John Ringo Grave

John Ringo Historic Site Monument

The Historic Site Monument at the Ringo Gravesite.

If you’ve read about the untamed American frontier and have never heard of Tombstone, Arizona, for shame! This little town is a great place to learn about frontier life in a mining boom town. Tombstone is rife with legends and stories that would keep anyone interested for weeks on end. It was a silver mining town known for its rough-around-the-edges citizens. Names like Wyatt Earp, Curly Bill Brocius, Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday– are a dime a dozen in the annals of Tombstone history. Tombstone is noted for the longest poker game in history (8 years, 5 months, and 3 days) and the infamous gunfight at the O.K. corral which was primarily between the Earps and the Clantons and McLowerys.

Part of the culture of the “Wild West” was to bury a body along the trail where the person passed away. There was no transporting the body anywhere unless the deceased was close to the rail lines at their time of death. Decomposition was rapid because food didn’t have preservatives and embalming was still in its infancy. Bodies still relatively intact that were found on the trail were buried deep enough to keep the coyotes, vultures or other desert scavengers at bay. Most makeshift graves were covered with rocks and marked with a simple wooden cross near the place the body was found and buried. The practice of leaving a cross or headstone is still observed in parts of the American southwest– though, the bodies are typically transported and interred in an actual cemetery instead of beside the road.

One such body that was found and buried on the trail is the source of much historical intrigue as there is some disagreement over the death of this man whose personal legend is linked to the infamous “Town Too Tough to Die”– Tombstone, Arizona. The body of John Peters Ringo is interred near the oak tree where he was found. A coroner’s inquest was held to determine his cause of death, but not everyone agrees with the verdict. Continue reading

The Neighbors Are Quiet

In September of 2004, I was on an epic road trip back east with my (good) college roommates. Three of us were bridesmaids in a fourth roommate’s wedding. After a week doing wedding activities, after our newlywed friend absconded on her honeymoon, the three of us toured the east. We saw a lot of things and had a lot of fun. We each picked a main place to visit and planned a trip around that place. One of us REALLY wanted to go to Cape Cod, so we did.

Earlier that day– Wednesday, September 21, 2005– we’d been in Salem, and then we’d eaten dinner at the Outback Steakhouse near Salem. By the time we got out to the cape, it was really dark. We randomly selected a place to stay from a AAA book. The place we chose was really nice. We really loved our stay there. It’s a charming, well-priced, friendly location on the cape. As we pulled up to the motel, we drove by a cemetery. As we were checking into the room, I jokingly said, “I’ll bet the neighbors are quiet.” The owner gave a chuckle and handed us the keys.

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Cemetery Cafés Gain Popularity in Berlin

An interesting concept, to be sure…

View of cemetery from Friedhofscafé

View of cemetery from Friedhofscafé

Graveyards may not seem the ideal location for afternoon tea, but there is a trend towards opening cafes inside cemetery walls in Berlin and other cities. They offer comfort not just for the bereaved but for local people and tourists who seek tranquility.

“But no dead people were laid out here, right?” The two elderly ladies standing at the cake counter wanted to know exactly what happened here. “Oh yes, corpses were laid out right here,” replied the waitress, Johanna Helmberger, suppressing a smile.

Many visitors to Café Strauss in the the Kreuzberg district of Berlin ask her that. It doesn’t lessen the ladies’ enthusiasm. “It’s great! We’ll come again,” said one while paying.

Helmberger, 29, has a full house. Groups of pensioners, a middle-aged couple, two women with babies and a young man with a laptop. It’s a cold, rainy November day and the café, located inside the walls of a cemetery in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, offers a view of wet headstones and family tombs. It doesn’t sound cheerful. But the guests are chatting away contentedly.

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A Ghostly Good Time

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City Park, Bisbee, Arizona

Old City Park is a sprawling 9,000 square-foot park located at 62 Brewery Ave in the mountainous City of Bisbee, Arizona. The park boasts an amphitheater, bleachers, a Ramada, slides, a basketball hoop, concrete court, and activity center. In the daylight, the park looks colorful and inviting, and there are often music or theatrical events hosted here. In the evening, City Park is fairly well lit and, being close to Old Bisbee, it’s not a bad location to spend some time hanging out… unless one is familiar with the history of City Park and knows that City Park used to be the Bisbee Cemetery.
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Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington House

Arlington House also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Section 32 of the cemetery is in the foreground.
Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress Archives

Located in Arlington, Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery is the second-largest national burial ground in the United States in terms of the number of people who are buried there. (The first, being Calverton National Cemetery.) More than 300,000 people buried on the green, rolling hills. Nearly 7,000 funerals are conducted in a single year at Arlington National Cemetery. An average of 28 funerals are held in a day, excluding weekends.

On June 15, 1864, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton declared Arlington Mansion (Custis-Lee Mansion) and its surrounding grounds, approximately 200 acres, a national military cemetery– They took General Robert E. Lee’s estate as a way to extract retribution from the Confederate General.
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