Tag Archives: grave yard

Photography from Saint Peter’s Cemetery, Saint Charles, Missouri

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cemeteries, cemetery photography, lichen, st Charles, Missouri

 

cemetery photography, cemeteries, crosses, st charles, Missouri

 

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For the full set of photos, visit the Saint Peter’s Cemetery album on my Flikr page.

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Other recent cemetery photography posts:

Return to the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri

The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

 

 


Introducing my Cemetery Grave Adoptions for 2014

cemetery black and white angel

If you listened to episode 11 of The Big Séance Podcast on Cemetery Grave Adoptions, I promised to keep listeners updated on this year’s adoptions. Well today I took advantage of an absolutely splendid autumn-like day (finally!), and headed on out to a local cemetery that I’ve heard a lot about, but until today had never been. I had flowers ready to go, and I intended on finding two graves to adopt. I spent a little over an hour just taking photos and checking the place out.

Shortly after arriving, I met a Abby, who was very happy to see me. Once Sabrina, her owner, caught up with her, we had a very nice conversation about cemeteries and how much we enjoyed them. After Sabrina gave me some tips on where to find some of the older headstones, and after Abby (a dog, if I wasn’t clear enough) gave me a few last slobbery kisses, she got bored and ran off to find another friend, forcing Sabrina to follow. There were several four-legged friends and their owners enjoying the cemetery today. Just before leaving two hours later, a cute little doggie ran up to me as I was getting into my car. This little doggie looked almost exactly like my dog Meril, only smaller. 

I was really having a hard time making this decision. After such a great experience last year, I really felt pressured to just be drawn to two graves. As I’ve said before, lately I tend to float through the cemetery with more of a photographer’s eye. Other than the ones I kept photographing, I wasn’t really feeling like I was being drawn or pulled toward any specific grave for adoption purposes. Then, like happens so often in my school gig with things like auditions and solos and choosing who gets spotlighted, I kept feeling guilt for passing up all of the other hundreds of graves and monuments. Don’t they all deserve to be adopted? 

I couldn’t narrow it down to one named grave and one nameless (as I suggest in that same recent podcast episode), so what did I do? I decided to go with four of them. I may regret his decision in the busy month of October.  

So here they are. I’ve done no research or genealogy at this point.

 

Schwester (Sister) Maria Georgia (1862) & Schwester (Sister) Maria Germana (1872), Requiescat in Pace

cemetery grave adoption crosses1

 

Sister Maria Germana’s monument is broken off of the base, which is right next to Sister Maria Georgia. One leaning on the other, it makes a beautiful photo, and I can’t help but wonder about the friendship these ladies must have had in life. I took so many photos of their crosses that I just knew I was adopting them this fall. 

 

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H.W. Rühenpohl (1812-1850)

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I’m not entirely sure of the name on this soul, but the base behind the rest of the monument says “W.H. Rühenpohl”. To the best of my ability, the monument in front says “Hier Ruht” with a smaller inscription that I’m not able to make out (probably in German), and then “Rühenpohl”. Someone has tied the base and the top together with wire.

 

Cemetery Grave Adoption Ruhenpohl 2

 

Unmarked

cemetery grave adoption unknown

 

I’m really hoping this stone marks a grave. I can’t imagine it being anything else. It must just be incredibly old and weathered, or perhaps it is the base of a monument that no longer exists. This stone rests right in front of the crosses of Sisters Maria Georgia and Germana. I decided this was a good thing, because otherwise I’d have a hard time finding it.

 

The Tradition Continues

Today I introduced myself and explained my intentions with this grave adoption tradition. I’ll now return every two weeks (at least), leaving flowers or gifts, visiting with them (should they choose to be present), and praying that their souls are at peace. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some genealogy sometime soon. I’ll be sure to keep you updated. 

 

Want to learn more about this cemetery grave adoption tradition? Again, check out episode 11 of The Big Séance Podcast to hear me discuss last year’s project, my inspiration for starting it, and my 8 tips for starting your own grave adoption tradition!

 

Stay tuned!

