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Newspaper Clips (1960-1969)
The Evening Star, June 14, 1965
The Rambler … Meets Annie Royall
By John McKelway
There are times, one gathers, when Sen. Norris Cotton, R-N.H., in need of interest and excitement, leaves the Senate floor and heads out to Congressional Cemetery.
Recently, at any rate, he devoted most of his news letter to a trip to the old cemetery and it was through him that the Rambler met Annie Royall.
Annie lies buried in Congressional, a somewhat bleak and forgotten part of the District, and on her tombstone one finds the inscription:
"Annie Royall, 1769-1854. Hated Presbyterians; liked all other denominations, and was especially a good friend of the Masons. She was sentenced to be ducked in the Potomac River for her rantings in Court."
One thing leads to another and the Rambler, in his attempt to find out a bit more about Annie, came across a delightful piece of research put together on the cemetery by Mrs. Donald Detwiler, who admits to a complete fascination bout the place.
And it may be there are those resting at Congressional today who are far more interesting than Annie.
There is, for example, the Choctaw Indian chief, Push-Ma-Ta-Ha. He was a friend of Andrew Jackson who had thrown his warriors into the Battle of New Orleans. He died in Washington in 1824 and at least a thousand people, including Jackson, attended his funeral and heard his final wish granted. As it says on his tombstone: "When I am gone, let the big guns be fired over me."
And one can find the grave of Gen. Archibald Henderson, Indian fighter, crusty commandant of the Marine Corps for 39 years.
One story persists today about the old general. It is said that when one of his successors announced the formation of the Women's Marine Corps at the start of World War II, Gen. Henderson's portrait fell of a wall and landed on a silver tea service, the gift of the Japanese Government.
There is also the grave of the mysterious Count Adam Gurowski, exiled from Poland and a resident of Washington during the Civil War. He was a translator at the State Department. Lincoln is reported to have said of him: "From the known disposition of this man, he is dangerous where ever he may be. I have sometimes thought that he might try to take my life. It would be just like him to do such a thing."
But of Annie Royall . . .
Her early days are a bit hazy, but one finds her marrying a Capt. William Royall, a wealthy old gentleman, something of a scholar, who lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains and had hired Annie's widowed mother as his washerwoman.
After his death, Annie came to Washington, took up residence in a house where the Library of Congress is now located, and applied for what was then known as a "widow's pension."
Annie, it appears, was way ahead of her time. She developed into quite a reformer, preaching tolerance and the dangers of an alliance between Church and State. Her preaching-or rantings-upset some Presbyterians who were able to have Annie, then 60, arrested on the charge of being a "common scold."
Upon conviction, the old law read, the guilty was to be punished by a time on the ducking stool. The trial was a famous one in those days. Annie was never ducked, although a stool was constructed at the Navy Yard.
She was fined $10. Afterward, Annie took up writing and publishing. She advocated, according to Mrs. Detwiler, separation of church and state, exposure and punishment of corrupt officials, sound money, public schools, justice to Indians, liberal appropriations for scientific investigations, betterment of conditions of wage earners, free thought, free speech and a free press.
She died broke. It was not until 1911 that "some gentlemen from Philadelphia and Washington" placed the unusual tombstone on her grave.
In her brief history of the cemetery, Mrs. Detwiler also notes the grave of Marion Kahlert, 10 years old. She was Washington's first traffic fatality; struck by an automobile in 1904.
Washington World, August 1965
Congressional Cemetery Has Historic Past
By Scott Hart
Every townsman and tourist is familiar with the working arrangements of Congressmen, and some know their places of relaxation. But few know where they, and other government officials, may rest-if they express such a desire-at life's end.
Not many Congressmen are buried nowadays in Congressional Cemetery at one end of the Sousa Bridge. But "The City of Silence," as Senator Norris Cotton of New Hampshire recently named it after a reverent stroll among the headstones, contains 40,000 graves within 30 acres.
Most beloved, perhaps was John Philip Sousa, the "March King" and builder of the U.S. Marine Band into its international renown. He was laid to rest in Congressional on March 6, 1932, and once a year that great band comes to honor that resting place.
Not all famous men buried in Congressional Cemetery have been left there; families have removed many to their home communities. But each original grave is still marked by a cenotaph. The cenotaphs, by general agreement, are anything but appealing to the eye. They are said to be "so ugly in fact that they were discontinued in 1877 after Senator Hoar of Massachusetts declared that the thought of being beneath one of them 'added new terror to death.'"
Senator Cotton found this historic Washington scene of interest so fascinating that he recently described it in a report that filled almost all of one issue of his regular newsletter to constituents.
From the time it was established in 1812 until the end of the Civil War, three Presidents, at least two vice presidents, and about 75 members of the Senate and House were interred in Congressional Cemetery. The three Presidents were William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and John Quincy Adams, although Adams had finished his one presidential term and was serving his ninth term in the House when he suffered a stroke and died in the Speaker's Room on Feb. 23, 1848.
These Presidents and many senators and representatives-and Dolly Madison-were later removed for reburial in their home states, especially after "the change from stagecoach to railroad made possible the conveyance of bodies," as Senator Cotton remarked.
However, Congressional is still the repository for all that is mortal of 14 senators and 42 House members, including Senator James Burrill, Jr., of Rhode Island, great-grandfather of former Senator Teodore Francis Green of the same state. Still there also is Elbridge Gerry, Madison's vice president, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and whose gravestone proclaims these words: "It is the duty of every citizen, though he may have but one day to live, to devote that day to the good of his country."
Other historic graves include that of Push-Ma-Ta-Ha, Choctaw chief and friend of Andrew Jackson, who fought with Jackson at New Orleans. And the infamous as well as the famous are there. One sunken and unmarked spot contains the remains of Davy Herold, who was hanged for complicity in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He is buried in a family plot.
Gen. Archibald Henderson, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps for 39 years, was buried in Congressional in January, 1859. His portrait reportedly crashed to the floor during World War II at the moment when the organization of a Women's Marine Corps was announced.
And there is the grave of Annie Royall, aggressive but sincere espouser of many causes, gone to rest by the side of senators and representatives whom she harassed and scolded in life. To her is graven this starling inscription:
"Annie Royall, 1769-1854. Hates Presbyterians; liked all other denominations . . . sentenced to be ducked in the Potomac River for her rantings in court."
Death dogged the heels of children in those early days before medical science grew. Calhoun and Clay both had children buried in Congressional among many other children. There is a marble statue to 10-year-old Marion Kahlert, who in 1904 died under the wheels of a carriage to become Washington's first-recorded traffic death.
The cemetery antedates the Nation's Capital. In 1795 the Maryland Legislature authorized creation of Washington Parish and that parish's Christ Church was incorporated. Until the establishment of Arlington National Cemetery, the church reserved sites in Congressional for government use. The cemetery is non-sectarian, and there have been 263 burials there within the last year, but the last Congressman was Tillman B. Parks of Arkansas, buried in 1950 following a $95 funeral whose cost he had specified.
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