[SOLVED by Allison Meier] A Greenwood Cemetery Hunt – Garrison’s Monument, Ocean Avenue, Greenwood Cemetery

Who was Garrison? Why did he want he want his grave to be in the form of what looks to be a mosque, couple with a Russian onion dome? Anybody got a modern picture?

Here’s what Frank Leslie’s of August 17, 1867, tells us: “Our attention was presently attracted by one of the most curious mausoleums. It is Oriental in style, and very ugly. Ere we moved on a carriage drove up, and from the conversation of its charming occupants we learned that this mosque in miniature cost fifty thousand dollars, and that the gentleman whose bones are destined to repose in it resides at present in Fifth avenue.”

***UPDATE*** Allison Meier (@allezallie) solved this one 10 minutes after I put it up on twitter. Thanks Allison.

Here’s the scoop. Commodore C.K. Garrison was a steamboat mogul, and a former mayor of San Francisco. He didn’t die until May of 1885, so this tomb sat empty for years before he found a use for it. I guess it was better to be prepared.  Anyway, our good friend C.K. (the initials stand for Cornelius Kingsland) is from upstate New York. He left home at age 13, studies architecture and engineering, then finds himself in St. Louis, where he builds, owns and operates steamboats on the Mississippi, and makes a fortune. By the 1850’s he’s in Panama, where he works for a trans-Nicaraguan shipping company (there being no Canal route) along with his partner Charles Morgan, called the Accessory Transit Company. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the main backer of the venture, which had an exclusive franchise from the Nicaraguan government.  When Commodore Vanderbilt goes off to Europe on vacation, Garrison, Morgan, and William Walker, a famous filibuster, decide it may be fun and profitable  to take over Nicaragua.

They succeeded, at least initially, and after Walker takes over the government of Nicaragua, he revokes the charter of the Accessory Transit Company, and gives it the charter to Morgan and Garrison. Vanderbilt was not pleased, and wrote Morgan and Garrison, “Gentlemen: You have undertaken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you. Yours truly, Cornelius Vanderbilt.” Vanderbilt hires two mercenaries to raise a Costa Rican army, and all sorts of other fun things, eventually driving Walker from the government of Nicaragua.

Our hero finds himself in San Francisco, where he serves as Mayor, donating his salary to an orphanage. By the time of the Civil War, Garrison is back in New York City, where he lets the government use his boats. He also becomes the President of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, before selling his interest in the line to Jay Gould at an exorbitant amount.

Oh, and the tomb is “Moorish Revival”.

Now that you’ve read through quite a bit of history (or even if you haven’t) here’s a modern picture of the tomb provided by the inestimable Allison:

Garrison's tomb, modern picture

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