 


Return to the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri

 

It hasn’t changed a bit, this old cemetery. Until two years ago when I visited it last, it had been over 20 years since I’d seen it. I remembered several of the individual headstones like I had just been there the day before. It’s weird, the things our brains choose to remember and hold on to. Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time here as my grandparents lived nearby. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is of an uncle of mine giving me a ride through this cemetery on a four-wheeler, and coming back with a collection of pine cones. I’m sure it wasn’t very deep back then, but I remember strolling through this grass and over the hill… and pondering life… and probably death. I don’t remember my reasons for enjoying my time there so much, but I do recall having general conversations with any spirit wanting to listen. I also recall my Bama (grandma) packing a lunch for me on a few occasions. One thing is for sure. When I think about a cemetery, or when I’m reading of a fictional graveyard, it is always this beautiful place that ends up being the setting in my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other recent cemetery photography posts:

The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

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The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

Is it the ornate designs? Is it the worn and aged look? Maybe it’s the lichen that seems to glow in the sunset? Or maybe it’s the fact that fencing a family plot so beautifully is a thing of the past? Whatever it is, I couldn’t stop photographing them this last weekend. 


 

 

All above photos are from a recent return visit to Machpelah Cemetery in my hometown of Lexington, Missouri. For more photos from this shoot, please visit the Machpelah album on my Flickr page

 

Other recent cemetery photography posts:

Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

 

 


Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

 

On Wednesday of this week, I made some time to sneak away after work to find a few places to take some photos. I decided to stop by a small Catholic cemetery that I pass by often when I’m coming home from work. This was the first opportunity I’ve had to take colorful spring photos with my new camera. Having colors to play with is a whole new experience. On this Good Friday, and especially for those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoy the powerful monument that depicts the crucifixion of Jesus. It clearly caught my attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of my photography, including cemetery photos like these, please visit my Flickr page.

 

A few recent cemetery posts you might like: 

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri (Big Séance)

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis (Big Séance)

 

 


Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

Hilts Bronze Angel

All winter long I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect day to return to Bellefontaine Cemetery under snow cover. I’d been once before, though things were much greener then, and I didn’t have my new camera, or the photography skills that I’ve gained this year.   

Hilts Bronze Angel

Opening in 1849, Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell fountain” by most St. Louisans) was designed by Almerin Hotchkiss (Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York) and consists of 314 acres of park-like beauty with mausoleums as far as the eye can see. It truly is a small city. Among other big names from the region, you’ll find the resting places of Adolphus Busch (beer giant), William ClarkSara Teasdale, and the infamous Lemp family.

 

Since it was 28 degrees and I knew once I made it there I’d be on foot for a few hours, I bundled in layers and prepared as if I was on a journey to climb Mount Everest. The always-kind and wonderful workers in the office mentioned that the roads were drivable, but they didn’t seem too confident in that statement, so I decided to walk. They encouraged me to take a map and keep the office number on hand. I guess that’s what they do when they see out-of-shape fat guys drop by for photos in the winter. I figured I’d stay close to the main entrance and photograph what I could until it got cold or I felt I was going too far into the cemetery. I didn’t know until later that I’d walked a pretty massive circle that covered most of the popular and historical monuments on the driving tour.

 

 

As I bravely started out, I couldn’t help but notice that my car was the only guest car in the lot. It appeared I was going to be very alone on this journey. Awesome! It was also very quiet, other than the crows flying around, keeping their distance, and warning others of my presence. It was creepy and cool at the same time.

 

With every hill I kept finding beautiful excuses to keep going further. I was impressed that I found a few sites by memory, such as the famous “Girl in the Glass Box”. Even as I detoured off the road and trudged through snow as I found interesting shots, I felt confident I knew where I was and what direction I’d need to head once I decided to go back. I never pulled out the map, or my iPhone, for that matter. 

The famous Luyties “Girl in the Glass Box”

I’m not entirely sure I can describe to you how pleasant and enjoyable this was for me. I mean, I obviously enjoy spending time in cemeteries a little more than the average person, but to be alone (truly alone, I never saw another guest) in the middle of such a beautifully massive city of buried souls, in the middle of winter, enjoying the peace and quiet, with the added risk of getting lost or frozen before dark, was truly an amazing experience. I suppose this risk of being found frozen Jack-Nicholson-in-“The Shining” style could be why one of the workers came by in a cemetery truck as I was on the opposite end of the cemetery an hour and a half later… just checking. I waved and smiled and continued on.

