Moses Carpenter’s Grave, Linthorpe Cemetery

A trip into Middlesbrough was today’s outing so I was stumped about what subject to photo. But as I was cycling down the Acklam Road, the answer came to me. It might not be the best photo I’ve ever taken but a nice little history.

I had visited Linthorpe Cemetery before when on grand daughter duties. It’s still a working cemetery but has now been declared a Local Nature Reserve so it’s a pleasant place to wander amongst the horse chestnut and sycamores, the crocuses and the snowdrops. It was then I came across an information panel erected by the Friends of Linthorpe Cemetery about the grave of one Moses Carpenter.

Moses Carpenter was a Native American Indian who died in Middlesbrough in 1889. He was born Ska-Run-Ya-Te in 1854 and was a member of the Mohawk tribe from Tuscarora in Canada. He joined a travelling medicine show led by an Indian Medicine Man who called himself Sequah but who was in fact an Englishman named William Hannaway Rowe. The show travelled around in painted wagons with Sequah performing services such as pulling teeth and giving massages and selling various cures such as ‘Prairie Flower’ and ’Sequah’s Oil’. Wherever he set up his stall crowds flocked to be cured of lumbago, sciatica, rheumatism and everything else under the sun. Moses was one of the supporting cast and paraded around in his feathered headdress along with others wearing cowboy and indian outfits.

The medicine show arrived in Middlesbrough in the first week of August 1889 but within a few days Moses had developed pneumonia and was taken to the North Riding Infirmary on Newport Road finally succumbing to the illness on the 15th August. The story struck deep into the public’s heart resulting in an outpouring of grief. At his funeral just three days later there was reported to be 1,000 mourners inside the church (the Mohawk tribe had been converted to Christianity in the mid 18th century) with another 12 to 15,000 people aligning the route to the cemetery.

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