The walking tour of the cemetery was established by the Madison Parks Commission. You can print off their PDF map and brochure. My blog post here will go into further biographical detail, support the tour with photography, and will provide you the tools to read the secret language of the graveyard - cemetery iconography. From broken columns to resting lambs - each image has a meaning and peculiar purpose.
It is recorded that the happiest
death in history may belong to Chilon
of Sparta, one of the seven sages,
councilor to the king who enjoyed
walking quietly in the bright sun
of the Peloponnese among the olive
trees. It is possible, even likely, that he stopped
to drag his hand over their leaves.
He was famous for bringing into style the laconic
form of speech, short in utterance
and heavy in meaning like the very same
trees in fruit. Old and gnarled, it is said
that he actually died of pride
in the arms of his son who had just won
an Olympic event. Then he stepped through a door
that got smaller and smaller as he
entered until he was quiet and edgeless
as space. And perhaps he would have kept
the distinction of “best death” except
for Don Doane from Ravenna, Michigan,
who was far from sage, who never predicted
an eclipse that stopped a war, who
was just some guy who bowled
a perfect game for the first time in his life
then promptly died. Don Doane, who
snuffed out his cigarettes on the thin
gold ashtrays, who wasn’t the first
to advise “everything in moderation”
nor did he visit the oracle at Delphi
and read the words “Know thyself”
and most likely (like you or me) he didn’t
know himself very well. At most, maybe,
he wondered in odd moments in the bowling
alley bar when all the pins fell silent
how he even became himself.
The little plastic sword in his
cocktail pierced the heart of the cherry,
and he pulled on his thick gloves
in the silent winter
parking lot to scrape the frost
from his windshield only enough to reach
the light kept on at home. Don Doane,
who knew the universe was a cold place
in which there is little kindness
and fewer gods to bring it,
given only a single mercy—
his friends’ images in the buffed floor,
arms raised when the final pins fell.
Blight, Blight, Blight, Ray of Hope www.barrowstreet.org
and Hope Tree http://blacklawrence.homestead.com/montesonti.html
FOLLOW ALONG ON THE PDF WALKING TOUR MAP
Download the Forest Hill Cemetery Walking Tour Map Here
1. Catlin Chapel
The chapel is named for John Catlin, Clerk of the Territorial Supreme Court at the first session in Belmont WI (The First State Capitol). Mr. Catlin platted Madison in 1837 ans was the first City Postmaster, first lawyer, first District Attorney, and Dane County's first judge. He also served as secretary of the Wisconsin Territory between 1846 and 1848. Wisconsin became a state in 1848. Catlin is not buried in Wisconsin.
2. Receiving Vault
3. Daniel K Tenney (1834-1915)
Tenney was one of the first University of Wisconsin students, became a lawyer, and began a successful practice in Chicago where he amassed his wealth representing victims of the Chicago Fire. He was also the youngest elected Madison Common Councilmen in 1860.
As many UW students are prone to be rebellious, so was young Tenney:
At Harrisburgh D. K. Tenney of Madison who accompanied the regiment as state agent, received a pretty severe handling at the hands of some of the officers and men of the regiment. He insulted two of our field officers outrageously and was immediately pitched into indiscriminately by some company officers and men and had it not been for the interference of the very field officers he had so grossly libelled he would have been killed, as it is he is in Harrisburgh seriously hurt. I learn that he has been removed from his post as state agent on account of his conduct. - B. N. M.—Benjamin N. Meeds of Company B, 6th Wisconsin Infantry, the Prescott Guards.http://www.pinterest.com/larrytenney/tenney-the-story-of-us/
4. Steven Vaughn Shipman (1825-1905)
Mr. Bringham was the first permanent white settler in Dane County, a member of the Territorial Legislature, and one of three commissioners to erect the first Capitol in Madison (The Second State Capitol)
Surprisingly, Mr. Brigham himself was not made of iron nor lead, and was discovered to be mortal. He died at the home of his niece - Mrs H G Bliss in Madison on September 14, 1861 at the young age of 73.
