Prell Monument, Spring Hill Cemetery

Monuments have stories to tell; sometimes they gossip, and sometimes they proclaim the achievements of the deceased. Every once in a while the story is unbearably sad. Here, on this unusually splendid zinc shaft, is one of those stories.


Edward and Elizabetha Prell had a daughter Sophia, whom they must have loved very much. In 1874, while Elizabetha was well along in her pregnancy with a younger sister for Sophia, the little girl died at the age of five. A month and a half later, the baby was born, and named Sophia again, in honor of her so recently departed sister.

In 1876, three days before the colossal celebrations that marked the hundredth anniversary of American independence, the second Sophia died, a month shy of two years old.

A week later, on July 8, Elizabetha died as well. She may have been carried off by the same disease that killed her daughter. Or she may have, as the Victorians would say, died of grief; and who can blame her?

The monument makes the best possible use of the standard panels in the “white bronze” dealer’s catalogue. What could be better than the image of Christ welcoming the little children? Two angels are also appropriate. And the clasped hands…well, they were in the catalogue, too.

The statue of Hope (we presume; she has lost her symbolic attribute, probably an anchor) bolted to the top of the monument seems to be of a different material.

This is actually the first German-language “white bronze” monument old Pa Pitt has run across. The German-speaking population was huge in the late 1800s, so it made good sense for monument-makers to have stock epitaphs in German.

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