Chicago.

Graceland Cemetery is a beautiful example of a historic garden cemetery. Famous sculptors and architects are buried here, along with the movers and shakers who helped build Chicago. The monuments and memorials here are unique and the lush landscaping beautiful. This is a must see for any taphophile visiting Chicago! And that was just a little bit about the stones and bones found here!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Stones and Bones 7 - Kawaiaha'o Churchyard

The Kawaiaha'o Churchyard is located at 957 Punchbowl Street in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The church here was a product of the Mission Church movement that began in Boston, Massachusetts in 1819. The inside of the church is beautiful and it's easy to understand how some refer to it as Hawai'i's Westminster Abbey. Here there was a beginning. And it represents the end for many Hawaiians. Some are well known, others who are buried here have no name or headstone. Join us as we explore Oahu's Kawaiaha'o Churchyard!

Before we talk about the changes that Christianity brought to the Hawaiian Islands in regards to religious beliefs and burial practices, let's examine what was practiced there originally. Traditional Hawaiian beliefs were based on mana. Mana was in all things from animals to people and even places. People's actions could affect their mana and maintaining balance was essential. There were two ways to increase one’s mana, and this was through violence and through sexual means. The forces of nature were personified as the main gods of Ku (God of War), Kane (God of Light and Life), Kanaloa (God of Death), and Lono (God of peace). When a Hawaiian died, there were several interment practices and these included Exposure for people who had no family to take care of the remains, Cremation which was used as a type of punishment, Sea/Freshwater Disposal was used if the individual’s family guardian spirit was a sea animal, Volcanic Pit Disposal, Cave Disposal, Sand and Earth burial, which was most common, Cists, Monuments, burying the person under the house or burial in a Heiau, which was a temple.

Kawaiaha’o Church was at one time the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The church was also the chapel of the royal family. The name comes from the Hawaiian phrase Ka wai a Haʻo, which means the water of Haʻo, because the church was built near a spring and freshwater pool in the care of High Chieftess Haʻo. The church has become known as Hawaiʻi's Westminster Abbey. The beginnings of the church with the royal family started with King Kamehameha III who ordered the original sanctuary to be built. That building was designed by Rev. Hiram Bingham in the New England style of the Hawaiian missionaries. Construction began in 1836 and was completed in 1842. The building was thatched with grass and 14,000 thousand-pound slabs of coral rock quarried from an offshore reef on the southern coast of Oʻahu were used for the structure. To quarry that rock, Hawaiian divers dove three to six metres below sea-level to chisel out each coral block with hand tools. The upper gallery of the church has 21 portraits of Hawaiian royalty (Aliʻi).

Kamehameha III was Hawai'i's longest reigning monarch and he ascended to the throne when he was only nine. He shared his rule initially with Ka`ahumanu, who was the favorite wife of Kamehameha I. She had announced after her husband's death that he had wished for her to share governance over the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi with his 22-year-old son Liholiho, who became Kamehameha II. A council of advisors created a new position for her called kuhina nui, which was similar to a modern-day prime minister. She then went on to co-regent with Kamehameha III. She was thought to be ahead of her time and she pushed for more rights for the Hawaiian women.

There was a period of rebellion during the rule of Kamehameha III and this caused him to look towards the government of the West for guidance in how to move forward. It was through him that Hawai'i began to move from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. This was made formal with the signing of Hawai'i's first constitution in 1840. This established a declaration of rights and a judicial and executive branch of government. Later, he pushed a system of land ownership under the Mahele of 1848. His reign was described as "The age of Kamehameha III was that of progress and of liberty—of schools and of civilization. He gave us a Constitution and fixed laws; he secured the people in the title to their lands, and removed the last chain of oppression. He gave them a voice in his councils and in the making of the laws by which they are governed. He was a great national benefactor, and has left the impress of his mild and amiable disposition on the age for which he was born."

For a time, Kamehameha III practiced Christianity, then he mingled in Hawaiian spiritual practices and then he returned to the Christian system with the building of Kawaiahaʻo Church. He would begin the tradition of the chiefs of the Hawaiian Islands coming to the church. Missionaries were the ones to bring the Christian faith and traditions to Hawai'i and they also brought the tradition of marked burials inside a fenced churchyard. So the Kawaiahaʻo Church was built with its own churchyard. No one is sure of how many people are buried here. There are 296 headstones and around 200 unmarked gravesites, but some believe there are as many as 600 bodies in the churchyard. This estimation comes from the idea that more than one body can be buried under many of the headstones. Early converts could not afford tombstones and so they may have been buried with someone else or in an unmarked grave. The tombstones bear the names of Hawaiians as well as Haole, or white, names of people coming from places as far-flung as Ireland, England, Germany, and Nova Scotia.

Among the graves in the churchyard lie several missionaries. One of these is Hiram Bingham Jr., the son of the man who designed Kawaiaha’o Church. He was born in Honolulu and continued the work of his father. He authored a native language dictionary, as well as a translation of the Bible. Fun Facts: His son, Hiram Bingham III, was an explorer who became a US Senator and Governor of Connecticut. He re-discovered the largely forgotten Inca city of Machu Picchu. His grandson, Hiram Bingham IV, was the US Vice Consul in Marseille, France during World War II and he rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

Another missionary was James Kekela, known as Kekela O Ka Lani. He was ordained in 1849 making him the first Hawaiian Christian minister. As a missionary, he went to the Marquesas Islands in 1853 and spent 49 years there preaching against cannibalism and tribal warfare. And about that cannibalism, President Abraham Lincoln recognized him in 1861 for rescuing an American seaman from cannibals. His marker reads, "O ke aloha, ota ka mole o na, Mea fono ame na mea oiaio a pau," which translates to "Love is the root of all that is good and true."

