VISIT OAKWOOD

Grounds: Open everyday
of the year Dawn to Dusk 

Office: 9am-12pm  1pm-4pm
Monday - Friday 

Oakwood Cemetery 

763 Portage Road
Niagara Falls, NY 14301 

Office/Fax: 716.284.5131 

  

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Friday
Nov162012

Tu scendi dalle stelle (You Come Down from the Heavens)

By Michelle Ann Kratts

When I think of my great grandmother, Clementina Fortuna, during the holidays my memories are always framed in wonderful food and song.  Of course, food…but there was also music.  Tears would come to her eyes when one particular song would play and forever I will see her when I hear it.  And in Niagara Falls, one does hear this song at Christmastime.  It’s called “Tu scendi dalle stelle,” and it’s one of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever composed.  I never really thought of the significance of the words until now. It is clear why the Italians loved this song.  This song celebrates the story of a king born of the stars into dire poverty.  Of a child who gives his life as a result of his great love for the world. 

Perhaps for the Italians of Niagara Falls, this song held some other significance, as well.  For in the spring of 1920, one poor Italian child opened the gates of heaven.  Literally.

The story probably began over the holidays in 1919/1920.  Tomaso and Addolorata DiCamillo’s infant son, Antonio, would not live.  Suffering from pneumonia, he barely made it through La Festa dell'Epifania - the Feast of the Epiphany.  He breathed his last on January 14, 1920.  There must have been much heartache from the little house at 565 14th Street.  The Dicamillo family, an immigrant family that eventually would found a baking empire in the Niagara region, did not have much during these early years.  A funeral was held from the home on January 15 and the child was moved to the vault at Oakwood Cemetery for a charge of $2.50.  It was winter and the ground was probably frozen over so a burial was not likely at this time.  It was customary to keep bodies in the vault until the ground was ready for burial in a plot.  However, a plot in Oakwood was never chosen for little Antonio.  Instead, there was another plan that would make history. 

I had never heard about this other “plan” until a DiCamillo descendant approached me one afternoon in Oakwood Cemetery.  He asked me if I knew anything about the baby who had founded a cemetery.  I was ashamed to tell him that I knew nothing about this—but I would definitely look into it.  After looking into his “story” it quickly became apparent that Mr. DiCamillo was correct.  A child from his family had been the first burial at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Niagara Falls.  

In fact it might be said that St. Joseph’s Cemetery was born in Oakwood Cemetery one starlit evening in April when Father Augustine Billerio took the child’s body from the vault and secretly buried it in the land that had been purchased by the Church—the eleven acres that is now St. Joseph’s Cemetery. 

It’s hard to imagine today that the world was such a different place back in 1920.  During this period there was a great amount of prejudice leveled at the Italian immigrants who had taken Niagara Falls by storm.  Their dress and customs were strange and wild, they were full of passion and independence, they sang and they danced in the streets. They were outspoken and their superstitions and religious customs were seen as unusual.   They were impoverished.    By 1920, one of the most prominent of the Italian leaders, Father Billerio, purchased land for the purpose of consecrating a special ground for Roman Catholic burials.  The Niagara Falls City Council responded by saying:  absolutely not a chance and washed their hands of the situation.  But Father Billerio was not about to accept defeat.  For him, the establishment of a Roman Catholic Cemetery within the city of Niagara Falls was an integral part of his service to his people.  So he took matters into his own hands. 

It was recorded that on April 22, 1920 (some accounts say April 21) the body of little Antonio DiCamillo was removed from the vault at Oakwood Cemetery and secretly buried that evening in the “new Italeon cemetery.” Father Billerio believed that in burying little Antonio on the property the nearby property owners who were against the establishment of an Italian cemetery, and the city fathers, would be left without an argument as it would be impossible to disinter the child’s body.     When called upon by the City Council, Mr. Angelo Scalzo, Father Billerio and others revealed the history of the land they had recently purchased—including the story of the burial of Antonio DiCamillo-- and again, insisted upon being granted the right to turn it into a Roman Catholic burial ground.   The City Manager reported that the sanitary code had been violated with DiCamillo’s illegal burial and a permit would be necessary from the health officer—which would not be allowed.  It was continually stated that the land was ill suited for a cemetery because of drainage issues, that the illegal burial would be a health risk to the community and that it should immediately be removed and reinterred at another location. 

