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Eternally Green: Mount Auburn Security Team Wins the 2017 Mount Auburn Cemetery Green Teamwork Prize

January 9, 2018

The Green Teamwork Prize recognizes sustainability in collaborative work at Mount Auburn.  The basic premise for the prize is to acknowledge our staff who are working together on short-term special projects, or long-term tasks, that incorporate sustainability into the creation and implementation of their work.

In 2016, the Mount Auburn IT department won for their tremendous job coordinating, staffing, and promoting our annual electronic recycling event.  This year eight teams of staff were nominated, including groups as small as four staff and as large as fifteen.  The Education & Engagement Working Group reviewed every nomination on December 7th and voted for this year’s winner.  The winning team was announced at our annual Service Awards event on December 12, 2017.  The winners will receive a free lunch with Mount Auburn President Dave Barnett at a restaurant of their choosing.

Willie Torres, Alberto Parker, Andrew Rotch, and Jim Hynes make up the Mount Auburn Security team.  They are all hard working, dependable, and courteous.  The following reasons sum up why the security team was chosen for the 2017 Green Teamwork Prize:

Turf Protection Police – The security team politely enforces vehicle parking rules to protect new and existing turf areas.

Grounds Safety Team – Visitors and staff can depend on the security team to quickly respond to health and safety issues, as well as to conduct regular observational rounds to protect monuments, structures, floral tributes, garden spaces, waterbodies, and wildlife.

Trash and Recycling Agents – The security team never fails to stop and pickup waste anywhere on the grounds and deposit it in proper trash or recycling receptacles.

Nuisance Wildlife Defense Squad – The security team will operate remote control boats in our waterbodies and set out coyote replicas to ward off Canada Geese.  They also communicate with our Superintendent and staff from Taking Flight Goose Control to coordinate wild turkey control through the harassment and hazing of border collies.

Wildlife Photographers – Photographs by the security team have been incorporated into presentations by staff from many departments of Mount Auburn, including the iconic American toad photo by Andrew Rotch that visitors adore.

Educational Tour Guides – Alberto Parker leads bird walks and answers wildlife questions every year.

Biodiversity Research Assistants – The security team assists researchers with their gear, and also provides valuable insights regarding wildlife and the landscape of Mount Auburn that are important in the implementation of projects every year.

Stewardship Ambassadors – The security team answers visitor and lot owner questions and concerns and promotes our efforts to protect wildlife and habitat.  They are true ambassadors of Mount Auburn.

Thank you for all the great nominations this year and for all the hard work by staff to make Mount Auburn a safer, healthier, and more sustainable environment for all of our staff and visitors.  Congratulations to Willie, Alberto, Andrew, and Jim.  You are a great team!

Introducing Mount Auburn’s new Artist-in-Residence

January 2, 2018

We are excited to introduce Mount Auburn’s new Artist-in-Residence, award-winning playwright and author Patrick Gabridge. His past work includes the plays Drift, Mox Nox, Lab Rats, Blood on the Snow, Fire on Earth, Constant State of Panic, Pieces of Whitey, Reading the Mind of God, and Blinders, as well as the novels Steering to Freedom, Moving (a life in boxes), and Tornado Siren. Stay tuned for more information and special programs featuring his work in the coming two years!

Lemuel Shaw (1781-1861)

January 2, 2018

Lemuel Shaw

Once considered one of the most influential state judges, Lemuel Shaw was born in West Barnstable, Massachusetts on January 9th 1781.  For most of his early life, Shaw was educated at home by his father and in 1796 he was admitted into Harvard University. Shaw began his life-long career studying law in 1801 under David Everett, a well-established New England newspaper editor. In 1802, Shaw accompanied Everett to New Hampshire where he could assist with legal paperwork. There he met his first fiancee, Nancy Melvill, the daughter of the famous Major Thomas Melvill of Boston. The engagement was short-lived as Nancy passed away soon afterward.

Shaw was admitted to the Plymouth County Massachusetts bar in November of 1804 and began practicing law in Boston. With his election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1811, his participation on the Constitutional Convention of 1820,  and his election as State Senator in 1821, Shaw slowly climbed the legal ladder to eventually assume the Chief Justice position on the Massachusetts State Supreme Court where he served from 1830 to 1860. There are a number of defining cases on Shaw’s court that continue to stand out through history. One of these such cases is, Commonwealth V. Aves (1836) which dealt with the transportation of slaves into free states.

In 1836 Mary Aves Slater arrived in Boston to visit her father, Thomas Aves. Accompanying Mary, was a six year old slave girl named Med who was deemed the property of Mary’s husband. When members of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society heard the young slave girl was in Boston they hired a lawyer to sue the Aves family for her freedom. They argued that since slavery had been abolished in Massachusetts and Med’s owner willingly brought her to a free state, she is no longer a slave. Shaw wrote the unanimous decision for the court stating that “Slavery was contrary to natural right” and that any slave brought to Massachusetts could not be forcibly detained or removed. This precedent was used across many northern states to advance legislation that stated that any free state automatically guarantees freedom to any person within it’s borders, including individuals considered to be slaves in the south.

Another case Shaw ruled on that continues to capture the morbid interest of generation after generation is famous murder case, The Commonwealth V. Webster (1850).  The details of the case begin with a debt owed to beloved socialite, George Parkman from a Harvard Medical professor, John Webster who was constantly dogged by financial instability. Webster had guaranteed Parkman a loan collateral of a cabinet full of valuable minerals in exchange for $400. Parkman soon found out that Webster had used this same cabinet of minerals as a collateral for a different loan.

John Webster

George Parkman had tried to collect the money Webster had earned from giving his medical lectures from Harvard University in order to pay back the $400 debt Webster had accrued. This type of public humiliation enraged Webster so much so that shortly after, George Parkman disappeared. In the case hearings, evidence was brought to Shaw’s court that Parkman’s remains were discovered by a suspicious janitor who began chiseling through a hollow-sounding wall in Webster’s office after hours while his wife kept watch. The janitor found a secret compartment behind the wall. Adjusting his lantern, the janitor was able to see the charred remains of George Parkman. The Parkman-Webster murder case is one of the earliest cases on record that used forensic dental evidence to identified partially cremated human remains.

During the trial of John Webster, Lemuel Shaw stated for the jury one of the most famous historical outlines of the legal principle of “reasonable doubt”,

“The evidence must establish the corpus delicti, as it is termed, or the offence committed as charged; and, in case of homicide, must not only prove a death by violence, but must, to a reasonable extent, exclude the hypothesis of suicide, and a death by the act of any other person. This is to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Then, what is reasonable doubt? It is a term often used, probably pretty well understood, but not easily defined. It is not mere possible doubt; because everything relating to human affairs and depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case, which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction, to a moral certainty, of the truth of the charge. The burden of proof is upon the prosecutor.”

Lemuel Shaw

The jury convicted Webster of the murder of George Parkman and on April 1st of 1850 Lemuel Shaw handed down the indictment saying: “That you, John W. Webster, be removed from this place, and detained in close custody in the prison of this county; and thence taken…to the place of execution, and there be hung by the neck until you are dead. And may God, of His infinite goodness, have mercy on your soul!”

After 30 years of an influential career, Shaw resigned from his bench and, shortly after, he took ill. Within a few months after his retirement, he passed away and was buried at Mount Auburn on Harebell path.

 

Wildlife at Mount Auburn: Winter Birding

December 26, 2017

Winter is an ideal time to get familiar with the year-round resident birds of Mount Auburn. If you are a beginner birder this time of year offers the opportunity to see and hear the common birds of the area without the distractions of migrants or foliage on the trees.

Photo by Al Parker, Mount Auburn Security

Photo by Al Parker, Mount Auburn Security

During the winter months, in addition to Sparrows, Blue Jays, Robins, Cardinals and Crows, you might see a Great Blue Heron, a Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Red-tailed Hawk and possibly a Great Horned Owl or a Screech Owl.

Photo by Al Parker, Mount Auburn Security

There is also the potential for seeing any of the following birds here during the winter months: American Kestrel, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, European Starling, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Hooded Merganser, House Finch, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Tufted Titmouse, White-throated Sparrow and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

Join us for a Winter Birding Walk!