Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Erasmus D. Keyes

Monument to Maj. Gen. Erasmus Darwin Keyes (1810–1895) in West Point Cemetery, 329 Washington Road, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. New Englander Erasmus D. Keyes led a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run, then the Union Army of the Potomac’s IV Corps during the Peninsula Campaign. Despite having a regular Army background, his lackluster performance led to reassignment and eventual removal from command. He resigned his commission in May 1864. Later in life, he became a successful businessman in San Francisco.

Historic America Photography

Faugh a Ballaugh!

Relief sculpture on the Irish Brigade monument, Bloody Lane, at Antietam National Battlefield. The Irish Brigade, consisting of the 63rd New York Infantry, 69th New York Infantry, 28th Massachusetts Infantry, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry, and 88th New York Infantry regiments, was first commanded by Colonel Michael Corcoran, then Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, and finally Colonel Patrick Kelly. It experienced one of the highest casualty rates in the Civil War.


Stories in Stone: Figures Behind Glass

White marble statues preserved behind glass are a unique find in any cemetery excursion.

Funerary art and sculpture is some of the most difficult to preserve. Often outside and exposed to the elements, time takes a toll on even the highest quality pieces. Thieves and vandals are also an unfortunately reality, leading some to encase memorials to their loved ones behind thick glass, hoping to preserve their memory for eternity. There’s something eerie about these serene sculptures frozen in time. Here are just a few I have seen on my travels.

Emily A. Woodruff Keep-Schley (1827-1900)

Lovely white marble statue for Emily A. Woodruff Keep-Schley (1827-1900) in Brookside Cemetery, Watertown, Jefferson County, New York. Emily’s first husband was Henry Keep (1818–1869), one-time president of the New York Central Railroad and then the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. Her second husband, William Schley (1823–1882), was a judge and lawyer.

Historic America Photography

Burnside’s Bridge

Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield, 5831 Dunker Church Road, got its name on September 17, 1862 when Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s IX Corps forced an ill-fated crossing of a stone bridge over Antietam Creek. His attack briefly succeeded, despite heavy casualties, until Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s Light Division arrived from Harpers Ferry and drove his men back. The bridge was recently restored.

Mysterious America

The Strange Life and Death of the Lindbergh Schoolhouse

Suburban sprawl may have destroyed this historic schoolhouse along Shoe Factory Road in northwestern Cook County, Illinois, but not even bulldozers can erase its strange legacy.

For many years, a unique stone building sat nestled between woods and farm fields along a quiet rural road in the far northwest corner of Cook County, Illinois. One day, the family who rented the building—an old schoolhouse that had been converted into a residence—moved out. Then the bulldozers came. Pavement, manicured lawns, McMansions, and “water retention areas” slowly replaced fields and streams a few miles down from the building along Shoe Factory Road.

Suburban families moved into this new subdivision. Traffic increased along the road, which was the only access to the outside world for its residents. Occasionally, their children passed the strange looking house—the only one of its kind they had ever seen—on their way to and from errands or on trips to explore the area around their new home.

“What was that place?” they wondered. Why was it abandoned? Had a gruesome crime occurred there? Some of the kids began to break in and explore the building, unaware that local residents had already begun a campaign to save the old schoolhouse and one of the last remaining links to a fast-vanishing rural past.

This is the story of the Charles A. Lindbergh School—a story that begins in 1929 and ends with a decade long battle for its preservation, rumors of ghosts and murders, and its ultimate demolition to make way for yet another subdivision at the height of the nation’s housing bubble. It was a classic struggle between tradition and modernity, character and sameness, all swirling around youthful transgressions and an attempt by local teens to alleviate boredom through destructive storytelling.


Remembering 9/11 Two Decades Later

I remember September 11, 2001 as a tragedy, but for more than just what was lost on that day. It was a tragedy for all we have lost since that day.

Twenty years ago, at around 8am in the Chicago suburbs, I awoke to a phone call. It was my father, calling from work to tell me to turn on the television. He said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and true to his word, there it was live on CNN: a black plume of smoke billowing out of the North Tower.

Moments later, I, along with millions of other Americans, saw a second plane smash into South Tower. At first, there was disbelief. “Did you see that?” I asked. “I think something is happening.” Then, a chill ran down my spine. Instinctively, I think, we all knew that everything changed with that second explosion.

Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Louis Schwitzer

Detail on the door of a neoclassical mausoleum for Louis Schwitzer (1880-1967) and Sophie Rampp Schwitzer (1889-1935) at Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery, 700 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Louis Schwitzer was born in an area of Poland then part of the Astro-Hungarian Empire, where he earned master’s degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering. He immigrated to the United States and went on to found the Schwitzer Corporation in Indianapolis. He was an engineer, not a race car driver, but he did win the first race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sophie Rampp Schwitzer (1889-1935)