November Updates!

We are wrapping up the Fall season and looking forward to planning more death and mourning related events in 2019. Our regular Fall events are already on the calendar but if there is enough interest we may add a few events earlier in the year. We'll also be helping celebrate the Centennial of women gaining the right to vote in Missouri at a few special events in the spring.

You can see our 1918 women's suffrage unit, The St Louis Suffrage Society, in the St Louis Veterans Day Parade on November 10 in downtown St Louis!

Starting in 2019 we'll be discussing more meet-ups and member events so stay tuned for more news!

The Ball of Fate - Vintage Halloween Game

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Early Halloween celebrations in St Louis, MO and all over the US, followed the long Irish tradition of playing fortune telling games and came into fashion around the turn of the 19th Century. If you are looking to add a little vintage Halloween fun to your activities this year here’s an easy way to combine an old fortune telling game with our current tradition of trick or treating.

The Ball of Fate is a game from Spooky Halloween Entertainments from Paine Publishing Co, 1923. I’ve added the treats to make the game a little more in keeping with our modern Halloween traditions.

What you’ll need to play:

  • A ball of yarn

  • Tissue paper or a good sized paper treat bag that isn’t too hard to tear open

  • Small Halloween candy or toys

  • Small slips of paper

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Instructions:

  • Print or write out your fortunes onto small slips of paper. You can make up your own or use some of the original examples below.

  • Place your treats and/or toys in the center of your tissue paper (you may want to use a few pieces to make sure it holds together) or into a paper treat bag.

  • Gather the tissue paper around the treats shaping it into a ball. Tie the yarn round the top to secure it and trim the excess paper. For the treat bag just close it and tie your yarn around the top.

  • Start wrapping the yarn around the package of treats. Once it feels pretty secure start adding a fortune every so often. You can space them out however you like. Make sure you have at least one fortune for every person playing the game.

How to play:

  • The original rules of the game: The ball is thrown to a person who who unwinds it until reaching a slip; this is taken out and the ball is thrown to someone else. When each has secured a fortune they are read aloud. The only thing to add is tearing open the tissue paper once you reach the center and enjoying the treats inside.

  • You can also have the person throwing the ball turn around and throw it over their shoulder to the others. Whoever catches it gets the next fortune.

Fortunes:

  • Good luck is following you but - it will be some time before it overtakes you.

  • You are going to be kissed - by November’s chilly breezes.

  • You can climb high in life - if you use a long enough ladder.

  • This very night something nice will happen, 'Twill thrill your heart and your whole life gladden.

  • The witches say, 'tis sad but true, That you must die when you're ninety-two.

  • Loving hearts and faithful friends, For Fortune's tricks will make amends.

Happy Halloween from the Mourning Society of St. Louis!

Sources: Halloween Entertainments from Paine Publishing Co, 1923; Farm Boys' and Girls' Leader, Volumes 2-4, 1920

October Updates!

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We had a wonderful event this past Saturday at Bellefontaine Cemetery and even got into the Post Dispatch. How exciting! If you couldn’t join us this year for our annual cemetery walk and funeral reenactment, Consolations of Memory at Bellefontaine Cemetery, don’t worry! We have another event coming up in a few weeks at the Campbell House Museum on Friday October 26th.

Campbell House by Candlelight is a special evening tour of the museum where you’ll experience Robert Campbell's 1879 wake in the parlor and hear about the process of preparing the deceased for the funeral, Victorian mourning etiquette, dress, and cemeteries. There will be several unique original objects on display: antique coffins, post-mortem photographs, funeral ephemera, mourning and sentimental jewelry and more! Get your tickets here before they sell out.

In the meantime make sure to play along with our online Cemetery Scavenger Hunt. We still have three more weeks of posts to go before we finish up right before Halloween.

We now have an online sign-up for email updates about what we have coming up!

2018 Cemetery Scavenger Hunt

We are trying a fun new project this year and we hope you'll play along with our 2018 Cemetery Scavenger Hunt! We are going to cover iconography, architecture and more!

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Every Sunday from today until the end of October there will be a new post highlighting something we found in a St Louis cemetery. To play along all you have to do is post a photo to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #msstlcsh. The only requirement is that the photo was taken in a cemetery.

We'll be sharing our favorites every week!

This first one should be easy. Find an anchor. The anchor is a symbol of hope drawn directly from Hebrews 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. The anchor was also used by early Christians as a symbol of their faith.

This photo was taken at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St Louis, Missouri where we hold our annual Mourning Tour and Funeral Reenactment: Consolations of Memory. This year's free event will take place on Oct 6. All you need to do is register.

We are looking forward to seeing all of your great finds! 


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2018 Mourning Society of St Louis Scavenger Hunt Topics by week Sep 8 - Oct 27

Week 1: Find an anchor

Week 2: Find a cemetery garden

Week 3: Find a book

Week 4: Find an inverted torch

Week 5: Find any animal

Week 6: Find a broken column

Week 7: Find an effigy

Week 8: Find an urn

2018 Fall Events

It's that time of year again when we turn our thoughts into doleful channels for for “Who breathes must suffer, and who thinks must mourn,"

Consolations of Memory - Saturday October 6, 2018

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Our fourth annual 19th century funeral tour will take place at Bellefontaine Cemetery on Saturday October 6th, 2018. This is a guided cemetery walk of the area surrounding Hotchkiss Chapel. During the tour guests will learn about funeral and burial practices, how the dead were remembered and the lives of those left behind to mourn the loss. The tour is followed immediately by a funeral reenactment, procession and burial service.

This year's event will focus on the Cholera Epidemic that plagued St. Louis in August and September of 1866 taking 3257 lives.

Tours take place at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm. Space is limited so please register for this free event.

Follow this event on Facebook


Campbell House by Candlelight - Friday October 26, 2018

 Tom and Dan will be talking about the Campbell family plot at Bellefontaine Cemetery

Tom and Dan will be talking about the Campbell family plot at Bellefontaine Cemetery

We are so honored to be a part of this year's Campbell House by Candlelight Tour on Friday Oct 26th, 2018.

Enjoy a night at the Campbell House while you learn about Victorian mourning etiquette, dress, and cemeteries at the time. Witness Robert Campbell's 1879 wake in the parlor and about the process of preparing the deceased for the funeral. Don't forget to try some funeral biscuits!

Tours start every 30 minutes from 6pm to 8pm.

Reservations required. $15 per person, $5 for members. Click here to choose your tour time and buy your tickets

Follow this event on Facebook

 

3 Missouri Suffrage Facts

...you may have never heard before.

 Gov. Gardner of Missouri signing resolution ratifying amendment to U.S. Constitution, Library of Congress

Gov. Gardner of Missouri signing resolution ratifying amendment to U.S. Constitution, Library of Congress

  1. The Women’s Suffrage Association of Missouri was created on May 8, 1867 by ladies who had learned the ropes of managing an organization through their involvement with the Ladies Union Aid Society during the Civil War.
  2. The Equal Suffrage League of St Louis was founded on April 10, 1910 following renewed interest in the cause. They were responsible for some of the largest organized protests in St Louis including National Suffrage Day in April 1914 and the Golden Lane Protest in June 1916.
  3. On July 3, 1919 Missouri became the eleventh state to ratify the Susan B Anthony Amendment granting women the right to vote. It was one of the US states that did so within the first month after Congress passed the Amendment and had passed it's own state level suffrage bill earlier that March. The state bill was passed on the last day of the Jubilee Convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association, which was being held at the Hotel Statler in St Louis, Missouri.
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Find out even more about the women's suffrage movement at our next event To Ask for Freedom at Bellefontaine Cemetery on July 14, 2018 at 2:00 pm.

We are looking for more suffragists and suffra-gents to march with us at events throughout 2018-2020. Sign-up online for our e-newsletter and get an invitation to our private Facebook Group or reach out to us if you have any questions.

We also have an easy guide to help you get started.

Dress Like a Suffragist!

