Monday, April 14, 2014

ANALYSIS OF A PHOTOGRAPH




There is quite a lot of detail in this photograph, which obviously shows the gravestone for Charles T Russell and nearby, the Pyramid monument erected by early 1920. The photograph likely dates from that year or very shortly thereafter. The pyramid was designed to have engraved on pages on all four sides the names of all those buried on the Watch Tower Society’s plot. There was even a plot reserved for J F Rutherford originally. However, the plan was quite soon abandoned, as noted in an earlier article on this blog, probably because the center of activities returned to Brooklyn in 1919 and then stayed there until very recent times. There was little point, and a lot of unnecessary expense, in shipping bodies all the way back to Pittsburgh unless the families had a direct Pittsburgh connection.
Directly center in the photograph is the farmhouse, which became the office for the United Cemeteries, with J Bohnet in residence for a short time. (Bohnet is pictured in one of the photographs in the post just before this article). This farmhouse was pictured from a different angle when the cemetery company really got going in 1909, and that photo is also in the previous post. In quite recent years this area has been covered with a Masonic building, causing delight for conspiracy theorists. They cannot seem to get their heads around the fact that the Watch Tower Society sold off this land in the early 1920s and has had no input on its use since then.
Then, almost in the centre, a little way down and to the right of the pyramid (looking down the hill) are two small grave markers. They are most likely for Bible Students Arabela Mann and Mary Jane Whitehouse, both of whom had died and were buried here before the pyramid was completed. These specific markers (of white marble and a foot wide and six inches high) are no longer visible today, perhaps having been covered over with grass. However, the two names are engraved on the pyramid, along with a few others, and a rough plan of interments shows this to be where they are buried. Most visitors to the pyramid miss this, probably because they are not looking for them. Also, because of the way the stone has weathered, and the way the light catches the monument, these engravings can easily “disappear.”
One final point to note: In front of the former farmhouse are a whole cluster of graves. Visitors to the site will look in vain for these today. Were the monuments destroyed or were those buried reinterred elsewhere? The answer is neither. Apparently the cemetery company sold monumental masonry – as do many such companies today. These were simply sample stone on display for purchase by future occupants and/or their families.

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