King Lunalilo was the sixth monarch in Hawai'i. He was known as the People's King, but ruled for a very short period of time. His rule only lasted from January 8, 1873 until February 3, 1874. Lunalilo was elected as king at Kawaiaha’o Church in 1873, after Kamehameha V died without naming an heir. He contracted tuberculosis and so only served 13 months before dying. The King did not want to be buried in the Royal Mausoleum where Hawaii's two prominent royal families, the Kamehameha Dynasty and the Kalākaua Dynasty, are laid to rest, so he is buried in the courtyard. His tomb was one of the earliest concrete block buildings in Hawaii and stands near his mother’s grave on the northwest side of the churchyard.

Sanford Ballard Dole was a lawyer in the Hawaiian Islands who advocated for Hawai'i to move towards Westernization. He helped orchestrate the overthrow of Queen Liliukolani. She took the throne in 1891 and would be the final Hawaiian monarch. The Hawaiian constitution at that time had given much of the monarchy over to an elite class of mostly American businessmen and wealthy landowners. The Queen restored the previous monarch powers and a U.S. military-backed coup deposed her in 1893. A provisional government was then formed and in 1894, Hawaii was declared a republic. Queen Liliuokalani signed a formal abdication in 1895. Dole would serve as President of the Republic of Hawaii between 1894 and 1898 and then he became Governor of the Hawaiian Territory after its annexation by the United States in 1898. His cousin James founded the Dole Pineapple Company and is buried on Maui.

David Douglas was a botanist for the Hudson Bay Company and he cataloged plants all throughout the Northwest. The Douglas Fir is actually named for him. He came to Hawaii in 1833 to study its plants and in a freak accident, he fell into a pit that was dug for capturing wild animals and it killed him. A plaque on the church wall is dedicated to his memory and his body is buried somewhere unknown in the churchyard.

The Kawaiaha'o Churchyard offers a tropical paradise as a final resting place for many prominent people who met their end in Hawai'i. The church and graveyard are a historic marker of the changing religious beliefs in Hawai'i as well. And here was just a little about the stones and bones found there.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Stones and Bones 6 - Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague

Prague is considered a mystical city. The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is just as its name indicates, quite ancient. The earliest headstones date back to 1439 and people were buried here for hundreds of years. The cemetery avoided demolition by the Germans during World War II because Hitler took a liking to it and figured it would make a great setting for a museum he would build dedicated to his victory and the annihilation of the Jews. Thankfully, Hitler did not get that chance, but the cemetery does serve as a museum of sorts, to the history of the Jews in Prague. Join us as we wander among the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery!

The first Jewish cemetery in Prague was the Jewish Garden. That graveyard was closed in 1478 by order of King Vladislaus II. The citizens of the area had complained about it and that was enough to shut it down. What was left of it eventually disappeared beneath the streets of New Town of Prague. We're not entirely sure what the complaints were about, but they could not have been related to the fact that it was Jewish as the Old Jewish Cemetery had been established some time in the early 1400s. The oldest headstone that can still be read, belongs to a rabbi and poet named Avigdor Kara who died in 1439. Because of its age, one would think that many of the headstones would be broken or falling apart, but it is actually in fairly good condition. One thing that a visitor will notice right away though, is that there are many people buried here and the headstones are practically right up against each other.

There was a real problem at the Old Jewish Cemetery when it came to space. There was not much room and it is forbidden in Jewish customs to disinter a body or move the burial. Many times, the Jewish elders would approach the city seeking to buy more land and most of the time they were denied, so they needed to come up with other ideas. One idea is similar to what we found in many of the old burying grounds in Boston and that is this practice of burying bodies on top of each other in the same space. A new layer of soil was heaped up on an older burial and there are actually some locations in the cemetery with as many as twelve layers. The older gravestone would be pulled up to the uppermost layer and the new gravestone for the new burial would be placed right next to it. This is why the cemetery appears to be a dense collection of gravestones. This also has resulted in the surface of the cemetery being raised several meters higher than the streets that surround the graveyard. Burials continued here until 1787. Emperor Josef II had banned burials inside the city walls of Prague because they were worried about disease, particularly the Plague. Prague Jews then had to use a cemetery in Žižkov.

Strolling amongst the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery is both a history tour and education. There are two kinds of matzevots, which means burial monuments in Hebrew. The first is a rectangular shaped headstone made from either wood or stone. The second is a Tumba. These look like little houses or tents. Every stone is marked is marked with Hebrew lettering indicating name and dates. The earliest headstones here are very simple, but the 16th century seems to have inspired creativity and the symbolism starts to appear on the markers. This was also when brief eulogies of the individual were added. Various ornamentations were added in the 17th century like false portals, volutes, which are scroll spirals, and pilasters.

