Friday, October 14, 2016

A Tree Shaped Tombstone....for a Tree?

The cemetery in Wausau Wisconsin makes you work a bit. It is sprawling, has the newer and older monuments all jumbled together, and has some unusual local "styles", I suspect from the availability of local red granite.  You find some odd gravestones there.  This struck me as the oddest.

Short, squat and made of granite.  Not your usual "tree shaped tombstone".

It was associated with this marker, remembering a husband and wife named Neu.

But it is the top of the stump that was really peculiar.  The inscription reads:

First Tree cut down in this Cemetery by FRED. NEU

Mr. Neu was born in Germany in 1827.  He came to Wisconsin in 1858.  After working a while at a saw mill and as a carpenter he started a furniture business in 1871.

There are several possible connections between Mr. Neu and the cemetery.  He was an alderman so if this was a publicly owned cemetery he may have had a supervisory role.  He also served as coroner, a job which does tend to bring you into contact with the less lively segment of the population.  But the biggest clue is the furniture business.  In times past those who made and sold tables and chairs often did the same for coffins, and served as defacto funeral directors.

Evidently he was involved in the founding of the cemetery, although why he should remember cutting down a specific tree with such fondness that he decided to spend money immortalizing the deed is an interesting question.

1 comment:

a bear said...

I have no idea why they'd build a monument for that. I guess you could say I'm stumped.