Friday, June 17, 2011

Walkin' the East Side 9: Why?

Just realized the pix for this post were taken three months ago.  I absolutely do not remember why I took a number of them.  Like this one:
 What in the living hell made me take this picture?  The oddity of the entire small family being buried in a row like that?  The double-headstone for the son?  The flowers?  I have no clue.

The rest (most of which is slightly less confusing) is beyond the break.

This is another one I'm not quite sure why I photographed. Probably because of the inscription.  These first few were all taken at the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, where I went to photograph the graves of two Texas Rangers and some unidentified Alamo defenders.  I am still not entirely certain what the Odd Fellows are, or if the organization still exists hereabouts, but they were quite the thing in this city (and others) back in the late 19th century, from the look of things.  From Wikipedia's article, it seems to have been a fraternal organization along the lines of the Masons, but with rather more pedestrian membership; while Masons were composed of folks pretty high on the socioeconomic ladder, Odd Fellows "opened its doors to the working class." Of course, I doubt you'd find too many of the olden equivalent of Walmart workers in the Odd Fellows by the time this cemetery was created, but there you go.

This one I photographed because it's just a lovely little headstone.  Very ornate.  Flower-bedecked stones seem to have been fairly common back then, and not just for children (though mostly).  This one also struck me because Darling Mary was almost Linda's age when she died.

Even knowing how high infant/childhood mortality was back before things like doctors who washed their hands came into vogue, things like this get me every time.  There's no doubt in my mind, as a mother, that the loss of children back then, even though it could not have been unexpected, hurt just as much as it does now.  Surprisingly enough, some folks seem to think otherwise, as though people 110 years ago were as alien to modern sensibilities as are apes.

Gratuitous Chunky Marie picture.  She got into toys much sooner than her sisters did.

These iron crosses seem to be a German thing.  I've seen a few of them, and they all have German writing on them.  This fellow was not yet 30 when he died.  Something else that wasn't unheard of (although I see just as many graves of very old people from that century too, leading me to believe that claims of much shorter lifespans are greatly exaggerated) but certainly had to hurt every time.  I'm neurotic enough now, with every expectation of living a nice long life with my husband.  Back then, I'd have been a nervous wreck.

The oddest thing about this cemetery (it's aptly named, eh?) is this.  Tennis courts and a pool.  They're actually part of a park/community center beyond the cemetery, but the fence you see there is the boundary.  There is no buffer zone at all--the first time the girls and I went here, we picked up a tennis ball--and the cemetery is now of an odd shape that makes me think a portion of it was appropriated for this other stuff.  Thus the need mentioned in my post I linked earlier to preserve the historic cemeteries.

The couple buried here have the last name Holmgreen.  It's an unusual enough name that I'm going to assume they are connected somehow to the street of the same name.  Believe it or not, it's of German ethnicity.  I took this picture mainly because it's such an odd plot.  Largely empty family plots are nothing unusual, but the wall and gravel and walkway make this one unique, not to mention the colors.  It certainly doesn't look like native limestone.

You can sort of see the odd shape of the cemetery here.  It continues to the right of the picture for a few more yards.  I'm not sure why I took the photo, though I strongly suspect it has something to do with the fact that the last name here is shared by a character in Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom novels.

Well, this one is a bit more obvious.  The Mary & Joseph thing is mildly amusing but the real treat is the size difference for the graves.  Mary was quite a woman, apparently.  I thought to begin with she may have had some babies buried alongside her, but there is no indication of this, and in point of fact the small headstones right behind this belonged to children of the right age to be the Halamudas'.

Hey, it's another street name grave!  No indication it's the same Toepperwein, of course.  Udo comes up as a defendant in a tax case brought by the city; he lost but it was overturned on appeal.  He was also once elected vice president of the Texas Bee-Keepers' Association.   He actually appears quite a bit in contemporary newspapers; bee keeping was big business back in the day.

These next few were taken in City Cemetery #1, which we've visited several times before; some of these are conscious repeats of photos I took in the gloom of my first Walkin' the East Side post.

