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Unmarked to Marked

Two historic women about whom I have written were buried in unmarked graves, only, years later, to be honored with a gravestone. (Click to enlarge image): Biddy Mason, midwife, nurse, entrepreneur, philanthropist, died in 1891 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. Ninety-seven years later, in 1988, members of the church that she founded, erected a gravestone honoring her. The event was reported by newspapers across America. The article is from The Burlington Free Press, (Burlington, VT) MARCH 29, 1988, p. 6.

Nellie Bly, Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman's pen name, was a pioneering investigative reporter whose many achievements included exposing inhumane treatment in a New York City mental hospital and setting an around-the-world travel record. She died impoverished and was buried in an unmarked grave in 1922. Fifty-six years later, in 1978, the New York Press Club erected a marker honoring her. Newspapers around America covered the story. The article is from The Wisconsin State Journal, June 23, 1978, p.22.

Marvelous landmarks have been installed honoring both women: Dedicated in 1989, the Biddy Mason Memorial in Los Angeles is an 8-foot high x 81-foot-long poured concrete wall with a timeline, illustrated with impressions of objects, documents, and the only known picture of Biddy Mason. Linda and I have visited and revisited it, the first time in 1995.

"The Girl Puzzle" honoring Nellie Bly is in Lighthouse Park at the north end of Roosevelt Island, New York City. Four bronze sculptures of partial heads represent an Asian American woman, an African American woman, an older woman from the LGBTQ communities, and a young girl who was the subject of a court case but had no voice in it. Nellie Bly's head is in silver bronze (the construction barrier to the right seemed to involve the lighthouse).Three stainless steel spheres of varying sizes are in the middle of the 65-foot walkway. Dedicated in 2021, we visited "The Girl Puzzle" in 2022. The title "Girl Puzzle" comes from the name of her first published article.

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