CLOSE
Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

The Wright Brothers

Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

Every time we so much as touch a toe out of state, I’ve put cemeteries on our travel itinerary. From garden-like expanses to overgrown boot hills, whether they’re the final resting places of the well-known but not that important or the important but not that well-known, I love them all. After realizing that there are a lot of taphophiles out there, I’m finally putting my archive of interesting tombstones to good use.

From the time we were very young, we were taught about the Wright brothers and their groundbreaking contributions to transportation. What you may not know is that there were more Wright brothers (plus a couple of sisters). Aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur were just two of seven siblings—five boys and two girls. You’ll find all but two of them at the Wright family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.


Stacy Conradt

Twins Otis and Ida were born in 1870, between Wilbur (1867) and Orville (1871). Otis died of jaundice shortly after birth, according to Dayton’s “Record of Deaths.” Since we know now that jaundice is a discoloration due to other problems, it’s likely Otis actually died of an infection or liver failure. Ida fared slightly better than her twin brother, surviving five days before succumbing to marasmus (malnutrition). They were buried in a different cemetery before being relocated to the family plot many years later.

Stacy Conradt

Wilbur was the first of the famous siblings to die, having contracted typhoid fever, “likely from eating contaminated oysters.” He died in 1912 at the age of 45. “A short life, full of consequences. An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadily, he lived and died,” his father wrote on the day of Wilbur’s death.

Sister Katharine (gravestone not pictured) was pretty well-known in her own (w)right. When Katharine’s famous brothers asked her to travel to Europe with them in 1909, she quickly became known for her chatty interviews and ease with reporters, something neither Wilbur and Orville never quite developed.

The trio was incredibly close and had an unspoken pact between them that they would never marry. In 1926, after much agonizing, Katharine decided to break the pact and marry her high school sweetheart. Knowing Orville would view her marriage as abandonment, Katharine waited for more than a year to break her engagement news. Her prediction was right—Orville was furious and refused to attend the nuptials. He cut off all ties with her until two years later, when she contracted pneumonia and fell very ill. Their brother Lorin convinced Orville to reconcile with their sister before she died, and after much coaxing, Orville agreed. He made it in time, and had her buried with Wilbur, their parents, and their infant twin siblings in Dayton.

Orville lived to the ripe old age of 76, suffering a heart attack and dying three days later on January 30, 1948.

The brothers not buried at the Wright family plot are Reuchlin (the eldest sibling) and Lorin (the second eldest). Reuch is buried with his wife in Kansas City, while Lorin is also buried at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton—but with his wife, not his siblings.

In addition to the Wright family plot, Woodland has another tribute to the brothers who changed the world: A sculpture inspired by a bench in the picture of the brothers' first flight.


Stacy Conradt

See all entries in our Grave Sightings series here.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Stacy Conradt
arrow
politics
Grave Sightings: Hubert Humphrey
Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

With the state of politics lately, it’s hard to imagine a generous act of kindness from one political rival to another. But if Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon were capable of burying the hatchet, there’s hope for anyone.

Humphrey, a senator from Minnesota, ran for president several times. In 1952, he lost the Democratic nomination to Adlai Stevenson. In 1960, of course, he faced a charismatic young senator from Massachusetts named Jack Kennedy. In 1968, Humphrey, who was vice president at the time, came closest to the presidency—but Nixon triumphed by a little more than 500,000 popular votes.


Getty Images

Though he graciously admitted defeat and pledged to help the new president-elect, Humphrey wasn’t shy about criticizing Nixon. Just 10 months after Nixon took office, Humphrey stated that the administration had done “poorly—very poorly” overall, citing the increase in interest rates and the cost of living. Nixon and his team, Humphrey said, had “forgotten the people it said it would remember.” He was still making his opinions known four years after the election, turning his eye to Vietnam. “Had I been elected, we would now be out of that war,” he told the press on January 10, 1972.


