February 27, 2010

John Reece




John Reece (1854-1896) was the president of the Reece Buttonhole Machine Company in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1881 Reece invented and received a patent for a “Button Hole Sewing Machine” that revolutionized hand sewing with a machine that increased production and standardized the size of the buttonholes. Reece lost his life when he was killed trying to save an employee in his factory, who was in danger of being crushed by a moving elevator. Reece lunged for the elevator rope, hoping to stop the elevator, but missed the cord, falling to his death.

The Reece Family Monument on Spruce Avenue was sculpted by William Ordway Partridge (1861-1930) a prominent sculptor who had studied under Pio Welenski in Rome. In his studio on Milton Hill, a town just south of Boston, he was to model a heroic seated statue of Shakespeare that was erected in Chicago, and busts of famous Americans. Lee Lawrie was to work as a studio assistant to Partridge in the late nineteenth century.

The Reece memorial is in the form of an exedra, an elliptical bench with a high back, decorated with a bronze wreath and a seated bronze of John Reece that is set on an attractively landscaped corner lot.

February 26, 2010

Little Grace Allen



The Allen Lot on Lobelia Path has a large granite monument surmounted by a draped allegorical figure. On the left is a remarkably well preserved white marble statue of Gracie Allen, which has been under glass for well over a century.

Grace Sherwood Allen (1876-1880) was the daughter of William H. Allen and Emily J. Allen and she died prior to her fith birthday from whooping cough and was immortalized by sculptor Sydney H. Morse (1832-1903) who depicted the young girl in a buttoned dress, boots and bow-tied hair. In her hand are drooping flowers, the petals of which have begun to fall. The glass enclosed memorial is adjacent to the Allen Monument

February 23, 2010

Life More Abundant



The Clapp Family Monument, of Charles and Georgiana Derby Clapp, is at the corner of Cedar and Rock Maple Avenues at Forest Hills Cemetery and it depicts a seated classical figure holding a plaque declaring “Life More Abundant” which might be explained in the quote from the Bible “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10. The figure is clad in a diaphanous gown that swirls around her body and in her left hand she holds a bouquet of flowers.
Charles Martin Clapp (1834-1897) was the son of Martin Gillett Clapp and Mary Ann Gillett Clapp and was born and raised in Watertown, New York. He served as president of the Aetna Rubber Mill in Jamaica Plain and as a trustee of Forest Hills Cemetery. Clapp had entered the rubber business and eventually formed C. M. Clapp & Co., which operated Aetna Rubber Mills and was also affiliated with the Good Year Rubber Company; he was also the general agent of the National Rubber Company. The company closely worked with the Boston Fire Department to repair fire hoses, and manufactured shoes for members of the Boston Police force.
The monument is quite impressive but its placement in front of a tall hemlock hedge provides a verdant background is the perfect and dramatic backdrop for it as one descends from Tupelo Avenue.

February 21, 2010

The Boy in the Boat

The Boy in the Boat is on Citron Path and is one of the most beloved memorials at Forest Hills Cemetery.
In 1886, while in a small boat near the shore of a pond, Louis Mieusset (1881-1886) noticed his pet rabbit running along the bank. Wishing to bring the rabbit with him, he tried to reach for his pet, but lost his balance and fell out of the boat and drowned. It is this last moment of life that Louise Hellium Mieusset chose to commemorate in her son's last resting place in Forest Hills Cemetery.
The marble monument was enclosed in a glass and bronze vitrine-like enclosure that has remarkably preserved it.

February 15, 2010

The Agassiz of Harvard's Agassiz Museum


Alexander Emanuel Agassiz (1835-1910) discovered a rich copper lode known as the Calumet conglomerate on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Lake Superior in Michigan. He managed the Calumet & Hecla Copper Mines that were not just extensive, but through the prudent and judicious investment by fellow Boston Brahmins, not only became among the largest copper mines in the world, but surely the most profitable, with dividends being paid annually and on a consistent basis. Agassiz was a major factor in the mine's continued success and he visited the mines twice a year. He innovated mining by installing a giant engine, known as the Superior, which was able to lift 24 tons of rock from a depth of 1,200 metres. He also built a railroad and dredged a channel which led to navigable waters.

A son of the naturist and Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, he largely funded the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, and donated many of the exhibits that he collected throughout the world. Born in Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland, he emigrated to the United States with his father in 1849. He was graduated from Harvard College in 1855, subsequently studying engineering and chemistry, and taking the degree of bachelor of science at the Lawrence Scientific School of the same institution in 1857, and in 1859 he became an assistant in the United States Coast Survey. Agassiz served as a president of the National Academy of Sciences, which since 1913 has awarded the Alexander Agassiz Medal in his memory.
There are simple brownstone crosses on Sweet Briar Path that mark the graves of Alexander Agassiz and his wife, Anna Russell Agassiz, and which are located at the crest of Mount Dearborn at Forest Hills Cemetery. The simplicity of design, material and style belie the immense philanthropic generosity of the Agassiz.

February 10, 2010

Governor Curtis Guild




Governor Curtis Guild, Jr. (1860-1915) was the son of Curtis and Sarah Courtnay Guild; in 1892 he was married to Charlotte H. Johnson.