 Women's Suffrage group at headquarters, Wash DC, 1917 

Women's Suffrage group at headquarters, Wash DC, 1917 

Are you interested in dressing like a suffragist and marching with us in the upcoming 19th Amendment Centennial Celebrations? If you haven't delved into historic clothing before, the late Edwardian Era is an easy place to start. Here are a few tips to help you get started.  

  • Round brimmed hats with simple trim were common.
  • Blouses had long or 3/4 length sleeves and wide collars. Shawl and sailor collars were popular.
  • Ladies wore ankle length a-line style skirts with stockings.
  • When walking outdoors a lady would wear  walking boots. For our purposes a pair of plain comfortable flats will do.
  • Ladies wore very little jewelry due to funds being put toward the war effort. Simple brooches and costume jewelry became fashionable. 
  • Hair was styled into a loose low bun.
  • For cooler weather events ladies would wear long belted wool coats often with fur accessories (faux fur is recommend) including muffs and stoles
  • There are many photos online of ladies in 1918-1920 and beautiful fashion plates- just remember marching clothing was practical and comfortable!
 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1921  / Women's Suffrage Group at Headquarters, Wash DC, 1918

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1921  / Women's Suffrage Group at Headquarters, Wash DC, 1918

We are planning meetings throughout the year for ladies and gentleman interested in participating in upcoming Women's Suffrage Centennial Events. For more in depth clothing / fashion guides, email updates and more information about local meet-ups sign up for the Mourning Society: St Louis Suffrage League

Don't miss out on our next event (as either a participant or a spectator) To Ask For Freedom at Bellefontaine Cemetery on Saturday July 14, 2018 at 2pm.  Activities will include a march, the singing of suffrage songs and a rally celebrating the words of famous St Louis Suffrage leaders such as Virginia Minor, the first president of the Woman's Suffrage Association of Missouri, Edna Gellhorn, organizer of the 1916 Golden Lane Protest, and Florence Wyman Richardson, the first president of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League. This event is free and open to the public but registration is required - We will update this event with a link once registration is open.

Check this event out on Facebook!

We need you!

Help celebrate the centennial of the key years of the Women's Suffrage Movement from 1918 to 1920 with us! We are looking for ladies and gentleman to participate in living history events over the next few years culminating in the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment.

 

Click here to find out how you can sign-up for events!

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If you are interested in historic clothing, the early 20th century is an easy and inexpensive place to start plus you'll have the opportunity to learn more about the national fight for the right to vote and the women of Missouri who led the way! You can learn more about the movement and the fashions of 1918 at our next event:

WWI, Wilson and Women's Suffrage at Jefferson Barracks - While the United States was entrenched in WWI, women waged their own war at home marching for the right to vote! Learn how St. Louis women were involved in this struggle, and how you can put together an era- appropriate outfit to join in upcoming events as we forge ahead to 2020 and the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. 

Free to the public - Join this event on Facebook

So, what does this have to do with mourning? Nothing at all! The Mourning Society started recruiting ladies to interpret the St Louis Golden Lane Protest of 1916 for Bellefontaine Cemetery's 2016 Decoration Day Event. We had a great response and it was so much fun that we decided to look for more events we could participate in. It also gives us a chance to do something outside of our usual busy season in the fall.

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The Mourning Society has participated in Bellefontaine Cemetery's 2016 Decoration Day, The League of Women Voters Celebrate the Vote and we've created our own program To Ask For Freedom: 100 Years of Women's Suffrage celebrating the words of famous St Louis Suffrage leaders such as Edna Gellhorn, organizer of the 1916 Golden Lane Protest, and Florence Wyman Richardson, the first president of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League.

If you would like us to participate in an upcoming event you can contact us here or through our Facebook Page.

Fall Events 2017

October 7, 2017 - Consolations of Memory at Bellefontaine Cemetery

This event is a guided cemetery walk of the area surrounding Hotchkiss Chapel. Along the way guests will learn about mourning practices and funerary customs of the mid-19th century. During the tour the Mourning Society of St Louis will be depicting the funeral procession and burial service of Sterling Price and his daughter in-law Celeste which took place in 1867 as well as several other vignettes featuring prominent people from the Civil War Era.

This is a free event but registration is required because space is limited - Register Here.