Stacy Conradt

The Watergate scandal broke later that year, and Humphrey no doubt felt validated. He mounted another unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1972, but lost the nomination to George McGovern. Humphrey briefly considered trying one more time in 1976, but ultimately nixed the idea. "It's ridiculous — and the one thing I don't need at this stage in my life is to be ridiculous," he said. The public didn’t know it at the time but the politician had been battling bladder cancer for several years. By August 1977, the situation had become terminal, and Humphrey was aware that his days were numbered.

When he knew he had just a few weeks left to live, Humphrey did something that would stun both Republicans and Democrats: He called former rival Richard Nixon and invited him to his upcoming funeral. He knew that Nixon had been depressed and isolated in his political exile, and despite the Watergate scandal and the historical bad blood, he wanted Nixon to have a place of honor at the ceremony. Humphrey knew his death would give the former president a plausible reason to return to Washington, and told Nixon to say he was there at the personal request of Hubert Humphrey if anyone questioned his motives.

Humphrey died on January 13, 1978—and when the funeral was held a few days later, Nixon did, indeed, attend. He stayed out of the Washington limelight, emerging right before the ceremony—to audible gasps. Humphrey’s gracious act must have been on Nixon’s mind when he listened to Vice President Walter Mondale sing the fallen senator’s praises: “He taught us all how to hope, and how to love, how to win and how to lose. He taught us how to live, and finally he taught us how to die.”

Nixon wasn’t the only former foe whom Humphrey had mended fences with. Barry Goldwater, who ran against Humphrey in 1964, had this to say:

“I served with him in the Senate, I ran against him in campaigns, I debated with him, I argued with him. But I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a friendship as much as the one that existed between the two of us. I know it may sound strange to people who see in Hubert a liberal and who see in me a conservative, that the two of us could ever get together; but I enjoyed more good laughs, more good advice, more sound counsel from him that I have from most anyone I have been associated with in this business of trying to be a senator.”

After the ceremony in D.C., Humphrey was buried at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. His wife, Muriel, joined him there when she died 20 years later.

Peruse all the entries in our Grave Sightings series here.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Stacy Conradt
arrow
History
Grave Sightings: Joe DiMaggio
Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

Legendary Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio and equally illustrious actress Marilyn Monroe had one of the most famous and tumultuous relationships in modern celebrity history. After countless ups and downs, including marriage and divorce, the two had reconciled again and were reportedly planning to remarry when she died in 1962.

Stacy Conradt

Devastated, DiMaggio—who was born on November 25, 1914—stepped in and planned the whole funeral, banning almost all of Monroe’s Hollywood contacts from attending (as well as the public). He had her buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, in a crypt they had originally purchased together while they were married—his was located directly above hers. Afterward, DiMaggio had flowers delivered to her grave multiple times a week, a practice that continued for 20 years.

Despite their his-and-hers crypts, however, Joltin’ Joe’s eternal resting place isn’t near Marilyn. It’s not at the same cemetery, or even in the same city. He ended up nearly 400 miles away at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

Stacy Conradt

Though most of us associate the Yankee Clipper with New York, he actually grew up in San Francisco, arriving in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach when he was just a year old and spending his entire childhood there. In 1939, after baseball success had brought him fame and fortune, he bought his parents a home in the Marina district. When they died, his widowed sister Marie moved in, and eventually, so did Joe. He was involved with the community, even helping his brother when he opened a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Stacy Conradt

When he passed away from lung cancer in 1999, DiMaggio’s funeral was held at San Francisco's St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, where he had been baptized, taken his first communion, and was confirmed and married. Given his personal ties with San Francisco, it’s not that surprising that he ended up spending eternity in the area—especially since he sold his crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park after Marilyn filed for divorce just nine months into their marriage.

Though he wasn’t buried with her as originally planned, Marilyn was still on DiMaggio’s mind when he left this world. According to Morris Engelberg, Joe’s lawyer, his final words were, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”

Peruse all the entries in our Grave Sightings series here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios