Michelle Ann Kratts

An Inspiration: The Story of Emily Lodge

In Cemetery Plots on May 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

By Michelle Ann Kratts

The beautiful old-fashioned woman whose image graces our blog is Emily Helena Crummer Lodge and she is one of the reasons I believe that it is possible to find anyone’s story.  I found her by accident–in the form of a poem published anonymously in an old Niagara Falls Gazette.  Some romantic soul happened to pass by her lonesome grave many years after her death and wrote a poem about it.  About 120 years later, I found the poem, and sought to find the story behind the words.  And did I ever find a story!

 

Mrs. Lodge (1828-1864) was born in Corfu, off the coast of Greece. Her  father was Major James Crummer, a British officer of the Napoleonic Wars and the  Police Magistrate of Newcastle, Maitland and Port Macquarie, New South Wales,  Australia. Her mother was Aikaterini Plessos, the first Greek woman immigrant to  Australia. Emily was married to Captain Francis W. Lodge, a well known sea  captain. She caught bilious fever and died in her husband’s arms while lodging  at the Cataract House in Niagara Falls, New York, on October 10, 1864. Her nephew, Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge,  famous British physicist and past president of the Society for Psychical  Research (SPR), believed in the survival of man after death and often  successfully contacted his dead relatives in séances…perhaps, even Emily,  herself.

My colleague, the intrepid Pete Ames, genealogist and trustee at Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls (Emily’s final resting place), and I, searched high and low for anything we could find to tell her tale.  We became obsessed.  We found relatives the world over and incredibly one woman in Australia had a daguerreotype of our Emily.  She sent a photograph of the image to my home address by air mail and I had my husband whisk it out to the library as soon as it passed into our mailbox–for my impatience with these sorts of things is legendary.  While a storm raged outside, I opened the package and there she was!  There is a sort of magic that happens when a devoted researcher can finally look into the eyes of that sought after person.  That first “hello” is indeed a personal and special moment in time.  As if we can really go back in time…

The biggest problem we had, though, concerning our Emily, was still driving us crazy.  Where the heck was she buried in Oakwood?  The records are sketchy for the 1860’s but the poem gave something away in its lines:  Strangers’ Rest.  We knew where Strangers’ Rest was but we also knew there was  no stone that belonged to Mrs. Lodge in Strangers’ Rest.  And lucky for us we do believe in magic for one Sunday before the anniversary of her death Pete had a surprise for me.  He had found her.  It was all quite by accident–as he had been looking for the grave of another poor soul who had actually taken his life by a gunshot in the cemetery.  He looked around the general area of the incident and there she was!  Half of her stone was gone but he could see all he needed to see:  Emily Helena.  It was a beautiful bright day autumn day in Niagara Falls and the encounter was electrifying.  Although she was not in the area we call Strangers’ Rest, today, she was not too far from it.  When he looked up the records among the 20,000 others he found that a Mr. Lodge owned the lot.  It was definitely her.

In the end, Emily Helena Crummer Lodge is the first spark on a search through Oakwood’s past.  Pete and I have been uncovering many stories over the years but she will always be incredibly special.  We were able to stumble upon records the world over that helped to put her story back together.  In a way, she is finally reunited with her family–as they had been wondering what had happened to her.  She died in Niagara Falls and for reasons unknown her husband had to keep her body here for eternity.  She is a stranger and a traveler, but aren’t we all?

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  1. Is there any chance of your posting the poem? I would be interested as I am a direct descendant of Major James Crummer. I was delighted to read this entry. My relative in Australia was probablly the person who sent you the photo and she has done a very thorough study of the Crummer family.

    • This is wonderful! I have run into several descendants through the years since I have worked on Emily’s story. The poem is an image within the story. Are you not able to see it? I will be happy to type it out for you. I would also like to let you know that I have just recently finished a history of Emily (that includes quite a bit of family history) that will be published in a collection over the next few weeks. Let me know if you are interested and I will be happy to send you a copy:)

      • Thank you, Michelle. No I can’t find the poem – tried enlarging the image and will try again! I would be very interested in your history of Emily. My Mum’s second name was Crummer (her mother being Marcia Crummer) and she was very interested in her family history but, alas, died before we were able to do web searches! Her older sister is about to turn 97 and I have just visited her in Sydney.. There is another sister and various family members in South Africa plus those in Australia & one in London.

      • This is wonderful to hear from more of Emily’s relatives. I just wrote a longer piece on her story for a book. I would love to send it to you. Contact me through my email at mkratts@gmail.com, If you’d like you can provide your postal address so I can mail it.

  2. Whoops – I was looking at the wrong image. What a soulful little poem. I am so glad you followed it up.

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