Here are some of the symbols found on the tombstones. There is, of course, the hexagram. A carved crown indicates the person had a good reputation. Wine grapes symbolize a good and prosperous life. There are also those that are specific to family names like Cohen. This family line was decended from temple priests and their symbol is a pair of praying hands. Those that are Levites have a jug and a bowl on their stone. While we believe every life is significant as it touched someone else's life, there are those that history gives special note of and we have a few here. The graves of Mordecai Katz ben Gershom and his son Betzalel are here and they were well known Prague printers. Their work, "Prague Hagadah" was published in 1526. The Prague Haggadah was the first Passover Haggadah book to be printed in Central Europe after the Jews were expelled from Spain, which happened in 1492. The Haggadah was the story of the Passover and is read at the Seder table. The Prague Haggadah is the first illustrated Haggadah to be preserved in its entirety. It really is a beautiful edition and was the first to use a new technique that printed woodcuts. The lettering is fine with a flair on the initials and the general layout is aesthetic pleasing. The craftsman who created the woodcuts is believed to be a man named Hayyim Shachor or Schwartz. He may not have made all of them as his initials are not carved on all the woodcuts.

David Gans was born in 1541 and was buried here in 1613. His gravestone is small and features a triangular ending and engraved symbols of Magen David and a goose, "gans" means "goose" in German. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer and historian, whose chronicle "Cemah David" includes also  a lot of Czech history. A tumba with a hexagram on the top of the front wall, belongs to Rabbi David Oppenheim who died in 1736. His book collection constitutes an important part of the Hebrew section of Bodleian Library in Oxford. Aharon Meshulam Horowitz died in 1545 and at that time he was the richest Jew and built the Pinkas Synagogue. A synogogue in the Jewish Quarter is named for businessman Mordecai Maisel who was buried here in 1601. His tumba is the oldest in the cemetery. Another tumba here belongs to Joseph Solomon Delmedigo. He was a physician and scholar born in Crete, who worked in many scientific fields. The Nephele Hill is the baby nursery here. The nephele means miscarriage in Hebrew. There are also remains that needed to be re interred buried in this area. A tumba belonging to Hendl Bassevi, who died in 1628, is decorated with lions seated on the gables of the tumba. They carry the coat of arms of Hendl's husband Jacob Bassevi. He was the first Jew in Habsburg Empire to receive a title of nobility.

Rabbi Judah Löw ben Betzalel and his wife rest under another tumba, decorated with symbols of a lion and wine grapes. Scholars know Rabbi Judah as The Maharal. He wrote numerous religious and philosophical treatises and he is the subject of a 19th-century legend that he created the Golem of Prague. The Golem was an animate mythological being fashioned from clay. There are several versions of the Golem of Prague, but the basic premise is that Maharal formed the Golem from the clay of the banks of the Vltava River and this was a creature meant to protect the Jewish community from being expelled or killed under the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. The Golem was brought to life through rituals and the creature could summon spirits of the dead and make itself invisible. The Rabbi would put it to sleep on the Sabbath to protect the Sabbath, but one day he forgot and the Golem fell in love with a woman.When she rejected him, he flew into a rage and went on a murderous rampage, which is where it gets its bad reputation from. The legend further claims that the Rabbi immobilized the Golem and it fell into pieces. Those pieces were stored in the attic of the Old New Synagogue, and it is said that it is still there just waiting to be reactivated when needed. A renovation of the attic in 1883 found no Golem.

The oldest burial that can be read dates back to 1439 and is the final resting place of Rabbi Avigdor Kara who was also a poet. He wrote an elegy that describes a great pogrom of the Prague Ghetto in 1389 and this is still recited on Yom Kippur in the Old-New Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Europe. The former Jewish Ghetto in Prague, now known as Josefoy, has a long history, going back to the 12th century. It was not a ghetto when it first was established., but was known as the Jewish Quarter and it was enclosed by a wall with six gates. That wall was built to protect the Jews from attack. Most of them were fairly safe in Prague because they paid taxes, but anti-semitic views and violence were rising throughout Europe. The biggest Catholic council of the Middle Ages known as the Fourth Council of the Lateran had issued edicts against the Jews.

The protection the Jews of Prague had been under, lifted in 1389. A violent uprising against them began on Easter of that year. It is thought that it started with a Jew throwing a rock at a Catholic priest who was walking down the street with the Communion cup. This was declared a desecration of the Host and the rock throwers were arrested. The area was becoming inflamed as residents grew tired of the King protecting his Jewish financiers. An attack on the Jews would then also be an attack on the King. One priest had preached in an earlier message, "One key sign [of his advent] is the prosperity of the Jews, who are multiplying and gathering everywhere, favored with such great immunity that we must greatly fear the wrath of the Lord, lest he permit the Antichrist to come. For you see well that the clergy and the Christian faithful are daily supplanted and subordinated in their rights and liberties and endure many injuries. The synagogue profits more than the church of Christ, and among princes, a single Jew can accomplish more than a nobleman or a prelate. Indeed, princes and magnates are impoverished by unheard-of interest rates as if [the Jews] could enrich and assist their lord Antichrist with those treasures." The pogrom that followed would be the biggest anti-Jewish pogrom in the middle ages. Around 3000 citizens of the Jewish Quarter were killed and their homes were plundered and burned. The walls of the Old – New Synagogue went dark with blood.

The Old Jewish Cemetery celebrates the lives of so many of the former Jewish residents of Prague. It also bears witness to a past that is troubling and hopefully reminds us to never repeat these same things again. And that is just a little bit about the stone and bones found here!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Stones and Bones 5 - Necropolis de Cristobal Colon

The Necropolis de Cristobal Colon is located in Havana, Cuba and is one of the oldest cemeteries in the country. The graveyard is known more commonly as Colon Cemetery. There are so many burials here, around 800,000, it literally appears to be a sea of monuments. Some beautiful and some in disrepair. There are many historical figures honored in the memorials, but there are also legendary characters, one of which is a well known figure in Santeria.

