Friday, May 26, 2017

MANHATTAN - Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum... and Magic

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Trinity Church Cemetery facing Amsterdam Avenue
What secrets does it hold?
Schoenlein headstone with magic paraphenalia
The grave pictured above belongs to Konrad Schoenlein (1833-1867), his wife Elisabeth (1831-1910), and their children Margaretha (1857-1858), Konrad (1858-186[1]), and Karl (1861-186[5]).  I can't find anything in the newspapers or census records about this family.  All that is known is that they were German and they had three children who died very young.  Perhaps Frederick Schoenlein (1862-1930), buried elsewhere in this cemetery, is also a child of Konrad and Elisabeth.

Base of Schoenlein headstone
Near Schoenlein headstone

As for the strange mess at the base of the headstone, what kind of mess is it?  It most likely has to do with one of the Afro-Caribbean religions; Santeria and Dominican Vudu have many believers in the neighborhood.*  

Black candles are used in work with the dead as well as in curses.  Coconuts are given as offerings to spirits and used as ingredients in various magic spells.  Why was the Schoenleins' burial spot chosen for this activity?  It's a mystery to all but the practitioner and the entity who led them here.

I do wonder why these people believe that the spirits of bygone German- and British-Americans (for those groups make up the majority of those buried here) will be willing to assist them in their endeavors.  Assuming that the dead retain the personalities they possessed in life (which is the belief within the African diaspora religions), it seems unlikely that anyone interred here would be willing to cooperate with "island heathens" and "dreaded Nanigos."

Have no fear, whatever this is all about, I knew better than to touch it!

*This section of Washington Heights has been nicknamed Little Dominican Republic.

Headstone of Peter Snyder, father and Henry Snyder (1846-1867), son.
It is doubtful that the Snyders have a living relative to burn a candle for them (see foot of monument).
Why was this site chosen?  Perhaps unrelated, the carcass of a medium-sized bird was laying on top
of the monument, being feasted upon by flies. 
Something in a black bag tied up in red thread
This is probably a love spell, tied up tightly in red, the color of love.  Some woman probably has a man who is a bit of a rover and she wants to "tie him up" so he won't leave her.  But as this was deposited in a cemetery, she might be trying to "kill his nature" so that he can't have sex with another woman.  Or she could be cursing him to be hers or die.

It's a little creepy to find a spot that looks recently dug in a section where no one's been buried for a hundred years or so.
Maybe a tree was removed.  Yeah, that's the ticket.
Apparently Mary Augusta Warren (née Harvey)'s spirit requested the following...
...some pocket change, a plastic chamomile container with brown water in it, some kind of bread, a boiled tuber, a smelly fish, a white candle and a stogie.  Because these were favorites of hers, apparently.
This is a picture of Mary Warren, that I found on Find a Grave.  If her spirit still hovered near her grave, do you think she'd be amused or disgusted?


  1. I enjoyed this blog topic. When I visited Trinity I saw none of these things. Perhaps maintenance personnel clean up the foreboding objects on occasion. Maybe there is a new practioner in the area....we'll probably never know as stealth and secrecy is part of the ritual?

  2. The Schoenlein grave is visible from the sidewalk. I've often seen things like this. At least there aren't any fabled chicken carcasses.