Finally, miraculously, on May 3, 1920, after much debate, the health officer, the corporation counsel and the city manager had a sudden change of heart.  They had inspected the location, and after being informed of the manner in which the sanitary code would be met, finally agreed to allow for the establishment of a Roman Catholic burial ground within the city of Niagara Falls.  St. Joseph’s Cemetery was officially established.

 

On Memorial Day in 1920, the opening of the cemetery was formally observed and the ground consecrated.  All of the Italian societies marched from St. Joseph’s church on Pine Avenue to the new cemetery and were led by Scalzo’s band.  The men from Niagara Falls (of Italian heritage) who had given their lives in the First World War were memorialized.  By May 29, there were twenty five bodies buried at St. Joseph’s cemetery. 

I have read that there is a stone in St. Joseph’s that commemorates the life and death of Antonio DiCamillo.  My daughter and I tried to find him one autumn afternoon but no one seemed to know the location.  One of the grounds workers told me where the oldest part of the cemetery is and that I might find him there.  Luckily, it was near the area where my own great great grandparents are buried.  We walked along the fence and marveled at the beautiful angels that paved our way.  There are many graves from the 1920’s and 1930’s in this section.  Graves with beautiful Italian engravings and ceramic photographs offering the passer by a glimpse into the soul of the dead. 

We never did find little Antonio.   I snapped a few pictures of tombstones that caught my eye.  Some belonging to beautiful Italian children that left the earth too early.   They probably keep our little Antonio company and honor him for opening the gates and letting everyone else in. 

Monday
Sep242012

An Update on Our Local “Titanic” Story ; The Magic of Historical Research

By Michelle Kratts

Although, assuredly, Mrs. Emily S. Douton (Downton) Hyde Biondi rests quietly in the Mausoleum at Oakwood Cemetery, her story refuses to sleep.  Recently posted on both Niagara Hub and on the Oakwood Cemetery website the story somehow ended up everywhere else including the other side of the world and luck would have it that another researcher was able to add so much more to what we already knew of Emily S. Douton (Downton) Hyde Biondi’s life. 

I always think that there is no other way to describe the connections that are made between people, living and dead, while in the midst of historical research,  than to admit that there must be a tincture of MAGIC involved.   The internet has made it possible to do the impossible.  I am sometimes so in awe of those who came before me—because they found a way to do so much without our modern day “magic.”  Those researchers who had to type up letters, lick a stamp and send it off in hopes that maybe in a few weeks (or months) there would be a response.  Or those who took buses, cars, trains, horse and buggies to get to that repository of information.  Today from the comfort of our homes we can meet with the most incredible history.  In an instant a birth record is scanned, photographs are sent across time and space.  And this is the story of Emily.  When you invest so much while researching one person, when you are into their personal records and you feel like God because you know their beginning and their end…it is quite disappointing when you have no idea about such simple things as what they looked like.  After all that, they have pretty much become a sort of invisible friend. 

Courtesy of Robin DeBrita William Douton worked as a stone cutter in Holley. He was among the 1,514 who died on the Titanic 100 years ago.But today, thanks to a few people, Emily’s story is so much more complete and I can finally look into her eyes. It all started a few weeks ago with an incredible email from a Titanic researcher, named Lindsay, from Australia.  Among other things, he knew about Emily before she had come to Niagara Falls.  He had documentation of a whole other world.  Because of his very thorough research it is most likely that her maiden name was Le Monnier and that she had been born to French nationals on the Channel Island of Guernsey.  In fact, that is the place her poor husband, William Douton (Downton), was visiting when he embarked on his trip back to New York on that ill fated ship, the Titanic.  There is even a memorial marker on Guernsey “in commemoration of the Guernsey men and women who lost their lives when the R.M.S. Titanic sank on the 15th of April 1912.”  W.J. Downton, Emily’s husband, is on this plaque. 