The Colon Cemetery was named for Christopher Columbus and was established in 1876. Calixto Arellano de Loira y Cardoso, a Spanish architect who attended Madrid’s Royal Academy of Arts of San Fernando, designed and built the cemetery. The front entrance is framed by a Byzatine-Romanesque gateway, which is known as the Puerta de la Paz. The 1868 cholera outbreak in Cuba drove the need to build a newer and larger Graveyard. The design reflects inspiration from city design with rectangular streets featuring distinct sections for different social statuses reflecting the poor, the wealthy, victims of epidemics, military members, politicians, organizations, religious groups and orders. There are 500 major mausoleums, countless marble statues and lots of religious iconography. And although there are 800,000 graves, there have been 1 million burials here. This means that some remains were boxed up and taken elsewhere to make room for new burials.

The various memorials are literally a history of Cuba. Some look abandoned and are in poor condition because family members escaped during Spanish domination or during Communist dictatorship of the island. This is a record of who was here and how things have changed. Other burials belong to famous and important people to the story of Cuba. After entering through the Puerta de la Paz, visitors will see a circular medallion with a bronze face. This marks the final resting place of General Maximo Gomez. He was a Major General in Cuba's Ten Years' War, which was fought from 1868 to 1878 against Spain. He was also Cuba's military commander during the War of Independence from 1895 to 1898. He gave the Cuban Mambises their most feared tactic: The "Machete Charge." He was offered the presidency eventually and would have won unchallenged, but he hated politics and was Dominican so he felt as though it would not be proper. He died in 1905. His image appears on the Cuban 10 peso bill.

Ironically, the architect who designed this final resting place, Calixto Arellano de Loira y Cardoso, actually ended up dying before the graveyard was completed and became Colón’s first occupant.
Colon Cemetery also has a 75-foot high monument to the firefighters who lost their lives in the great fire of May 17, 1890. It wasn't the actual fire that ended up killing 27 firemen, but rather an explosion caused by gunpowder. Baseball is a popular sport in Cuba, so the cemetery has two monuments to baseball players from the Cuban League. The first was erected in 1942 and the second in 1951 for members of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. At one time, the bodies of sailors who died on the United States Navy battleship Maine in 1898, were interred in the Colon Cemetery. In December 1899, the bodies were disinterred and brought back to the United States for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The entrance to the underground ossuary has the mausoleum of the Anglo-American Welfare Association snd three British Commonwealth servicemen qre buried here: a Canadian Army officer of World War I, and a Royal Engineers officer and Royal Canadian Navy seaman of World War II.

Candelaria Figueredo was born in 1852 in Bayamo, Cuba. She was the daughter of Pedro Figueredo y Cisneros, who was a Cuban nationalist revolutionary, and she learned to become a Cuban patriot and revolutionist from him. She would join the struggle in October of 1868 when she was only 16 years old. She carried the independent Cuban flag into the Battle of Bayamo, her home town. The flag was a new design and she climbed atop a white horse. She made the ride safely, but eventually Bayamo was recaptured by the Spanish. She and her family went on the run and lived as fugitives. The Spanish finally caught up to Candelaria and two of her siblings and imprisoned them in the Fortress of Zaragoza in Manzanillo. The Spanish offered them two choices: leave Cuba or face being sent to the island of Bioko off of Africa. They decided to sail to New York and even though a hurricane was bearing down on them, Candelaria begged the captain to power through the storm because "I prefer a thousand times to be food for the sharks than that of the Spaniards." She ended up in Key West and was reunited with her mother and other siblings. She asked where her beloved father was and she was told that the Spaniards killed him. Candelaria fell into a depression and became quite ill. She recovered and married a fellow Cuban exile in 1877. In 1901, they moved back to Cuba and they both watched with pride, the raising of the Cuban flag over the Castillo del Morro. When she died in 1914, she was buried with full military honors at Colon Cemetery. Her coffin was draped by the flag that she had carried into Bayamo was she was sixteen.

Scientist Carlos Finlay was born in 1833. His main area of expertise was in epidemiology. This led him to becoming a pioneer in the research of yellow fever, determining that it was transmitted through mosquitoes. This theory of mosquito as vector was presented at the 1881 International Sanitary Conference. As people began to embrace this theory, the recommendation to control the mosquito population began to spread. The Walter Reed Commission confirmed this theory in 1900 and although Dr. Reed received much of the credit in history books for "beating" yellow fever, he made it a point to credit Dr. Finlay with the discovery of the yellow fever vector. Dr. Finlay died in 1915 from a stroke. He was honored with a Google Doodle in 2013 to commemorate his 180th birthday. Alejo Carpentier was a novelist born in 1904 in Lausanne, Switzerland. His family moved to Havana and he grew up there, which led him to strongly identify as Cuban throughout his life. He greatly influenced Latin American literature during its famous "boom" period. Some of this was Surrealist theory with which he was quite taken. Although he died in Paris in 1980, he was buried in Colon Cemetery.

