Monday, March 17, 2008

A Grave in Green-Wood

I was going to post just the picture of this gravestone -- seen in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn on Saturday -- under the headline "A Tale to Be Told," as I imagined everything from deep depression to outright madness to marvelous (sane) round-the-world adventures for Mrs. Cunningham. (The adventures would have been disapproved of by her scandalized Victorian family, hence the "troubled soul.") But the wonders of Google revealed the true tale, so I leave it to you: You can enjoy your own speculations, or you can click here.

Green-Wood makes a lovely day out for New Yorkers, by the way; the landscape is beautiful, the atmosphere peaceful, and the grave markers and names as varied and interesting as New Yorkers themselves. (Though I must say I didn't see anything to equal my favorite epitaph, spied on a gravestone in Edinburgh, Scotland: "She lived respected, and died regretted." That is a good life.)


  1. For goodness sake, Cheryl! You're in NYC on Saint Patrick's Day. Leave the cemetery and go have some fun!

  2. This was a wonderful post! I just happened upon your blog by accident and believe I may be hooked. Gravestones have so many stories to tell - or imagine - but this is the first time I've gotten to hear so much of one's story (yes, I followed the link - my imagination could never have conjured all that).

  3. Wow--the truth is certainly a LOT more than I would have imagined!

    I think I'd rather be remembered as the Scottish lady, thanks.

  4. THAT was fascinating -- and news to me.

    Thank you for posting the backstory to the grave's inscription.

    I love learning about a life. Well-lived or not. ;}

    I was in a cemetary on Sunday as well. We were attending a funeral. Ironically, while driving to and from the actual plot site, I studied the names on the other graves and tried to imagine the lives of all these invisible souls of the quiet earth below.

    Is there something wrong with enjoying reading obituaries?

    I just like to know people. Dead and alive.

    -Pamela, a girl from Gravesend (which, coincidentally, is a neighborhood in Brooklyn)

  5. Cheryl,
    I grew up next to a cemetery and have always been fascinated by the stories they tell or hint at, as the case may be. My favorite tombstone is a beautifully elegant black granite piece bearing the name Princetta Blakely-who died at quite an old age in the late twenties. I've learned from her obituary that real name was Sarah and met an elderly woman who knew her a child.

  6. I love Green-wood Cemetery. And two people important to writers and editors are buried there -- Mr. Underwood of Underwood Typewriters, and the guy who put the eraser on the end of the pencil. Can't remember his name -- Faber?

    Laurie Calkhoven

  7. Actually, Anonymous the First, I'd been out earlier in the evening and came home to enjoy the peace and quiet. And I had fun both places, so kindly MYOB.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, all the rest of you.

  8. I like to visit the cemetery in my hometown to visit my people, so nothing wrong with that. There's a couple of old roses I like to check out (two Gallicas -- one maroon and one white -- I plan to take cuttings this year) as well as stones with Switzendeutch on them. (Technically German, but whatever.)

    Too bad they can't put backstory on a gravestone.

    And Pamela, reading obits is fine. I used to write them for the local paper -- you get some interesting stories that way.

  9. Every May our city has a "Stroll through the Cemetery". There are players stationed all around the place, dressed in period costume, and ready to tell you their life stories.

    My favorites were Mollie Teal, a local 'madam' who willed her large home to become Huntsville's first hospital, and Mary Chambers Clay who sparked off numerous ghost stories.

    Thanks for the post, Cheryl.

    Wanda in AL

  10. Quite a story! And I like what the author (Mr. Feldman) says: "It’s a question of what in Hebrew is called ‘t’chiyat ha-metim’ — raising the dead. You enlarge all of us when you bring these stories back to life."

  11. Fascinating. At the risk of sounding crass (when it's not meant that way), I guess it's true what they say about finding a story under every rock. What an incredible tale ...


  12. That tombstone does not look like it has been there for over a hundred years. That has to be part of the storey.

  13. Very cool story - - yay for google.

    I have a picture that makes me curious on my blog too....

  14. I love gravestones. I'm passing this along to someone else who loves them also. What a story!

  15. This has nothing to do with tombstones--presumably--but I today opened my just-received Winter 2008 Carleton Voice, and there you were!

    Nice hat.

    Kate '73

  16. Wow.

    I grew up in a little suburb. Most of the neighborhoods were themed: I lived on Presidential Parkway and the streets around us were Gettysburg and Monticello.

    I guess they ran out of interesting themes, because when the newer developments started sprouting, they named the streets after headstones in the town cemetery. I kind of wish I knew what their stories were now.

  17. This gravestone is not look like so much old as it is.Nice post.