Halloween in the Spring: a Series. The Funeral of Seabury Tredwell and NYC Marble Cemetery

The Funeral of Seabury Tredwell, The Merchant's House Museum.
Photo by author, 10/27/15.

NOTE: This series, "Halloween in the Spring," is based on the posts I wrote for my Halloween 2020 Take-Over of AHNCA's (Art Historians of Nineteenth Century Art) social media accounts. It's a jolly bit of writing and the inspiration for this blog. I've left the posts almost identical to the originals to preserve the rollicking tone; however, I've added links to the original sources, museum websites, or other information you, dear reader, might find interesting. Without further ado, it's time to celebrate Halloween in the springtime!

As you can see, the house is prepared for mourning. The mirrors are covered with crepe, the family photos are placed facedown on the mantle, and the clocks were stopped at the moment of death. Please, sit besides me in the back row. The first few rows closest to Mr. Tredwell’s coffin is reserved for the family and close friends. There’s Mrs. Tredwell in her mourning outfit, including a full veil that covers her sorrowful face. Poor woman will be in full mourning for a year and a day, during which she’ll wear dull black with very little ornament. She’ll also avoid social gatherings. Perhaps she’ll start calling again next year during her half-mourning period. Time will tell. 

"An Actor Plays the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooke, during a re-enactment of Seabury Tredwell’s funeral, in the Merchant’s House Museum. New York Times (10/29/18)

Shhh … the funeral is starting. That’s the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooke. He’ll proceed over the services and will say the prayers at the graveside.

Mr. Tredwell's Coffin at the NYC Marble Cemetery, 10/27/15. Photo by author.

Speaking of graveside, we will be walking a few blocks to the New York City Marble Cemetery where the Tredwells have a family vault. It is truly a beautiful and peaceful spot in the middle of Manhattan’s hustle and bustle. The cemetery was founded in 1831 "and was the second non-sectarian burial ground in the City open to the public" (NYCMC.org). 

The New York City Marble Cemetery, 10/27/15. Photo by author.

Quite a few notable New Yorkers are buried there, including James Lenox and members of the Roosevelt family. It’s an interesting cemetery and not at all like Sleepy Hollow. The vaults are deep in the ground and require a bit of maneuvering to get into. 

The New York City Marble Cemetery, 10/27/15. Photo by author.

That’s why there aren’t a lot of headstones or markers. Each vault in marked, but not each person buried there. It’s time for us to make our way over to the cemetery. I’m sure we’ll stop a lot of traffic! After all, Seabury Tredwell was an important citizen of Manhattan. We need to step aside and let the family out of the house first. After all, it’s part of our Victorian mourning practices. You and I will be right behind the coffin. 

Michael Nagle, photo of procession. Appeared in Kim Velsey, "Merchant’s House Museum Annual Funeral Rite Raise Spectres of … Spectres." Observer (10/27/15)
Ed and I are right behind the coffin. He's wearing the top hat and carrying a walking stick.

I promise my next post will be less depressing. Until then, let’s say our goodbyes to poor, old Seabury Tredwell!

Michael Nagle, photo of procession. Appeared in Kim Velsey, "Merchant’s House Museum Annual Funeral Rite Raise Spectres of … Spectres." Observer (10/27/15)
"An Actor Plays the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooke, during a re-enactment of Seabury Tredwell’s funeral, in the Merchant’s House Museum. New York Times (10/29/18)
All other photos are mine.

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