He was the editor and publisher of the Commercial Bulletin, a newspaper founded by his father, Curtis Guild. In 1891, Guild joined the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia earning the rank of Brigadier General. During the Spanish American War, he served as Inspector General of Havana. He was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1903-06, and was then elected as governor of Massachusetts, serving from 1906 to 1909. He later served as special Ambassador to Mexico, and later as Ambassador to Russia just prior to the Russian Revolution. He was a member of the Freemasons, the Society of Colonial Wars, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the American Forestry Association.

The Guild Family Lot on Rock Maple Avenue has a profusion of white marble monuments, including two angels, one seeming to reach toward Heaven and the other holding an oval plaque marking the graves of this prominent family. The base of one angel is engraved “The spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Curtis Guild (1800-1849), the family progenitor, was a merchant in the East India trade and his son and grandson continued the family’s commitment to public service.

February 8, 2010

Benjamin Seaver, Mayor of Boston


Benjamin Seaver (1795-1856) was the son of Benjamin and Debby Loud Seaver, and was
born and raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was married to Sarah Johnson Seaver (1796-1865.) Seaver served as the thirteenth mayor of Boston, in 1852 and 1853. He had been a member of the Boston Common Council for five years, and at the time of his election was in business as an auctioneer. Seaver was mayor when the city voted to establish a public library, which was a major undertaking as previously there were only private library societies or the Harvard College Library. Seaver applied most of his efforts to keeping down the expenditures for municipal purposes. On his recommendation, the Board of Land Commissioners was established in 1853, in place of a joint committee of the City Council. It was also during his term as mayor that an act was passed that prohibited the burial of people, except in certain cases, within the city limits, which effectively ensured the success of the rural cemetery movement at Forest Hills Cemetery.
The Seaver Lot has a large obelisk, at the corner of Cypress and Larch Avenues.

February 6, 2010

You See, She Was Addicted to Facts


Annie Haven Thwing (1851-1940), was the daughter of Supply Clap and Anne Shapleigh Haven Thwing, and was born and raised on Fort Hill in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She was an historian and children's author, and her book The Crooked and Narrow Streets of the Town of Boston 1630-1822 has become not just a fascinating read, but indispensible to Boston historians. When asked what prompted this masive research project, she was quoted as saying that it was simplty "to find out where my ancestors lived, who were their neighbors, and what the neighborhood was like." The result of this project and its interrelated research made her blighthly say that she had become "addicted to facts."
Miss Thwing compiled an enormous card index of subjects related to the history of Boston, which she donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society, where the cards occupied seventy-four library drawers in the catalog room. She also created a 3-dimensional model of the town of Boston as it appeared in 1775, based on her meticulous research. This model featured the eighteenth-century street pattern she had so carefully researched over the previous years and had over one hundred handcarved building replicas, and was carved by a carpenter by the name of Munsey who lived on Orr's Island, Maine, where the Thwing Family had a summerhouse. The massive model of the Town of Boston is now on public display at the Old South Meeting House, and still fascinates adults and children alike.
However her book on the streets of Boston which by 1920 had reached the Boston Globe best-seller list, and has gone through numerous reprints. Miss Thwing also wrote a book for children, Chicken Little, with illustrations by Nelly Littlehale Umbstaetter, which appeared in 1899.
The Thwing Lot is on Cherry Avenue, with a simple slate headstone surmouting a terraced hill on natural looking grass terraces.

February 5, 2010

A Mystery Monument at Forest Hills Cemetery


In and among the wonderful archives of Forest Hills Cemetery is a photograph of a large white marble monument that states "In Memory of Those Who Were Killed in the Discharge of Duty." It is set in a circle of grass with a walkway, but it is a mystery to me.
Do any of you Bloggers recognize this monument?

"He Who Would Be Heard"




William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) was among the most vociferous of the abolitionists in Boston in the three decades leading up to the Civil War. Garrison was the editor of “The Liberator,” a weekly newspaper that from 1831 to 1865 was the voice piece of the abolitionists advocating for the abolition of slavery in the southern states. Garrison’s credo in regards to his views on abolition was "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation… I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD."
In 1832, Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society and the next year, he co-founded the American Anti-slavery Society and made a name for himself as one of the most articulate, as well as most radical, opponents of slavery.
The Garrison Family monument is on Smilax Path.

February 3, 2010

Fanny Davenport, Actress











Fanny Lily Gypsy Davenport (1850-1898) was a well-known actress in the late nineteenth century. Born in London to Edward Loomis and Fanny Vining Davenport, who were both noted Shakespearean actors, she was the sister of actors Edgar Davenport and Harry Davenport. Fanny Davenport was educated in the Boston Public Schools, and appeared at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston, as the child of Metamora, at the age of seven. Davenport was successful as an actress, with a wide spectrum of roles that went from Shakespeare to French melodrama; she achieved fame by obtaining the American rights to the dramatist Victorien Sardou’s highly emotional plays. This photo from c.1880 depicts her as the spendthrift Lady Teazle in the comedy of manners “School for Scandal.” Her first husband was the actor Edwin B. Price, to whom she was married in 1879 and later divorced. She was the wife of Willet Melbourne MacDowell (later a silent movie actor), her second husband, to whom she was married in 1889. She died in Duxbury, Massachusetts. She was the aunt of actress Dorothy Davenport.

The Davenport monument is quite unique, as it is a white marble tree trunk on Arethusa Path.