Follow this event on Facebook!

 

October 14, 2017 - A Haunting Stroll of 'TBA'

We are still in the process of working out the details of this secret event. Make sure to check back here for updates! Join us for this special walking tour and learn about the ghastly events and ghostly encounters that make this St Louis' most notoriously haunted neighborhood. Tours will be led by our members in historical clothing.

Tours will be held on the hour starting at noon and should take about 45 minutes. The price is $10 per person. 

Follow us on Facebook for event news and updates!

 

November 11, 2017 - To Ask for Freedom: 100 Years of Women's Suffrage

Join us for this living history event celebrating the Women's Suffrage Movement and the Suffragists of Bellefontaine Cemetery! The ladies will begin their march at 2:00 pm and make their way to Wild Wood Valley for a rally celebrating the words of famous St Louis Suffrage leaders such as Edna Gellhorn, organizer of the 1916 Golden Lane Protest, and Florence Wyman Richardson, the first president of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League.

This event is taking place in honor of the release of the suffrage prisoners held in a District of Columbia workhouse in November 1917 and their continued efforts to fight for the right to vote.

After the rally,  guests are free to visit with the ladies of the St Louis Suffrage Movement and learn more about national events 100 years ago.

Follow us on Facebook for event news and updates!

Join the Suffrage Cause!

The Mourning Society of St Louis is participating in To Ask For Freedom: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage on Saturday July 1 at 10AM at Bellefontaine Cemetery!

We are looking for like-minded ladies and gentleman who would like to dress in 1917 attire and march with us to celebrate 100 years of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Suffragists of Bellefontaine Cemetery.

It is astonishingly easy to put together a 1917 style outfit from things found in vintage shops, thrift stores or even items you may already have in your closet! This is also a great way to get started if you are interested in historic clothing and reenacting without making a big investment.

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This is the first of what we hope will be a series of Women’s Suffrage events culminating in a Centennial Celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 2020.

To register for this event as a participant and find out more about putting together a 1917 ensemble please Contact Us.

If you are interested in attending this event as a spectator click here to register for this free event!

Upcoming Event! To Ask For Freedom

 Photo from the Library of Congress

Photo from the Library of Congress

Ask For Freedom: The Fight For Women's Suffrage - Saturday July 1

Join us for this living history event celebrating the Women's Suffrage Movement and the Suffragists of Bellefontaine Cemetery! The ladies will begin their march at 10:00 am and make their way to Wild Wood Valley for a rally celebrating the words of famous St Louis Suffrage leaders such as Edna Gellhorn, organizer of the 1916 Golden Lane Protest, and Florence Wyman Richardson, the first president of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League.

After the rally,  guests are free to visit with the ladies of the St Louis Suffrage Movement and learn more about national events 100 years ago.

Space is limited and reservations are required.  To assist with traffic and parking at the event space, we ask that you choose between two arrival times – 9:30 AM or 10:00 AM. Click here to register.

 

 

Enlist Now!

We are recruiting like-minded suffragists to march with us during this 1917 interpretation. To sign-up as a participant or if you have questions about getting started wearing historic clothing please reach out to us though our Contact page.

Join the Mourning Society

The Mourning Society of St Louis is a re-enacting group that works public educational events through larger organizations like Bellefontaine Cemetery, the Missouri History Museum and the St Louis Public Library. We specialize in programs about death, mourning and funeral practices but we often branch out into other eras and topics as needed.

There is no fee to join - only a few simple forms to fill out to work events. Some events do have clothing requirements but if you are new to re-enacting we can help you along though meet-ups, occasional lectures and our monthly sewing circle. The eras we currently portray are:

1860's - Our Annual Bellefontaine Cemetery Mourning Event and Funeral Reenactment is one of several opportunities to dress in mid-nineteenth century clothing. This event includes both speaking and non-speaking roles for ladies and gentleman.

1904-1918 - We've had the honor of portraying the early 20th Century from the 1904 World's Fair, the Women's Suffrage Movement and World War I in two great events this year: Bellefontaine Cemetery's Decoration Day and Celebrate the Vote with the League of Women Voters St Louis. This is an era we'd like to delve into again in 2017 so stay tuned.