As for Emily’s eyes, that is thanks to my friend, Peter Ames.  Forever showering me with the most unusual “gifts”—he popped into the library this fine rain-swept morning with Emily packed away into a little see-through sleeve.   He had contacted the Holley historian and apparently someone had recently cleaned an attic and found the picture.  So here she is.  Emily S. Le Monnier Douton (Downton) Hyde Biondi.  A long strand of pearls, black lace, round glasses.  Her image, kindly and sweet, like someone’s grandmother. 

Tom Rivers/Daily News The Independent Order of Old Fellows erected this memorial for Holley residents William Douton and Peter MacKain, who perished with the sinking of the Titanic. (Douton's and MacKain's last names are spelled in several different ways, according to published reports from a century ago. The community newspaper spelled their names as Douton and MacKain.)In the end, it might be said that historical research is a bit like raising the dead—or the carcass of an old shipwreck.   There is always new life, new stories and adventure.  Over and over again.  

Monday
Aug202012

Gone but not forgotten: Myron H. and Sarah E. Whitney A continuation of the Whitney stories

Day #2: August 19, 2012

Sister and Brother:  Myron Holly and Sarah Eliza (Sally) Whitney 
Forgotten children of General Parkhurst and Celinda Whitney

There are the little ones in Oakwood.  The ones who were put to sleep one last time under soft blankets of grass.  Today was for the little ones.  Specifically two babies--Myron and Sarah—for today their little common grave was uncovered.  Almost two hundred years old, it was in beautiful condition.  Lying flat on its back and covered in a neat layer of dirt and grass, the single stone commemorating the lives of two of the Whitney children, has been nestled under the watchful eyes of their older sister, Asenath, for a very long time.   

Unlike their esteemed sisters and their brother, Solon, these two Whitney children had no islands named for them.  They didn’t live long enough to make it across the water that fateful day in 1816 when the ice jam encasing the raging Niagara River made it possible to cross to those magical islands at the edge of the world.   However, they lived long enough to leave their names etched onto a stone at Oakwood Cemetery. 

Dorothy Rolling was here again today—our historian and the energy behind many of the new discoveries within the Town of Niagara section of the cemetery—Dorothy always has a special fondness for the babies that she finds.  It wasn’t uncommon for children to die young and many were buried hastily in single graves.  She is often sidetracked from her work as she seeks out more information on “her babies.”  Perhaps they didn’t grow to adulthood but their spirits tug at her heartstrings more than any of the others. 

And it was all an accident that they were found today.  Pete Ames brought his shovel in the Edsonmobile as we drove to the site of Asenath’s grave.  He likes to tie up loose ends and thought maybe the little piece of stone peeking out beside her grave could possibly belong to Asenath’s dashing husband, Count Kowalewska (who died in Havana, Cuba). It was all to be a little “happily ever after” for us if we had indeed found the count’s grave.   But as Pete sliced away the blanket of grass that had encroached upon the marble (there was only a small block viewable) it was immediately evident that this grave belonged to someone else.   Dorothy’s interest was further heightened when she saw those fateful words:   children of Parkhurst and Celinda Whitney.  This was the grave of other lesser known, forgotten children. 

The grave of Myron H. and Sarah E. Whitney

At this time we are not exactly sure how these children died.  According to a genealogy record little Sally (Sarah Eliza) was born on March 10, 1814, and died on July 31, 1815.  Her older brother, Myron Holley Whitney, was born September 10, 1810, and died on August 12, 1815.  With deaths just a few weeks apart it might be surmised they both died from the same illness.   Their brother (the namesake of Little Brother island) was born only a few months later on October 7.  Poor Celinda was heavy with child as she buried her only living son and her baby daughter.   It must have been the most tragic time of her life.  For no matter how many children women lost, it was never something to be taken lightly—as many modern people seem to think.  Diaries and notes and histories from times past reveal women screaming over their children’s graves.  Grieving the rest of their lives.  Refusing to carry on.  Filled with sadness until the peace of their own deaths.  The loss of a loved one is always tragic.  Interestingly, Solon Myron Napoleon Whitney, born a few months later had “Myron” added to his name probably in honor of the little brother he would never know. 

