Tag Archives: cemetery

Louis Conde Grave Site

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As I walked through the Ajo Cemetery in Ajo, Arizona I saw a large cross which looked as if it were constructed from concrete and stone. I first saw it from the back, so it was initially the size of the cross that caught my attention. The cross was taller than all the other markers around it, and I decided to go over and get a better look.

When I walked around to the front of the cross, I found that it was covered with words. I also found an article IMG_6192(laminated for protection and adhered to the concrete over the grave site) about the cross.

The article was from the August 13, 2014 edition of the Ajo Copper News. (A scan of the page from the newspaper can be found at http://ajo.stparchive.com/Archive/AJO/AJO08132014P10.php.)

By reading the article, I learned that the words on the cross are formed from copper letters. According to http://arizonaoddities.com/2012/11/unusual-grave-marker-for-an-ajo-teacher/,

the inscription on the marker contains about 400 words. Even more unusual than that, each letter and number was manually formed with copper wire. After being bent into the desired shape, the letters and numbers were soldered to nails and embedded into the face of the cross.

The letters form words, and the words form the teachings of Louis Conde, the Lahissa. According to the article in the Ajo Copper News, Conde was born in the 1800s and told people he was from Tibet. He

IMG_6294taught that the human mind had control over everything. “The human mind has all power,” he is quoted as saying. “There is nothing that man cannot accomplish. He can go to the planets.”

…[Conde] had great success as a mystical teacher in Chicago. Listeners flocked to his lectures and hung on every word. He offered his followers health, peace and spiritual grace. They offered him money to fund his Temple of Wisdom.

No one seems to know how he ended up in Ajo.

The aforementioned newspaper article quotes a eulogy written shortly after his death by one of his followers. The eulogy said Conde

 plead to be taken to Ajo, where he lived only one week.

The Copper News says it was Conde’s widow–Ethel Decker Conde–who had this monument built. She hired Frank IMG_6293Randall and Charles Dunn to build it. The men

bought copper wire and fashioned the letters with pliers…

The cross was built in the Phoenix area

of peacock copper rock from the Bloody Basin and Copper Basin.

If you’re wondering what all those copper letters say,

Here’s the full text of the epitaph

thanks to http://joeorman.shutterace.com/Bizarre/Bizarre_Cross.html:

 

The Master Lahissa

LOUIS CONDE — 18__ to 1931
Teacher & helper of humanity
For all races — for all peoples, for all beliefs, — he came and they knew him not.

Actuated by the same spirit that has guided all the teachers, he came to lead human beings into a new era. A new step in evolution and progress the era of man’s full consciousness of the power within him. “Man’s power is unlimited” he said, 50 & 10 years ago. “Mind, intelligence, is God; & Man can reach out and get what he wants from that universal mind. He is in contact with it thru his brain. As it has taken him an eternity of the past — of reincarnative evolution — to develop 1/6 of his brain, just think what he can do when he has unfolded 2/6 and more! He will overcome the so-called laws of nature. He will go around the earth in the flash of a moment, & to the planets.”

“Life is activity; it is eternal” he said “A continuous cycle, never ending, never beginning. — All things are vibrations. There is no wall separating the material & the spiritual; one blends into the other.”

“All beliefs are right” Lahissa taught. “Each one is a spoke in the wheel — leading to the same center.” & “Your God — no matter what you call it — is just but cold — without sentiment or feelings. It is not concerned about you the individual, but works by certain definite laws — and you must obey those laws or pay the price. &” “As you give life and your fellowman, so shall you receive from life and your fellowman: that is the inevitable law of compensation. — Give at all times now, the best there is in you thus will you find happiness and when you are happy, then your God will smile upon you.”

Indeed, Lahissa showed the way. He lived all phases of life and mastered its conditions, — was persecuted and prosecuted, until his earthly career was ended. And his spirit is still guiding into the ‘new’, when the teachings of all great teachers will be the accepted law of life: “Love, tolerance, forgiveness & the seeking of truth and understanding.”

The foundation has been laid. It is left to others to bring into being: The Brotherhood of Man.