Tate Mausoleum

 

Close up of the Tate Mausoleum doors

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The Francis Grieving Woman

I have to be honest, two hours later, as it got a bit darker, there was a moment when I wasn’t sure exactly where I was or if I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t lost for long, but I made the conscious decision to stop photographing so that I could focus on looking for the main entrance. It’s at this point that I nervously picked up the pace and started to feel the burn in my hips and joints. I couldn’t wait to find the car. A few minutes later I found it off in the distance, but I couldn’t believe how far away I was on the complete opposite side of where I’d been. I truly had made a pretty big circle. When I got to my car, the same cemetery worker was standing guard at the gate, probably relieved that he wouldn’t have to go searching for me again in the dark. I’d made it back forty-five minutes before the gates close and had been walking just over two hours.

 

The massive and very popular Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

Through the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

Close up shot of the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

These decorative symbols are a part of the bottom of the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

 

I sat for a while and relaxed in my car as if I’d truly conquered my own Everest. I had hundreds of photos that I was so very excited about! I couldn’t wait to get home and check them out. I took a deep breath, texted Joe to let him know I was alive, and then I drove the hour-long trip home with a wind-burned face. 

 




 

Again, the Hilts Bronze Angel

 

Before I leave, I wanted to make you aware of my Flickr page, where all of my newest and favorite photography, including this set, is being stored. Please feel free to drop by, comment, or share any of the photos.

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Thanks for your support!

Patrick

 

 

 


Christmas Eve at Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might also like…

Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri(Big Séance.com)

A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri(Big Séance.com)

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition (Big Séance.com)

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

 

 


Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

 

 

Interested in my other cemetery posts? 

A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri

Assumption Cemetery, O’Fallon Missouri

Cravens Cemetery, Camden Missouri

Cemeteries: Concordia and Emma, Missouri 

Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri 

Forest Grove Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Lexington’s Old Catholic Cemetery 

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Two Smoky Mountain Cemeteries 

Just a Stroll through a Random Cemetery on the Way Home

 

 


Cemeteries at Night and My Pumpkin Mission

A photo of Johnnie’s grave during one of my recent visits.

 

Tonight I simply wanted to log on and tell you about my return trip to Johnnie’s grave to retrieve the pumpkin I left for him. 

I left a pumpkin at Clara’s grave, too. I knew they would be fine for a month or so, but also knew I had the responsibility of going back to pick them up before they rotted. I mean, I didn’t want to see Linus and Lucy waiting for the Great Pumpkin next fall if I return for a visit. That would be embarrassing, and I’d feel really bad. So yes, I was stressing out just a bit about getting back to dispose of the pumpkins. The only problem? After Halloween, when we get busy with our lives again and “fall back”, I’ve discovered it is nearly impossible to get to a cemetery (unless you live right next to it) before dark! Even on days where I get to leave work at a decent time after school, it’s getting dark on the way there! I had every intention for over a week to get back to both of these cemeteries, but lack of sunlight was really making it difficult. 

When it comes to cemeteries (and most situations in life, actually), I’ve always followed the accepted rules. For most cemeteries, unless otherwise posted, you are prohibited from entering between dusk and dawn. Well a few nights ago, I rushed out of school as early as I could, but darkness beat me once again. I was already en route to Johnny’s cemetery when I decided that this mission to dispose of a pumpkin was important enough of a reason to go to that cemetery in the dark. I was frustrated and tired of the daily race and wanted to check this off my to do list.

I’ve spent hours and hours in cemeteries, both as a child and as an adult. They’re like peaceful parks to me. Though I don’t recall a cemetery visit after sundown, I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t have any fear issues. I thought back to the day I returned to do some follow-up investigation at an abandoned farmhouse… in the dark… without my team… and how good it felt to prove to myself that I could do it. I had no worries. My confidence wavered a bit, however, as I tried to locate Johnny’s grave. In the daylight, I knew that path like the back of my hand. At this point I’d been there probably ten times. But I assure you, it’s a whole different story in the dark.

By the time I made it to Johnnie’s grave, I was more worried about cops or someone in one of the few houses nearby thinking I was a trouble maker. This is also why I didn’t use a flashlight. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. But surely anyone would be understanding of my pumpkin mission, right? I felt a bit rude dropping by for such a brief visit, but I quickly greeted Johnnie and explained that I was taking his pumpkin back. I hoped he understood. I sent a quick prayer for him to be at peace and then crouched down to search for the pumpkin. In the shadows, my eyes finally settled on it. It was still there. It was either upside down or no longer had its stem, but it was hard to tell. I grabbed with both hands, but my fingers went right through the pumpkin. I had to hold back from blowing chunks right there. I waited too long. Fortunately, I was prepared with a trash bag and managed to scoop it all (or what I hoped was all) in the bag. I think I said something goofy to Johnnie about this awkward moment before heading back to the car that was parked nearby on one of the paths in the middle of the cemetery.

