As a cemetery enthusiast, I made it to Bonaventure Cemetery to see John Walz’s “Little Gracie,” but I was surprised to learn how many cemetery monuments he sculpted. Many of these markers can be found at other cemeteries, but the largest concentration can be found at Bonaventure.
He was a noted sculptor who was born in Germany but emigrated to Pennsylvania. After the Civil War, Walz studied in Europe under sculptors, Aimé Millet and Viktor Oscar Tilger. In 1886, the Telfair Museum commissioned Walz’s boss to create the monuments in front of the museum. Walz joined his boss and fell in love with his city.
In an interesting twist, he is buried next to his wife who is buried next to her first husband, Charles Gilmore. They preceded her in death. Unbeknownst to me when I photographed this plot, Sarah’s parents are buried on the plot behind the main marker.
According to Shannon Scott, a Bonaventure Cemetery historian, and guide, there once was a marker on John’s grave, but Sarah had it removed. His grave was unmarked until the Bonaventure Historical Society commissioned the marker you see today.