photo AngeloMarreCalvary.jpg

Likeness of Angelo Marre, Calvary Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR
Last fall, I found a transcription last night for Calvary Cemetery in Little Rock. It is the official cemetery for the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, and I was researching Lensings for my family genealogy.

According to the transcription, there were 12 Lensings buried there. The oldest was born in 1873 in Germany, probably Borken, the town the family lived in just prior to their immigration to the United States in 1879.

Calvary is a large cemetery. If I had to guess, I'd say there are at least 2,000 graves, many of German and Italian immigrants.

So, I was on a quest.

The cemetery is laid out as many older cemeteries are - "blocks" with concrete curbs announcing the name of the family resting within. Paved streets make it like driving through a very quiet neighborhood.

I used my binoculars from the car for a while, but there comes a time when you have to get out and walk among the graves on the interior to read the stones.

I hadn't been walking long when the flapping of large wings told me I had company.

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I believe that's a male turkey vulture. At any rate, he flew and lit on stones parallel to me for about 15 minutes before he decided I had nothing to eat, and *would* keep taking his photo.

On this trip, I found the section for the Sisters of Mercy.

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Calvary must date back to at least 1859.

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This is one of my favorite monuments at Calvary, not just because of the incredible workmanship, but also the colorful history of the man who is memorialized by it.

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Remember the old Southern manse featured in the opening credits of Designing Women? Angelo Marre built the Villa Marre in Little Rock in 1881 for his bride, Jennie, who had left her first husband (and uncle), James Brizzolara and her six year old son, to be with Angelo. Jennie never bothered with the formality of a divorce from Brizzolara, but managed to avoid being charged with bigamy by saying that her marriage to Angelo was not legal, because it had not been performed in a Catholic church.

For his part, Angelo got his start as a saloonkeeper in Little Rock after leaving the Memphis police force with the proceeds of an inheritance he had received from a Memphis madam - "in remembrance for my and his love for each other" according to her will. Angelo Marre died of blood poisoning in 1889, and Jennie lived in the home until her death in 1905.

Just to the right of this mausoleum is where the Monsignors of the Little Rock diocese are buried - very simple stones in contrast to those of their parishoners.

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Well, except for this one...

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On a second trip to Calvary, a very helpful guy in the sexton's office helped me find all 12 Lensing graves.

April 2016

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