Landon Fuhrman, intrepid member of the Annie Tinker Association’s National Advisory Council, and I set off one damp April day with a simple objective: to find Annie Tinker’s grave.
We wanted to learn a) for sure when she was born and b) whether she was buried with her family members.
Our search took us to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where records from Annie’s lawyer tell us she was buried on March 10, 1924, after a funeral at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue.
Annie had died in London of complications from a tonsillectomy. During those years, she lived in Europe, especially in Paris, perhaps to get away from friends and family members who disapproved of her lifestyle and were after her to stop smoking and drinking.
The day after her death, a friends wrote of “the weary burden of her body struggling with the great ideas of her soul.”
Annie’s body was sent back to New York aboard the S.S. Paris, a ship she apparently had sailed on while alive. While the ship was at sea, a dispute was played out between a friend who had been charged in Annie’s will with making arrangements for a home for “ladies who have worked for a living” and family members who had expected to inherit.
The property was finally divided in half, but the questions remained: whether to turn a rambling family “cottage” in Setauket, L.I., into a home for older women and how the memorial should be named.
Annie’s friend believed that Annie wanted the home named for her beloved father, Henry C. Tinker, and her attorney believed Annie never wanted to part with the place. But in the end, the idea of a home had to be abandoned as too expensive, and it was decided the charity should be named for Annie, with the money to be given in the name of her father, the “Henry C. Tinker Bequest.”
When Landon and I got to the gatehouse, her first move was to look up the locations of Annie and her family members’ graves. We found, unsurprisingly, that Annie and her father were buried in the same plot, near the path called Petunia.
But at Green-Wood, nothing is that simple. There is too much to see, the fabulous view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, the graves of New York’s notables. We managed to pass up most notables (Lola Montez, where are you) but I could not resist spending a quiet moment at the simple headstone of Leonard Bernstein.
What really slowed us down was examining all the fabulous monuments and mausoleums (“Wonder how the men felt about being placed in a little granite house with pink stained glass?”). One favorite was two small stone lions recumbent under a huge white pine. Who? Why?
As a light drizzle began to fall, we arrived at the huge Tinker obelisk. In front of it, small rounded headstones, each with a first name in raised letters. (Annie R. For our founder).
Annie got one whole side of the obelisk:
Annie Rensselaer Tinker
Born Oct. 28th 1884
Died Feb. 21st 1924
And the altogether wonderful inscription: “Rarely such courage in a man and never in a woman”
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