Weird NY: Monument to a Love Story with a Tragic Twist in Utica
A graveyard in Utica contains a haunting monument to a love story with a tragic twist.
Forest Hills Cemetery in Utica encompasses 135 acres, and was formally opened in 1850 after 2 years of planning and construction.
The cemetery serves as the final resting place to many distinguished figures, including former Vice President James Schoolcraft Sherman, Roscoe Conkling, who served as a US Representative and Senator, and former NY Governor Horatio Seymour.
The cemetery is home to the Sacred Stone of the Oneida Nation of Indians. "The stone was a sort of altar or council stone about which all the nations or tribes of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy were wont to gather of old and to hold councils or sacred ties and was supposed to follow them wherever they went. The Oneida Indians were named after this stone; for Oneida in their language means “Keeper of the Stone.”" Ultimately, it was placed near the entrance and on the west side of a small pond which held waters which flowed down the hillside.
Within the cemetery, is a stunning memorial to Louise Dellmayer Kasson. Louise was born in 1859, in Vienna, Austria.
According to Forest Hills, "She studied the cello and graduated from Vienna Conservatory. She performed solos and with ensembles in Europe including places as Leipzig, Vienna and London. In 1897 she moved to New York City. Shortly after her arrival, she played the cello for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Louise moved to Utica 1888, and played many performances."
Louise married in 1900, at the age of 41. Her husband, John G. Kasson, was an interior designer. Sadly, Louise died in 1913 of heart failure. She was just 54.
Her husband hired famous sculptor Karl Bitter to sculpt her monument out of marble. The sculpture depicts a woman on her knees, rising from the pillar, with arms above her head.
The inscription at its base reads:
Fear not the night
Thy soul is awake
With the stars
In a tragic twist, one week after finishing the monument, Karl was hit by a car leaving the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and died the next day. Karl's wife survived because her pushed her out of the way of the oncoming car.
The sculpture was the final work Bittern completed before his death.