Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tales from the crypts

Halloween is near, so it's a good time to talk a little again about the Chariton Cemetery mausoleums --- one a monument to a branch of the Copeland family and the other, the Lockwoods. And the granddaddy of them all, the vanished Stanton vault.

There's nothing at all frightening about any of the cemeteries that dot Lucas County, but these monuments to family self-esteem do creep me out a little sometimes. 

Of the two remaining, the Copeland mausoleum (top) is by far the grandest --- and the best preserved. The Lockwood vault (below) in the far northwest corner of the cemetery was a far more modest undertaking, a simple rendered brick structure topped by a concrete slab.

Both were built during 1910, during the months immediately after the deaths of their first (and in the case of the Lockwoods, only) occupants. The Chariton Herald-Patriot of July 28, 1910, reported it this way: "A granite vault is being erected on the H.D. Copeland lot in the Chariton Cemetery. The dimensions of the vault are 13 feet by 11 feet and 1 inch. A vault also is being erected on the Lockwood lot."

The remains of these original occupants had been parked, while awaiting their new homes, in the older Stanton vault, demolished I believe during the late 1960s or 1970s after it had deteriorated sufficiently to become the object of mild horror and morbid curiosity.

The Stanton vault was a project of Dr. James Eddington Stanton, a Chariton physician who by 1887 had acquired controlling interest in the Chariton Cemetery from its original 1863 stockholders. It was designed to be the final resting place for his family --- and a commercial venture as well. Individual crypts within were sold to those who planned to take up permanent residence and it also served as the cemetery's receiving vault, where remains awaiting final disposition were stored temporarily.

There were 30 crypts within the 1887 mausoleum and 16 still were occupied when it was taken down. These occupants were reburied in something of a heap in the mausoleum's footprint after its stone, concrete and and cast iron elements had been cleared away. Six others were evacuated and buried elsewhere in the cemetery.

If interested, follow these links to read more about the Stanton mausoleum and its occupants: The Stanton Vault Revisited: Part 1; The Stanton Vault Revisited: Part 2; and The Stanton Vault Revisited: Part 3.

The Lockwood vault seems to have been conceived after the Oct. 11, 1909, death of Sarah Lockwood. Her husband, George, died a few months later, on June 2, 1910, and his remains were placed temporarily with those of Sarah in the Stanton vault. It apparently was their son, John, who lived in Peoria, Illinois, who commissioned the vault under construction during July of 1910. 

The Lockwoods were veteran Chariton businesspeople, operators of Lockwood Jewelry on the west side of the square. They built the Lockwood Building, now occupied by The 5th Mile, after the great west-side fire of early 1904 destroyed the earlier frame Lockwood building. Their home was a rather grand apartment upstairs that retains for the most part its original features, although unoccupied.

Some years after the Lockwoods' death, the city worked out a trade with their son, John, or his descendants, who deeded the area around the vault to the cemetery in return for a promise to maintain the vault. It received a fresh coat of stucco during 2012.

You can read more about the Lockwood vault here.

The Copeland mausoleum was commissioned shortly after the May 3, 1910, death of Howard Darlington Copeland at the age of 56. The Copelands had substantially deeper pockets than the Lockwoods --- and the Stantons for that matter --- and their final resting place reflects that. You'll find H.D. Copeland's obituary here.

Carrie Eugenia (Custer) Copeland, widow of H.D., died on April 6, 1920, and her remains joined his in the mausoleum. The next family member entombed here was Dr. Charles Maples Whicher, a prominent Des Moines physician, who had married Howard D. Copeland's only daughter, Sue Darlington (Copeland) Whicher. He died of a heart attack on July 28, 1930, age 60. 

Sue Whicher died, also in Des Moines, on Oct. 11, 1942, and became the fourth family member entombed in the mausoleum.

The fifth entombment here was that of Howard Custer Copeland, son of Howard D. and Carrie, who died on June 15, 1950. His widow, Edith Clare (Larimer) Copeland, survived until March 4, 1978, but she had an aversion to the mausoleum and chose to be buried in a more traditional manner with her parents just to the southwest. So one of the six available crypts remains unoccupied.

The remains of the last family members to be placed in the vault were those of Dr. David O. Holman, who died in 1993, and Harriett (Copeland) Holman, who died during 2003. They also were the last of the Copeland family to live in Chariton. Their ashes rest on a marble shelf under the stained glass window on the mausoleum's west wall.

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