Cemetery, Chemung County, Elmira, Elmira Firefighters, Ernie Davis, Jervis Langdon, Jervis Langdon Jr., Mark Twain, Olivia Lewis Langdon, Samuel Clemens, The Final Journey, Underground Railroad, Woodlawn Cemetery Elmira
As part of The Final Journey, I was scheduled to stop in Elmira on Friday night for the second to last ever 2CW show. But with spending the night in Binghamton at one of their finest hotels, and doing the same in Elmira, I had some time to waste during the day. Thus the previously mentioned stop outside of Elmira at the Battle of Newton and still more adventures and random stops along the way.
One of the many random stops occurred in a previously hyped stop at a cemetery in Elmira, the infamous Woodlawn Cemetery. Why infamous? Because people are dying to get in!
Before I started this journey, I had talked about visiting this cemetery, and now my dreams were coming true. I pulled through the gates of this cemetery, parked my car and started walking around.
I saw a bunch of graves. Which yes, one would obviously expect to be in and around a cemetery.
While doing my initial viewing of the entrance of this cemetery I noticed a weird thing. That being well, this…
I guess I would almost have to assume that this would be involved in a cemetery that held the grave of such famous writer’s as Mark Twain.
It’s a poem by Dante DiStefano called “Love is a Stone Endlessly in Flight”. It first appeared in The Great Falls Anthology, published by the Poetry Center at PCCC in 2014, celebrates the Great Falls, the Passaic River and related environmental issues. You can read the poem by saving the above picture and zooming in or you can just click these words.
I found a rock with a plaque on it, again, also a pole without a flag. I’m really doing good.
This one is dedicated to veterans of all wars of the United States. I guess that’s a way so you don’t have to update it per future wars.
Doing much better than this guy though.
And yeah, much better than this girl did in school.
Please excuse my dirty mind. At least it’s not against the rules.
I’m guessing once I finish writing this I can’t pour concrete on it and place it in the cemetery as per rule number 7.
As for rule number 11… Wow, I almost got caught doing this one. Yep I was doing work in the cemetery. And that black Ford pick up truck in the picture, the dude stopped me and asked if I needed help.
It took a little talking to, but I got him to stay in his truck and drive away. All I had to do was talk about why I was there and what I was in town for.
But I think he got confused when I said wrestling, because he went ranting about how he tried to be a wrestler once and it of course caught my attention. Only to have is squandered when he thought I meant that crappy kind of wrestling you do in High School.
He did however point my toward this building if I needed any help, and well, never trust a guy you’ve just met in a cemetery who’s driving a rusted out old pick up truck especially when he tells you to go inside a building within the confines of a cemetery.
I never went inside that building.
I blame fear.
However he did mention one of the famous interments of Woodlawn being this guy Mark Twain.
If only they could have gotten Twain to write his own sign.
For those not familiar with Mark Twain, first, what is wrong with you!? Second, wow, just wow. And finally let me explain who he was.
Twain was originally known as Samuel Clemens and his pen name became Mark Twain. He wrote The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer and it’s sequel Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.
Here are other novels that have and haven’t been written yet.
Here is a wife and her Lewis. Plus a Beardsley in the background.
There’s some serious trees in this cemetery.
And then there’s this a list of Underground Railroad who are buried within this cemetery.
Out of the 21 names listed, there are many a famous people who are also known for things outside of helping in the Underground Railroad. One such name is Olivia Lewis Langdon, who is actually the mother in law of the aforementioned Mark Twain. You also see her husbands name listed, Jervis, a name that would stay within the family as Twain’s great-nephew would be named Jervis Langdon Jr. and ironically become one of the top railroad executives of all-time.
I could go on explaining the history of each and everyone of these names but I’ll just show you the picture and move on.
Move on to Mosh(er).
Okay maybe that last wasn’t that
But at least I’m not going to make a dirty remark about this picture.
I do however like this different and unique looking grave stone.
Speaking of unique gravestones, this next one is very unique, as it has a concrete circle surrounding it as well as stairs up to the graves.
This is the final resting place for the Diven family. Most notably is Alexander Samuel Diven, who Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General, as well as a US Congressman where he was a member of the New York State Senate in 1858 and in 1861, was elected as a Republican to the Thirty-seventh Congress, serving until 1863. Surprisingly during his term, he was commissioned as Colonel of the 107th New York Volunteer Infantry, the corps he organized at the start of the war. He commanded the administration duties of the 107th New York and was brevetted Brigadier General of US Volunteers in April 1864. After the war he was the vice-president of the Erie railroad and the Mayor of Elmira, New York.
Everyone loves a little Civil War history, and speaking of the Civil War, the next grave I visited is from a person who lived during the Civil War. Yet, that’s not his most notably accomplishment.
