Resting In Peace In Baltimore, Maryland

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The Coupongy Correspondent from Perry Hall, Maryland and I took a driving tour of Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore this weekend.  What a beautiful place.  There was a line to take a guided walking tour of the cemetery.  That is how beautiful it is.

Green Mount Cemetery is one of the earliest rural or garden cemeteries in the United States.  It was officially established in 1838.  There are more than 65,000 souls at rest here – many who have had a profound influence in United States history.  Green Mount Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Green Mount Cemetery is located at 1501 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland – Our GPS took us right there with this address.  The visitor’s office/information center is on the right side of the arched entrance in the picture above.  You can get a map of the cemetery there (it’ll cost you $1).  You can sign up for a walking tour there, or get ancestry information or take your $1 map and do your own driving tour.

We chose five sites to visit.

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Johns Hopkins (1795 – 1873) was an American entrepreneur from the 19th century.  He was one of eleven children.  The question everyone asks is why is his name JOHNS, and not JOHN.  His first name was inherited from his grandfather, Johns Hopkins, who received hs first name when his mother, Margaret Johns, married Gerard Hopkins.  Johns Hopkins.  There you have it.

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His generosity and business sense have helped create many institutions bearing his name such as:  Johns Hopkins Hospital (ranked #1 hospital for 21 consecutive years – probably due to the outstanding employees they hire), Johns Hopkins University,  Johns Hopkins School of Nursing,  Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Hopkins who was never married, is buried in the Summit Area, across the pavement from the Cedar area.  You will need to get out of your car to see this since they are flat tombstones.

Resting near the Hopkins family is Arunah Abell and his wife Mary.  This resting place is at the intersection of Central Avenue and Oliver Walk.  You can not miss it.  Just look.

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Arunah Abell founded the Baltimore Sun  and Philadelphia Public Ledger newspapers.  He is noted as an innovator in the newspaper business, especially in his use of a pony express from New Orleans, being the first newsman to make use of the telegraph to transmit news, and his use of the cylinder printing press.

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Just a short drive away, in Section R is the resting place of John (Johnny) and Robert Eckhardt.

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John and his twin brother, Robert, are buried next to each other in Section R, Grave 19.  As you drive along Central Avenue, the Eckhardt brothers are across from the sidewalk area of Section G, just two rows in, so you don’t need to get out of your car unless you want to.

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Johnny Eck, along with his brother Robert, was a circus performer, magician and actor.  He was featured in movies such as “Freaks” and “Tarzan, the Ape Man”.

Robert Eckhardt and John Eckhardt, Jr. were born on August 27, 1911 to Amelia and John Eckhardt, Sr. in Baltimore, Maryland. John Eck was born with a truncated torso due to Sacral agenesis. Though Eck would sometimes describe himself as “snapped off at the waist”, he had unusable, underdeveloped legs and feet that he would hide under custom-made clothing. Though Eck capitalized on the resemblance between himself and Robert, the twins were fraternal.

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In 1937, John and Robert were recruited by the illusionist and hypnotist, Rajah Raboid, for his “Miracles of 1937” show.  In it they performed a magic feat that amazed audiences. Raboid performed the traditional sawing-a-man-in-half illusion, except with an unexpected twist. At first Robert would pretend to be a member of the audience and heckle the illusionist during his routine, resulting in Robert being called on stage to be sawed in half himself.  During the illusion, Robert would then be switched with his twin brother Johnny, who played the top half of his body, and a dwarf, who played the bottom half, concealed in specially-built pant legs.  After being sawed in half, the legs would suddenly get up and start running away, prompting Eck to jump off the table and start chasing his legs around the stage, screaming, “Come back!” “I want my legs back!”  Sometimes he even chased the legs into the audience.

The subsequent reaction was amazing – people would scream and sometimes even flee the theater in terror. As Eck described it, “The men were more frightened than the women – the women couldn’t move because the men were walking across their laps, headed for the exit.”   The act provided the perfect jolt by frightening people at first but then caused just as much laughter and applause.  The illusion would end with stage hands plucking up Eck and setting him atop his legs and then twirling him off-stage to be replaced by his twin Robert, who would then loudly threaten to sue Raboid and storm out of the theater.  Their act was so popular that they played to packed audiences up and down the East coast.

Further down Central Avenue, resting in Section J (across the paved road from Section P), in grave #20, is Elijah Jefferson Bond.

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As you can see from his tombstone, Elijah Jefferson Bond invented the Ouija Board!  His location is very recognizable because of the reverse side of his tombstone:

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If you are driving on Central Avenue, you can see this side of the stone from the car.  You will have to get out of your car if you want to see the other side of the tombstone.

Our final stop in Green Mount was to the Booth family plot.

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John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was a famous American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865.  Booth was a member of the prominent 19th century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and, by the 1860s, was a well-known actor.  He was also a Confederate sympathizer, vehement in his denunciation of Lincoln, and strongly opposed the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Booth and a group of co-conspirators originally plotted to kidnap Lincoln, but later planned to kill him, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward in a bid to help the Confederacy’s cause.   Although Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered four days earlier, Booth believed the American Civil War was not yet over because Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s army was still fighting the Union Army. Of the conspirators, only Booth was completely successful in carrying out his respective part of the plot. Booth shot Lincoln once in the back of the head. The President died the next morning. Seward was severely wounded but recovered. Vice-President Johnson was never attacked at all.

Following the assassination, Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland, eventually making his way to a farm in rural northern Virginia 12 days later, where he was tracked down. Booth’s companion gave himself up, but Booth refused and was shot by a Union soldier after the barn in which he was hiding was set ablaze.  Eight other conspirators or suspects were tried and convicted, and four were hanged shortly thereafter.

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John Wilkes is buried in the Booth family plot, but is the only Booth not to have his own marked tombstone.  His is a small tombstone in the corner of the plot.  You will know it by the pile of pennies on top of the stone.

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There is a tradition of desecrating this grave by placing Lincoln head pennies on top of the stone.  It’s an historical, interesting and sad place all at the same time.

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The Booth family plot is located in the Dogwood area, up a slight incline from Cemetery Road.  The family plot is accessible by a sidewalk that separates the Dogwood area from the Chestnut area.  Bring a few pennies with you.

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