Crosses I Remember

Bald Knob Cross near Alto Pass, Ill. taken in the late 1960sEaster Sunday is a good day to look back at some of the crosses I’ve photographed over the years. We’ll start off with an aerial photo of Bald Knob Cross in Illinois at Alto Pass. Here’s how the photo was taken (and saved in the darkroom).

Bald Knob Cross from the ground

Bald Knob Cross c 1967Here’s the cross from the ground.

Ft. Jefferson Cross at the Confluence

Ft Jefferson Cross 11-20-2015The Ft. Jefferson Cross at the Confluence in Wickliffe is pretty at night. By the way you CAN make the images larger by clicking on them.

Cape LaCroix Creek marker

Cape La Croix Creek Cross 04-21-2011 The Cape LaCroix Creek marker has been a rolling stone looking for a home.

Old Lorimier Cemetery grave marker

Old Lorimier Cemetery c 1966 01When I took this photograph in the mid-1960s, the angel in the picture had wings and arms. She was vandalized twenty years later.

Elder B.A. Armour in 2013

Bishop Armour from New Madrid Baptism series 11-20-2013Elder B.A. Armour’s faith is as important to him today as it was when I photographed him baptizing people in the Mississippi River off New Madrid in 1967.

New Madrid baptism

New Mardrid Mississippi River baptism 09-03-1967Elder Armour is on the left, and J.C. Pullen is on the right. The congregants marched from the Church of God in Christ church, through downtown New Madrid, and down to the river.

St. Mary’s Cemetery

St. Mary's Cemetery 08-30-2015I photographed this cross at St. Mary’s Cemetery twice – almost exactly 48 years apart.

Judas got a raw deal

Kenneth Saunders of the Church of Judas walks through Cape 07-16-1965Ken Saunders, a British citizen, walked across the country trying to convince people that Judas really wasn’t a bad guy. He liked what he saw of Missouri.

Dutchtown Cemetery

Cemetery on top hill in Dutchtown 10-27-2011This old wooden cross is in the Dutchtown Cemetery on a ridge overlooking the slowly diminishing community below it. The dead outnumber the living.

St. Vincent’s Church at sunset

St. Vincent's Church at sunset 07-03-2012I was really planning to shoot Fourth of July fireworks, but St. Vincent’s Church at sunset caught my eye.

Crucifix came over with the Saxons

Altenburg Trinity Lutheran Church 11-08-2011_7588This Crucifix in Altenburg’s Trinity Lutheran Church, was made in Oberammergau, Germany, and came over with the Saxons in 1839. The Last Supper was installed in the altar in 1938.

Guardian Angels Catholic Church

Guardian Angel Catholic Church in Oran 02-03-2013The Guardian Angel Catholic Church in Oran is one of the most ornate houses of worship in the area.


East Side Cemetery

East Side Cemetery AKA Denhart Cemetery - Russell Street 08-06-2013When Jennifer Schwent and I went to New Madrid to see if we could find the people who were in my 1967 Mississippi River baptism photos, we met a very nice and very helpful woman who told us some interesting stories about Pastor B.B. Gillespie. The march to the Mississippi started at his Church of God in Christ church. When I mentioned that I had heard that the church had burned down since my last visit, the helpful woman’s voice dropped and she said, “I wouldn’t go down there. It’s too dangerous.”

“Ma’am, Russell Street is only about three or four blocks long. I’ve walked it from end to end knocking on doors and chatting with people on their porches. I’ve been to church services there. No one has been anything but friendly and helpful.”

“Well, I wouldn’t feel safe down there,” she warned again.

As we cruised the length of Russell Street, we did get a long look from a gaggle of young men gathered on one street corner, but that’s to be expected when a strange van with Florida tags drives by gawking. We stopped in front of the ruins of the church, but it didn’t make a picture worth getting out of the car in the light rain..

East Side – Denhart Cemetery

East Side AKA Denart Cemetery - Russell St. New Madrid 08-06-2013Across the street, we noticed a fenced-in expanse of green grass with what appeared to be grave markers scattered around in it. “I’m not afraid to get out and take a closer look,” Jennifer volunteered.

“I like you, kid,” I said, opening the door.

Only about 15 graves identified

East Side Cemetery AKA Denhart Cemetery - Russell Street 08-06-2013We wandered the cemetery wondering just how many people were buried in a space that large. The City of New Madrid website says that nine of the 114 cemeteries in New Madrid County are located in the city. The one we were visiting on Russell Street goes by two names: the East Side Cemetery and the Denhart Cemetery. According to a document on the website, only about 15 graves are marked and / or identified.

The Find A Grave website lists 123 interments, and only about 11% of them have been photographed.

Those must be the scary people

East Side AKA Denart Cemetery - Russell St. New Madrid 08-06-2013While there, we heard raucous laughter and talk coming from the street corner about a block and half away. “Those must be the people we’re supposed to be afraid of,” I said. “Let’s go meet them.”

We walked up the group of five or six men and a woman. Turning to one of the men, I said, “Your beard is about as gray as mine, so you might be able to help me.” I explained our mission, then went back to the van to bring back a stack of baptism photos.

You need to talk with my mother

East Side AKA Denart Cemetery - Russell St. New Madrid 08-06-2013A small crowd gathered to look at the pictures. From time to time, someone would come up with a name, but they were of older people, all of whom were long dead. “You need to talk with my mother,” the grayest beard said. “She’s 90 years old and knows everybody.”

“Are you going to be on this street corner if I come back in a few months?” I asked him. The answer was yes, so I guess we have a date for the fall.

And, that’s how Jennifer and I escaped death or worse on the mean streets of New Madrid.

A Day in New Madrid

New Mardrid Mississippi River baptism 09-03-1967I shot a march and Mississippi River baptism in New Madrid in the summer of 1967. I spent a week in 2011 trying to identify the people in the photos, to no avail. The few adults that were named are all dead and nobody recognized the young folks.

Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center intern Jennifer Schwent volunteered that she had worked in a small museum in New Madrid and had some contacts who might be able to help. We journeyed to the Higgerson Landing Gift Shop where site director Riley Bock gave me some leads, but we struck out on names. He WAS able to help identify exactly where on Main Street one of the photos was taken.

Main Street 1967

New Mardrid Mississippi River baptism 09-03-1967Here is the group marching down Main Street in 1967.

Main Street 2013

Main Street New Madrid 08-06-2013The Claire Hotel Coffee Shop has become The Corsage Shop these days. The white building in the old photo is now the Main Street Market.

Higgerson School

Jennifer Schwent at  Higgerson Landing Gift Shop and Museum New Madrid 08-06-2013_7953I’ve put this project on the back burner until I get some others finished. Here, by the way, is Jennifer in front of a neat timeline of the Higgerson School she helped put together. It lists key events in the history of the one-room school and has photos of the teachers who taught there.

I like her because she argued successfully that this blog should be accepted as a resource in historical preservation classes at SEMO.