2615 W. Cleveland Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53215
No Official Website
Bella Morte Rating: 2 Tombstones
While visiting the stunning, 5-tombstone rated Forest Home Cemetery, you will espy Greenwood just across West Cleveland Avenue. Any devoted taphophile will not be able to resist the urge to explore another burial ground. Of course, we understand and encourage you to do just that, but be forewarned that Greenwood pales in comparison to its next-door neighbor. A brief visit should suffice to satisfy your desire to explore this small but pleasant cemetery.
The information we have been able to obtain in regard to the early history of Greenwood Cemetery reveals a number of conflicts. The founding of the cemetery falls between 1880 and 1889 according to the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee’s “Jewish Timeline;” however, the International Jewish Cemetery Project places the founding in 1869. Additionally, James S. Buck’s 1890 book, Pioneer History of Milwaukee from the First American Settlement in 1833 to 1841 with a Topographical Description provides still different information. As Buck’s is an early publication, it seems it may offer the most accurate information. Additionally, it provides some other interesting tidbits; therefore, it is from this source we quote:
Greenwood Cemetery is situated in the Town of Milwaukee adjoining the Forest Home. The Greenwood Cemetery Association was organized April 1, 1872, under the laws of the state. Its certificate places the management in the hands of a board of trustees, elected annually by the lot owners, who have the power to make assessments and procure funds for the maintenance of the grounds in good condition. The land, consisting of ten acres, was purchased from Levi and Caroline Blossom by D. Adler, Henry Friend, and A. F. Leopold, and was devoted exclusively to the use of the Israelites.
The original officers were: D. Adler, President; H. Friend, Vice President; Henry Bonns, Treasurer; J. Nathanson, Secretary. The present officers are the same, with the exception of Elias Friend, who is Vice President and H. M. Oberndorfer, Secretary. The Board of Trustees are: D.Adler, Elias Friend, Henry Bonns, A.F. Leopold, Ph. Carpeles, J.B.Schram, H.M. Benjamin, L. Newbouer, J. Nathanson.
The first interments were the bodies of Nathan Engelmann and family. From April 1, 1872, up to April, 1880, they numbered 152. Deeds are given to lot purchasers, subject to the rules and regulations of the association. The expenses are met by each lot being assessed $3 per year. Among the prominent persons buried here are Henry Friend and wife, who went down in the steamer "Schiller;" and Edward Adler, son of David Adler, who after receiving the highest educational honors from European universities, was stricken with brain fever. The total cost of the buildings, improvements, etc., is upward of $10,000.
You may have noted that Henry Friend (referenced above) was the first President of Greenwood. The steamship “Schiller,” on which he and his wife lost their lives, sank off Britain’s Cornish Coast on 7 May, 1875. Of the 372 souls on board, all but 37 perished in a series of compounding tragedies. The tale of the sinking of this “Victorian Titanic” is horrifying, albeit fascinating, particularly when reading original accounts published in the papers of the time. We strongly encourage your further, independent exploration.
Of the monuments we viewed at Greenwood, we bring to your attention that of the Straus sisters, Jennie (1852 – 1938) and Leah (1850 – 1909). A stele featuring a lovely image of a woman artfully sculpted into the stone stands above the sister’s names and the inscription: “Devoted sisters to each other.” Were it not for the fact that Greenwood is a Jewish graveyard and that the sisters were also Jewish, we would say the woman in the sculpture is the Virgin Mary as her pose is traditional for representations of that religious figure. Perhaps the stone was, shall we shall, creatively re-purposed?
At any rate, a brief search of the historical records of Milwaukee’s Jewish Museum revealed that Jennie was born in Boston, Massachusetts on the 12th of August, 1852. She died on the 8th of March, 1938. The records also state that her sister, Leah, was born in New York on 25 December, 1848 (in conflict with the gravestone which marks her year of birth as 1850) and that she died on 25 August, 1909. The records show both of the sisters at rest in Greenwood lot S2B9L7.
One wonders about the story of these “Devoted sisters to each other.” Were they spinsters? Divorcees who chose their final rest together? Discovering answers to such queries is our delight…though the unanswered questions also keep the intrigue delightfully alive.