The sad and broken grave of Celinda (Cowing) Whitney is not too far from her little children’s graves.

And so we left the little grave today, uncovered, warming in the sun.    A whole city of ants had made their home in the mounds of dirt that hid little Myron and Sally from the world.  They dashed about, busy and confused, as Pete removed the layers of grass.  I’m sure by now they have found another happy home.  Life goes on.  And thanks to a man with a shovel and a local historian,  passersby can stop and pause at the grave of two little children from Niagara who had been forgotten for far too long.  

Sunday
Jul222012

The Cemetery Stone Investigators (CSI) at Oakwood Cemetery: Mission #1: Locate the Whitney Sisters and Little Brother

It’s a most sacred task, but someone has to do it.  About a year ago, two young boys from Niagara Falls uncovered the grave of Willie Richardson.  Just a little fist-sized section had surfaced and it bothered the boys that a person was being swallowed up into the earth.  So they used whatever makeshift tools they could find and peeled back the earth and grass until Willie was revealed.  He died in 1864.  Not much is known about Willie to this day.  We know his father was a guide on the river.  We know he was buried in Oakwood.  That’s about it.  But he will always be Brendan Kratts’s and Jason Hake’s favorite resident at Oakwood Cemetery.  They feel that, in a way, they resurrected someone.  For one person who had lived a very long time ago had almost disappeared but now he is remembered. 

The story of Willie Richardson hit the newspapers and the boys decided to make uncovering lost souls their sacred task and the Cemetery Stone Investigators (CSI) were born.   They have found other missing persons, too, including Rachel Preston Parsons—who was born in 1765, and Lolly Todd Childs who may be a relative to Mary Todd Lincoln!  

Brendan Kratts and Anthony Conghi from Channel 4 Jason Hake and Anthony Conghi from Channel 4

On Sunday, July 22, 2012, the CSI (Cemetery Stone Investigators) at Oakwood Cemetery set out on Day #1 of a very important mission:  locate the graves of The Three Sisters and Little BrotherThe Three Sisters and Little Brother, refer to the Whitney children—the real people behind the names of the world famous islands at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls.  Local lore reveals that back in 1816, General Parkhurst Whitney, a founder of Niagara Falls and a hero of the War of 1812, ventured out to the little islands as an ice bridge had formed during that infamous “year without a summer.”  Because of their precarious position the islands that teetered at the edge of the cataract were virtually impossible to get to until the ice created a natural bridge that one year.  The Whitney girls were the first white girls to ever step foot on those islands and somewhere along the line it was decided to name the islands after them:  Asenath, Celinda Eliza and Angeline.  The smallest island on the outskirts eventually became known as “Little Brother,” after their little brother, Solon Whitney. 

A vintage postcard showing the Three Sisters IslandsUnfortunately the Whitney graves have experienced the same fate as many other 150 year old graves.  Time has not been kind and they have not easily weathered the storms of three centuries.  Asenath, born in 1809, faired the best of the sisters.  Her tombstone, though modest for her place in society, still stands.  Jillian Kratts, who portrays Asenath in our Stunters Tours, was more than happy to pose for a picture beside her grave. She helped her brother, Brendan, and his best friend, Jason, as they gathered their shovels and buckets and set out to uncover the latest history mystery in Oakwood Cemetery.  Luckily, Asenath is quite readable, though she stands unprotected in Lot #62 under a hot sun with not a tree in the general vicinity.

Jillian Kratts, who portrays “Asenath Whitney” in Oakwood’s, Where the Stunters Rest tour, poses beside the grave of Asenath Whitney.

