Figure 1. Green monument. Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo: author.

Having seized the high ground and resisting the encroachments of lesser lights, is John Cleve Green (figure 2), or rather, his ponderous but spare family monument (figure 1).

He made a fortune in the China trade in the mid-nineteenth century, and gave much of it away to schools and other charities in his native state of New Jersey, such as Princeton and the Lawrenceville Academy, his alma mater. In New York, he occupied a house on Washington Square Park.

Figure 2. Daniel Huntington, Portrait of John Cleve Green (1870). Princeton University Art Museum. Public domain. Wikipedia.

So, yes, in this case, the grandness of the tomb was planned to match his grand situation in life. Its landscaping in Green-Wood Cemetery, a hilltop aerie, has been artfully curated (figure 1); you can see that in warmer seasons the monument would be framed by giant trees (figure 3), and whereas it is really on the end of a longer ridge, in season the framing trees would make it look as though it sits alone on a high eminence. I suspect the earth has been heaped up a bit to make the site of the monument higher.

I think this relatively soft fill heaped up to raise the monument is responsible for its settling into the earth (figure 3).

Figure 3. Green monument. Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo: author.

JOHN CLEVE GREEN;
Born April 4, 1800, Died April 28, 1875.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
SARAH HELEN GRISWOLD;
Wife of JOHN CLEVE GREEN.
Born January 25, 1815, Died May 21, 1893.
MARIA MATILDA GREEN;
Born March 14, 1843, Died April 13, 1848.
MARY EDITH GREEN;
Born June 18, 1849, Died August 17, 1856.
HELEN GRISWOLD GREEN;
Born Sept’r. 25, 1845, Died August 20, 1859.
CHILDREN of JOHN CLEVE and SARAH HELEN GREEN.

Figure 4. Green monument. Anagraphic inscription. Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo: author.

Unfortunately, the Green’s children—all of them—died young: Maria at 5 years, Mary at 7, and Helen at 13. As they say, money can’t buy you happiness.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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