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Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Civil War Widow at Fort Douglas Cemetery

Today is January 4th, 2014.  
I was supposed to finish and post this October 31st, 2013.  

To my dear family and friends that follow my silly little blog, this post is the reason why I stopped blogging in October.  I became so intimidated about finishing this post and getting the facts right that I quit blogging all together.  My New Year 2014 Resolution is to be a better blogger so things like this do not happen again.


I am a drama queen.  When given the opportunity to put my "acting" skills to the test, I tend to go a bit overboard.  My husband and I were invited to be ghosts at the Fort Douglas Cemetery this year.  This was his second time and my first.  My brother came along as they had a ghost for him to play.
We all represent people who had died and are buried at the Fort Douglas Cemetery.  Once year on All Hallows Eve we come out of our graves to tell our tales of woe.  We are all volunteers.  No one gets paid for this, but we did get a free lunch.  I am embarrassed to admit what I have done and will do for a free lunch.  Most of us were from the Civil War era.  It was a case of, if you have the clothes, we have a person for you to play.  
 Our boys in Blue.
The ladies of Fort Douglas Cemetery.
J and K at the Battle of Bear River Monument.
J and my brother Richard.
I played Catherine "Kate" H. Bradley (1859 - 1875).  Her father was Major James F. Bradley (1819 - 1895), mother Catherina A. Bradley (1822 Ireland - 1893), and sister Hester E. Bradley (1863 - 1881).  While I could not find anything on my person, I did find some information on her father.  James F. Bradley was born in New Haven, Connecticut and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where he made chairs and carriages.  He was on the Minnesota Seventh Legislature Territorial House District 11 in 1856.  He was an abolitionist.  In 1859 he signed a bill urging the Minnesota legislature "to take the necessary steps for so amending our state constitution as to make no distinction of color in the enjoyment of the right franchise.”  He was admitted to the bar in Wright County Minnesota in 1861.  He joined the 8th Regiment of Minnesota Infantry company E in 1862 and was mustered out on July 11th, 1865.  Then the record disappears.  I find him again in Salt Lake City Utah in April 24th, 1883 as the Senior Vice Commander on the Council of Administration for the Grand Army of the Republic and on a committee to write the history of Salt Lake City.  Upon further research I discovered that Kate was removed from Fort Douglas Cemetery and re-buried in Mount Olivet (about a mile away from Fort Douglas Cemetery) where her sister and parents are buried.  This is interesting because of the history of Mount Olivet.  Mount Olivet Cemetery was the first cemetery to be established by an act of congress in 1874 by President Ulysses S. Grant.  Even though Kate died in 1875, the first burial in Mount Olivet was not until 1877.  The predominant Mormon population at the time did not allow non-Mormons to be buried in their cemeteries so many civilians living in Salt Lake City were buried at the Fort Douglas military cemetery instead.  I assume that once Mount Olivet opened her family had her remains moved and bought plots to be together.
Richard was Warden Mathew B. Burgher.  He did a lot of research on his guy and found a whole 3 pages on him in a book.  Gotta admit, I am a bit jealous of all the information Richard found on his guy.  Here is the short version.

