The Lawson Murders, Christmas Day 1929

Familial murder-suicides are tragic no matter what time of the year in which they occur, but those that take place around the winter holidays often seem all the more horrendous.

We don’t know the full motivation behind sharecropper Charlie Lawson’s actions on December 25, 1929 but by the end of that day he, his wife, and five of their six children were dead.

The swirling rumors about possible incest, head injuries and the general shock created by the crime has captivated the public for decades, inspiring books, films, and even its own murder ballad.

Continue reading “The Lawson Murders, Christmas Day 1929”

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L.A. Philanthropist Chloe Canfield Murdered in Cold Blood

I recently revisited photos from my 2013 tour of Los Angeles’ Evergreen Memorial Park and Crematory. One photo triggered the memory of an entry I started over a year ago about Chloe Canfield, who died at the hands of a disgruntled former coachman on the porch of her South Alvarado Street mansion in the early 1900s.

Evergreen Memorial Park & Crematory in Photos and Clippings Continue reading “L.A. Philanthropist Chloe Canfield Murdered in Cold Blood”

Elizabeth Edwards (1949-2010)

When I visited Wade Edwards’ monument at Raleigh’s Oakwood Cemetery in 2013 I noted that his mother Elizabeth’s grave wasn’t marked with the exception of a small plaque at the foot.

I was pleasantly surprised in 2015 when I returned to find a beautiful marble sculpture depicting doves flying upwards from a pair of outstretched hands. The piece was painstakingly chiseled by Robert Mihaley, the same artist who created the marker for Elizabeth’s son years before.

IMG_8396

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Alice of the Hermitage

When I visited All Saints Episcopal Church I was under the assumption that the plain slab below marked the grave of Alice Belin Flagg, a tragic figure in Pawleys Island folklore and the subject of an alleged haunting.

I’ve since learned that Alice is buried in an unmarked grave at Belin United Methodist Church and this monument was erected for a descendent who ended up in another graveyard, meaning that no one is actually interred here.

Alice Belin Flagg
2012

That doesn’t deter visitors from visiting All Saints to leave coins and rings. Many attempt invocation of her spirit by walking backwards around the slab thirteen times, but there’s no proof that anything ever manifested aside from a worn path circling the marker.

At any rate the ghost story along with the speculation of a foiled romance and family strife have kept her alive for over a century after her burial.

Continue reading “Alice of the Hermitage”

W.W. Pool: The Richmond Vampire?

As spookical and seasonally appropriate as it would be if Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery had its own vampire, this one goes into the “Nah” files.

Even though The Richmond Vampire myth was debunked long ago, W.W. Pool’s mausoleum remains linked to one of Virginia’s most intriguing stories of the supposed supernatural.

W.W. Pool's mausoleum Continue reading “W.W. Pool: The Richmond Vampire?”

An Account of the Titanic’s Morgue Ship

The Dead Bell

Normally I reserve transcribing news articles for Misc. Tidings of Yore, but because of the nature of this piece about the “morgue ship” that recovered bodies from the Titanic disaster, I decided to include it here. Reading the words from the newspaper about the bodies just after they were pulled from the sea and embalmed on board (or buried at sea) gave me a different feeling than from reading or watching more modern accounts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or read anything that described the “morgue ship” or the anxious behavior of embalmers waiting on the pier for the ship to dock either, but if you can recommend something feel free to comment.

This feature is from The Washington Times of Washington, D.C. on April 30, 1912.

MORGUE SHIP IN HALIFAX; CAPTAIN GIVES DRAMATIC STORY OF FINDING BODIES
Says Drowned Victims of Titanic Wreck, Buoyed Up by…

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The Reynolds Homestead

A few months ago I set out towards Critz, Virginia to see the family and slave cemeteries on the grounds of the Reynolds Homestead, birthplace of tobacconist R.J. Reynolds.

R.J. and his mother were interred in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at Salem Cemetery but many of his relatives were buried near the homeplace.

I’m not sure if the gate on the family cemetery was secured in order to prevent people from being able to enter or if I should’ve eaten spinach before making the trip, but I decided to take pictures from outside the ironwork just in case I was in violation of the Homestead’s rules. This accounts for some of the unflattering angles.

