Before Bellefontaine: Where famous lives took them before burial there
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 2, 2011 - Bellefontaine Cemetery is a place of beauty and tranquility. It's not an obvious place to take visitors or go for an afternoon stroll, but for those have discovered it, the cemetery is a treasure. One of the gems is the Wainwright tomb and that is part of the focus of a Friday afternoon talk by architect Eugene Mackey. But we wondered where some of the "residents" had lived before ending up in Bellefontaine. We don't have all the vacation spots or every sojourn. But here's an idea of where people went who came home to St. Louis.
Ellis Wainwright: While Ellis Wainwright left his mark on St. Louis both with the first skyscraper, the Wainwright building, and the tomb he commissioned for his wife after her death, St. Louis wasn't the wealthy brewer's only home. Born in St. Louis in 1850, Wainwright inherited the family's brewery and made a lot of money in the process. He went on to build the Wainwright Building and, in 1890, the monument to his late wife. In 1902, he was traveling in Egypt when he was indicted for bribery in a railroad scandal, according to a New York Times article from the time. For the next nine years, Wainwright lived as a fugitive in Paris and Monte Carlo. He returned home to St. Louis in 1911 and died at the Buckingham Hotel on Nov. 7, 1924, according to his death certificate.
Lucy V. Semple Ames: "The Queen of St. Louis Society," according to Bellefontaine Cemetery, was born in Edwardsville, Ill., in 1836. Lucy Virginia Semple Ames was the daughter of a U.S. senator and chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and was educated at Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, according to "Ames Place," by Esley Hamilton. Ames, who married a successful businessman, had a summer home along the Mississippi River in Elsah, Ill. She worked for women's rights and education and took over her husband's businesses when he died. The Ames family traveled and their children were educated abroad. Their trips include a summer in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to a 1903 edition of the St. Louis Republic. Ames, who lived at 3824 Lindell Blvd., died on Feb. 7, 1925, according to her death certificate.
Robert S. Brookings: Robert Somers Brookings was born in Cecil County Md., in 1850 and moved to St. Louis at the age of 17, where he worked as a clerk and salesman for a hardware distributor. By 21, he was a partner of the business. According to the Brookings Institution, Brookings spent a year in Berlin, Germany, at the age of 24. After returning to the states, Brookings rebuilt Washington University and in 1917, was called to Washington, D.C., by then President Wilson to serve on the War Industries Board, according to Bellefontaine. In 1928, he found the Brookings Institution and died in Washington at 81 on Nov. 15, 1932.
William S. Burroughs: William Seward Burroughs II was born in St. Louis in 1914. He studied at Harvard, graduating in 1936, according to the BBC. From 1936 to 1937, Burroughs attended medical school in Vienna, according to the Department of English at Southeast Missouri State University. Burroughs met up with fellow Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in New York, where he lived in the 1940s. The novelist struggled with drug addiction for most of his life. In 1955 he moved to London, then to Paris in 1958. "Naked Lunch" was published in 1959. Over the years, Burroughs lived in Morocco, and then back to New York and London. In 1981, he moved to Lawrence, Kan., where he died of a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 83.
Sara Teasdale: The first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry was born in St. Louis in 1884, according to the American Academy of Poets. Teasdale grew up in her family home on Lindell Boulevard. In 1916, she moved with her husband to New York, where she went on to win numerous prizes for her poetry. Teasdale's work centered around "a woman's changing perspectives on beauty, love, and death," according to the Poetry Foundation. In 1933, she committed suicide in New York.
Sterling Price: Sterling Price was born in Prince Edward County, Va., in 1809. In 1846, he left a life of politics and went to serve as a colonel in the Mexican War, according to the Naval Historical Center. During that time, Price served as a Military Governor of Chihuahua, Mexico. He moved to Missouri and was elected governor in 1852. Eventually he joined the Confederacy during the Civil War and fought in Mississippi and Arkansas. In 1864, he went to Texas, and a year later to Mexico when the Confederates were defeated. He returned to Missouri and died there in September 1867.