Died on March 16, 1876

Age 37
Utah Territorial Prison
Homicide: Blunt Force
Warden Burgher succumbed to injuries sustained while attempting to prevent an escape from the territorial prison. On the afternoon of March 14, the 37-year-old victim escorted an inmate work detail outside the gates of the prison. While both interior and outer doors were open, the inmates bludgeoned the warden with “slung shots,” (large rocks placed inside woolen socks). He died of a fractured skull in the early morning hours of March 16. The escaping prisoners were recaptured by trustees and posse members. Returned to prison, they escaped again two months later. In the process, they murdered a trustee who attempted to spread the alarm and who was serving time for the murder of Provo Marshal Albert O. H. Bowen three years earlier. The prisoners were not recaptured. Warden Burgher was single. He is buried at Fort Douglas Cemetery. His bronze name plaque is sponsored by the Utah Department of Corrections.
J played John E. Baker again.  He was a volunteer from the 3rd California Infantry company K.  He was killed during the Bear River Massacre on January 29th, 1863.  Shot once in the stomach and shortly after, shot through the heart.  His body, along with 20 other casualties were brought back to Salt Lake City, Utah and buried at Fort Douglas.  His name is on the Bear River Monument.  Gotta admit, J is even more jealous of Richard and I because he does not even have a birth date for his person, or what the E. stands for.  If John E. Baker were not killed, there would be no information on him at all.
When the crowds died down (get it, died) later in the day I changed out of my "Kate" dress and into the Widow attire.  J made this gorgeous Civil War Widow dress for me for Valentine's Day (appropriate enough).  Unfortunately, I have not had much of an opportunity to wear it.  Then I thought, what a better place to play a Widow in mourning than a graveyard.  I knew I could get some hauntingly good pictures given the outfit and the location. 
Mourning is an outward expression of an invisible inward emotion.
The fashion of mourning had been gaining momentum during the early half of the 19th century. When Prince Albert died December 14th, 1861, Queen Victoria took mourning style to a whole new level.  There were generally three stages of mourning.  The first stage was Heavy or Deep Mourning and lasted a year and a day from the time of her husband's death.  During this phase a Widow wore all black.  When in public a Widow would wear a veil or crape to cover her face.  This served two purposes, the first was to hide her tear stained face from the public, and the second was the superstition that if someone looked into her eyes the spirit she was mourning for would latch on to them and they would be the next to die.  It was both a protection for the widow and the public.  Wearing black was a sign of respect and mourning clothes were the first clothing to be made available on a mass market scale by Lord and Taylor in New York in the spring of 1863.  They opened a Mourning store where new widows could dress their grief in the latest fashion.  Men wore black armbands and black hat bands as a sign of respect.  When Abraham Lincoln was shot, he was till wearing the black band around his top hat in mourning for his son Willie.   During Heavy Mourning a widow would not attend social functions, have visitors, and rarely left the house because of her grief. 
The second phase of mourning was called Full Mourning.  When a widow entered full mourning she would send out black lined stationary invitations to family and friends that the time had come when she could accept visitors and attend some social functions again.  The veil was removed and black collars and cuffs could be replaced with white.  Many Widows never remarried and remained in Full morning the rest of their lives such as Queen Victoria, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mary Anna Morrison Jackson (Mrs. Stonewall Jackson aka the Widow of the Confederacy), and Elizabeth Bacon "Libby" Custer (Mrs. General George Armstrong Custer).

This was followed by a period known as Half Mourning, which included the addition of lilac, lavender, violet, mauve, and gray to a Widow's wardrobe. A Widow was no longer limited to wearing only black. She could use black and white ornaments,  jewelry, and wear bonnets of black, white, gray, lavender, or straw.   A widow would often throw away her (black on black) mourning clothes when the mourning period had ended.  Southern women were more likely to save their clothing should it be needed again and they knew it would be hard to replace during the war. Often southern women could not obtain proper mourning clothing, and resorted to dying existing clothing if possible.  Many journal entries describe the heartbreak of not being able to properly mourn the death of a loved one because they did not have a black dress. Children, even babies, were put into mourning by wearing black.  Babies would often wear robes of white trimmed in black. 
There were many superstitions and customs surrounding the dead.  When a family member died their body would be laid out in the parlor for a few days until the funeral and burial arrangements could be made, this was called a Wake and the dead could not be left unattended until burial.  At the time of death, if there was a clock in the room, it would be stopped.  All the mirrors were covered.  Should a mirror fall and break someone in the family would die soon.  They carried the body out feet first.  If they went head first they could look back into the home and beckon others to follow them in death.  Flowers were brought to cover the smell of the decaying body.  Pictures of the decreased were covered.  Sometimes, if there was no picture of them in life the family would wait for a photographer to come and take a deathbed picture for them to be remembered by.  During or before the funeral the local church bell would ring out each year they had lived.  In some small towns, businesses closed during the funeral.  After the body was buried, the bed where they had died would be covered with black sheets.

Not being properly mourned for was a fear worse than death. They also feared the possibly being buried alive.  Periodically, tombs were opened and remains were found near doorways or on the floor indicating that such fears were indeed grounded.  Funerals were often prolonged to make sure that the deceased was in fact dead.  Widows were often excused from the funeral of their husband, believing the grief would be too much for her to bear. 
Photography came of age during the 1860’s.  Mourning photos were taken to preserve the image of the deceased.  Burial was often held off for days or weeks waiting for a photographer to arrive.  Hair art was also a popular way of remembering the dead.  Locks of the deceased's hair were cut, carefully braided, woven, and preserved in jewelry, hung in picture frames, and made into artful displays under glass. 
Mourning clothing was kept on hand by wealthier women, but was also known to exchange clothing with friends and neighbors when needed.  Mourning pictures were painted or embroidered in silk, cotton, or wool and served as remembrances.  Many Victorian era parlors often contained several memorials to their deceased loved ones.
A mother mourns for a child for one year.
A child mourns for a parent for one year.
Siblings mourn for 6 months.
Widowers mourn for only three months by wearing black armbands, badges, hat bands, or rosettes of black fabric.
Widows were expected to mourn for at least two and a half years.

Then we had our Civil War meeting / Halloween party.  Yet another opportunity to wear the dress.

Here is our group photo.  With Kris's jacket.  He refused to be in the picture, so his jacket was the stand-in.
This is Rachel and Jamin being... well... Rachel and Jamin.

Rachel came as Confederate spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow who drowned off the North Carolina coast when a Yankee craft ran her ship aground. She was returning from a trip to England.  She has "gold" coins sewed into her petticoats and under garments.  I think she pulled it off wonderfully.

At the beginning of the war, Maryland native Rose O'Neal Greenhow lived in Washington, D.C., with her four children. Her deceased husband was wealthy and well connected in the capital, and Greenhow used her influence to aid the Southern cause. Working with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Jordan, she established an elaborate spy network in Washington. The effectiveness of the operation was soon demonstrated when Greenhow received information concerning the movements of General Malcolm McDowell's army shortly before the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. A female courier carried messages from Greenhow to Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard at his Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters. Beauregard later testified that because of the gained intelligence, he requested extra troops from General Joseph Johnston's nearby command, helping the Confederates score a dramatic victory against the Yankees in the first major battle of the war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent Greenhow a letter of appreciation the day after the battle.

Federal authorities soon learned of the security leaks, and the trail led to Greenhow's residence. She was placed under house arrest, and other suspected female spies were soon arrested and joined her there. The house, nicknamed "Fort Greenhow," still managed to produce information for the Rebels. When her good friend, Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson, visited Greenhow, he carelessly provided important intelligence that Greenhow slipped to her operatives. After five months, she and her youngest daughter, "Little Rose," were transferred to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. She was incarcerated until June 1862, when she went into exile in the South.

Greenhow and Little Rose spent the next two years in England. Greenhow penned a memoir titled My Imprisonment and traveled to England and France, drumming up support for the Southern cause. She then decided to return to the Confederacy to contribute more directly to the war effort. Greenhow and her daughter were on board the British blockade-runner Condor when it was intercepted by the U.S.S. Niphon off Cape Hattaras, North Carolina. The Yankee ship ran Condor aground near Forth Fischer. Greenhow was carrying Confederate dispatches and $2,000 in gold. Insisting that she be taken ashore, she boarded a small lifeboat that overturned in the rough surf. The weight of the gold pulled her under, and her body washed ashore the next morning. Greenhow was given a hero's funeral and buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina, her body wrapped in the Confederate flag.

Ebony and Ivory.

I came as Mary Anna Morrison Jackson, the Widow of the Confederacy, and J came as John E. Baker.
I think I look better wearing the veil.