In a well-known book entitled, “At Home And Abroad,” by Margaret Fuller Ossoli,
and published in 1856 by her brother Arthur B. Fuller, can be found an intriguing notation. It indicates that that Angelo Eugene Philip Ossoli was first buried in Valley Cemetery in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The entire article reads as follows:
*SLEEP SWEETLY, GENTLE CHILD.*
[The only child of the Marchiness Ossoli, well known as Margaret Fuller, is buried in the Valley Cemetery, at Manchester, N.H. There is always a vase of flowers placed near the grave, and a marble slab, with a cross and lily sculptured upon it, bears this inscription: “In Memory of Angelo Eugene Philip Ossoli, who was born at Rieti, in Italy, 5th September 1848, and perished by shipwreck off Fire Island, with both his parents, Giovanni Angelo and Margaret Fuller Ossoli, on the 19th of July 1850.”]
Sleep sweetly, gentle child! though to this sleep
The cold winds rocked thee, on the ocean’s breast,
And strange, wild murmurs o’er the dark, blue deep
Were the last sounds that lulled thee to thy rest,
And while the moaning waves above thee rolled,
The hearts that loved thee best grew still and cold.
Sleep sweetly, gentle child! though the love tone
That twice twelve months had hushed thee to repose
Could give no answer to the tearful moan
That faintly from thy sea-moss pillow rose.
That night the arms that closely folded thee
Were the wet weeds that floated in the sea.
(Read the Remainder of the Poem Here)
A footnote in the same book notes: “The lines are beautiful and full of sweet sympathy. The home of the mother and brother of Margaret Fuller being now removed from Manchester to Boston, the remains of the little child, too dear to remain distant from us, have been removed to Mount Auburn. The same marble slab is there with its inscription, and the lines deserve insertion here.–Ed.”
For those of you who are not familiar with Margaret Fuller Ossoli–she was a famed gender
theorist, teacher, literary critic, and journalist. And so, how did the body of the beloved child of Margaret Fuller Ossoli come to be buried in Manchester, New Hampshire? When Margaret, her husband and child died in 1850 in a shipwreck at Fire Island, New York, her next of kin–her mother Margaret, along with her brother Arthur Buckminster Fuller, were living in Manchester, New Hampshire. Since only the child’s body was reportedly found, a resting place was needed for his remains.
Arthur was a Unitarian minister serving the Unitarian Society of Manchester from 1848 to 1853. When they moved back to Massachusetts, they apparently had the remains, and the memorial of the child moved to Mount Auburn, where the memorial to his parents, Margaret and Giovanni was also located.
A description of the Fuller-Ossoli Memorial at Mount Auburn Cemetery was published in he New York Times on 13 Oct 1855 as follows: “Monument to the Ossoli Family–The family of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, has erected a marble monument to her memory and that of her husband and child in Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Massachusetts. It was designed and executed by Mr. THOMAS CAREW, an artist of Boston. It is upright in form, and on its side, facing the avenue, is cut in the marble a medallion the size of life, and said to be an excellent likeness of Madame Ossoli, surrounded by an exquisitely carved oak wreath. Beneath the medallion is a book, denoting the literary vocation of MARGARET FULLER, and near it is seen the hilt of a sword, designating the military profession of the Marquis Ossoli, who was Captain of the Civil Guard during the Roman Revolution of 1848. There is no emblem especially designed for the little child, but near by is a marble slab with an appropriate inscription, beneath which his dust reposes.”
Indeed the 1850 U.S. Census shows Arthur B. Fuller with his mother Margaret living with Dr. Amos Gale and his family in Manchester, New Hampshire. By 1860 he had married Elizabeth Davenport, and for that year he is shown in Watertown MA with his wife, and two children. Unfortunately Arthur’s grief over his sister was to be compounded. Within a few years of each other his wife Elizabeth died from cholera, and also his mother Margaret died.
Arthur continued as a minister and went on to remarry and have two additional children. He was responsible for publishing several books based on documents found in a single trunk that was recovered from his sister’s fatal ship.
When the bodies of Margaret and her husband were not found, Henry David Thoreau wrote to Ralph Waldo Emerson that he was staying at the home of Smith Oakes, less than a mile from the wreck. He made several attempts to locate either the bodies or the possessions of Margaret and her husband unsuccessfully.
There is rumor and innuendo that the bodies of Margaret and Giovanni Ossoli were indeed found. But then this is based on a letter written fifty years after the fact, by a person who would have been 9 years old at the time of the incident. [Author’s Note: go talk to a 9 year old and tell me if you would rely 100% on their memory today, never mind 50 years from now].
Like his sister Margaret, Arthur was courageous in the face of death. Just as she stood on the ship’s deck, refusing to let go of her baby and to leave her husband, so too Arthur, at the Battle of Fredericksburg during the Civil War, he refused to desert the men of the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment.
Much has been written, both by and about Margaret Fuller Ossoli, and her brother Arthur Buckminster Fuller. What is demonstrated by their actions that they both shared a personal fortitude and amazing spirit. If their names seem familiar…. perhaps you have heard of Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller. Rev. Arthur Buckminister Fuller was his grandfather, and so Margaret Fuller Ossoli was his great aunt.
Internet links to information about Margaret Fuller Ossoli are countless. If you have a favorite one (or two), or perhaps a book by or about her that is not mentioned here, please leave a comment and I will add it to the text of this article.
-Margaret Fuller House-
Likeness: Margaret Fuller. [between 1840 and 1880]. Prints and Photographs Division, American Memory / Library of Congress; LC-USZ62-47039 (b&w film copy neg.)
*Genealogy of Margaret (Fuller) Ossoli*
Born Sarah Margaret Fuller, she was the daughter of Timothy & Martha (Crane) Fuller
She married Marchese Giovanni Angelo Ossoli. Margaret, along with her husband and child, Angelo Ossoli (who had been born 5 Sep 1848) died at sea, at Fire Island, New York, in a shipwreck on 19 July 1850 [SEE FULLER FAMILY GENEALOGY]