The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Cemetery of the Evergreens

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Back to the cemetery, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the venerable Cemetery of the Evergreens in Bushwick, the W. H. Guild mausoleum is found. It’s a cast iron and cylindrical structure which is a fairly unique and unusual thing. The W.H. Guild in question is one William H. Guild of Brooklyn, who died in 1878. A rumor I’ve heard from several people is is that this is some sort of naval gun turret or something.

It’s not, it’s a boiler tank. Here’s the scoop –

Guild was a Williamsburg based manufacturer of steam pumps, boiler tanks, and all the bits that you’d fit on to them. His goods found their most useful employment in the sugar industry, but you’d also find the products offered by Messrs. Guild and Garrison of Brooklyn handy to have if you ran a steam ferry or a civil war era factory. It seems that the old man wanted to be buried in something he made, which was (and is) a boiler tank.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You have to learn to trust Kevin Walsh at Forgotten-NY on the subject of what things used to be called, and the hidden hierophant of history proclaims that Kent Avenue in Williamsburg was once called “First Street.(Incidentally, before it was First Street it was Charles Street, so take that Kevin!)

According to Armbruster’s “Eastern District of Brooklyn, K Streets you’d have found the factory of Guild and Garrison on First Street between South 8th and South 9th streets. Armbruster actually uses the factory as a “modern” landmark to place where Kings Distillery’s “Williamsburgh Garden” beer garden was located. A somewhat more modern reference for the location of Guild and Garrison would be that it was a few blocks south of the former Domino Sugar plant. The company also maintained an office at 74 Beekman Street, in Manhattan.


The office of Kings Distillery was in HANSFIELD Tavern. Later he opened a 3rd place along
the shore, between South 8th & South 9th Streets, calling it, Williamsburgh Garden and
many balls and festivities were held there.

GUILD & GARRISON’S Machine shop was later established there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that Mr. Guild was involved in a bit of drama during his sunset years, having eloped at the age of 70 with an 18 year old named Rosella Stillman in 1864. The details of the affair were preserved by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in its Wednesday, April 6, 1864 edition, the text of which is found below.




A Prominent Business Man and the Daughter of a New York Editor Disappear–What was Revealed by Inquiries–A Marriage Notice which Settled all Doubt–Off for Europe

Social circles in the Nineteenth Ward are in a state of ferment over the elopement of an eighteen-year old daughter of a well known citizen of that locality, who is one of the editors of a New York daily papers, and one of the most prominent business men in the Eastern District, who is said to be over seventy years of age.

On Monday last Mr. Amos B. STILLMAN, who resides at No. 75 Ross street, went to Coney Island, taking with him his daughter, Rosella, aged eighteen. Upon returning, Mr. STILLMAN proposed to go at once to his business in New York, and his daughter, as was her usual practice, accompanies him on his way to the ferry. At South Eighth and Second streets they parted, Mr. STILLMAN continuing on his journey to the ferry and his daughter, as he supposed, to return home. When Mr. STILLMAN reached his home after having performed his duties in New York, he was greatly surprised at being told by his wife that their daughter had not been home at all that night. The father at once proceeded to make  inquiries, but all he succeeded in ascertaining was that his daughter had visited Theodore DOW’S shoe store, No. 85 Fourth street, soon after he had left her and purchased a pair of gaiters, leaving the ones which she had been wearing, and stating that she would call for them.

Mr. STILLMAN then remembered that on parting with his daughter he had inquired of her if she had need of any money, and received a negative reply. While pondering as to where his daughter had received the money, it suddenly occurred to him that Mr. William H. GUILD, of the firm of GUILD &  GARRISON, well-known manufacturers doing business in First street, who at late was a frequent visitor at his home, had on several occasions made his daughter presents, some of which consisted of money. Mrs. STILLMAN then (yesterday) repaired to the residence of Mr. GUILD, and was told that that gentleman was not at home, and that he had not been on the previous night. Mr. STILLMAN then made up his mind that the couple had eloped. Though filled with grief at what he considered the unwise action of his daughter, the father then let the matter rest. The following notice, which appeared in a New York paper this morning, settles the question beyond all doubt:

GUILD-STILLMAN–In St. Barnaby’s Church, Williamsburgh, on Monday, July 28,

Wm. H. GUILD, of Williamsburgh, to Rosella M., eldest daughter of Amos B. STILLMAN, also of Williamsburgh. After the marriage, Mr. and Ms. GUILD sailed for Europe.