Alberto Yarini y Ponce de León was born in 1882 into an elite family of Matanzas sugar plantation owners. He was sent to America to be educated and became bilingual. Rather than using his education to do well in Cuba when he returned, he became a racketeer and a pimp. This was during the Cuban War of Independence against Spain. He imported prostitutes from France and worked out of San Isidro, a barrio and red light district in Old Havana. Alberto was killed on November 21, 1910, when a rival pimp named Louis Lotot and his gang opened fire on him. Some consider him the Prince of Old Havana. William Alexander Morgan was an American citizen who fought in the Cuban Revolution, leading a band of rebels against the Cuban army. This helped create a way for Fidel Castro's forces to secure victory. When Morgan was asked why he was helping Castro to throw out the dictator Fulgencio Batiste, he said, "I am here because I believe that the most important thing for free men to do is to protect the freedom of others. I am here so that my son, when he is grown, will not have to fight or die in a land not his own, because one man or group of men try to take his liberty from him. I am here because I believe that free men should take up arms and stand together and fight and destroy the groups and forces that want to take the rights of people away." Obviously, as we all know now and as Morgan eventually learned, Castro was not anti-communist and was planning on setting up his own dictatorship. Morgan later gave up on the revolution and began counterrevolutionary activities. He was arrested for this on October 16, 1960. He was tried and on March 11, 1961, Morgan was executed by firing squad with Fidel and Raul Castro in attendance.

One of the most well known graves belongs to La Milagrosa, which translates to "the miraculous one." Señora Amelia Goyri was laid to rest at Colon Cemetery in 1901. She died in childbirth and even more tragic was the fact that her baby had passed away as well. It was decided to bury them together. Stories vary as to whether the baby was placed at Amelia's side or at her feet in the coffin, but the prevailing legend claims that the grave was exhumed several years later and not only was Amelia barely decayed, her baby was wrapped in her arms. She became a saint like figure in Cuba and thousands of people visit her grave - that is marked with a marble memorial featuring a woman with a large cross and a baby in her arms - every year. They follow a tradition started by her husband. He would visit the grave several times a day and bring her flowers. He would knock with one of four iron rings on the vault door when he was ready to leave and then walk backwards away from her grave, so he could see her for as long as possible. Now visitors do the same and her vault is covered in flowers. These people believe that by doing this, La Milagrosa will solve their problems or fulfill their dreams.

Another well known female figure buried here is Leocadia Pérez Herrero. She was a black Havana medium known for her great acts of charity among the poor in the early 20th century. Her grave is marked with a representation of a mythical Santería priest called Hermano José. She claimed that he guided her in her spirituality and her good deeds. She always kept a painting of Hermano José in her house, so when she died, it seemed only fitting to have the painting buried with her. Practitioners of Santeria venerate Hermano José and when they visit Leocadia's grave to ask for favors, they leave behind offerings that include flowers, glasses of rum, half-smoked cigars or sacrificed chickens.This causes us to wonder, what exactly is Santeria?

Santeria is Spanish for “The Way of the Saints.” and is also known as La Regla de Ocha or “The Order of the Orishas.” The religion was brought to Cuba by the people of the Yoruban nations in West Africa. It would later spread throughout Latin America and the United States. It is similar to Voodoo in that it meshes the beliefs of the tribal groups in Africa with Roman Catholicism. For Santeria, it is blending the deities of the Yoruba people with Catholicism. These deities are referred to as orishas. Practitioners describe themselves as Catholic and attend Catholic masses, but they also continue to practice their African-based religion. They set up a Lucumí temple-house in which to practice, either in their own homes or in the home of a religious elder. They have no problem keeping a statue of a Catholic saint like the Virgin of Charity on a Lucumí altar. Two of the most popular Orishas in Cuba are Changó or Oshún. Chango is usually connected with Saint Barbara or Saint Jerome and is considered one of the most powerful rulers in Yoruba Land. He is considered an angry saint and manifests in the persona of various other Orisha. He is represented by thunder, lightning, virility and dance. He is the most feared. Oshun is the favorite wife of Chango and seems to be his opposite as she is very beautiful and represents sweetness and love. But don't be fooled. She uses her womanly ways to conquer her enemies. She's syncretized with the Virgin of Caridad de Cobre, who is the patroness of Cuba. Caution should be used as she can be vindictive when crossed.

Practitioners of Santería work on the development of personal relationships through divination, sacrifice, initiation, and mediumship and are rewarded by the orisha deities with protection, wisdom, and success. Access to the orishas can be achieved through various types of divination. One such way is for a babalawo, who is known as a “father of the mystery,” to interpret the fall of consecrated palm nuts as a response to a seeker’s question. Some kind of sacrifice, usually animal, is usually recommended to please the orishas and these offerings range from simple presentations before home altars to elaborate feasts in the orishas’ honour. When a priest or oracle determines that one particular orisha has claimed a devotee as its follower, preparations are made for an irrevocable initiation of the devotee into that orisha’s mysteries. In the crowning ceremony, the symbols of the patron orisha are placed on the head of the devotee, and he or she may enter a ceremonial trance and become a medium for that orisha. Drum dances, called bembés, are then organized and it is during these that an initiated devotee may lose consciousness and manifest that of their orisha patron. The orishas interact with their followers through the bodies of mediums.

