5239 W. Florissant Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63115
Bella Morte Rating: 5 Tombstones
Like its stunning neighbour, Bellefontaine (located just across Calvary Avenue), Calvary Cemetery is an outstanding St. Louis graveyard offering.
Buried within the hallowed grounds of Calvary lie the remains of notables such as Auguste Chouteau, co-founder of the City of St. Louis, and his wife Therese Cerre; Nez Perce leaders Black Eagle and Speaking Eagle; Dred Scott, slave who sued unsuccessfully for his freedom in the famous Dred Scott v. Sandford case; Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, and playwright Tennessee Williams, who is buried in a lot shared with his mother, Edwina Dakin Williams.
The cemetery is also the final resting place for numerous members of various religious orders including Sisters of the Visitation, Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Sisters of the Good Shepard, Sisters of the Sacred Heart (whose graves are marked with black iron crosses), Sisters of Mercy and members of other congregations. In addition, many priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis are interred here.
Amidst the amazing collection of captivating monuments at Calvary, one stands out as among the most unique we have come across. This is the memorial to the Morrison family children. How odd it was to come upon the stone crib and invalid chair of these children out among the other, more conventional tombstones. An inscription on the memorial of the young boy in the invalid chair reads:
Son of J.L.D. & A.S. Morrison
Born June 29, 1870
Died Aug. 13, 1875
He is seen no more, because
God hath taken him
Oddly, there is no inscription on the crib.
We have read that the children memorialized here were brothers, but have been unable to locate any information beyond that, including the name of the second child.
At any rate, this is a fascinating monument and certainly not one to be missed when visiting the cemetery. The ravages of time have made the memorial even more eerie than it may have been when the sculptor first laid aside his chisel. Then, the children had discernable features. Now, their weathered faces have worn away to a degree that they appear more ghastly than pitiful, particularly the child in the crib; certainly not the intention of the parents who so mourned their loss they chose to preserve their memories in stone, no doubt at great expense.
In contrast to the elaborate Morrison monument is the simple, unadorned headstone of Kate Chopin (1851-1904). The stone belies a life that was anything but ordinary, particularly for a woman of her day. Ms. Chopin authored over one hundred novels, poems and short stories, including the infamous, Awakenings, a tale of adulterous love which earned her as much criticism as it did acclaim. Readers were as captivated by Ms. Chopin's characters, it seems, as they were by the author herself...a feminine, cigar-smoking woman who was also known for her sartorial elegance.
The mother of six lost her husband in 1881 and died herself 23 years later from an apparent brain hemorrhage.
One of final poems Kate penned was "To the Friend of My Youth: To Kitty." It seems fitting to include it here.
It is not all of life
To cling together while the years glide past.
It is not all of love
To walk with clasped hands from first to last.
That mystic garland which the spring did twine
Of scented lilac and the new-blown rose,
Faster than chains will hold my soul to thine
Thro' joy, and grief, thro' life - unto its close.
Before visiting Calvary, please do explore the cemetery's website. Though not the most visually appealing or easy to navigate, it nonetheless contains a wealth of information. And, of course, make certain to visit Calvary's next door neighbour, Bellefontaine.