Continue reading “The Reynolds Homestead”

Chang and Eng Bunker: Tied Together by a Living Knot

After months of trying to coordinate schedules and weather forecasts, I finally made it to the grave of Chang and Eng Bunker at White Plains Baptist Church in Mount Airy, North Carolina. It was a warm but beautiful day and fortunately for me, I showed up in time to see grave offerings of flowers and small liquor bottles left in front of the tombstone. I don’t know if the water bottle was part of the gift or if it was accidentally left by another visitor as garbage, so I left it alone. I hear that it’s important to stay hydrated when consuming liquor, so maybe someone had a reason for leaving it there. That’s beside the point.

There is no shortage of biographical information about the Bunker twins out there so I’ve provided links to additional reading and sources throughout this post. If you’re familiar with my sister site, Misc. Tidings of Yore, you know that I have a soft spot for historical newspapers. Some of what you read here will be based on old clippings from the archives.

Continue reading “Chang and Eng Bunker: Tied Together by a Living Knot”

Fort Lauderdale’s Evergreen Cemetery

 

I recently took a brief trip to Pompano Beach, Florida to visit friends who live and work in the area. Before I even mentioned it, one of them asked me which cemeteries I wanted to haunt. I did some research on Fort Lauderdale boneyards and after discovering that Leslie Nielsen’s grave was in Evergreen, my destination was clear.

The marker at one of the entrances reads:

“EVERGREEN CEMETERY
Established 1910

Many Civil War veterans are buried at Evergreen Cemetery in addition to the founding families of Fort Lauderdale including the Stranahans (who built the Stranahan House on SE 6th Avenue), Bryans, Kings, Cromarties (the maiden name of Ivy Julia Stranahan) (1881-1971) and the Olivers. This burial place for the early residents of Fort Lauderdale was established by Mr. and Mrs. E.T. King in 1910. In 1910 or 1911, a funeral director from Miami moved many bodies from the first burial ground, in the proximity of what currently is Southside School on Andrews Avenue, to the newly created Evergreen Cemetery. In 1917, the City of Fort Lauderdale purchased the cemetery. In 1921, the American Legion purchased four lots set aside for the burial of veterans. In 1926, hurricane victims were buried in unmarked graves in the north central portion of the cemetery. This area is also the baby section. In 1935, B’nai Israel acquired blocks one and two for burials of those of the Jewish faith. Evergreen cemetery is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest intact cemetery.”

I didn’t see the marker until near the end of our whirlwind tour, so I didn’t have any of those names on my “graves to look for” list. For example, Frank Stranahan, credited with founding Fort Lauderdale, is buried on the grounds with his wife, Ivy. Despondent after great financial losses and possibly suffering from what today would be coined clinical depression, Frank Stranahan committed suicide in 1929. He tied a heavy grate to his foot with a rope and leaped into the New River in front of his home.

Tiptoeing through a Florida cemetery in close proximity to a body of water was a totally different experience for me. The grounds were a hotbed of wildlife activity, especially Muscovy ducks which make a hissing sound instead of quacking. The ducks didn’t bother us, even though they approached us several times (probably looking for food). I think the most alarming animal encounter was the sighting of a large brownish-green reptile (which turned out to be an iguana) chilling in the distance near one of the mausoleums. For the rest of the time in Evergreen I was much more careful of my footing.

 

The shade from nearby trees cast shadows on Leslie Nielsen’s memorial bench and grave marker, but I was so happy that we found them that I didn’t care if the images were a little dark. Nielsen doled out the following advice to aspiring actors: “Sit down whenever you can.” (I think that’s sound advice for those of us who aren’t interested in acting, too.) The inscription on his marker simply reads, “Let ‘er rip.” Thank you, Mr. Nielsen, for keeping us laughing from beyond the grave.

 

From an architectural point of view Evergreen is quite different from most of the cemeteries that I visit. My interests typically take me to the older sites peppered with tall vaulted obelisks, mammoth surrogate angels, and Victorian symbolism aplenty. What I learned from this visit was that even though the markers are contemporary in style, there are still some very interesting, humorous, and touching memorials to be seen in “younger” skull orchards.

 

“Dream Great Dreams and Make Them Happen”

 

quote from Hunter S. Thompson

 

 

Victims of the 1926 hurricane are buried in unmarked graves near the baby section.
 Woodmen of the World marker

 

“I Did It My Way”
“What Can I Do For You?”
“Take The Common and Make It Unusual”

 

 

 

 

“Whatever”/”I’ll Always Love You”
I love seeing palm trees in cemeteries. I don’t see them often enough.

 

 

 

 

B’Nai Israel Section Entry Gate