 

–1934 THE LAHISSA TEMPLE-

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The monument is near the west edge of the Ajo Cemetery.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Cemetry Gates

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IMG_6236I hadn’t been walking through the Ajo Cemetery (in Ajo, AZ)  very long before the lyrics to the song “Cemetry Gates” by The Smiths were running through my head.

While I walked through the Ajo Cemetery I did what Morrissey and Johnny Marr must have done before they wrote the song: I read the headstones and I wondered about those people. Who were they? What were they like? What were their loves and hates and passions? Headstones really tell so little about those who have passed away.

Did anyone living remember the people buried in the ground under me, and if not, were the deceased in any position to care?

 I took photos of some of the headstones I thought were particularly interesting, the ones that made me wish I knew the stories of the people buried beneath them. They were born. They lived. And now they’re dead, but we can remember them, even if we never knew them.
Dude! In 1869, a family named their little daughter Cindarella. How cool is that? I wonder if and how this woman's name shaped her.

Dude! In 1869, a family named their little baby daughter Cindarella. How cool is that? I wonder if and how this woman’s name shaped her life.

 

Why was Virginia Adeline Stevens called The Angel Lady? What did she do?

Why was Virginia Adeline Stevens called The Angel Lady? What did she do? Her headstone is featured on Findagrave.com, but I couldn’t find any information about her.

 

I think Wriston liked guitars. I would guess s/he played. But that's just a guess.

I think Wriston liked guitars. I would guess s/he played. But that’s just a guess.

 

Someone left a beverage for Canuto De La Torre. The Ajo Cemetery was the first place I say offerings of soft drinks left on graves.

Someone left a beverage for Canuto De La Torre. The Ajo Cemetery was the first place I saw offerings of soft drinks left on graves. Canuto is remembered.

 

Marjorie L. Allen is on the road again. I wonder if she was a fan of the song by Willie Nelson or the one sung by Canned Heat. Maybe this memorial reflects her personal philosophy. I think I would have enjoyed knowing her.

Marjorie L. Allen is on the road again. I wonder if she was a fan of the song by Willie Nelson or the one sung by Canned Heat. Maybe this memorial reflects her personal philosophy. I think I would have enjoyed knowing her.

 

This marker looks handmade. I like that. I wonder what Tykie was like and what happened to him.

This marker looks handmade. I like that. I wonder what Tykie was like and what happened to him.

 

I like the "nature loving desert rat." That's that, folks, that's that.

I like “nature loving desert rat.” That’s that, folks. That’s that.

 

 

Listen to The Smiths sing “Cemetry Gates.”

I took all the photos in this post, except the album cover. That’s an Amazon associates link. If you click on the image, it will take you to Amazon where anything you put in your cart and purchase will earn me a small advertising fee.

The Queen Is Dead [Vinyl]

Ajo Cemetery

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I was looking for a garage sale, but I found the cemetery instead.

I didn’t need more stuff, so I decided to walk through the cemetery instead of browsing through the discards of someone’s life. I ended up spending almost two hour there. IMG_6176

One thing I noticed about the cemetery is that based on last names, it seemed to be quite integrated. People with what seemed to me to be Anglo names were buried in close proximity to people with what seemed to me to be Latino/a names.

In addition to many professionally carved headstones, more than a few of the graves were marked by amateur endeavors. I liked the handmade crosses and handwritten signs. They seem more personal and loving than cold stone. Seeing people’s handwriting (sometimes messy, sometimes with letters ever-so-carefully written) made me recognize a real connection between the living and the dead. It’s IMG_6215easy for me to look at graves in a cemetery and think of the people buried there as in the  abstract, but seeing the handwriting on grave markers as a connection between the living and their dead, made the dead seem more like real people.

 

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I saw several things in the Ajo Cemetery that I’d never seen at other graveyards.

The first thing I saw was saguaros! In the cemetery! Saguaros in the cemetery! It wasn’t a huge shock, as the cemetery is in the Sonoran Desert and saguaros grow in the Sonoran Desert, but I was surprised to see the huge cacti. These were some seriously big saguaros, which means seriously old, saguaros. I’m glad they didn’t get pulled up or cut down to make room for the graveyard.

