The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for December 5th, 2012

Tales of Calvary 13- The Callahan monument

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s the fifth of December, a date which the pagans once called Faunalia. In 1945, Flight 19 disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle, and we only have to wait 16 more days for the Mayan Apocalypse to occur.

Why not spend the day in Section 6?

Cornelius Callahan and his family are represented by an enigmatic monument at Calvary Cemetery, here in western Queens, which is remarkable not just for sheer size but for workmanship and design as well. Callahan was chairman of the building committee for the Catholic Archdiocese, and was credited with being instrumental to the building of the orphan asylums in Kingsbridge by Archbishop Farley himself. He died on June 8, 1911.

You can read his obituary at the nytimes, click through and scroll down to the bottom left of the page.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It should be mentioned that this monument is the sculptural capstone of a family crypt. In addition to Cornelius, his wife(s), sister, daughter and apparently a pet named Emma are buried beneath this block of carved stone. Daughter Katie M. Callahan was meant to inherit the paternal fortune, provided she bear offspring, but unfortunately she left this mortal coil before her father. The story of the execution of the will has survived the passage of 101 years.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The will Cornelius left behind stipulated that his properties be sold off and the proceeds divided amongst several individuals but the primary beneficiary was the Archdiocese itself. Records of a lawsuit persist in the historic record which state that the Church and other heirs would have preferred the deed to the midtown Manhattan properties rather than the cash, but a judge ruled in favor of Cornelius’s estate and Mr. Callahan’s stated wishes. Even 101 years ago, retaining Manhattan Real Estate was seen as a better investment than selling it, I guess.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A good amount of looking around revealed little else about the Callahans, although they were obviously people of high station and attainment. Cornelius, as stated above, was the chair of the Building Committee for the Archdiocese of New York during a historical period when it was at its nadir- politically and financially speaking. This was an era of church building, parochial campus expansion, and an age when the Irish (in particular) ruled over the City. Mr. Callahan would have overseen a small army of construction workers, suppliers, and itinerant laborers in his professional capacity.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You never know who you might run across at Calvary Cemetery. The Original Gangster, a King of Ireland, the Abbot, or even the Newsboy Governor. This is where Tammany Hall lies, dreaming but not dead, alongside those huddled masses who legendarily yearned to breathe free. Wandering its emerald devastations, one can barely hope to comprehend the transmogrification accomplished by those interred here. They found a city of two and three story wooden buildings, and within a generation or two, altered it into the heroic shape of modern day New York City.

Have a happy Faunalia, lords and ladies, and embrace your loved ones, for the Mayan Apocalypse draws nigh.

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