ICONOGRAPHY: BORROMEAN RINGS
Borromean Rings often symbolize the holy trinity in Christianity. However, their use is much older. They are named for the Italian family Borromeo who use the rings as their crest. Across cultures they represent the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic. They were the inspiration for Freud's Id, ego, and superego. They also represent the past, present, and future as existing concurrently. Examples of this symbol have been found in every civilization - ancient and modern - spanning the full length of human history in all corners of the world. Three rings encircled displays the most stable proportion in construction ... 3/4. In the symbol pictured above there is one set of three circles and a total of 4 circles. In this case the symbol signifies stability and structure more so than it does the holy trinity. Perhaps the grave an architect.
Governor Louis Harvey was a member of the state Constitutional Convention in 1847, state senator from 1854-1858, secretary of state from 1860-1862, and governor from January to April of 1862. He drowned in the Tennessee River while stepping from a tethered boat to a moving steamboat on a quest to aid Wisconsin troops after the battle of Shiloh. His wife, Colonel Cordelia Harvey (1824-1895) ministered to Union soldiers and founded the first soldier's hospital in the North - The Harvey Hospital.
"As the bow of the Minnehaha rounded close to the party on the Dunleith, the Governor stepped back on one side, either for convenience or to get beyond harm, and the night being dark and rainy, and the timber of the boat slippery, by some mis-step he fell between the two steamers. Dr. Wilson, of Sharon, being near, immediately reached down his cane, which the Governor grasped with so much force as to pull it from his hands. Dr. Clark, of Racine, jumped into the water, made himself fast to the Minnehaha and thrust his body in the direction of the Governor, who, he thinks, once almost reached him, but the current was too strong, the drowning man, it is supposed, was drawn under a flatboat just below, and when his life was despaired of, Dr. Wolcott and General Brodhead Milwaukee, and others of the party, made diligent and long search to recover the body of the lost one, but in vain, some children found it sixty-five miles below" -Military History of Wisconsin, Quiner1866
7. William Freeman Vilas (1840-1908)
As Secretary of Interior, William Vilas had the misfortune of having to implement the destructive Dawes Act - which is otherwise known as "assimilation", an act he fully supported and wished to be more severe. Assimilation was a death blow to American Indian culture and one of the darkest hours of the United States' treatment of human beings next to slavery. Under its provisions, American Indians were forced to break up their reservations into individual allotments, send their children to schools where native languages were banned, cut their long hair, and otherwise make every effort to 'become white'. As a result of the Dawes Act, most native languages were entirely wiped out, just as most American Indian lands were reallocated to white settlers.
Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Council of the Lakota speaking nation met with Vilas in Washington D.C. - Vilas supported a clause in the Dawes Bill which would pay Indians only fifty cents per acre for land which was valued at more than $1. Sitting Bull insisted on $1.25.
In 1888 William Vilas split the Great Sioux Reservation into five smaller reservations. This resulted in acceleration of the Ghost Dance Movement. By late 1890, after Vilas's term had ended, the tensions between the Federal Government and Sitting Bulls' Sioux councils, largely created by Vilas and Sitting Bulls' mutual animosity, reached its climax at the Battle of Wounded Knee in which the US Army opened fire on a village of Sioux following the refusal of a deaf hunter to relinquish his rifle. 153 Sioux were killed - mostly Women and Children.
In his own words:
"This and other enactments which can afford a remedy for the evils of tribal and reservation life, and which tend to individualize and Americanize the Indian, will solve one of the most difficult questions involved in Indian civilization. Any policy which brings him into the honest activity of civilization, and especially into the atmosphere of our agricultural, commercial, industrial examples, assures to him mutual, moral, and physical development into independent manhood. Any policy which prolongs the massing, inactive, herding systems continues to lead to destruction and death. It is folly to hope for substantial cure except there be radical change in treatment." Respectfully submitted - Hon. Wm F. Vilas - 1888 Dept. of Interior Annual Report.
8. Napoleon Bonaparte Van Slyke (1822 - 1909)
9. Breese J. Stevens
Robert Burns published a fiction novel entitled "Until the Day Break" in 1990. The sentiment engraved on the Breese Stevens grave marker reads: Vntill The Day Breaks.
10. Fairchild Family
General Fairchild saw action in the second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Stone Mountain, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg where he lost is left arm. He was remembered as Wisconsin's Thrice Elected One Armed
11. Harlow S. Orton
In the case of Vosburg v. Putney - Orton wrote that a tortfeasor must take his victim as he finds him. This means that while a small offense which would normally not result in damage may result in damage if the victim has a fragile eggshell skull.