 

I love this photo with the two saguaros presiding over Ajo Cemetery with A mountain in the background. I wasn't even trying to get the mountain in the background, and I didn't realize the Ajo "A" would show up so clearly. This is one of those photos I look at and think, how did I do that?

I love this photo showing the two saguaros presiding over Ajo Cemetery while A Mountain stands in the background. I wasn’t even trying to get the mountain in the background, and I didn’t realize the Ajo “A” would show up so clearly. This is one of those photos I look at and think, How did I do that?

I’d never seen graves covered with painted gravel before, but I saw them at the Ajo Cemetery.  I saw a couple of IMG_6184those, each with the gravel painted different, bright colors. I wonder why. Why gravel, I mean. I sort of understand people who think painted gravel looks prettier than plain gravel wanting to paint it, but why put gravel on a grave site in the first place? Maybe to try to keep the dust down?

IMG_6217When I visited the Old Kernville Cemetery (read about that experience here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/05/29/old-kernville-cemetery/), I encountered a couple of graves upon which an unopened Bud Light had been placed. In the Ajo Cemetery, I encountered grave sites upon which other beverages had been left. I saw bottles of water, Coca-Cola, and Jarritos. I wonder if this offering for the dead is particular to the dessert.

I saw several creepy things at the Ajo Cemetery.

The first creepy thing I saw was a rather disturbing inscription on the headstone marking a baby’s grave.

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I’m not trying to be snarky or offensive about someone else’s grief or how that grief is expressed. I know that people mourn in different ways. Also, I give this family props for staying optimistic in the face of losing their baby. But I feel freaked out by this sentiment of “my baby’s dead, but God will send me a new baby, and I won’t even miss the old baby.” Let’s just say I don’t think this is the way I would grieve my lost child.

The second creepy thing I saw was a collapsing grave. Yes, I got as close as possible so I could look into the hole. Yes, I stepped gingerly, gauging my weight so I wouldn’t fall in. Yes, I experienced a mild fear of an arm reaching out and grabbing my ankle. No, I didn’t see a coffin or bones. No, nothing grabbed my ankle.

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I hope someone comes along soon and repairs Donald P. Harrison’s grave.

The third creepy thing I saw harkens back to the DIY grave markers. It may be a bit difficult to believe that I actually encountered in a cemetery the grave represented in the next photo, but I promise you, the photo shows exactly what I saw.

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I saw so many graves of children in this cemetery. It seemed like there were more children’s graves than I normally IMG_6198see in graveyards. Maybe Ajo was not only a town with families (as opposed to settlements populated with predominantly hard-living men), but a place where life was rough and survival was difficult. All of those graves of kids got to me, and I felt rather melancholy when I left.

I think cemeteries are making me sadder as I get older.

Ajo cemetery is located at 1181 Cedar Street in Ajo, Arizona.

I took all of the photos in this post.

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Kingston Cemetery

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I took this photo of the entrance to Kingston Cemetery, outside of the tiny town of Kingston, New Mexico.

This is the entrance to Kingston Cemetery, outside of the tiny town of Kingston, New Mexico.

I went to Kingston, New Mexico because a map referred to it as a ghost town. What I found was a town with one main street. People were definitely living there. It wasn’t like the ghost towns I’ve seen in movies, with tumbleweeds and abandoned buildings. I guess it was once a boom town and now there aren’t many people living there, so it’s called a ghost town.

I wasn’t looking for the cemetery. I thought maybe I’d go to Silver City from Kingston, and was driving in that direction when I saw the cemetery and decided to stop.

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I like cemeteries. I think they are peaceful. I enjoy imagining the lives of the people buried there. I especially like looking at really old tombstones.

These are some of the cool tombstones I saw.

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This tombstone reads “Cecilia Shepperd Kelley Jan. 13, 1859-Sept. 30, 1892”

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In New Mexico, grave sites are often surrounded by fencing. I’d never seen such a thing in cemeteries until I visited New Mexico. Someone explained to me that the fencing is to keep cows off the graves. I couldn’t find any verification of that claim, so who knows?

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Here are two more cool tombstones:

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I think Kingston Cemetery is definitely the most interesting thing I saw in Kingston.

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(I took all of the photos in this post.)