The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

old and exalted

with 2 comments

A night time trip to Greenwood Cemetery with the Obscura Society, part two.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As discussed in yesterday’s post, an opportunity to join up with Atlas Obscura’s excursion to the Stephen Whitney monument at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn presented itself. As is my habit, a profusion of photographs were captured while in the cemetery, which was encased in a foggy environment with little to no artificial light beyond that produced by the handheld lanterns and candles set out by the Obscura Society.

from wikipedia

Stephen Whitney (1776–1860) was one of the wealthiest merchants in New York City in the first half of the 19th century. His fortune was considered second only to that of John Jacob Astor. As a prominent citizen of the rapidly growing city, he helped to build some of its institutions, including the Merchants’ Exchange Building, the first permanent home of the New York stock exchange.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Whitney monument itself, a refreshment was offered, and Allison Meier finished up her narration releasing the crowd to heterogeneous mingling. Your humble narrator had grown chill from the humid November night, but nevertheless continued to exploit this rare opportunity to visit with the tomb legions and night gaunts with the cemetery gates locked behind me.

from 1853’s Rules and regulations of the Green-wood cemetery; with a catalogue of proprietors, courtesy

” A correct idea, expressed in marble, may be very beautiful, so long as it is unique ; but by too frequent imitation, and in too close proximity with its original, it may destroy the charm of the first, and ultimately raise feelings in the beholder the reverse of those desired.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stephen Whitney was the second richest man in New York City, and this is the monument he built to himself. He married into the Suydam family, a lineage of note dating back to that primeval era of the Dutch decadence when New York was called New Amsterdam.

from 1898’s Hendrick Rycken, the progenitor of the Suydam family in America. A monograph, courtesy

Hendrick Rycken had been preceded by other members of his family. The Annals of Newtown, page 301, reads : “When New Netherland invited the virtuous and the daring to seek a home in her wilds, several of the Rikers joined the adventurers coming hither. These were Abraham, Gysbert, Rynier, and Hendrick Rycken, the last of whom came out a few years after the others, and was the ancestor of the Suydam family, his sons assuming that name.” Hence the Riker genealogy is the same as that of the Suydams ; and the heraldry, the noble German ancestry extending back to the eleventh century ; these ancestors’ participation in the First Crusade, as ofificers in the army of Walter the Penniless, are equally their pride and glory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The timed event was over, and the crew from Atlas Obscura needed to ferry the excursion participants back to the locked gates of Greenwood. I offered to stick around and “watch the stuff” while they did so, allowing a humble narrator a little “alone time.” I set up the tripod and got down to it, as I was alone in Greenwood for a spell.


At noon, yesterday, Mr. STEPHEN WHITNEY, one of the oldest and wealthiest of our citizens, died at his residence in Bowling-green. Some of his intimate friends state that he was but 70 years of age, while others affirm that he had completed his 80th year. He entered business, in this City, at an early period of his life, and has always been considered strictly upright in his dealings, but at the same time close and sharp in effecting bargains. These characteristics laid the foundation for a fortune which has accumulated of late years, until it is estimated at the enormous amount of $8,000,000.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 26, 2013 at 7:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks. Nice.

    georgetheatheist...appreciatively attentive

    November 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm

  2. Gorgeous!


    November 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm

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