In the car, the next priority was finding my hand sanitizer. Once my hands were taken care of, I had a fascinating moment just sitting there in a silent car. I was enjoying the surroundings and realizing this wasn’t something you see every day. I wasn’t too frightened. In fact, I could have stayed there a while longer, admiring all of the silhouettes off in the distance. Once again, the fear of police lights driving up the hill to the cemetery got me moving quickly. I made my way to the main road and headed for home, while planning the next day’s rushed visit to retrieve Clara’s pumpkin. Would it be in the same condition? In my head, I made a few quick notes on the lessons learned during this trip to grab a squishy pumpkin in the shadows. 

 

You may be interested in my other posts in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit:

 

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition
Adopting Graves: Second Visit with Clara and Johnnie

Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family
Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family
Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)

 

 


Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition

This is the fifth post in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit:
Adopting Graves: Second Visit with Clara and Johnnie
Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)
Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family
Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family

 

On a Saturday in the middle of August, I decided to begin a new autumn tradition of adopting graves. I chose the graves of two souls, each in a different cemetery. At this point I feel strangely close to Johnnie Michel and Clara I. Gegenbauer. From that day on, I visited these graves every two weeks up to October 30th. I need to go back at least one more time to pick up the pumpkins and things, that way if I decide to visit in the distant future, there won’t be a pumpkin patch to walk through. For more on the inspiration and how I chose these two graves, visit my very first post in this series.

 

Johnnie Michel, son of Henry and Matilda Michel, July 5, 1879 – January 21, 1884

 Johnnie, who died at four and half years old (reason unknown), lived with his family on the upper floor of a general store on Main Street in Wentzville, Missouri. His father was a prominent Wentzville citizen and built and owned the general store. His mother raised the family (Johnnie had an older and a younger sister), and presumably helped tend to several of the clerks and extended family members that lived with them above the store.

Below are some of the shots from different visits to Johnnie’s grave (I tried to bring different flowers/gifts each time.)

 

Since posting my genealogy for Johnnie’s family, I discovered that the family’s general store was located where the “Wentzville Millwork” building is in the picture below. I’m not sure how old the remaining buildings to the left are, but I wanted to make sure and include them in the picture to help your imagination. The structure that housed the general store was demolished in the 1970s. To my knowledge there are no existing photos of the general store, which was operated by the family until at least 1910.  The second picture below is a view of the surrounding downtown area across the street from that lot.

 

 

Clara I. Gegenbauer, March 29, 1884 – March 17, 1889

As you may have noticed, Clara died just short of her fifth birthday as well. She was the fourth out of eight children by parents Eugene Gegenbauer (1847 – 1916) and Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer (1853 – 1930). Like Johnnie, there is no record of how or why Clara died at such a young age. Her father Eugene (whose parents immigrated from Germany) and mother Isabelle (whose parents immigrated from Ireland) were married in 1876. After immigrating, Clara’s paternal grandfather was a physician and teacher in the Ballwin, Missouri area. He died in 1880.

Out of the family’s eight children, Eugene and Isabelle had 7 grandchildren, including my new friend Gayla’s father. Clara’s last remaining sibling, Jane Sophia “Jennie” Gegenbauer, was Gayla’s grandmother. She died in 1976.

For more on Clara, or for photos of her parents and the family’s farmhouse, click HERE

 

On my second visit with Johnny and Clara, I was not prepared for the feelings I would have when seeing the blunt symbolism of the dead flowers in the exact same arrangement that I had placed them in only two weeks earlier. Though this is a completely normal thing to see in a cemetery, it was a beautiful and sad at the same time.

  

 

  

 

 

Other favorite photos from my visits to see Johnny and Clara 

Clara’s grave can be seen on the left (with the bright flowers) near the top of the hill. The graves surrounding her are her parents and siblings.

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Once again, Clara’s grave can be seen off in the distance at the top of the hill. 

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As I mentioned before, I have to make at least one more visit to pick up pumpkins, but I highly doubt that it will be my last. I’ve become so familiar with the path to find them, and I’m sure I’ll never forget. I’m already excited to start the journey over next year with two “new” graves.

 

 


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