WORDS OF WISDOM:
“Like the light of the sun, it beautifies all things on which it shines, and is no less welcome in the palace than in the humblest homes” –
Lewis Latimer 1891, describing the quality of the electric lamp
Often people visiting the cemtery want to know about all the famous people buried in Oak Grove. There are big monuments to the mill barons, and of course everybody knows about the Bordens. They even have a series of arrows painted on the ground to help you find the Borden plot. There are politicians, artists, actors, servicemen, Civil War notables, and beloved city residents. The name of Lewis Latimer is largely unknown. He has been placed in the catagory of top ten African-American inventors in the country! This link will take you to an excellent biography of Dr. Latimer and his accomplishments. If you see a young student today- tell them about Dr. Latimer! His museum, which was a house where he once lived, has been moved from Flushing, N.Y. to Queens. He was born in Chelsea. Massachusetts.
Latimer Museum in Queens, photo courtesy of Discover Queens! web site.
34-41 137th St.
Flushing, NY 11354
Two Poems by Lewis Latimer
Friend of my childhood,
Of life’s early days
When together we wandered
Through bright sunny ways
Each true to the other,
Till full manhood came,
And found the old friendship
As ever the same.
Came summer and winter,
Years waxed and waned.
Youth it had left us
But friendship remained
And now as with white locks
I bend o’er life’s page,
The friend of my childhood
Is the friend of my age.
Let others boast of maidens fair,
Of eyes of blue and golden hair;
My heart like needles ever true
Turns to the maid of ebon hue.
I love her form of matchless grace,
The dark brown beauty of her face,
Her lips that speak of love’s delight,
Her eyes that gleam as stars at night.
O’er marble Venus let them rage,
Who sets the fashions of the age;
Each to his taste, but as for me,
My Venus shall be ebony.
Fall River rose granite
F.O.G. received an email from a relative of Nicholas Kessell, a Fall River stone cutter who worked with the T. Richard Kessell & Alexander Lawson monument company. Lawson’s was located just outside the gates of Oak Grove Cemetery for many years and produced wonderful monuments of granite quarried from local sites. The rosy Fall River granite was especially fine. The quarry was filled in many years ago. An excellent article appeared in The Spirit recently http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110714/PUB03/107140358
The sad story of mill girl Sarah Cornell is a well-known Fall River tragedy. Found hanging by the neck in a tree, she had written a note saying if anything happened to her, see the Reverend Avery! Here is her stone in Oak Grove which is in the third section over in front of the door of the brick outbuilding in the north- central part of the cemetery. Her stone is wearing very thin and is nearly illegible. For more about poor Sarah’s story http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/University_Library/exhibits/RLCexhibit/avery/averyms.html The site of her hanging is now the westernmost part of Kennedy Park.
An early postcard of Oak Grove shows Prospect St. planted thickly on both sides with trees. Dr. Nathan Durfee, who once owned the original land parcel bought by the city from him for the cemetery, is given the credit for the tree-lined approach.
Photographs labeled WC were taken by Will Clawson, SD by Shelley Dziedzic on the Friday after New Year’s Day. The ground was particularly warm hitting the cold air, and a very theatrical misty effect was the result!
There are several postcards of Oak Grove, made during the golden age of postcards from 1900-1920 when every prominent beauty spot and building or structure was fodder for the photographer’s camera. A penny postcard was the way to keep in touch with friends and family while traveling or on vacation and there are hundreds postcards of Fall River scenes available on Ebay and through dealers in ephemera.
The postcard above was postdated 1910 and shows ivy-covered walls and archway at Oak Grove. The ivy obscures the magnificent iron work of the gates as well as the inscription. There is a photograph of Oak Grove taken in 1890 which also shows the ivy growing on the gates, so it is likely this is how the Prospect Street entry looked at the time of the Borden funeral on August 6, 1892.
Below are two cards with no dates, showing the arch with and without ivy. All postcards shown here were purchased on Ebay.
It’s hard to know exactly the date of this photograph. The view is in front of the office building. Oxen were frequently used to haul the granite up to the cemetery on sledges. The arch was erected in 1873. To see the image at full size, click on the photo above. (photo courtesy of Oak Grove Cemetery).