There is a dark side to Santeria that is known as Palo Mayombe. People who practice this are called Palero. The differences between Palo Mayombe and Santeria is the religion of Santeria uses the forces of light while Paleros use forces of darkness. This black magic is thought to be very strong. Palo Mayombe has its own priesthood and set of rules and regulations and practitioners of Santeria avoid it. Paleros do not advertise their powers and will only perform spiritual work for an individual by referral and this power is so strong that they claim they can make a man of little means become a powerful world figure in a relatively short period of time. It is also believed that a Palero can bring death to an individual within 24 hours.  Palero can make and break you by saying just a few incantations and by performing a few minor rituals. So messing with them is not a good idea.

The main chapel is found in the center of Colon Cemetery and is beautiful being loosely modeled after the Florence Cathedral, "Il Duomo." The architecture and history represented here are remarkable. Colon Cemetery easily can be considered a world-class cemetery. And this was just a bit about the stones and bones found here.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Stones and Bones 4 - Zoshigaya Reien Cemetery

The idea of having public burial grounds was very foreign to the country of Japan. It wasn't until the Meiji Era that the concept traveled over from the West. The city of Tokyo established Zoshigaya Reien Cemetery in 1874. The cemetery was needed desperately as a ban on cremation, which was the normal burial practice of Japan, had been enacted in 1873. Zoshigaya is located in Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo and covers 25 acres with over 9,000 burials. Today, it is maintained by the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association. As we look at the history of this beautiful and unique cemetery, we will also discuss the burial practices and customs of this area.

Before the cemetery was here, the land was an estate owned by the Shogun. The Shogun was the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese armies and so basically the de facto ruler of the country. During the Edo Period, which was from 1603 to 1868, the estate was used as a training ground for the Shogun's hunting falcons. One of the falconry mews, which is basically a giant birdhouse, is still located within the graveyard. When Tokyo claimed the grounds, the government named the graveyard Zoshigaya-Asahidecho Bochi after the name of the city in which it was located at that time. Bochi is the traditional Japanese word for graveyard. The name was changed to Zoshigaya Reien in 1935 as the word Reien more accurately described the cemetery. Bochi is more associated with temples or shrines, while Reien means a spiritual park.

Most gravesites in Zoshigaya are traditionally shaped meaning they contain a couple of low stone steps topped by an upright stone and this upright stone is where the family name is carved. This stone in Japanese is known as a boseki. Some bosekis have a round family crest known as a kamon. These crests feature birds, leaves or geometric symbols. Other gravesites have pagodas, small stone lanterns and bonsai trees. Wooden grave tablets that bear the dead person's afterlife name are common as well and known as sotoba. Private gardens are found within most gravesites and family members bring offerings of beer, sake, incense, flowers and business cards are dropped into slots of mailboxes by visitors.

There are several religions represented in Zoshigaya. Christian crosses are seen, particularly in an enclosure for deceased members of the Society of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo. Buddhists burials make use of the sotoba. During the Buddhist funeral, the dead person is given their afterlife name, a kaimyo. Shintoism was a religion that was connected to the imperial government and was the state religion until 1945. During the Meiji Era, the government saw cremation as a Buddhist practice and that is why it was banned for two years leading to the need for Zoshigaya. The Torii Gate is a symbol of Shinto that you may see on some graves.

There are many government officials and well-known people buried here. One of the government officials is Hideki Tojo who was the Prime Minister of Japan during World War II. He is credited with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. General Douglas MacArthur ordered the arrest of war criminals after Japan's unconditional surrender in 1945 and Tojo was one of them. Tojo tried to commit suicide before his arrest by shooting himself in the chest. He missed his heart and recovered. He was tried for war crimes and took full responsibility and said at his trial, "It is natural that I should bear entire responsibility for the war in general, and, needless to say, I am prepared to do so. Consequently, now that the war has been lost, it is presumably necessary that I be judged so that the circumstances of the time can be clarified and the future peace of the world be assured. Therefore, with respect to my trial, it is my intention to speak frankly, according to my recollection, even though when the vanquished stands before the victor, who has over him the power of life and death, he may be apt to toady and flatter. I mean to pay considerable attention to this in my actions, and say to the end that what is true is true and what is false is false. To shade one's words in flattery to the point of untruthfulness would falsify the trial and do incalculable harm to the nation, and great care must be taken to avoid this."

The poet Hachiro Sato is buried here. One of his more famous works is writing the lyrics to composer Yoshinao Nakada’s haunting song “Chiisai Aki Mitsuketa” (“A Bit of Autumn Found”). He also wrote the songs "I Found a Tiny Fall" and "Mother," which have been sung at some point by every Japanese child. The Hachiro Sato Memorial Museum has his used guitar and a replica of the space where he created his works. He also collected beer jugs and the museum acquired that as well. He died in 1974. An inscription on his grave reads, “Futari de miro to subete no mono wa utsukushiku miru” (“When seen by two, everything is beautiful”).

Natsume Soseki was one of Japan's best-loved novelists. He wrote the book, "I Am a Cat." He also wrote haiku and fairy tales. Soseki is considered one of the greatest writers in modern Japanese history and he was so popular that from 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1000 yen note. He was born in 1867 in Tokyo. He was born late in life to his parents who were in their 40s and 50s and they already had five children, so they did not want him. He was adopted by a childless couple when he was almost one, but when they divorced when he was nine years of age, he was returned to his birth family. His mother welcomed him at that time and she died when he was fourteen. His father pushed him into architectural studies at college, but he loved literature and wanted to write. A friend encouraged him and taught him how to write haiku and he was off and running. His works centered on themes that spoke out against the Westernizing and industrialization of Japan, the conflict between duty and desire, fighting against economic hardship and group think versus individuality. He died from a stomach ulcer in 1916.

