Honoring Soldiers, Schuylers, and the the guy who made our piano

On Memorial Day, I made good on a promise that I made in an earlier post in this space. In the early morning, while most of the people in the house were still asleep, I took my little one with me and we went to Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago. It was a beautiful day, and the Stars and Stripes were in abundance. There will be other summer activites ahead, but it felt right to be doing what we did.

My little one was initially unwilling to go. I did my best to convince her it’s an important thing, and she grudgingly agreed to go. On the way over there (it was a short drive to the cemetery) we discussed the Civil War, and she amazed me with her knowledge of the conflict. She reminded me there were other wars too, and she’s right about that, but Rosehill has a number of Civil War graves that we were going to have a look at.

We collected an American flag at the gate, drove inside, and parked the car. We walked past a Leonard Volk monument to the fallen, and then walked to row after row of Civil War casualties. They had names, company identifying information, and the date of their deaths. We read the names, my daughter told me the state abbreviations (most were from Illinois, but there were Iowa and Vermont and Connecticut and others in the mix) and we tried to figure out one grave that was simply marked “Humphrey.” I could see my daughter was getting into it, and she even figured out the pattern of how the soldiers were buried in one section. I’m always proud of her, but the way she took to this is something I’ll always remember.

As we were walking around, we ventured outside of the soldiers’ graves, and found a family plot of a family named Schuyler (pronounced SKY-ler). That’s a name that figures prominently in our family (but I won’t say exactly how) and so we honored them, too. We were there for the soldiers, but we remembered some non-soldiers, too.

When we got in the car to come back home, I drove past the gravesite of Philip A. Starck, who founded a piano company in Chicago a century ago. His name is on the piano in our house, and so we also had a chance to thank him for the music that sometimes fills the air. It was an hour that was very well-spent.

My daughter and I drove home, satisfied that we had identified and remembered people–none of whom we actually knew–who gave something to us, or had a connection to us in some way. And spending time among the dead added to our appreciation of our own lives.

4 thoughts on “Honoring Soldiers, Schuylers, and the the guy who made our piano

  1. Hi, it was nice that you visited the mausoleum of Philip Starck. I go there a few times a year to take care of it. It had been neglected for decades. His son, Philip T. Starck is in the main mausoleum next to Montgomery Ward. I take care of that one too, but it doesn’t need as much work. I hope everything looked in order at the P. A. Starck mausoleum. Thanks for stopping!!

    1. Thanks for reading my piece. I love the stained glass window inside, and took a picture of it as best I could through the crack in the door. I enjoy the serenity inside Rosehill and Graceland cemeteries, and wish more of it existed outside of their walls.

      I’m wondering if you know the story of the unique plot that’s along the same lake, I guess a little to the east of the Starck mausoleum? It has a long gray walkway, some initials (WM, perhaps) and a bench on a portico that looks out onto the lake. It’s very interesting, but I can’t tell if it’s a monument for anyone in particular. I believe there are a couple of metal orbs on the site too. Anything you might know about it would be of interest.

      Thanks again for reading. Hope you find other things of interest on the blog. I’m all over the place on topics, but it all comes from the heart. Where else am I going to find things to write about?

      All the best to you.


      1. I’m sorry; I don’t know anything about the plot you are talking about. I do know that the mausoleum of Dawes, one of our vice presidents, is a little to the east.

        I do like the stained glass window also. Phil Starck dedicated the window to his wife, Margaret, who died 5 years before him. She was the love of his life! He disobeyed his father, a strict Luteran minister, to marry her, and he was disowned. She was also disowned by her family who were Catholics. The family became Christian Scientists much later when Margaret was dying of cancer and nothing could be done.

        Yes, I do find Rosehill peaceful, but it is not a place I want to go alone. There has been a lot of vandalism there. Some of the mausoleums have been cemented closed to prevent this; there are no longer any relatives to take care of things. In spring I have put wreaths on the Starck mausoleum only to have them stolen. I can’t imagine stealing from the dead!

        Again, thanks for stopping, and I’m glad you enjoy your Starck piano. Phil Starck had a great love for music. He played the piano and organ,gave piano lessons, attended the symphony, and eventually manufactured pianos. It is nice to know he is not forgotten.

        I’ll check out the your other writings!

        Best to you too,


      2. Thanks again for reading. When I had my piano tuned recently, the technician discovered an emblem inside the cabinet that showed it was made for the Columbian exposition of 1893. Both of us got excited to think that it was that old and in such good condition. I doubt if anybody makes pianos in this country anymore, but making one in China and shipping it over to this country seems like a tricky proposition, too.

        There are lots of good stories in a cemetery, for those who want to find them. I read about, and will one day have to look for, a ballplayer named Tom Burr, who is buried somewhere in Rosehill. Here’s a link to his life story, if you’re curious. The fleetingness of his major league career appeals to me, for the same reason that “Moonlight” Graham appealed to W.P. Kinsella, I suppose.

        All the best to you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: