Mount Auburn Road’s Name

I’m sure these motorists, like the thousands of others who pass by this point in a week, don’t realize that they’re driving by the reason Mount Auburn Road has that name.

Mount Auburn Cemetery

While looking for something else (how many times have I written THAT phrase?), I saw a April 13, 1961 story in The Missourian about the start of a “Scenic Route West of Cape” that would link Hopper and Gordonville Roads.

The story went on to say that the road was “getting its name from the Mount Auburn Cemetery, atop one of the elevations, and which was the old Joyce Family Cemetery.”

I don’t recall a cemetery

I asked Mother if SHE ever remembered seeing a cemetery along Mount Auburn Road. She drew a blank, too.

On one of our many trips down the road, I played a hunch and turned west toward the apartment buildings up on a hill at what I found out was an extension of Themis Street. At the end of Themis, I saw a short piece of road going off to the right, occupied by a dumpster.

Brush, trees and May Apples

Beyond the paved part was what looked like a trail leading up the hillside. THAT looked promising. I followed the trail up the hill for a hundred yards or so, past a nice stand of May Apples,  until it broke out into a clearing.

Cemetery surrounded by fence

There, at the crest of the hill was a tiny cemetery with a few stones and some obligatory pine trees, all surrounded by a chain link fence topped with barbed wire and secured with a rusty padlock.

There was a gap under the fence in a couple of places. There was a time when I would have had the inclination – and ability – to wriggle under the fence, but my ambition and my flexibility have gone missing.

Most of the stones carried the name “Joyce”

The light was spotty and the fence interfered with getting good shots of the stones, but I did notice that most of them had the name “Joyce” on them.

The Missourian story said the property owners donated a 70-foot right of way to build the road. They included Arthur Job, Ed Haman, Schonhoff Brothers, John Hunze, Percy Farrar and Maple Joyce.  “A 28-foot roadbed is being constructed, this to be graveled, and in the future the road likely will be given a permanent hard structure.”

Joyce Family died in clusters

A Mar. 22, 1927, story said that a double funeral service would be held for a woman and her granddaughter.  Mrs. Clara Giboney died Monday and her granddaughter, Miss Marie Joyce, passed away early today. The bodies will be interred in adjoining family cemeteries on the Hopper Road.

Mrs. Giboney, a widow of the late Alexander Giboney, succumbed to pneumonia, which she contracted after several months of illness with a heart malady.

Miss Joyce was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Joyce…Her mother was a daughter of Mrs. Giboney. The young woman, who was 18 years of age, was stricken with a nervous malady a week ago, and her condition rapidly became serious. She had been employed for the past several months as a stenographer at the Dempsey Grocery Co., and prior to that time attended Central High School and the business college here. She was popular in a wide circle of friends and was generally regarded as highly efficient in her work.

She is survived by her parents, five brothers, Leland, Melvin, Thomas, Ivan and James, and one step-brother, Prof. Maple Joyce, a teacher at Murphysboro, Ill.

Engrams buried there, too

One stone had the name Engram on it. It looks like Wm. Engram was married to Mattie Joyce, who died in 1929.

A June 8, 1954, obituary said that Miss Anna T. Joyce, 87, was the third sister to die within six months.

Miss Joyce, known to her friends as “Tony,” was born at Ancell on Aug. 18, 1866. Two sisters preceded her in death, Miss Beatrice Joyce on Jan. 22, 1954, and Miss Georgie Joyce on Feb. 17, 1954. She is survived by a brother, Lee Joyce of Jackson.

The pallbearers, all nephews, will be Marshall Engram, Marvin Engram, Maple Joyce, Leland Joyce and James Joyce.

I didn’t run across a story that told when the Joyce Family Cemetery was named the Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Tower of Memories

The Tower of Memories in Cape County’s Memorial Park Cemetery was dedicated in 1934. I ran across a clipping about the 57-foot monument while looking for something else and was surprised that it was so old.

A Kansas City man, Hugo Felix, bought 30 acres of land that had once been part of the County Farm for $3,000 in 1932.

County Farm Home

There’s a curious monument “IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED IN OUR COUNTY FARM HOME” across the street in Cape County’s North Park.

I know it was common in some areas to have “poor farm” where the indigent, particularly the elderly, would go when they were down on their luck before Social Security and other entitlement programs provided a safety net.

I did a story in Athens, Ohio, in the 60s about that county’s “poor farm.”

I’m not sure if Cape Girardeau county had something similar at this location. It’s something I’m going to have to research.

1933 Tower of Memories rendering

Newspaper accounts say the 57-foot tall, 16′ x 16′ structure would have three stories: the bottom floor would contain an office and the second and third floors would house the Celesta-Vox, touted as “The Voice from the Heavens.”  The amplified chimes and “vibraharp” supposedly could be heard a mile away. I don’t know that I ever heard it or if it’s still in use. The tower was built of native limestone.

