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Letting Go of Tonight

Headstones for Charles (1849-1909) and Alida S. (1853-1935) Edmondston and their son in Bonaventure Cemetery, 330 Bonaventure Road, Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia. Their son, Charles (1880–1914), died at the age of 33.

John Mullryne’s plantation, with its tree-lined avenues, once occupied this 160-acre site. Mullryne was an English colonel who was granted the land in the 1760s. He named it “Bonaventure,” which is Italian for “good fortune.” Peter Wiltberger purchased Bonaventure in 1846 and his son William turned it into Evergreen Cemetery 22 years later. The haunting, picturesque scenery led one statue, called “Bird Girl,” to appear on the cover of John Berendt’s novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994).

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Angel Below

Headstone for an infant named Wilkes (1965-1965) in Girls School Cemetery on Fox Run Drive, Geneva, Kane County, Illinois. This tiny cemetery is all that remains of the Illinois State Training School for Girls at Geneva, which for 84 years housed adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 16 who had been convicted of offenses punishable by law.

Inevitably, deaths from illness and suicide occurred at the facility. Girls without families, or who had been disowned, were buried in a cemetery on the property. Several dozen infants were buried there as well, and today the cemetery contains 51 graves. After the institution closed and was torn down, a plaque was erected at the cemetery that reads:

Beginning in 1894, this land was used by various government agencies as a center for ‘wayward girls’. The colonial-style cottages, service buildings and fences are gone, but these 51 graves remain. These markers are a testimony that they are no longer wayward but home with their Creator. My God’s peace be with their souls.

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And I Dreamt of You

Grave of an infant named Cronin (1904-1904) in Fairbank Cemetery off the San Pedro Trail, Fairbank, Cochise County, Arizona. The old graveyard is located about a half mile up a trail and is heavily vandalized. Only a few of the original graves remain, marked by piles of stones, wooden crosses, and iron fencing. Unfortunately, the cemetery has been a victim of grave robbery and vandalism over the years.

At one time, Fairbank was a hub of activity along the San Pedro River. Children came from all around to attend its one room schoolhouse. It was never a large town, having only 100 residents at its peak. The town began to die in the early 20th Century, and by 1970 only a small gas station remained.

In 1986, the Bureau of Land Management purchased hundreds of acres of land around the town and created the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Today, the remains of Fairbank have benefited from tourist activity and a few of the original buildings have been preserved. The Bureau of Land Management maintains a small store and museum in the old schoolhouse.

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From the Void

Mausoleum for Charles Rau and family in Mount Hope Cemetery, 1133 Mount Hope Avenue, Rochester, Monroe County, New York. Interred here are Charles (1823-1911) and his wife Elizabeth (1809-1889), her daughter Arabella (unk-1887), and her daughter’s husband Emil Reisky (1845-1907). Charles Rau founded the Genesee Brewing Company (now High Falls Brewing Company) in 1878. He worked for Elizabeth’s first husband, George Marburger, but the two married after he died. Elizabeth’s daughter by her first marriage, Arabella, married Rau’s business partner, Emil Reisky.

Mount Hope Cemetery, adjacent to the University of Rochester, was founded in 1838 as a municipal rural cemetery and sprawls over 196 acres. More than 350,000 former residents are interred there, including abolitionist Frederick Douglass, suffragette Susan B. Anthony, and city founder Nathaniel Rochester.

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