Sister:  Asenath B. Whitney (Kowalewska)
Island:  The First Island
Who Was Asenath? 

If you have visited the Three Sisters Islands, Asenath was the namesake for the first island you stepped foot upon.  It was also known, at different times, as First Sister Island and Moss Island.  There has always been a bit of controversy as to when the islands became officially known as the Three Sisters Islands—different historians will give you a different story.  We do know, however, that today, the first island is Asenath, and we do know that Asenath, the woman, lies in her grave at Oakwood Cemetery.  

Asenath was born on January 22, 1809, in Geneva, New York, the first surviving daughter of General Parkhurst and Celinda Whitney.  Interestingly the most unusual name “Asenath” is Egyptian in origin and means “she belongs to her father” or “gift of Isis.”  Likewise, Niagara’s Asenath was not your ordinary woman.   She was only one year old when her parents came to the wilderness that was Niagara Falls.  Her father worked as a surveyor and was the first to plot out Goat Island.  Asenath, whose father also created the first library in Niagara Falls, was a brilliant and highly educated woman.  She was a scholar and a linguist and was fluent in a number of languages.  In 1822, her father brought her a very special and historic gift—a piano.  It was the first piano in Niagara Falls and Asenath soon after became an extremely accomplished musician.  Her courtship and marriage in 1837 was something straight out of a fairy tale, for the dreamy Asenath met and fell in love with a Polish gentleman and teacher of languages named Count Piotr de Kowalewska.  An officer with the 10th Lithuanian Lancers and a noble man who was forced to flee his homeland following the Revolution when his estates were confiscated,  the count brought some new exotic and romantic flair to the family.  Four children were born to the Kowalewska’s:  Linda Alice, Olympia, Frederic, and Helena.   All of them were gifted in music, the arts and languages.  Asenath died on September 6, 1859, and was buried here, in Oakwood Cemetery.  She is beside her parents’ broken down graves; Celinda and Parkhurst Whitney languish to her right.  Her husband, the Count, died in Havana, Cuba, in May of 1854.  We are not sure at this point if he is buried in Oakwood or not.  Another history mystery for another day!

Day #1:  July 22, 2012
Sister:  Angeline Whitney Jerauld
Island:  The Second Island
Where is Angeline?

Pete Ames got things going

Although we know that all three sisters (and little brother) are buried in Oakwood, Angeline’s grave has proven to be much more of a challenge for the CSI.  A scorching sun baked the already blanched grounds this Sunday morning as Oakwood historians Pete Ames and Dorothy Rolling searched over the old yellowed maps for the grave of the second sister, Angeline.   It became apparent that all signs pointed to the fact that Angeline is buried not too far from her parents and her sisters and brother in the Dexter Jerauld Lot.  According to the books, she is buried in Lot 64 somewhere beside Louise Jerauld (who was partially hidden behind a tree and quite blanched herself) and directly in front of the monument for Harriet and Dexter Jerauld.  A penciled in note revealed a not so pretty fact:  “marker not good.”  There was no marker to be seen for our poor Angeline.  Where can it be?

CSI digging in Lot #64

Jillian looking for possible remnants of Angeline’s stoneThe CSI wasted no time at all.  They marked out the spot where she was plotted to reside and Pete began to dig.  The CSI team dug deeper and sifted thru the dirt and clay.  Red ants climbed up their legs and as they wiped the sweat from their eyes it became apparent that this was not going to be easy.  Their excitement would peak each time their shovels hit against a piece of stone.  Unfortunately they were all broken pieces of stone.  They separated the stones from the dirt and vines and grass.  Sifting through those pieces will be a job for another day.  Finally several unusual pieces of stone surfaced.  These larger chunks may in fact be pieces of Angeline’s tombstone, for there was evidence of concrete on these stones. Dorothy Rolling, town of Niagara historian and an expert on cemeteries, knew that there was no other reason for random concrete and stone that far down into the earth.  It must be part of a stone that had been pieced back together at one point.  If only a piece can be found with some lettering. 

