Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cities of stone.... asleep

"To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come"
All Photographs Copyright ©J. Geraghty-Gorman

Monday, July 26, 2010

Martha Julia Cartmell: Founder of Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin Private Academy for Girls, Japan

Martha Julia Cartmell with one of her students from Toyo Eiwa

Dying just a few months short of her 100th birthday, Martha Julia Cartmell is a fascinating figure in the history of both Hamilton, Ontario and Tokyo, Japan. Orphaned at the age of 13, she was sent to live in Hamilton. Educated at the Ontario Normal College in Toronto, she graduated as a teacher.

In 1882 Cartmell travelled to Tokyo, Japan, having accepted as her calling the assignment of Christian missionary to women and girls. Cartmell undertook an intensive course of study to learn the Japanese language in order to more effectively communicate with those to whom she was to minister.

Shortly after her arrival in Tokyo she discovered that women were exempt from formal education. She made it her mandate to open an academy for girls, and applied to the Imperial Palace for permission to found the school. The school opened in November of 1884 and remains open to this day. In 1989 a four year university for women was established on the school complex; in 1993 a graduate school was added.

Each year persons associated with the school visit Centenary United Church in Hamilton, the site of Cartmell's appointment as first Methodist Woman Missionary to Japan. They consider the church to be a shrine.

Reference: Bailey, Thomas Melville.  Dictionary of Hamilton Biography

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brontë Pioneer Cemetery, Village of Brontë, Town of Oakville, Ontario

In the midst of a quiet residential neighbourhood in Brontë Ontario sits the Brontë Pioneer Cemetery. Many of the stones are damaged, and some are illegible, but here they stand as the world of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and basketball games goes on around them.

In 1830, Philip Sovereign deeded this land on the east corner of his farm for a cemetery after several people had already been buried here. He specified that it be for people of "all orders, sects, nations and parties." Among the settlers some of the first African-American residents of Brontë are buried here. Almost one third of the headstones belong to children; several others belong to mariners.

One of the earliest settlers to arrive at "The mouth of the Twelve" (now Brontë Village) was Philip Sovereign.  Of Palatine German descent, he arrived in 1814 from Sussex County, New York, via Waterford in the District of Upper Canada.  Philip died on 2 July 1833, aged 55 years.  His son Charles farmed on this land until his death on 21 Dec 1885.  Both father and son are buried here.

The grave of Philip Sovereign

A gale in Lake Ontario claimed the life of young mariner James Baker who is buried here, near the west corner. 'Jimmy' Baker was first mate on the schooner Magellan when she collided with the U. L. Hurd in 1877. His was the only body recovered. In the record of death for James Baker both his year of birth and his place of birth are listed as unknown, although it is noted that his body "was returned to his parents for interment at Bronte".  The stone marks his age at death as 28 years and 20 days.

James Baker

The storms which took the lives of Brontë mariners also claimed the bones of some of the survivors and their families. Over the years about 70 feet of cemetery and 100 feet of road allowance have gone into the lake, taking a few graves with it.

Reference: Brimacombe, Philip. The Story of Brontë Harbour

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Our headstone is bigger than yours

My approach to this headstone was from the back; the front of the stone faces away from the other stones in this section of the cemetery. When I saw it initially I thought it was a stone wall, not a marker. The marker appears to be only for father and son, but that is not the case.
One of the interesting, but little known facts about the vicinity of this 'larger than life' grave, is that next to it is an unmarked grave. Few know it, but the unmarked grave next to one of the trees which stands by the Plunkett-Magann grave is the final resting place of a most public man, a man they called Mayor of All the People, one of the most celebrated mayors of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Victor Kennedy Copps, who died in 1988.

According to Paul Wilson, "Vic Copps rarely said no to his people. He rode horses in parades, drove go-carts, put his smiling face forward for pie-throwing contests, bounced on trampolines, rode in bike races and marched hundreds of miles in fundraising walkathons. In March 1976, he was running near the back of the pack in the 'Around the Bay Road Race' when he had a heart attack. A week earlier, he had turned 57." His heart attack resulted in brain damage, and he was never again the same man.

In Hamilton, there now stands a coliseum which bears his name. It was the choice of his family that his grave bear no stone. He was so much admired that the family didn't want the grave used as a site of pilgrimage.

Reference: Paul Wilson, The Hamilton Spectator, 2008.
Photographs: Copyright ©J. Geraghty-Gorman

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Ours for a while...": T. J. Thunder

I don't usually photograph newer stones because I'm not sure how the surviving family members would feel about it; however, I pass this one each time I enter Woodland Cemetery. Last Friday I saw it once again; it 'spoke' to me, and I decided it would be okay to photograph. A member of his family has also created a memorial page on Facebook using his nickname. The stone is remarkable, not only because it serves as a beautiful tribute, but in terms of history it offers so much information about his life.
(*click on the photograph to open a larger version)
Copyright ©J. Geraghty-Gorman

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Monument to the memory of Irish Hunger Strikers, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

There is perhaps no more extreme way to exercise personal freedom in defiance of an occupying force than by hunger strike. This monument is a memorial to twenty-two such individuals who died as a result of hunger strikes. One of the elements which I find most disturbing about this memorial is the blank space which remains on the right hand side of the stone, as though it is waiting for more names.

Copyright ©J. Geraghty-Gorman

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Intriguing names from the Necropolis: Ithamar Smuck

Ithamar Smuck is a descendant of Jacob and Mary Smuck who came to Canada from the United States in about 1795, and took an oath of allegiance and settlement on 25 June 1797. They farmed in Glanford Township, Wentworth County, Ontario, from 1796 in the area of a village called Mount Hope, the site of the Hamilton International Airport. There is a Smuck family cemetery in Mount Hope which stands on land now owned by the airport and is inaccessible. The Smucks obtained their land as part of an Upper Canada land patent in 1811.

The name Ithamar has its origins in Hebrew; the Hebrew name אִיתָמָר (Itamar) meaning "palm island". This is the name of one of the sons of Aaron in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Ithamar and his wife Agnes married in 1906 and had 3 children. His wife was very 'long-lived'. Born 2 years before him in 1878, Agnes Mitchell survived her husband by 51 years.

Reference: Smuck Family Tree

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, & Dowth, The Boyne Valley, Ireland

These mounds, thought to be passage tombs, are over 5000 years old, dating to the Stone Age. Built c.3300-2900 BC, according to Carbon-14 dating (Grogan 1991), the Newgrange site is more than 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and predates Stonehenge by about 1,000 years. This is a fascinating place to tour. The site is very strictly controlled, and is not accessible by public roads. You must board a bus at a centralized visitors centre, and are taken from there to the three sites of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth.  
Massive stones engraved with symbols encircle the entire base of the main tombs.
The entrance to the tomb at Newgrange. The woman pictured is a guide/guard who governs the entryway.
On the Winter Solstice the light of the rising sun enters the chamber through this opening called a Roof Box. A narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor, gradually extending to the rear of the passage. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated for a period of about 17 minutes. As the sun climbs into the sky the sunbeam leaves the chamber and retreats back down the passage. 
The entry way into the chamber.  The ceiling is very low and the space is very narrow.  Not great for me because I am claustrophobic. I had to leave the entry way and make a second try at going in. I took a deep breath and made my way in. I'm glad I did because it was extraordinary.
The chamber room is at the end of this passage. Without lighting it is so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. We were not permitted to take photographs in the chamber room.
All Photographs Copyright ©Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman
For more information about the Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth & Dowth visit: Newgrange, Knowth Megalithic Passage Tombs.
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