Sedalia, established in 1860, was only 19-years-old when Charles Heynen and C.C. Clay opened their monument business in 1879 on the corner of West Pacific Street and Ohio Avenue. They carved grave markers from marble or granite, creating a variety of designs that reflected their customers’ religious beliefs and group memberships, as well as the names and dates of the deceased person’s life. In a few years, Heynen bought out Clay and established his own business.

The skill and technology used for creating monuments have changed over the years, as have the symbols used on monuments. During the mid-19th century, marble was generally used for monuments, which were carved with a hammer and chisel. Later, as advanced technology made carving easier, granite became the favored material.

Monuments were sometimes shaped; for example, children’s monuments often featured a carved lamb, signifying the innocence of childhood. Clasped hands were often used to show a marriage relationship, with inscriptions that often read “beloved wife” or “beloved husband.”

Military service was recognized with the name of the regiment in which the deceased served. Cannons and crossed rifles also indicated military service. In the years after the Civil War, the initials G.A.R., the Grand Army of the Republic, might indicate service in the Union Army and membership in its veterans’ organization.

Membership in fraternal orders is shown by the emblems of the organization. For example, the compass and square of the Masonic lodge or the star of the Eastern Star indicate membership in those lodges, as the three interlocked ovals show membership in the Oddfellows lodge. Members of the Woodmen of the World used monuments shaped like tree trunks.

Many carvings showed the religious orientation of the deceased. A hand with the index figure pointing toward heaven suggested a life dedicated to God. Some monuments were shaped like an open book, sometimes with a favorite Bible verse inscribed on its pages. Crosses indicated Christianity; a Star of David indicated Judaism.

Angels were a popular carving, with cherubs used for infants and adult angels used for adults. One of the more interesting monuments at Crown Hill Cemetery is a weeping angel, suggesting that even heaven is mourning the death of the teenage girl buried there.  

The obelisk was popular, with large obelisks used by people who wanted their monuments to make a grand statement. Smaller obelisks, sometimes topped with urn-shaped finials, were frequently used. One of the most impressive monuments at Crown Hill Cemetery is the granite obelisk marking the Col. Anderson D. Jaynes’ family plot. The 40-foot high monument features a 27-foot tall shaft of Scotch granite carved from a single stone. Surrounding the monument are individual markers indicating the graves of various member of the Jaynes family.

 

During the 20th century, Allen Heynen took over the family business, working with his brother William Heynen and his sister Mildred Heynen Smith. Glenn Kell began the job of setting the monuments in place in 1919.

Eventually, the technology of sandblasting the inscriptions into the granite with carborundum came into place, allowing for more elaborate monuments. In 1944, Norman Bottcher became the company’s designer, cutting stencils and carving monuments. Allen Hawkins became the firm’s sandblaster in 1952.

Throughout much of Sedalia’s history, the Heynen Monument Company served the needs of the bereaved by making monuments that reflected their family member’s life.

 

Contributing Columnist

Rhonda Chalfant is the president of the Pettis County chapter of NAACP and the Pettis County Historical Society. 

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