Monday, May 25, 2015

Where Are They Now?

Genealogy websites are often useful for figuring out when people died, but rarely how.... or where they are now. However, there's a site called that is very helpful for the latter.

It's where I found that the Sabines are all interred in Mount Auburn Cemetery, one of my husband's and my favorite haunts, so to speak. They were not a religious family, which was somewhat unusual in those days, although according to his biography, Professor Sabine walked his two little girls to Sunday school every week himself. (I'm assuming that they realized that Sunday school was important for their daughters' social prospects. Their little girls were expected to be debutantes, being Mayflower descendants.)

At any rate, I did some hunting and found their location number in the Bigelow Chapel Columbarium, for they were all cremated. Everyone is in the same niche, except their oldest daughter Janet, who is buried alone on Thistle Path, not far from Harvard president Charles Eliot, who was her father's great mentor and supporter. We've been visiting his grave for years.

Looking around on Mount Auburn's website, I learned that Bigelow Chapel was going to be open on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend for an open house — it's only open to the public on three Sunday afternoons a year. The rest of the time it's used for services, including weddings.

Perfect timing. Yesterday we went walking in Mount Auburn on a hot, sunny afternoon:

Remember how far away all this greenness and warmth seemed in January, February, and March? I was dreading the heat even then.

Bigelow Chapel is beautiful, but I think it looks even better in snow:

I hadn't been inside in years. We once went to an outdoor dinner party in the cemetery, to celebrate some major anniversary. It was an unseasonably cold June night and everyone was freezing. At our table, we passed a votive candle around so everyone could thaw their hands. We also left between courses to huddle in the chapel for warmth.

Anyway, the chapel is a beautiful Gothic Revival space, smaller and more intimate than you'd expect given its soaring ceiling. The Sabines' funeral services were held here.

There are small niches on the ground floor and larger ones up flights of stairs on each side of the chapel. I needed the flashlight on my phone to hunt for them. The Sabine niche wasn't easy to find. It is at the bottom corner of this wall, next to the window.

Here lies the professor and his wife, his daughter Ruth, and his father, Hylas, who has a grave marker in Ohio but was buried here. The whole family was remarkable and interesting, including Wallace's sister Annie, an artist. I may eventually do a post on each to tell you why.

The ashes of Janet, the Sabines' older daughter, are buried under a yew, next some early 19th-century gravestones. She died fairly young, at 42, less than a year after her second marriage. I imagine her husband planned to be buried there but changed his mind. He survived her by many years.

We'll be back to visit again.


  1. Thought you might be interested in this link to a photo of the Back Bay...way back! If the link doesn't work for you, I'll post the photo on my blog. Shorpy is a really neat historic photo site.

    1. What a great photo! Thank you so much for thinking of me!


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