Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Walk Among the Pelham Stones

I recently made a visit to the Pelham Cemetery and thought I would share some of what I found. Cemeteries can be places for solemn reflection but they also offer much for anyone with an interest in history, family or otherwise. Many hints of Pelham's history can be found here.

In the nearly two years I've been posting on this blog, I've done quite a few items on the city's past. Makes sense; I live here. I've covered the general history of Pelham, the development of its schools, the long-gone Pelham Heights Hotel and even more recent history--the former locations of video stores. Now let's see what we find among the stones. 

Many last names appear frequently on these stones, representing earlier residents of the area or their more recent descendants. These names include Bishop, Brasher, Butler, Coates, Cross, Dennis, Douglas, Dunaway, Elliott, Glass, Grubbs, Lee, Martin, Oates, Payne, Peyton, Powell, Smith, Stewart and Wilson. Paul Yeager, Pelham's first mayor after incorporation in 1964, is also buried here. 

The graves of four doctors are located in the cemetery. I discuss them and selected other graves below.

UPDATE 18 October 2019

You can read a Pelham Reporter article about a group placing flags on the veteran graves in this cemetery here


Source: Find-A-Grave

I pulled into the cemetery and found a place to park right in front of this sign. Sad that such a declaration is needed in such a place.

There are some nice views in the cemetery despite its location in the middle of busy Pelham.

Angel statuary of all types are often found in older cemeteries. Graves of infants and young children can be found in cemeteries of any age.

You never know who or what you'll encounter in a cemetery. 

This stone is an example of an individual born before the Civil War who is buried here.

The cemetery is located at a busy intersection just a block off U.S. Highway 31 and is surrounded by retail and light industrial businesses.

On some modern gravestones you'll find a photograph of the deceased. 

Elias Bishop's is another one of the older graves in the cemetery. His stone features a Masonic symbol with carpenter's square and compass indicating the deceased's membership in that fraternal organization. Bishop is one of the common names in the cemetery.

Dr. A.W. Horton
[April 11, 1872-February 24, 1910]

He is the only Horton buried here.

The cemetery has a trio of children's graves side-by-side. 

Dr. Garland H. Smith
[July 10, 1860-September 2, 1905]

He graduated from the Medical College of Alabama in 1889 and began practice in Shelby County the next year.

Cemeteries are full of gravestone symbolism. The hand is pointing to heaven; the crown suggests the glory of God. 

Dr. William B. Cross
[October 5, 1821-December 25, 1884]

His brother W.S. Cross was a merchant in Pelham. 

Payne was apparently a popular physician who was murdered in Birmingham by a jealous husband. 

This quatrain or some variation can be found on grave markers across America. 

Dr. Payne's gravestone is one of the tallest in the cemetery.

There are some striking gravestones in this cemetery, but given its age there is one type conspicuously missing--the tree stump markers. I've seen many of those in cemeteries in Alabama and elsewhere. Before 1930 they were often erected for members of the Woodmen of the World fraternal society. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Alabama Book Covers (5): Joseph Holt Ingraham

I am continuing this series devoted to covers and title pages from books by authors with some connection to Alabama.

Joseph Holt Ingraham [1809-1860] filled his fifty-one years with numerous accomplishments in two different fields--popular novelist and Episcopal priest. He was born in Portland, Maine, in January 1809, a son in a wealthy family. He later claimed to have studied at Bowdoin College and Yale. In 1830 he took to the sea on a voyage to New Orleans. The series of articles he published in a Natchez newspaper about the trip became his first book, The South-West, which appeared five years later. He had began teaching at Jefferson College in Mississippi and in 1832 married the daughter of a wealthy planter, Mary Brooks. 

Over the next decade and more Ingraham and his wife traveled often between the South and New York City as he developed his career as author of numerous popular works of fiction. The first of those titles, Lafitte: The Pirate of the Gulf, was published in 1836. This novel was reviewed by none other than Edgar Allan Poe, who found it "by far too frequently descriptive" and proceeded to demolish the prose filled with "unnecessary detail". By 1847 Ingraham had written at least 80 short novels published by Boston firms and often featuring tales of pirates or the dangers of urban life. He claimed to have written 20 in a year.

In 1847 Ingraham joined the Protestant Episcopal Church and took a teaching job in Nashville. He gave up writing lurid fiction and by 1852 had become an Episcopal priest. Before he died he held various teaching and clerical positions around the South. 

From December 1853 until January 1857 Ingraham served as the first Rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Mobile. During that time he wrote The Prince of the House of David published in 1855. The book was the first best-selling fiction based on the life of Christ. The original publisher issued at least six editions, and when the copyright expired, a dozen more printed their own. Two subsequent novels, The Pillar of Fire [1859] and The Throne of David [1860], completed a Biblical trilogy of sorts. 

Ingraham moved to Tennessee for a brief period and then in September 1858 became rector of Christ Church in Holly Springs, Mississippi. On December 18, 1860, Ingraham died there of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His contemporaries considered his death to result from an accidental discharge of his pistol.

Ingraham and his wife had a son, Prentiss, who also had an Alabama connection and will be discussed in a future posting. The son had a life filled with adventure around the world before he began a second career as a novelist. Prentiss Ingraham published hundreds of works before his death in 1904, some of them revisions of works by his father. The younger Ingraham transformed the older's florid text into something more acceptable to late nineteenth century dime novel readers. Dozens of works by Prentiss were devoted to Buffalo Bill and were largely responsible for creating the myths surrounding William Cody. 

