I have apologies for you, if you’re interested. It is ironic that the Friday the 13th post did not come through, but I have a good reason for it. Not that it was Friday the 13 and this is one of the creepier monuments and biggest “WTF?” moments of all our headstoning experience, but because I got a new laptop computer! (“squee,” as the youngsters these day say, I think?) And last week, the files weren’t all transferred yet. So I didn’t have any pictures and it made it hard to work on this. I will give you more than I have been–our ulterior picture site is still in the works–but this cemetery ended up being so incredibly WTF that I can’t pass it up.
Woodstock is yet another tiny unincorporated settlement in northern Champaign County. It was an unplanned stop made by Lincoln’s funeral train, though, before it went through the aforementioned Cable and down to popular Urbana, Ohio. But to be perfectly frank with you . . . I am skipping directions for the time being because I don’t exactly remember how we got to the cemetery. It was pretty obvious, though, although definitely an awkward turn. We weren’t planning to get out because by this time we were getting kind of cold and tired, but as we drove along we began to exclaim, “What is that? WHAAAT is that?” And that which I am about to show you definitely deserved some face time. The following is what happens when your relative is an amateur scuptor and aspiring geneaologist and someone has told him he is really good at either. And yes. It has its own glass canopy. Hey, wouldn’t want all that “lovely” sculpting work to be marred by the elements, would we?
This is the memorial of . . . well, about 50 people. The Cushman, Hewitt, and Gifford families are memorialized here with bas relief and statuesque forms of themselves done in, ah, cement. Apparently. Whatever this stuff is, it’s rough. Names are identified in marble strips or squares attached to the, um, main . . . structure, with epitaphs like “Grandma Cushman,” “Auntie Jackson,” and “Sister Lucy Hewitt,” and the far less informative “Scott” and “Charlotte.”
The marble plates at the top detail the entire life story and history of the Cushmans and their arrival to Ohio. But wait! There’s more! If you haven’t had enough of inexplicable statues, lists of names, and vaguely creep bas relief busts of people with indeterminate names, walk around behind the, ah, monument.
Now, this is perhaps really inexplicable, as there is another tombstone dedicated to listing this selfsame roll of honor. But I guess he was out of Cushman history to put on there and really wanted this thing to have four fully covered sides. (Around the base of this thing, incidentally, apart from the names of the three families, are the names of wars I presume they were involved in, and that the sculptor wasn’t simply listing wars off the top of his head.) Nice Fedora on the guy in the bottom center, though.
Oh, yeah, I said “four sides.” In all, there are six larger-than-life sculptures flanking the ends, and sixteen of the little bust sculptures surrounding the bottom. Some of the large statues even deserve lengthy descriptors in marble. Now, while I agree this is a really clever way to combine cemetery memorialization and family history, unfortunately, this is . . . well, look, I’m going to be really honest about it, okay? This is really ugly. And not particularly well sculpted. Or whatever you do with cement. I would have chosen another medium, personally. And perhaps not weighted it down so much with some twenty-four, twenty-five people on it. But that’s what you get, you know. But enough suspense. Let’s meet our intrepid artist.
Ah, yes, the late great Warren S. Cushman! Huh? Who? Well, according to the very useful website AskArt, he was a native of Woodstock, Ohio, who remained chiefly in this area, lingering around Springfield and Urbana. The description also notes that he was “largely self taught” (you’re kidding! I never could have guessed) and that painting was his chief forte although he did embark on some photography. And that’s pretty much all of the description I can see without getting an account. But it does seem to indicate this man at least sold some paintings! I hope he was a good painter; the, uh, sculpture isn’t doing it for him. But it was nice of him to include a self-portrait on his tombstone. And whoever that is next to him–he got so carried away with the image, he forget to put a name on it anywhere. If you can’t see those dates, he was born in 1845 and died in 1926. Apparently he was “known for” monumental sculpture, but I hope this is the only example. (I’m sorry! If you think I’m being mean, I am really sorry, but this thing is darn ugly! Do you really think it isn’t?)
The rest of the Woodstock Cemetery is actually extremely pretty and worth a look. There is a historic marker memorializing Woodstock as a stop for the Lincoln Funeral Train, and the area is nice, rather well kempt, and sports some great views. The unique and unusual is also pretty standard stuff here, and for as many odd stones as there are, there are also some really pretty ones. Incidentally, some of the Cushmans have some more standard stones, and among these are some great examples of proper restoration very tastefully done.