Stone carving is the oldest example of representational art in the world, predating our very civilization. From the Venus of Berekhat to Michelangelo’s David, Stone Mountain to Mt. Rushmore, human hands have sought to break, chisel, rasp, and polish wonder and solace from stone. There is perhaps no more humble, yet soul-stirring, example of stone carvings as those found in cemeteries, their marble slabs marking lives lived and lost. Linwood is no exception, boasting an abundance of stone-carved monuments, each with the personal touch of its maker’s hands.
Having been consecrated in the 19th century, a time when stone carving had ceased to be an idle art and had become a lifetime profession, Linwood Cemetery’s first fifty years were a remarkable period in artistry. At that time, there were a number of artisans plying their trade at Linwood Cemetery. Most centered their businesses in Columbus, but all hailed from the Emerald Isle, each signing their work upon completion.
The first two Linwood carvers who signed their stones were Patrick Adams and John Madden. Adams was settled in Columbus by 1832, and with the help of contacts within the city council had established himself as a tradesman. Not only was he skilled at carving grave markers, he also applied his trade toward laying bricks in sewers and the construction of the New City Market. Some years later, in the early 1840s, Madden arrived with a posse of stonecutters, seven strong. Not long after, Adams and Madden pooled their resources together and formed a team, several monuments bearing both men’s signatures shows the extent of their collaboration.
The mid-1850s saw ground break on two new marble works, one by Thomas Kenny and the other by Henry McCauley. Kenny was at that time 63 years of age, so he brought along with him his three sons and a slew of stonecutters. Several monuments scattered throughout the cemetery bear the signatures of Kenny and his son George.
But of all the carvers to have hewn stone into headstones, the most prolific, and arguably the most gifted, is Henry McCauley. At age 28, McCauley took residence at a local boarding house with a number of other stonecutters, and in time became Linwood’s own artist, producing not only the most signed stones in the memorial garden, but also leaving behind the most museum worthy monuments. He died an untimely death in 1880 and is himself buried in Linwood Cemetery, his gravestone caringly carved by Columbus’ then Assistant Marshall Thomas Grier. While McCauley’s marker is the only one signed by Grier, it is believed that he was a devoted sculptor in McCauley’s marble yard.
Further works of interest include a stone signed by the famous Robert E. Launitz, one of three of the New York carver’s pieces known to be in Georgia. Local stonecutters gleaned ideas and patterns from his marble work designs as seen in catalogs of the day. Other 19th century signed monuments on display in Linwood Cemetery worth noting included works by Cary of Boston, Goddess of Baltimore, Gow of Augusta, and Casoni and Isola of New York.