Town of Niagara historian, Dorothy Rolling, noticed that these pieces of stone, containing cement, may be remnants of Angeline’s grave marker 

 

 

After several hours of hard work, it was time for the CSI to pack up.  Hopefully Day #2 will bring us closer to the final remains of Angeline Whitney!

 

Look for our next installation of CSI’s search for the Three Sisters and Little Brother and the story of Angeline Whitney Jerauld.    

Some of the equipment used by CSI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Apr142012

“Went Down on Titanic” Mrs. Emily S. Douton’s Great Loss

Michelle A. Kratts

It was probably on the morning of April 15th when she first heard the horrible news.  From her glamorous apartment in The Lochiel, located on Buffalo Avenue and 3rd, well within the roar of Niagara, Mrs. Emily S. Douton must have been in a state of shock.  The newspapers had run the startling story:  the White Star Liner, Olympia, reports the Titanic has called “C.Q.D.” to the Marconi wireless station at Camp Race in Newfoundland.  The ship has struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and immediate assistance is being requested.  It was all a miserable dream, perhaps.  Yes, Mr. Douton was indeed on his way back to New York, but perhaps plans had changed yet again.  He was meant to be on the Olympia.  He was meant to leave on March 27th.   Perhaps he wasn’t on board the Titanic after all.  Perhaps, the ship was still afloat, or perhaps he was on one of the passengers removed and safe on board another vessel--a warm cup of tea in his hands at this very moment.  Perhaps, perhaps. 

 

 

Mrs. Emily S. Douton, a native of England, was not the sort of woman who enjoyed living with “perhaps.”  Intelligent and calculating, she was the local representative and national organizer of the National Protective Legion—an insurance company.  She was prepared for all manner of things—for certainly life is known to throw in some surprises.  Of course, she knew this more than anyone as she poured over her daily work.  It was the business of death, accident and disability claims that filled her hours.  How could it be that she would be thrown into that miserable mess?  She was meant to be on the other side of the desk.  But this was reality and this was the undeniable case—Mrs. Emily S. Douton, 46 years old, resident of Niagara Falls, New York, was about to become inextricably involved with one of the worst disasters in the world’s history. 

 

 

As the days passed and the horrific details came rushing in by wire, family members were notified.  There were accounts of women losing their minds with grief—such as Mrs. Stanley Fox of Rochester. 

 

 

But Emily, though heartsick, was not to lose her mind.  She was to keep calm and to carry on hope that he was still alive.  The newspapers in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester and in Holley carried the harrowing updates on Mr. Douton’s fate.  The news was nothing but grim.  His trip was meant to be a pleasant one.    He had been abroad since November replenishing his poor health and visiting his old home in England for the first time since he had come to America.  He had been travelling with Miss Lillian Bentham and Peter Mackain—both close family friends from Rochester. 

It was once Emily had collected herself that she found that she must immediately go to the home of Mrs. Bentham to await any news.  It was said that the women and children were saved first and Miss Bentham’s name was on the list released of survivors on board the Carpathia.   William Douton’s name was not on the list.  She scoured the list.  Hoping for the chance of a mistake, a misspelling, a hasty scribbler who left him out by accident.  But nothing.    By April 18th, she gathered her daughters, Mrs. Charles Cooper and Mrs. Epke, and they left for New York at midnight.  She would be there when the Carpathia rolled in.  She would gather Miss Bentham and find out the fate of her own husband.

 

 

The moment arrived late on Thursday evening as the Carpathia reached her dock.   It was said that the “saddest scene was the eager watching of the disembarking throng of survivors by relatives of those reported missing, in the vain hope that there might have been some mistake or omission in the names and that their own loved ones might after all be among the saved…and the sorrow-stricken faces as this last frail hope faded and died…”  Such was the case for Mrs. Douton and her daughters.   Mr. Douton was not among the survivors.  Their meeting with Lillian was bittersweet for it was then that they finally learned of the fate of husband and father. 