Kyoka Izumi was a novelist and playwright. He is most known for his Kabuki plays. You've probably heard the term Kabuki Theater at some point. Kabuki plays are classical Japanese dance-dramas that are known for the stylized drama and elaborate make-up worn by the actors. The word Kabuki is interpreted at avant-garde or bizarre. Izumi was born in 1873 and his mother enjoyed sharing with him picture books at a young age, which influenced his later work. He lost his mother when he was only nine and it devastated him. She shows up as characters in many of his works. His first story was published as a serial in a newspaper in 1893. It took time for his writing to become popular as it was very different and is described as surrealist critiques on society. He died of lung cancer in 1939.

Yumeji Takehisa was a poet and painter. He was born in 1884 and his childhood home has been preserved as a museum. His first love was poetry, but he knew there was no money in it, so he took up drawing and painting and was entirely self-taught. His work was very popular among the regular people, but the elite were very critical, particularly because he was very boisterous about how pretentious artists were. He died young at the age of 49 in 1934. His grave is marked with an obsidian asymmetrical stone covered in a graceful calligraphy.

Koizumi Yakumo was an author born in 1850 as Patrick Lafcadio Hearn on the Greek Ionian island of Lefkada, for which he was named. He was Irish by his father and Greek by his mother. He adopted Japan as his home in 1890. Yakumo wrote Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, which was a collection of Japanese ghost stories. People compare his work to that of the Brothers Grimm. The Kwaidan book became the basis of an Academy Award-nominated film of the same name in the category Best Foreign Language Film. For ten years, he lived in New Orleans and he began working as a news editor for the Daily City Item there in 1878. As editor, Hearn created and published nearly two hundred woodcuts of daily life and people in New Orleans. These were thought of as cartoons and it immediately increased the circulation of the paper. This made the Daily City Item the first Southern newspaper to introduce cartoons. He died in 1904 from heart failure when he was just 54.

Ogino Ginko was the first woman physician to practice Western medicine in Japan. Ogino was born in the Musashi province in 1851. She married young, at the age of 16, to the son of a wealthy banker. Soon after, something that at first glance would appear to be a bad thing, led to her changing the course of her life to the benefit of the women of Japan. Her husband gave her gonorrhea and she was incredibly embarrassed by her visits to male doctors. Because of that, she decided to become a doctor to spare other women the embarrassment. She graduated from a private medical academy that was all male, pushing back against a ton of prejudice and mistreatment. She had to petition for three years after she graduated to be allowed to sit for the medical practitioner's examination, which she did in 1885. She became the first registered female doctor in Japan and opened the Ogino Hospital in Yushima, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. She married in 1890 and moved with him to Hokkaidō in 1894, where she ran a medical practice. She returned to Tokyo in 1908 when he died and ran a hospital. Ogino died of atherosclerosis in Tokyo in 1913.

Nakahama John Manjiro was the first Japanese man to visit the United States. He visited America quite by accident, literally. He was fourteen and out fishing when he was shipwrecked in 1841. He was rescued by an American ship that took him to Hawaii. He then ended up in Boston. He learned English, which made him able to work as a translator. He traveled back to Japan and served as translator when Commodore Perry's Black Ships sailed into Yokohama Bay in 1853. Perry was coming to get Japan to open itself to the world. Manjiro told the Shogunate, "America greatly hopes to enjoy a deep and abiding friendship with Japan. America does not come with suspicious designs but with a full and open heart." The Shogunate was convinced and discarded the laws of over 200 years' standing and took the first step toward opening the country. Manjiro was able to convince Japan to accept the Japan-United States Friendship Treaty. President Coolidge said of Manjiro, "When John Manjiro returned to Japan, it was as if America had sent its first ambassador. Our envoy Perry could enjoy so cordial a reception because John Manjiro had made Japan's central authorities understand the true face of America." Manjiro then became a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. He died quietly on November 12, 1898, at the age of 71.

Many cemeteries around the world have sections dedicated to Asian burials that give us an idea of what cemeteries in Asia look like, but nothing compares to actually walking down the pathways, beneath the twisted and old trees and surveying the stone slabs that mark the final resting places in Zoshigaya. There are few symbols, unlike American cemeteries, but the ones that are here are very Japanese in theming and meant to respect the deceased. No matter the country, all cultures wish to honor their dead and that is something we all share in common. And that was just a little about the stones and bones found here.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Stones and Bones 3 - Brompton Cemetery

This cemetery was suggested by: Bob Sherfield

For a taphophile, London is one of the prime locations to visit to see some of the world's most magnificent graveyards. And magnificent is the key word, because this city is home to the Magnificent Seven Garden Cemeteries.  These graveyards were built over a ten year period in the mid-19th century to change the way burials were being done before that time. Burial in a small churchyard was the standard, but as the population of London grew, it became impossible to continue this practice. Decomp fluids were seeping into water systems and epidemics were the result. So the British Parliament passed a bill in 1832 to establish private cemeteries outside of London. The Magnificent Seven Cemeteries used Père Lachaise cemetery as a model and are known for their grandiose memorials and statuary, lush garden-like landscaping and sweeping pathways. One of these seven cemeteries is Brompton Cemetery.