More to come! We are always looking for opportunities to portray new period clothing styles and moments in St Louis history. You can find out more about how you can get involved through our private Facebook Group or our Participant E-Newsletter. Get in touch with us through our contact form or dive right in and fill out our online application.

Suffragists Needed!

The Mourning Society of St Louis is participating in the Celebrate the Vote Festival on September 3, 2016 and we are looking for fellow suffragists who would like to join us dressed in 1916 attire to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Golden Lane Protest here in St. Louis.

It is astonishingly easy to put together a 1916 style outfit from things found in local vintage shops, thrift stores, or even items you may already have in your closet.

This is a good introduction into historic clothing for anyone who is interested but not ready to make a big commitment. We can help with any questions you may have.

Just like the 1916 protest, suffragists should wear white or cream 1916 era clothing. Ladies should wear a hat, gloves and stockings. We are already scandalizing everyone by asking to vote - so please cover your head or you may end up getting arrested! Shoes can be either period appropriate styles or plain modern flats.

The ladies of the Golden Lane carried yellow parasols. This is optional of course but who doesn’t like carrying a parasol?

Want to sign up to join us the day of the event or have a bunch of questions? Contact us here.

For ideas and inspiration check out our 1916 Golden Lane Pinterest Board

For more information about the Celebrate the Vote Festival click here

About our new event

Whether you’ve been to one of our past events at the Chatillon DeMenil Mansion or you’ve never been to one of our events before Consolations of Memory will be a new experience. Here is an overview of how the event will work:

Consolations of Memory: Death and Mourning in the Nineteenth Century At Bellefontaine Cemetery Saturday October 3, 2015

Upon entering the front gate of the cemetery guests will be led by signage to the visitor parking area. From there it’s a short walk to your first stop where you can sign in, pick up a program and ask any questions you may have before you make your way to the first graveside exhibit at the site of Bellefontaine’s first burial, Edward Rutledge.

Guests can set their own pace as they make their way up Balm, visiting several other graveside exhibits along the way, until they reach Hotchkiss Chapel.  There you’ll find Mr. Avery preparing for the funeral service. Inside the chapel columbarium you’ll learn about mourning customs and also get a chance to see our special exhibit Memento Mori featuring 19th Century mementos such has hair-work wreaths and jewelry, postmortem photographs and more.

Leaving the Chapel guests will find more outside exhibits by heading down an old carriage path just across from the Chapel entrance.

The Funeral Service will begin at 11 am, 1 pm or 3 pm (depending on the start time of your tour) and will be announced several minutes before-hand so guests have time to make their way to the Chapel.  The service will be immediately followed by a procession down the carriage path to the burial site.

You can find an interactive map of Bellefontaine Cemetery here on their website.

Consolations of Memory is free event but you must register to attend and space is limited. Please let us know you’d like to join us by registering for this event online.

Still have questions? Contact us!

Our first event at Bellefontaine Cemetery

We are so honored and excited to be holding our first ever event at the amazing Bellefontaine Cemetery. 

The Mourning Society of St Louis presents: Consolations of Memory: Death and Mourning in the Nineteenth Century At Bellefontaine Cemetery Saturday October 3, 2015

You can register for this event on the Bellefontaine Cemetery website here.  

Keep up with news about this event on Facebook here.

Consolations of Memory is a self-guided cemetery walk of the area surrounding Hotchkiss Chapel as well as the Chapel itself.  Along the way guests will learn not only about mourning customs of the 19th century but also illness, medical treatments, funerary and burial practices, cemetery iconography and more. This is a free event but registration is required. Tours begin at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.

Special Exhibits for 2015 include:

The Funeral Service: Guests are invited to experience a 19th Century funeral service in the Chapel followed by a procession down the old carriage path where Mr. Avery will conduct the Burial Service. Services will take place at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

Memento Mori: Learn about Victorian mementos and sentimental items, how they served as part of the grieving process and stood as a reminder of one’s own mortality. This exhibit features a private collection of hair-work wreaths and jewelry, post-mortem photographs and many more unique items.