Ford and Sons buy cemetery from Strom Family

Raymond Strom bought the cemetery in 1951, and it was run by the Strom family until Walter Joe Ford and his wife, Iris, bought it in 1958. At that time, Ford said there was enough room in the cemetery to handle the needs of the community for the next 50 years.

That’s probably been extended since the cemetery has added mausoleums and memorial plots for “residents” who have been cremated.  That will allow for greater population density.

I don’t know what plots are going for now, but there was a notice in The Missourian in February, 1934, that the prices for six-space burial lots in Section 1 (Lutheran), Section 2 (Masonic) and Section 7 (non-sectarian) were increasing from $125 to $150. Section 6 (non-sectarian) was going to jump from $175 to 200.

Peacocks were exotic attraction

No visit to the cemetery would have been complete without stopping to see the peacocks when you were a kid. If you were lucky, you might go home with one of the bright-colored feathers. I used some for fishing flies in my pre-teen years.

I wish I had a better peacock photo, but the sun (and the temperature) were going down fast and there was a brisk, chill wind blowing. My interest in peacocks diminishes in direct proportion to how cold I am.

Some purist will probably point out that the picture is actually of a peahen and a peacock, but I didn’t ask for them for gender identification in my rush to get back into the warm car. If THEY know the difference, that’s all that counts.


World War I Memorial in Jackson

On the south side of the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson, a World War I Private stands at parade rest with his rifle.

I thought it would be easy to uncover the history of the statue, but I ran into deadends and contradictions.

Memorial to The World War dead

On the side of the statue is a bronze plaque with the words, “In memory of those from Cape Girardeau County who gave their lives in defense of liberty in The World War. 1916 – 1918”

Beneath it is a list of 40 names. Interestingly enough, the name of Capt. George E. Alt is missing. He was an Englishman, who was born in Japan in 1870. He served in World War I, where he was killed in France under German fire. The Alt home was bought by Trinity Lutheran Church and renamed Trinity Hall. Some accounts say he was the first Cape County resident to die in the war.

War to End All Wars

The memorial was erected before we had to add Roman Numerals to our World Wars.

The Missourian editorialized on May 30, 1925: Legion Posts from all parts of the county assembled in Jackson to dedicate the memorial statue erected by the state and the county in memory of the young men and women who served in the world war, and who made as great a sacrifice as it is possible for citizens of America to make.

The statue in Court House Park in Jackson, while not a pretentious and costly shaft, will serve the purpose and will keep fresh in mind of all people the fact that when the country calls there is always a ready response, a condition that makes this the greatest nation on earth.

In the course of time we hope to see built in Cape Girardeau county a living memorial, one that will be an inspiration to the people to live better and have greater regard for the beautiful things in life. It was an ideal of citizenship that our your people fought for, and this ideal deserves to be carried out in the material things of our lives.

Statue history is confusing

Various stories in The Missourian had the statue made of various materials.

  • Oct. 11, 1924“The county court has finally decided to erect the memorial to the Cape Girardeau county soldier dead. The monument, a beautiful statue of white marble, representing a doughboy in full uniform and equipment, has been reposing in a local marble works shop for several years. It is now to be placed on the courthouse lawn on a appropriate pedestal, on which will be placed a bronze plate bearing the names of the Cape county boys who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War.”
  • Nov. 27, 1924“The concrete foundation for the world war soldiers’ memorial has been completed and is now ready for the erection of the statue and the bronze plate to be placed on the base thereof. The monument will stand about the center of the southeast quarter of the court house lawn, and near it will be the unsightly cannon of ante-bellum vintage.”
  • May 7, 1925 “American Legion Posts throughout Cape Girardeau county are to participate in the dedication of the memorial to the war dead of the county at Jackson on Decoration Day, May 30… It is planned to have the program take up the greater part of the afternoon, and there will be a band, community singing and other features… The memorial is a statue of white Italian marble. It represents a soldier in full equipment, standing at ‘parade rest,’ and is life size. It is mounted on a five foot base of vermont marble. A bronze plate adorns one side of the memorial and on this plate are the names of the 40 men who lost their lives during the war. The statue cost approximately $2,200.”
  • May 25, 1987“The World War I memorial on the south lawn of the County Courthouse, Jackson, … is made of cement.”

Who was Dennis O’Leary?

Jackson’s statue was of a generic soldier. Wife Lila and I ran into a this tombstone for Dennis O’Leary when we were looking for the graves of her father and her uncle in the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM. There must be a fascinating story about a highly detailed sculpture of a young soldier in full uniform in a cemetery with otherwise plain markers, right?

The only problem was that there are more questions about Dennis O’Leary than answers.