|McCullough monument, c. 1888 (ref.)|
Like the bond of friendship shared by Adams and McCullough, their graves are similarly forgotten and overgrown. The grave sites of these two celebrated stage actors, being inaccessible to the public, do nothing, currently, to help keep them in our memory. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc., will undoubtedly do something about that.
Regardless of the size and fanciness of one memorial relative to the other, both are hidden by the densely overgrown foliage. You would never find either grave without very specific directions. The McCullough monument, aside from having the large bronze bust of John McCullough removed, is in relatively good condition. It is fairly easy to discern through the Japanese knotweed in the winter time. In summer, the dense trees and other growth hide most of it, save its ascending granite flame, "typical of the aspiring soul in its escape from mortal encasement" (ref.).
|Edwin Adams' grave site, Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia|
I’ve known of the existence of the McCullough monument for some time now. With the help of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc., I located Adams’ grave a couple weeks ago. It is in Section 203, in as much of a jungle of dense woods as is McCullough’s. Deer are probably the most frequent visitors to his grave, evidenced by the numerous beds and runs. The Friends’ group has not yet gotten back to this area to do any weed or tree cutting, but that’s just a matter of time. There is, however, work being done to access the area around the McCullough monument.
|“The massive base from which it springs is adorned on its front face
with a design of crossed foils, and the fasces of the Roman lictors,
flanked on either side by the masks of Tragedy and Comedy, and crowned
by the Scotch thistle.” (ref.)|
|Center pedestal where bust originally sat|
Following the death of his good friend Edwin Adams in 1877, McCullough was asked to supply an inscription for the late thespian’s memorial in Mount Moriah Cemetery. McCullough selected this line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 5, Scene 5 –
|Inscription on John McCullough's monument|
His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, “This was a man.”
|Edwin Adams (ref.)|
|Edwin Adams' grave site, Mount Moriah Cemetery|
|Front of McCullough family plot, Mount Moriah Cemetery|
“When the superintendent of Mount Moriah Cemetery, where rests the dust his great spirit once vitalized, could express profound surprise at the enduring longevity of the affection this man inspired, since the tomb of none other among the many silent occupants of his vast city of the dead, is ever sought out and inquired for with such abiding interest, such pathos of tender memory, as is that of the great actor today [in 1905, twenty years after McCullough’s death], a tribute is thereby paid to the majesty of a soul, which, in its passage through this world, briefly ‘pressed the earth but stained it not.’” -From the book, John McCullough as man, actor and spirit, by Susie Champney Clark, 1905.
|John McCullough as Virginius|
“The McCullough monument stands at the head of the grave, over which the bust of the actor, in his favorite [Shakespearean] character [the ill-fated Roman centurion] Virginius, seems an image of perfect and noble repose, as calm and majestic as the day that it greets at its coming. The main fabric of the monument, imposed upon a commodious pedestal, is a huge block of polished granite. On this are reared four pillars, which support a stone canopy surmounted by an urn. Beneath the canopy stands the bust, which is of colossal size. The pillars are sculptured with vines of ivy. The top of the urn is thirty-six feet from the ground.”
The formal dedication of John McCullough’s memorial occurred on November 27, 1888:
"The scene at McCullough's grave when his monument was dedicated lacked no element of impressive simplicity. The day was somber and chill. A sad, gray sky brooded, as if in sorrow, over the still and melancholy landscape — of withered lawn and leafless trees, with, all around, the cold memorials of the dead. It was one of those pensive, soundless days when Nature seems to sympathize with the grief, the perplexities, the wistful anxiety of man." (Ref.)
William F. Johnson’s introductory address at the dedication:
"Heroes have had their last resting-places marked with imperishable marble, in admiration of their power to slaughter men and wreak misery upon their fellow-creatures; poets for the sweetness of their songs; rulers for their excellence in statecraft; but few are honored, as our dead friend is to-day, for personal worth, unostentatious charities, and a beneficent life." (Ref.)
|McCullough family crypt cover|
References and Further Reading:
John McCullough as man, actor and spirit by Susie Champney Clark 1905
In memory of John McCullough ..., by William Winter, 1889, De Vinne press
"GENIAL" JOHN MCCULLOUGH: ACTOR AND MANAGER
The Last Days of John McCullough, by Joseph Haworth, 1894
JohnMcCullough — The Ghost of the National Theatre?
Death's Playhouse (Part one of the McCullough/Adams story on the Cemetery Traveler)
Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc.