Monday, May 30, 2016

Tree Shaped Tombstones - An Enigma

Here is an attractive specimen I found in the cemetery of Thorp, Wisconsin.


A nicely executed monument with ferns and a rather jaunty bird atop the traditional "broken branch". The lettering identifies this as the family marker of the Holtzhausens.

Oddly, the "scroll" where there should be birth and death dates is blank.  I have run into this on occasion and have no plausible explanation.  Did they forget to set aside a little extra for the lettering to be done after they were gone?


There are of course the usual subsidiary markers.  Next to one of them we find this:


At first this caught my eye for the sheer rarity of a marker referencing the Spanish American War. The whole affair only lasted ten weeks and was essentially a cake walk apart from that unpleasant Yellow Fever.  But when I drove away from the cemetery the few wisps of data I carry around on this obscure subject started to nag me.

The Spanish American War began and ended in 1898.  Walter Holzhausen was only 16 years old when it happened.  Sure, you could speculate on an under age enlistment.  Or perhaps stretch the duration of the conflict to include occupation duty.  In the Philippines there was an insurgency from 1899 to 1902 that actually cost more lives than the preceding fight against Spain.

But no, I think this marker is in error.

The 14th US Cavalry Regiment was formed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in March of 1901.  It was destined to serve in the Philippines during the Insurgency but it appears poor Private Holzhausen never left the United States.  An article in a local paper says he died in an accident at Fort Wingate, New Mexico on Christmas Day of 1901, about a year after his enlistment.

1 comment:

David Goldwater said...

Fascinating. Holzhausen such an apt name too. Had you twigged that one? D