Tag Archives: Odds and Ends

The madam of Birmingham

The madam of Birmingham

In 1873, Louise Wooster was a well paid lady of the evening (don’t you just love this term?) when a deadly cholera epidemic swept through Birmingham, Alabama. Several thousand people fled the city, but Lou stayed to nurse the sick, feed the hungry, and prepare the dead for funerals.

After the epidemic, she moved to Montgomery, Alabama to open a brothel, but by 1880, Lou had returned to Birmingham operating multiple brothels near City Hall where she could attract the wealthiest patrons. She made a fortune, donated heavily to charities and frequently came to the aid of fallen women.

Lou

Lou was also known as “the women of many lovers”, the last sweetheart of John Wilkes Booth, the actor, who killed Abraham Lincoln. She chronicled her exploits in a book called Autobiography of a Magdalene.

Want to know more? Check out this article: Early Birmingham madam who saved sick will have scrapbook in history center.

 

 

 

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The irony of funeral home names

Matchbook cover 4

Van Wormer needs a little thought (worms), but the Byrn Funeral Home definitely made me look twice.

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Going once…going twice…

Sold

…to the lady in the red hat!

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Arkansas Coffin Company

Matchbook cover.3

I must admit that using matchbooks as advertising (Gosh, real bad cough you got there. You a smoker? Here, have a matchbook.) seems a wee bit ghoulish.

Nonetheless, I still think the Chapel of the Palms sounds more like one of those quickie Las Vegas wedding places than a funeral home.

Thanks for sending this over, JoAnne!

 

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Old surfers never die…

Forever surfing

They just get board.

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Individuality appears

Individuality appears

This little pocket of individuality in a sea of conforming military headstones, is located in San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio.

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Cemetery Traditions in Japan

Jizo statue

Many thanks to J. Matsumura for sending this excerpt my way. If you ever wondered about the reason behind the Jizo statues marking the graves of Japanese children, here’s an enlightening excerpt from the August 1, 1913 issue of the Enumclaw Herald:

“Among the Buddhists in Japan it is believed that the souls of children go farther after death to Sue-no-ha-wara (the stony river-bed) and there they remain until they reach maturity under the care of Jizobosatsu, who is represented as a priest with a long cane in one hand and ball in the other.

He is said to stand in the center of the Kawara, where he preaches to the children as they pile up stones, one for the salvation of their father, one for the mother, the third for brothers, the fourth for sisters and the fifth for their own salvation.

When night comes and the wind blows hard a gigantic evil spirit appears and with huge iron rod knocks down the heaps of stones which the children have made, and they are so frightened that they run to Jizo and hide themselves in the big sleeves of his Kimono, which have a miraculous way of increasing in size according to the number of children who seek refuge. Then the evil spirit disappears and the children begin again the work of heaping up the stones.

Passing these cemeteries in Japan, one sees tombs that have the image of Jizo carved upon them, as the parents take that way of going the special favor of Jizo for their children, and one will see little piles of stones built up by the parents and brothers and sisters of the children with the hope of helping in the tedious work of the little ones in the Kawara.”

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To be continued…

To be continued

Argh! I can’t believe I completely forgot to publish this on Saturday as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Found this headstone in Cambria, CA (just south of Hearst Castle) years ago and just loved how it commemorated 56 long and happy years together – a marriage that started shortly after the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Check out the wedding date right about the, “To be Continued…” sign.

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Stories in Stone – New York

Doug Keister’s one of the best cemetery reference writers/photographers I’ve ever come across. Check out this fun video of interesting carvings and symbols from some of the famous cemeteries in New York; Greenwood, Woodlawn, Kensico, Sleepy Hollow, and Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.

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More funeral home matchbooks

More matchbooks

Some Friday fun – more matchbook covers from funeral homes. Thanks to BTG fan, JoAnne M for sending these along!

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Off the beaten paths at Highgate

I’ve posted any number of photos from Highgate cemetery, but I think this video sums up quite nicely just how crowded and overgrown the place is. Yes, there are lots of footpaths winding here and there throughout the place, yes, it is quite easy to get lost if you’re not careful, and yes, there are sometimes strange people wandering around back there.

One time, I was about 20 feet into one of the minor, overgrown paths (like the one seen at 6:01 in the video) in pursuit of a particularly gorgeous angel statue, only to be interrupted by someone dressed in full goth black who seemingly emerged from out of nowhere. I probably scared him as much as he scared me but still…

Another thing to keep in mind is, unlike the videographer, you really should keep to the paths because the ground by the sites can be quite unstable. I’ve walked past several sites where I could see quite far down into the burial area.

Having said that, do be sure to check out some of the neat symbols in the video (clasped hands, flower carvings, the book at minute 8:15, etc.)

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Children’s memorials

Children

Possibly the saddest headstones to see are the ones for children. Before vaccines, life could be pretty darn difficult for children. If it wasn’t measles, scarlet fever or polio, it was typhoid or diphtheria.

Often, lambs were used to signify a young life cut short.

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Year-end countdown: The #1 most popular post

And finally, weighing in at the #1 spot for 2014:

The Nation’s Longest Graveyard

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Year-end countdown: The #2 most popular post of 2014

And the 2nd most popular post?

Wash a stone, restore some history

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Year-end countdown: The #3 most popular post of 2014

And the third most popular blog post award goes to one of my personal favorites:

Now About that Cemetery in the Backyard

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Year-end countdown: The #4 most popular post of 2014

The 4th most popular post on the BTG blog is:

The Titanic’s Real J. Dawson

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Year-end countdown: The #5 most popular post of 2014

Counting down from #5 to #1, the 5th most popular post on the BTG blog this year is:

The ghost town of Bodie, CA.

 

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Snapshots: Sleeping lion marker

Abney park 10

I haven’t seen any lion family crypts in the US (yet), but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

This one commemorating the Bostock family is located in Abney Park, London. Click on the photo to enlarge it, and check out the inscriptions on both the front and side of the base. Don’t forget to look through the weeds at the base of the crypt where the Bostock children are listed.

Not sure why the wife’s name is emblazoned lengthwise across the memorial while the husband, who appears to have died before the wife, is relegated to a side carving. Thoughts, anyone?

 

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Snapshots: The Henry Richard family plot/house

Abney Park 16

Why take up a bunch of land with individual headstones when you can just build a little house where everyone can hang out?

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Odds and Ends: Funeral home matchbooks

Matchbook cover      Match cover    Matchbook cover_2

Thanks to BTG fan, JoAnne Matsumura, for sharing these funeral home matchbooks. Something like this is completely new to me – anyone else ever see something like it?

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