Rev. Joseph H. Ingraham

This postcard dating before 1910 shows St. John's Episcopal Church on North Dearborn Street in downtown Mobile. Founded in 1853, this wooden structure was used until 1956.

Below are some book covers and title pages of a few of Ingraham's novels along with commentary on some of them.










Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838,
By Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

Ingraham' s The Beautiful Cigar Girl; or, the Mysteries of Broadway was based on the famous Mary Rogers case in New York City. Rogers was a young woman who worked as a clerk in a tobacco shop and whose beauty overwhelmed many a customer. In late July 1841 her body was found in the Hudson River at Hoboken, New Jersey. The murder was never solved.

However, the real event has lived on in such fiction as Ingraham's and Poe's classic short story "The Mystery of Marie Roget", which appeared in 1842. Although the victim's name was changed and the setting relocated to Paris, Poe's story is sometimes considered the first murder fiction based on a real crime. 

Daniel Stashower's article on the case can be found here. His 2006 book is The Beautiful Cigar Girl. 

Cover of the 1844 first printing of the novel

Title page from an 1859 printing of Ingraham's Beautiful Cigar Girl

Ingraham's works remained popular long after his death. The title page above is an 1880 printing of the work.

His book The Pillar of Fire, first published in 1859, served as one of the sources for Cecil B. de Mille's 1956 film, The Ten Commandments

Another of Ingraham's popular works was that romantic novel based on the life of pirate Jean Lafitte and first published in 1836 as his second book. The title page below is from the 1852 edition. Many of Ingraham's works are available at the Internet Archive.


Bishop, David H. Joseph Holt Ingraham. In: Edwin Anderson Alderman, et al, eds. Library of Southern Literature, 1909, vol. 6: 2591-2611

French, Warren. Joseph Holt Ingraham. In: Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary. Robert Bain, et al, eds. Louisiana State University Press, 1979, pp 240-241

French, Warren. A Hundred Years of a Religious Bestseller. Western Humanities Review 10: 45-54, 1955

French, Warren. A Sketch of the Life of Joseph Holt Ingraham. Journal of Mississippi History 1949 July; 11(3): 155-171

Pennington, E.L. The Ministry of Joseph Holt Ingraham in Mobile, Alabama. Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 1957 December; 26(4): 344-360

Prentiss Ingraham and Joseph H. Ingraham Papers. W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, University of Alabama

Weathersby, Robert W. J.H. Ingraham. Twayne, 1980

Monday, October 19, 2015

Birmingham Photo of the Day (38): Gunn's Pharmacy ca. 1915

This photo from the state archives digital collections site features Gunn's Pharmacy around 1915. The store was then located at the corner of 3rd Avenue North and 18th Street. That corner was a busy one. We can see not only Gunn's, but Covell Photo Studio which is advertising "Copies" and "Enlargements." Is that someone in the window near the "ES" of "Copies"? Take a closer look at the archives site linked below.

We can also see a sign for "Starr Pianos" on the extreme left and an advertisement for the "Alabama State Fair: Tickets For Sale Here". The sidewalks are busy and a policeman [?] stands in the intersection gazing at that new-fangled horseless carriage passing through. 

We can also see banners that say simply "Salome." Are these advertisements for a performance of the Oscar Wilde play which originally premiered in 1891? Or perhaps the Richard Strauss opera from 1905? Or maybe it's a brand of soap available at Gunn's Pharmacy.  

The pharmacy dates to 1895, when William Gunn bought the Ellis Drug Company. You can learn more about this business, and see a photograph of the interior, at the always-fascinating BhamWiki site.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Quick Visit to Mobile, Alabama (2)

Back in July we visited Mobile for a family gathering. We stayed at the Battle House Hotel and ventured up and down Dauphin Street when we had a chance and despite the heat. I covered some of what we saw in an earlier post. Here are some more of the sites along one of the city's iconic streets.

Cathedral Square is a city park across the street from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which was built between 1850 and 1884. The Square was once a Catholic Cemetery but most graves were moved in 1819.

Located across another street from Cathedral Square is the Bishop Portier House. Mobile's first Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Portier lived here from 1834 until 1859.

These two institutions are across the street from Cathedral Square. I found the juxtaposition interesting. More information can be found at the Mobile Arts Council web site and a 2009 article about the Police Museum

We could not resist getting something salty and something sweet from this business in operation since 1947.

I'm always ready to visit local bookstores, and several of us made it to Bienville Books just across from the Square on Dauphin Street. Book lovers can spend some serious browsing time in this two-story haven. I especially enjoyed the local history section.


We were all excited to come across this classic American icon from the film A Christmas Story in the barber shop across the street from the Battle House.

More than 25 sites now make up the Alabama Oyster Trail. Painted by local artists, the statues are meant to highlight restoration efforts in Mobile Bay.  

Beautiful Bienville Square is near the hotel. The entire block is now the park, but it started out as a plot of land deeded by the U.S. government to the city if used as a park. Over the years the city purchased the remaining land in the block and owned it all by 1849. At one time the Spanish Hospital stood in this block. The Square is named for the city's founder.

Even the squirrels seemed to be feeling the heat that day


This building near the hotel is another example of the wonderful architecture being restored in that part of Mobile.

Opened in January 1927, the Saenger Theatre was the 61st facility in a chain throughout the South started by two brothers in New Orleans. The theater was built to resemble opera houses in Europe. Like so many theaters built in that era, the Saenger had many uses over the years and faced imminent destruction in 1970. Luckily the Saenger survived to entertain another day.