I’m of course speaking about Mark Twain, you know I should have written this a different way, and called this “There’s A Writer At The End Of This Grave” but then again I would have to be visiting Grover’s grave site.
Alas I’m visiting the final resting place of “the father of American literature.”
The above plaque, display, tells the story of his death, his burial and a few other members of his extended family that are buried here. It also mentions various other locations locally that you can visit to see more things from the famous author.
I on the sad side did not however have time to visit these locations. Plus I didn’t really read the sign when I was there, don’t get mad at me, it was cold outside. Plus I didn’t want to wear my hoodie.
As you approach the grave site closer you’ll notice Mark Twain isn’t alone. He was buried with his wives family the Lagndon’s, but I probably mentioned that already.
According to Twain’s Wikipedia page, The Langdon family plot where he is buried is marked by a 12-foot (two fathoms, or “mark twain”) monument, placed there by his surviving daughter, Clara. There is also a smaller headstone. Although he expressed a preference for cremation (for example in Life on the Mississippi), he acknowledged that his surviving family would have the last word.
As you see by the name on this monument it is indeed located in the Langdon family plot.
Here you see the two fathoms that was early mentioned. For those not familiar with the term fathom it means a area of 6 feet long, thus two fathoms equals 12 feet. Also the reason the definition of “Mark Twain” which meaning “Mark number two“, was a term they used on the Mississippi River. The second mark on the line that measured depth signified two fathoms, or twelve feet—safe depth for the steamboat.
These are the words on the bottom of the two fathoms. Which read
Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow.
To the loving memory of my father and my husband.
CCG stands for Clara Langhorne Clemens Samossoud (Gabrilowitsch), who was the daughter of Mark Twain. Clara was sadly the only remaining member of Twain’s immediate family as his wife and two of his children had passed before his death.
Here’s a rock with a picture of people crying…
Here’s a flight of stairs…
Here’s the final resting place of Timothy Lovejoy. Who was a Reverend in Springfield.
This next monument is of the Elmira Fireman’s Association, the plot ws purchased in 1862 to bury fireman Joseph Up de Graf who was killed in the Civil War, the monument itself was erected in 1903 by the Exempt Fire Association. There are eleven individuals buried her who were associated with the fire department, their names as William Rutter, William Dunn Jr., Charles E. Bentley, William Harrison Dynah Monahan, Daniel Bermingham, Henry Hesselson, Felix J. Jankowski and Joseph Hentz. You can read more about them and the association by visiting the Elmira Professional Firefights Association website.
This next plot is for the Suffern family.
And this next head stone is for Brand. Because sometimes you’re brand dies…..
Okay, enough with the history and lame jokes on to the Ernie Davis grave site.
For those not familiar with Ernie Davis, he was a Heisman winner and the first African-American ever to win the award. He went to the Elmira Free Academy and then became a legend at Syracuse University wearing the number 44. A number previously worn by Jim Brown, who he idolized, a number that his since become retired and has actually been used when Syracuse University had their zip code changed to honor the number thus created a zip code of 13244.
While at Syracuse he lead the team to a National Championship in his Sophomore year in 1959 in a game where he would be named the MVP. In his junior year he averaged 7.8 years per rush and was the third leading rusher in all of college football. In the 3 years he played for Syracuse he gained 2,386 rushing yards with an average 6.6 yards per carry.
He would then go on to be drafted number one in the NFL by the Washington Redskins only to be traded to the Cleveland Browns, where he would be paired up with his idle Jim Brown. However tragedy struck as Davis would be diagnosed with leukemia which would end up costing him his life. His number 45 was retired by the Browns although he was never healthy enough to play a down for the team.
President John F. Kennedy, who was a huge fan of Davis, sent a telegram on February 3rd, a few months before Davis’ death, reading:
“Seldom has an athlete been more deserving of such a tribute. Your high standards of performance on the field and off the field, reflect the finest qualities of competition, sportsmanship and citizenship. The nation has bestowed upon you its highest awards for your athletic achievements. It’s a privilege for me to address you tonight as an outstanding American, and as a worthy example of our youth. I salute you”
In 2008, a film based on his life was released entitled The Express, a nickname he had gained in his life. The film was directed by Gary Fleder it’s based on the book Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express by Robert C. Gallagher. The box office numbers did not support the film to much success making less than 10 million dollars, plus the film has a number of historical inaccuracies in which racial tension is featured more than it actually occurred as well as numerous other inaccuracies.
Davis’ final resting place is here, his mother, Avis Marie Davis Fleming, would eventually join him as she passed away in 2008.
All photos credit to S.M. Hachey and historical information is provided from the specific tourism locations and/or Wikipedia.com.