Brompton Cemetery was officially opened in 1840 as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery and consecrated by the Bishop of London. Architect Stephen Geary, who had designed Highgate Cemetery, was a part of the cemetery company formed to implement the building of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries and he initially designed the buildings for Brompton. An open competition was held and judged by a ‘Committee of Taste’ led by the distinguished architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville. He chose the designs of architect Benjamin Baud who was one of his assistants. Since Stephen Geary’s own proposals were rejected, he resigned from the board of directors. The original plot for Brompton was purchased from Lord Kensington in 1838 and stretched over 39 acres. It was located along a railway and between Old Brompton and Fulham Roads.

Baud's design was to give the cemetery an open air cathedral feel. Brompton is rectangular in shape with the Brompton Cemetery Chapel and colonnades in the center. The chapel was modeled off of the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. Catacombs were built beneath the colonnades and thousands of burials were meant to be sold in them. Only 500 were ever sold. Many mausoleums were designed by famous artists and all of the funerary art covers two centuries of styles featuring decorative ironwork and lettering. There are 35,000 monuments and around 205,000 burials. The landscaping features great examples of Victorian country flora with over 60 species of trees, including lime trees. Flowers include bluebells, wild lupin and snow-drops. Ivy and evergreens grow among the burials and provide cover for a wide variety of birds and fauna like squirrels, foxes, rabbits and bats.

From 1854 to 1939, Brompton Cemetery became the London District's Military Cemetery. There is a memorial entitled the Brigade of the Guards and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains the graves of 289 Commonwealth service personnel of World War I and 79 of World War II. There are burials of other military members that were not British throughout the cemetery. The Garden of Remembrance is for cremated remains.

Brompton was closed to burials between 1952 and 1966, but has been open up until the present for burials. The cemetery is open starting at 7am and during the summer months, closes at 8pm. Tours are offered on Sundays. Obviously, there are many notable burials here. John Keats is one of the most beloved English poets and he famously had a muse that inspired his later writings before his death. Her name was Fanny Brawne and the couple were betrothed to each other for four years. Keats never married her because he felt unworthy with his station in life. Fanny survived Keats by 40 years and eventually married another man. She is buried at Brompton under her married name Fanny Lindon.

John Snow was an English physician who is considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology. He was a leader in the use of anesthesia and medical hygiene as well. He is best known for his work in regards to cholera. He traced an outbreak in 1854 to contamination between waste water and drinking water and this caused improvements in water sanitation. He suffered a stroke at the age of 45 and died six days later. He has a beautiful monument here featuring a partially draped urn atop an obelisk.

Henry James Byron was a prolific English novelist, journalist, editor and dramatist. He got his start as a playwright in burlesques. He moved onto editing humorous magazines and then co-managing Prince of Wales' Theater. His name probably makes you think of Lord Byron and the two were actually second cousins. Henry's most famous work was Our Boys, which was at one time the world's longest running play. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 49 and he was buried at Brompton. Another writer buried here is George Borrow. He wrote novels and travel books and it was during his travels that he developed many relationships with the Romani people, more commonly known as Gypsies. His experiences with these people are reflected in many of his works.

William Ayrton was a scientist and electrical engineer who helped develop electrical measuring instruments that included the spiral-spring ammenter, the wattmeter, the dynometer and electric searchlight. He was born in London and eventually studied under the noted physicist, Lord Kelvin in Glasgow. He introduced the electric arc to Japan in 1878 while teaching physics and electrical engineering in Tokyo. He published many books on physics and was awarded a medal by the Royal Society in 1909. This honor came after his death in 1908.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show came to Britain several times in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Unfortunately, on a couple of these trips performers passed away and it was not possible to send them back to America, so they were buried at Brompton. Oglala Sioux warrior Surrounded By the Enemy caught a lung infection in 1887 and died while traveling with the tour. Paul Eagle Star was a Brulé Sioux tribesman who died after breaking his ankle when he fell off a horse while performing. The child of Little Chief and Good Robe named Red Penny died while traveling with the group. And Sioux Chief Long Wolf died of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 59. As we all know, it is very important for native people to buried in their home land and efforts have been made to get these individuals home. The burials of little Red Penny and Surrounded By The Enemy were lost to time. Paul Eagle Star was exhumed in the spring of 1999 by his grandchildren and he was taken to Rosebud's Lakota Cemetery. In 1991, a British woman named Elizabeth Knight discovered Chief Long Wolf's grave when reading an old book describing the chief's burial. She traced his family and campaigned with them to get his remains returned to South Dakota. His great grandson Black Feather said, "Our medicine men and holy men tell us that since he's buried in a foreign country and (there are) no relatives, it would be better if he was brought to his homeland for his final resting place. They figure that his spirit will never rest until he's brought home." Finally in 1997, the chief was finally moved to a new plot in the Wolf Creek Cemetery, which is the ancestral burial ground of the Oglala Sioux tribe at Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

*Fun fact: Beatrix Potter is the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She lived on Old Brompton Road and took some of the names of her characters from the tombstones in Brompton Cemetery. These include Mr. Nutkins, Mr. McGregor, Mr. Brock, Mr. Tod, Jeremiah Fisher and there was also a Peter Rabbett.*

Brompton Cemetery is Grade I listed on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It is unique in that it is the only cemetery in the country owned by the Crown and managed by The Royal Parks on behalf of the nation. The cemetery is listed as a Site of Nature Conservation. And that, was just a little about the Stones and Bones found there!