The case pitted two Waukesha school boys against each other. One kicked the other boy in the shin lightly. But, it turns out that the kicked boy happened to have had a sledding accident the week before and he had been kicked in exactly the same place of the injury so that the small kick resulted in the boy permanently loosing the leg. Certainly the kicking boy never intended for his friend to loose his leg, nonetheless he was responsible for breaking the eggshell.
This case is often taught to first year law students.
Orton Park in Madison is named in honor of Chief Justice Harlow Orton.
12. Elisha W. Keyes
13. Deming Fitch
Madison's first Cemetery Superintendent, Mr. Fitch had the duty of removing bodies from the Sandhill Cemetery, and then from there to the Forest Hill Cemetery. He had the privilege to lay away two governors, one chief justice, six supreme court justices, and 14k other Madisonians.
ICONOGRAPHY: Broken Columns
Broken columns on a headstone indicate a life cut short. See Lathrop family plot.
14. Darwin Clark
15. Harry Steenbock
ICONOGRAPHY: WEEPING WILLOW - The weeping willow is the symbol of mourning for a sibling.
16. Lyman Copeland Draper (1815-1891) Section 2
17. Theodore Read
General Read was shot point blank in the chest by the mounted Confederate General James Dearing. Colonel Washburn immediately engaged Dearing in a saber dual. During the saber duel Dearing intercepted a stray bullet with his chest and was mortally wounded. The day after the battle, Colonel Washburn was found on the battlefield alive having been shot through the mouth and with a saber planted deep in his skull. He died later that day.
There are many conflicting accounts of this melee.
18. William M. Hough (1803-1858) Section 1
“Before his labors upon this home of the dead were ended, he himself has been summoned to become one of its first inmates.”
19. Henry Harnden (1823-1900) Section 5
20. Charles E. Brown (1871-1946) Section 1
21. Simeon Mills (1810-1895) Section 5
22. James Morrison
23. John H. Lathrop and Sons
24. John M. Olin
25. Samuel Klauber
26. Manfred Swarsensky
27. Effigy Mounds
28. Goose Mound
A rare example of a goose mound can be found near the rear of the soldier's lot. Why moundbuilders created effigies (likenesses of animals) remains a mystery. Moundbuilding stopped about 200 years before Europeans arrived in the United States. Why this tradition of many thousand years suddenly ceased is also a mystery. What may be most mysterious of all - is that moundbuilders were of an era which preceded human flight, aerial photography, and plan view constructions - so it is amazing that the builders were able to conceive of a form which can only be distinguished clearly from an impossibly high vantage point. In other words, the builders were never capable of seeing their creation, yet they succeeded in constructing proportionally correct images.
29. Michael Olbrich
Olbrich was also deeply influenced by the example of another Madison attorney, John M. Olin, the longtime president of the nationally known Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association, a private organization that had created Madison's outstanding park system. In Olin, Olbrich found both inspiration and a perfect model for living a life that united a career in the law with a passion for social betterment and a love of the natural world. Olin was deeply committed to the belief that exposure to the beauty of the natural world was essential to general well -being and he believed that a constantly expanding system of public parks was the best way to bring this beauty into the life of the average city dweller.
Olbrich Park and Botanical Gardens are named in his honor.
30. Stephen M. Babcock
The insanely popular Babcock Dairy on campus is named in his honor. As is Babcock Hall.
31. Jackson Family
Michael Jackson was captain of the minuteman company at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. He was one of few soldiers to serve in the Continental Army for the entirety of its existence. His brothers and sons moved the Jackson family to Madison where they helped establish Methodist Hospital and the Jackson Clinic which is now Meriter Hospital.
32. Lafollette Family
33. Confederate Rest
The Mausoleum was built in 1916
35. Union Soldier's Lot
36. Edward A. Birge
E. Birge is one of the founders of the field of limnology, the study of inland lakes and rivers. Along with collaborator Chancey Juday, he founded UW’s School of Limnology on Lake Mendota. Birge retired in 1925 but continued his research into the 1940s. He died in 1950; upon his death, the University renamed the Botany Building in his honor.
37. Charles Van Hise
Charles Van Hise
38. Cemetery Office
Believe it or not, it once a thing to do to have a picnic at the cemetery. Madisonians hopped on the street car downtown and took it to the end of the line at Forest Hill Cemetery. The cemetery office served as the waiting room and station for the street car. The cemetery office was constructed in 1908.