It is said that directly after being made the purchase of shoes, Miss STILLMAN entered a coach which was in waiting on Broadway, and with Mr. GUILD was driven to the church at which the wedding ceremony was performed. They were then driven to New York where they put up at a hotel. The bridegroom is a widower whose wife has been dead about a year and is a man of wealth. He has a family of grown up children.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

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From the very edge of the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cemetery of the Evergreens is found near the border of East New York and Bushwick, is some 225 acres in size, and is home to around a half million corpses. For a short time, during the 1920’s, it was the busiest burying ground in the entire city. Unfortunately, during my visit, the fact that Anthony Comstock is buried here was unknown to me, for I am possessed of a strong desire to first spread out a few issues of Hustler and thereupon urinate upon his grave. If that sounds shocking, you don’t know who that “assassin of joy” called Comstock was. If I’d known he was here, I’d have brought him some porn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Evergreens was my second destination on a recent trip to the south eastern interval of the Pentacle, after having visited Machpela Cemetery. When entering the place, a humble narrator was in a state of willful ignorance. My friend Kevin Walsh over at Forgotten-NY has written extensively (and offered a walking tour) about the non sectarian Cemetery of the Evergreens, btw., but this was my first visit. Personally, I was blown away by the view, as the altitude of the hill that the cemetery is built into offers panoramic views of the entire geologic “soup bowl” that NYC is nestled into. The only competition for these tapophile views from Bushwick, in my experience, are those encountered at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery found a few miles to the north over in Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It must be mentioned, as always, that the Manhattan people look to Brooklyn and Queens to dispose of things they don’t want – which includes their dead. Back in 1847, the Rural Cemeteries Act was passed as a sanitary law. The RCA of 1847, a reaction to a recent Cholera outbreak in Manhattan’s Bloody Sixth Ward, decreed that no new burials were to take place on Manhattan Island and that the various sects and houses of worship housed thereupon must acquire properties in “the country.” Back then, “the country” meant the vastness of greater Newtown or the infinity of the City of Brooklyn (independent municipalities, I would mention, who permanently lost a significant acreage of otherwise profitable land to these cemeteries).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observed were a wealth of monuments representing several recent eras in the field of graphic design. Particularly well represented were early 20th century deco and nouveau motifs, and typography such as that used on the carvings above was of high quality and tasteful execution. Having spent as much time studying First Calvary as I have, which hosts monuments that are the epitome of an interval starting during the Civil War of the 1860’s right through 1900 or so (thoroughly Irish and German Catholic in type and marker styling), this sort of “moderne” approach to funereal typography caught my eye. Several examples of this sort of marker were noticed, with the one above recorded simply because the light was good.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For as long as this – your Newtown Pentacle – has been focusing on the various cemeteries which comprise the so called “Cemetery Belt” there have been references offered for “disturbing subsidences.” Presumption is made that you have a life and don’t spend your time hunting around cemeteries, unlike me, and that a little bit of explanation as to what you’re looking at should be attempted for the non ghoul.

This is a washout, not a fresh interment. If it was a new burial, there would be a temporary marker of some kind and the soil would form a slight mound – there would also be tire marks from earth moving equipment and footprints. Additionally, notice the edges of the bald soil! which bear the shape of flowing water. No, what you’re seeing here is a disturbing subsidence, wherein either the entire casket has been shifted or damaged by hydrologic action – or the lid of the casket has simply collapsed – allowing soil to infiltrate, creating a void which caused column of loam to drop down.

As mentioned – a “disturbing subsidence.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

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