Ever Wonder About Mausoleum Mistakes?
No one is perfect, right?
The same can be said for headstone and mausoleum carvers.
It is estimated that there are about 75,000 to 100,000 cemeteries. Who knows how many headstones and mausoleums there are? It’s easy to see that even though family members have opportunities to proof words and dates before the actual carving begins there can be mistakes. And this does not take into consideration those carvings that took place before it was common practice for people to ‘approve’ the information that would be carved out of stone.
Repairing a mistake once it’s been carved into stone, although it can be done, isn’t always an easy thing to do. In many cases, where appropriate a letter or number carved into a tombstone can be carved out and replaced with the correct letter or number that will be inset into the space.
Sometimes it’s more complicated, as was the case for President James K. Polk’s epitaph. Polk was the 11th President of the United States but his epitaph read “James Knox Polk 10th President of the U.S. Only after his grave was moved from its crumbling location to the State Capitol was the error fixed. The solution was to replace one headstone for another that read “President of the U.S.”
Another mistake that was found but never corrected involved the mausoleum of an Italian-American Mafia crime boss.
James “Big Jim” Colosimo, also known as “Diamond Jim immigrated from Calabria, Italy in 1895, and built a criminal empire in Chicago based on prostitution, gambling, and racketeering. Along the way he was the first gang leader to organize the disparate parts of Chicago’s crime scene.
“Big Jim” Colosimo was murdered died in 1920 in his own restaurant. He was placed in a solid bronze casket inside a tomb in Oak Wood Cemetery during a ceremony attended by politicians with names like “Hinky Dink” Kenna, “Bathhouse John” Coughlin, and “Diamond Joe” Esposito.
Not that long ago it was reported that someone had tried to break into the tomb. Unsuccessful, their efforts allowed a peek inside the mausoleum which revealed a slab that read “JAMES COLOSIMO: 1877-1919.”
Some suggest that the carver may not have been aware of the date error or if he was, figured no one would ever see it.