Two Neighborhoods, Two Soldiers

July 25th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

In Boston, Dorchester has a personalized Civil War memorial and Hyde Park a more generic one. A clean shaven, stalwart, strong chinned bronze soldier in HP’s Fairview cemetery stands for all. Benjamin Stone is the personification of local hero in Dot’s Cedar Grove. He appears with ragged hair and drooping mustache.

bstonechumIn fact, the late Capt. Stone’s name appears on the town’s Soldiers Memorial and a Grand Army of the Republic post. He was a bit of a pied piper though, recruiting and leading the men of the town South to their death in support of the Union. Looking at the long rows of headstones behind his statue, I am not sure I would have been so fond of him had I been a parent, sibling, fiancee or spouse who lost a man.

In his early 40s, Stone earned a living engraving (printing) music. Married, with kids, he was highly patriotic. At the start of the war, he apparently had no doubt that someone had to organize the local effort. He did, recruiting many of his peers, highly disproportionate to other towns.

DotStone3That became the Massachusetts 11th Regiment, Company K. As was OK at the time, it elected him as leader, suddenly Capt. Stone. They trained at Fort Warren and headed to where the bulk of the war was fought, Virginia.

There at Manassas (a.k.a. Bull Run for the local creek), he was one of 113 of the company to be fatally wounded. He died a couple of weeks later in a hospital after a leg amputation. In the end, only 12 of the company returned to Dorchester.

Incongruously it seems, Stone’s remains are in Dorchester North cemetery, in his mother’s plot and not where the townsfolk erected  his statue. It makes sense in that many of his fellow soldiers from Company K are in Cedar Grove.

Plus, Cedar Grove did not organize until 1867. Boston annexed Dorchester three years later, that cemetery became a government one, until it returned to a private one in 1887.

An opposite process happened at Fairview in Hyde Park. Formerly part of Dedham, HP became its own town with its own cemetery. Fairview opened in 1893 on the banks of Mother Brook. After HP agreed to become the last neighborhood of Boston in 1912, the city took over the grounds.

fairviewsoldier1Previously, the HP prominent families had large, open plots. Those parts still have the bucolic appearance of a garden cemetery, like Forest Hills’ older parts. Like that one too, economics rule now and much of Fairview is also a necropolis of close stones in neat rows.

Not far from the entrance there is a very different Civil War monument to local soldiers. Idealized in the classic tradition, this soldier has a recognizable US belt buckle of the Union troops, but no rank or personality and of course, no name attached. He is soldier.

It’s probably silly to make to much of the differences. The Fairview soldier has a semicircle of a few local corpses representing both army and navy members. He stands in for them all.

Fairview is a city cemetery and as such more egalitarian and impersonal. The Stone statue in Dorchester was privately funded and used a known local figure to represent all the town’s soldiers in that war.

On the statues and in articles, I don’t see mentions of the sculptors. That’s not terribly unusual for works for hire, except with famous funereal ones, like Daniel Chester French’s at Forest Hills. I’ll update this if I run across the artists.

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