This is the center monument for the Frost family, one of the biggest banking families in Texas, if not the biggest.  The last outside-the-house job I had, by the way, I worked as a temp at Frost, and I can say they treat their employees very, very well.  The Frosts got started as wool merchants, by the way.  Frost is a National Bank, and back before our money system was centralized, they printed legal US tender.  Their building downtown has a huge display of various bills they printed way back when.  It's neat.

I thought to begin with this might be one of the Menger Hotel family, but I cannot find any indication of that.  He seems to have done well for himself; the one bit of information I can find on him mentions a deed for 640 acres in Medina county.

This is a daylight picture of the Guenther family plot, which can be seen near dark in this photo.  Nothing new to add to the other bit of talk of the Guenthers I did, other than the fact that Jim's restaurants prominently feature using Pioneer flour for their biscuits.

There's really nothing I can add to the info on the historical marker there.  Pretty neat to think the term Vaudeville has San Antonio roots, eh?  This city seriously has such an inferiority complex.  There was a time when we were the biggest, most important city in Texas.  Once oil replaced cattle, that changed.

These all come from the same family plot.  It is definitely one of the more unusual ones I have seen.  You can tell from the first photo that there are only a couple of graves here, & only one of them carries the wood motif.  All I can tell you about Mrs. Derr is that she was from Bavaria (Bavarians love them some Texas, which I guess is fitting as Bavaria has been referred to as Germany's Texas, what with the lederhosen and more drunkenness than usual) and her husband was a baker, at least back in Germany.  One of her daughters is buried in a nearby cemetery.

I think I have mentioned before that some cemeteries have a children's area.  I had not realized before that this is the case with City Cemetery #1, but so it is.  Almost all of the graves in this little area are of small children.  They are also pretty heavily vandalized, as it is near the small road between cemeteries but not too near Commerce.  This vandalism is undoubtedly part of the reason city cops commonly await the coming of the Zombiepocalypse there.

Next up, City Cemetery #6, last seen here.

Hey look, it's a daytime version of this picture.  Now, right there my camera crapped out and I was only able to take sporadic photographs, so there were a number of things I didn't manage to document as thoroughly as I'd have liked, but hey not like it's going anywhere, right?

These guys?  Elks Lodge.  Unlike the Odd Fellows (near as I can figure), the local Elks Lodge is still quite active.  I love this line, by the way: "Our bartender will be able to assist you in filling out the membership application and assist you in obtaining two Members of the Order to serve as references."  If that ain't puro San Antonio, I don't know what is.  These days they have a scholarship program and a summer camp, among other things.  And of course a bitchin' cemetery plot.

Now, I know you don't normally think of San Antonio as a union stronghold, but there you go.  Hard to find much mention of these folks, but they probably went the way of the dodo when the San Antonio Light did, as that was apparently the only paper that had a "union editorial shop" by 1977.  Apparently, back when the thing to do with your organization was to ensure members had a proper burial.  A very modest one, from all appearances.

I want to say the Voelkers here were part of that union's plot, but I don't remember for sure.  Frank Voelker is a much, much more common name than you'd expect.  I can't find anything on this Voelker because of an unwillingness to wade through pages of other Voelkers.  These folks may or may not be related to the Voelker Park (I refuse to use its new name) people.

This is the only time I can think of having seen something like this.  Ain't it neat?  I cannot find any reference to him other than of this grave (and his father's; Charles Sr is apparently buried in the Odd Fellows cemetery).  Obviously he was a well-to-do fellow, however; he married one of the Mengers.  (Again, apparently not the hotel Mengers.)

As always, not sure when I'll get around to the next one.  I too the photographs for it just a few days ago.  It features a delicatessen, a bagpiper, and Marie trying to eat the Alamo.


Borepatch said...

What a great post. I enjoy cemeteries, but this is the only one I've heard of that is a "Swim/Tennis Community". Heh.

peter d said...

i like to think that you took the pic of Mr Stotts' grave because he died on my birthday. I graduated high school with a Kristi Stotts, btw.

John B said...

the odd fellows are still quite active. not as much as in the pre electronic era.

Just a link, no promotion intended!