The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for April 30th, 2012

constantly consulting

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gilman, Gilman, Gilman.

Idiotic, your humble narrator cannot break loose of the compulsion which drives me toward destruction, which will be the result of locating a certain grave amongst Calvary Cemetery’s emerald devastations. Weak of will and enslaved by fevered thoughts, once more do my feet fall upon a carpet of grass fed by a morbid nutrition, stumbling across and into the city of the dead. On the subject at hand, which is the attempt to locate a tiny needle in a gigantic hay stack- a needle not even certain to still exist in this age- let’s recap:

As mentioned in the post “Searching for Gilman“:

“Somewhere in the viridian depths of Calvary Cemetery lies an unremarked merchant from Massachusetts, who died in an accident along the delirious Newtown Creek in 1931. No obituary I can find discusses him, and Gilman slid unnoticed into the hallowed loam of Calvary’s charitable sections. His anonymity came to an end when, according to neighborhood sources and contemporary diarists, a relict 3 masted schooner arrived at the Penny Bridge docks and ordered an eccentric monument be erected on Gilman’s resting place. The captain of that black ship, a leathery bastard named Marsh, collected Gilman’s belongings and sailed via Newtown Creek to the East River, turning North toward Hell Gate- ultimately disappearing into the mists of Long Island Sound heading for New England.”


The first survey of Newtown Creek was completed by Dutch explorers in 1613-1614, and the Dutch acquired the area from the local Mespatches tribe shortly thereafter. Initially, the Newtown Creek area was used primarily for agriculture, but following the Revolutionary War, it became industrialized with glue and tin factories, rope works, tanneries, and the Sampson Oil Cloth Factory operating along Newtown Creek and its tributaries. There was a shift to shipbuilding in the Pre-Civil War Period. Following the Civil War, textile manufacturing and oil refining replaced shipbuilding along Newtown Creek and its tributaries.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has been established, circumstantially, that the accident which claimed Gilman was definitively in Blissville, and happened westward of Penny Bridge but east of the Greenpoint Avenue crossing. Additionally, disturbing intonations that the packs of feral dogs which were contemporaneously described as endemic to the area avoided the cadaver, but that the local rodent population did not find itself constrained from feasting.

from the posting “A World Yet Inchoate“:

“Enigma, my search for the elusive final resting place of the Massachusetts based dealer in far eastern art has taken me to distant and forgotten sections of the City of Greater New York. I have consulted with asiatic mystics in Manhattan’s Chinatown, visited a heretical Kabbalist in Brooklyn, and have drawn the ire of certain extant allies of the dead man whose influence and reach extend into the federal government and modernity itself who wish me to remain silent on the subject.”

from 1892’s History of the Catholic Church in the United States, By John Gilmary Shea – courtesy google books

The burial place for the Catholic dead of the great city now required, apparently, a vast extent of ground. The little plot around St. Peter’s Church had been the first, but a nook in Trinity Church yard held, and still holds, some Catholic dead. Then the ground around St. Patrick’s Cathedral was used, and in time a cemetery was purchased on Eleventh Street. These had all proved insufficient. Bishop Hughes looked beyond the limits of the city for a spot not likely to be reached for many years by the rapid growth of population, yet comparatively easy of access. Thirty acres of the Alsop farm, on Newtown Creek, Long Island, were purchased, and the ground was solemnly blessed by Rt. Rev. Bishop Hughes, as Calvary Cemetery, July 27, 1848, and in a few days the first interment took place. The cemetery has been enlarged by subsequent purchases, till it now contains more than a hundred acres.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Problematic in locating even a general area to search within, for the obsequious and gauche monument which the eponymous Capt. Marsh installed within the cemetery in remembrance of the fallen Gilman would have been in one of the so called “poor sections” of the polyandrion. Imagine, the sheer volume of dead bodies shipped out from Manhattan in that era, reported at the time as nearly one hundred on an average day (and far higher in times of fever, plague, and riot). These poor, or charity, sections saw hundreds of interments per week. Could it be possible that the monument to Gilman actually adorned his own grave, or that it might somehow still exist within the walls of Calvary?

from the posting “marble glories

“Of course, this is a Roman Catholic cemetery, which suggests that the multitudes who lie here were sealed off- magickly- by the sacrament of “Extreme Unction” from suffering such macabre experiences as walking about the earth seeking living victims in some post mortem half life. The heritage of the Catholics extends back through time to the Dagon devotees of Syria and the tomb worshipping Etruscans, and the Romans spent enough time in Egypt and North Africa to have picked up and incorporated many of the Magicks they found into the syncretic system of beliefs and rites known as and inherited by modernity as Catholicism. The mysteries of the church are many, and varied, and more has been forgotten or lost over the centuries than any single lifetime can recover.”

from 1890’s HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES, By JACOB A. RIIS –courtesy google books

Life in the tenements in July and August spells death to an army of little ones whom the doctor’s skill is powerless to save. When the white badge of mourning flutters from every second door, sleepless mothers walk the streets in the gray of the early dawn, trying to stir a cooling breeze to fan the brow of the sick baby. There is no sadder sight than this patient devotion striving against fearfully hopeless odds. Fifty “summer doctors,” especially trained to this work, are then sent into the tenements by the Board of Health, with free advice and medicine for the poor. Devoted women follow in their track with care and nursing for the sick. Fresh-air excursions run daily out of New York on land and water; but despite all efforts the grave-diggers in Calvary work over-time, and little coffins are stacked mountain – high on the deck of the Charity Commissioners’ boat when it makes its semi-weekly trips to the city cemetery.

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