The Holley Standard reveals a touching portrayal of this historic moment as Lillian was “met at the dock by Mrs. Douton.” Lillian was the only survivor from Holley and although “suffering severely from the physical hardship and nervous shock of her experiences she was in better condition than had been feared and was able to relate of the most thrilled recitals of experiences given by any of the survivors…”  It was published on April 25, 1912, in the Holley Standard.  The story is gruesome in its details.  She describes every moment and tells the stories of the dead being “thrown overboard,” of “officers with pistols” and “scenes on the deck,” as well as the fate of Mr. Douton…

Lillian had already retired in her cabin when she was thrown from the side of the bed and clear across the stateroom.  Her roommate was an old lady and was also thrown out of her bed.  She heard a lot of running outside her door and found a boy of the steward’s force and he merely answered that the ship had hit a fisherman’s boat.  But then after a few more moments there was much alarm and shouting and it became apparent to Lillian that  it was more than a slight collision with a “fisherman’s boat.” Words such as “life boats” were thrown about and that was when she got up and dressed herself and went on deck where “the scene was an awful one” that she would never be able to “get out” of her mind.  It was at this time that she ran back and proceeded to pound upon her traveling companion and chaperone, Mr. Douton’s, stateroom door.  Screaming and yelling she waited for him to answer.  But there was no answer.  It was presumed that he was sleeping when he went “down with the ship.”  Or perhaps had been injured and left unconscious from the original jolt with the iceberg.  Perhaps….

And then all of the puzzle pieces began to fall into place and the nightmare was made more complete.  The body of an “F. Dutton” was recovered by the morgue ship Mackay-Bennett and Mrs. Douton was quite certain it was her own “W. J. Douton.”  There was no other “Dutton” on the passenger record. 

 

  

 

She remarked to the Niagara Falls Gazette that she had gone over the lists over and over again and she knew that F. Dutton was none other than “W.J. Douton,” her husband.  For there were so many wireless reports of names that had been wrong and corrections had already been sent out.  While in New York she spoke with the officials of the White Star Line who were quite convinced he had gone down with the ship.  Emily decided she would wire her brother, a Boston architect, JEL Miller, to meet the morgue ship at Halifax.  “Mr. Miller can establish the identification beyond any doubt.”

  

 

Identifying the bodies was not for the weak of heart.  Unfortunately, Mr. Douton’s body was not identifiable and Mr. Miller left the scene empty-handed.  Not unlike many other victims of the Titanic, he may have been lost at sea.  On May 9, 1912, his name appeared on the final list of those lost.  The Holley Lodge No. 42 IOOF (the Independent Order of Odd Fellows) has often honored the memories of both William Douton and Peter MacKain at Hillside Cemetery in Holley.  Both men were members.  Mr. Douton had served as noble grand at one time. 

Mrs. Douton was probably never quite satisfied with the questionable ending of her husband.  How could such a spectacular death on board the Titanic properly register itself in her mind?  She went on with her life—the frozen iceberg always in the perimeter of her day’s events.  She married again to Charles B. Hyde—well known in Niagara Falls for his work in the paper making business.  He left his estate to his beloved wife, Emily, and upon her death she left it to the city of Niagara Falls to be used in the purchase of park property that would bear the name, “Hyde Park.”  Emily married also married Dr. A. F. Biondi and died only about one year following her marriage.  She died on June 30th, 1923, of cancer of the stomach.  She was at her daughter’s home at Hilton, New York.  Her body was returned to Niagara Falls where she was buried in Oakwood Mausoleum beside her second husband, Charles B. Hyde and Niagara’s Hyde Park was born from her death.   Most women are buried beside their first husbands, but Emily (Douton) Hyde-Biondi’s family was not prepared to send her off with their father and into the frozen sea. 

Emily S. (Miller) Douton Hyde Biondi’s final resting place in a crypt in Oakwood’s Mausoleum