Monday, September 03, 2012

Taphophile Tragics: John Doe 13

One of the things I write about on my Oakland blog is history. And one way to learn about history is by studying cemeteries, where you can learn about all sorts of people who made and lived history. K and I recently took a trip to Kauai for a family reunion for my parents 50th anniversary, so I have some non-Oakland posts to write about.


I dragged K along to examine a couple of cemeteries during our recent trip to Kauai. Initially she was being nice and tagging along, but she quickly discovered why cemeteries can be interesting places to visit. While exploring at the Koloa Cemetery, she discovered this small, plain marker. There were a number like this; some were generic markers where no one had bought or made a headstone, but there were a surprising number of "John Doe" markers. In the U.S., John Doe is used as placeholder name for an unknown or unnamed man; similarly Jane Doe (or Roe) for a woman, and Baby Doe for an infant. It can be used in a legal document, but is also commonly used to refer to unknown people.

I couldn't find out much about the Koloa Cemetery. It's outside of town, marked by a small sign. It seems to be the public cemetery for the area. A nearby Catholic church has its own cemetery, and there are other cemeteries in other towns across Kauai. It's a relatively small cemetery, but has a variety of markers from the 1920s to the present, and being in Kauai, is in a beautiful setting.



Visit Taphophile Tragics for interesting posts about cemeteries around the world.

8 comments:

Gemma Wiseman said...

Looks like a relatively small cemetery in a beautiful setting! I am surprised that so many markers should be named "John Doe". I have never seen one!

Neal Parish said...

Thanks for posting this. We were also in Kauai last week, and drove past the Koloa cemetery turnoff a number of times. Interesting post, and nice pix!

Nicola Carpenter said...

Interesting post. Beautiful little marker. Over here in the UK if you're an unknown person, you simply don't get a marker of any kind. Unless you're an unknown soldier.

Beneath Thy Feet

marbletowns said...

I clicked and enlarged so I could see the photo clearly --- very interesting! This looks like a nice, small cemetery in a pretty setting.

VioletSky said...

I have never seen a marker like this before. I have seen a few flat stones in areas reserved for benevolent societies and must look more closely to see what they say.

Julie said...

I would say that in the cemeteries that I visit, about half of those interred do not have a marker. The trustees have lists and maps to help you find people without markers, but there is nothing in situ. That is different from not knowing who is in the grave. I have never come across a 'x-doe' marker here in Australia at all.

That final shot of the cemetery in Hawaii is interesting to me. It shows that there ARE places in America where a full grave bed is the go. Up until now, I have mainly been seeing that, even from the early days, there was a headstone, but no bed-stone. Over hear, single headstones are only now the rage, and this is to allow a tractorised mower in between the memorials.

Thanks for rejoining, Gene. You are a valued contributor.

Gene Anderson said...

@Julie - happy to be back! It wasn't for lack of interest or lack of material, just lack of time. Hopefully I'll have time in the coming weeks, as I got some interesting material in Hawaii.

Katarina said...

I found it interesting that some of these John Does did not have a death date listed ... which led my imagination in various directions. Remains washed up on the beach? Paperwork lost in the morgue?