Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014; 2nd ed. 2016).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Buried on Tom Sawyer Island (An Excursus)

(Beginning just a few days after original posting and continuing through July of 2020, there have been many updatings of this post.)

I've vacillated a long time about doing this post, because it's not really Mansion-related. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that the topic will be of special interest to Forgottenistas. Also, it's a topic no one else seems to have covered, which appeals to my twisted sense of pity. By rights it should be given a mini-blog of its own, but I've decided to put it here where it's more likely to be found by an appreciative audience. If you put "Excursus" on something, you're pretty much bullet-proof anyway.

1957 Souvenir Map

I'm talking about the Tom Sawyer Island graveyards, of which there have been three. One of them just recently disappeared, another disappeared decades ago, and the third was barely there, lasting only from 1956 to 1957. Most of you probably know about the first one, a lot of you probably know about the second. But the third? Not so much. So stick around and maybe learn something.

These burial grounds were the immediate precursors to the Haunted Mansion's outdoor graveyards, and remember too, that the Mansion was at one time considered part of Frontierland, so I suppose those considerations give us further flimsy pretext for taking up the topic here at LF.

The Late, Great, Fort Wilderness Graveyard

For those of you reading this at some point far into the future of this writing, know that Tom Sawyer Island was closed while the Rivers of America were drained as part of the initial Star Wars Land construction. It re-opened in July 2017. Not surprisingly, some changes were made on the island while it was closed. Tom's Treehouse is now only a prop, and the graveyard behind Fort Wilderness is gone, presumably to make room for the new wing which was added to the Fort:



I hope that the little cemetery may some day return in some form, but I'm not optimistic, now that I've seen for myself how little suitable space is still back there.

Here's an amusing and amazing bit of info. Guess who designed/drafted the headstones in the old Fort W cemetery? According to retired Imagineer and Disney historian Tom Morris, it was Dean Tavoularis, who went on to become production designer for such well-known films as the Godfather series, Apocalypse Now, and many others. As of this writing (summer 2020), Tavoularis is still alive at 88.

My Loafing Place

Seasoned Disneylanders know that there are some quiet spots in the park where you can get away from the crowds on busy days and relax for a bit in relative peace and quiet. In my opinion, the very best of these was the graveyard behind Fort Wilderness. A few years ago I was at DL in mid-summer on a couple of extremely crowded days and was nevertheless able to sit around back there entirely alone. I'm sure many LF readers were already aware of this tranquil hollow. (And if anybody thinks I'm going to reveal where others are, they're crazy.)

Nowadays, it's even deader back there, I imagine, than when the imaginary dead were back there.

The above is another great shot from the 1960s, courtesy of Dave. Check out a close-up HERE.

Awesome shot from 1977, courtesy of Gorillas:

Would you like to put yourself there in the 1990s? Here's a "magic eye" 3-D:


Tom Sawyer Island opened to the public in 1956, and the graveyard was there
at least by 1957. You can see it on the 1957 souvenir map and in 1957 photos.

In the original version of this post, I suggested that the graveyard was in all probability
there when the island opened, but these 1956 photos prove that it was not there yet.
It seems that originally, you could go into the fort, but not around it or out the back of it.

But here it is in August of 1957...

And here it is in a remarkable 1958-ish photo:

Another from about the same time, from "DisneyHistory101"

There were sometimes as few as ten but usually eleven or twelve graves. However, there were at least eighteen different headstone varieties over the course of its existence. Although a few of them did shift around a bit (kinda like the HM berm graveyard that way), the majority remained in their original locations. The one exception to this took place during a rehab that probably took place in the very early 80s (and definitely no later than 1987), when they were put back all higgledy-piggledy, and they stayed that way until the late 90s, when an authority with more respect for tradition evidently took notice of this outrage and restored them to their original positions. The most radical permanent change took place in 2009, when the whole graveyard was spun around 180 degrees. The layout of the graves was mostly preserved in the front row but mostly scrambled in the back.

Incidentally, Tokyo Disneyland faithfully copied many of the grave markers for their Fort, and in the cases of DL headstones that
were redesigned, the Tokyo versions invariably followed the old form, so sometimes photos of theirs are helpful for comparison.

Okay, let's get to the detailed review. Because this information has to be somewhere on the Internet, doesn't it?

These first nine are they which were there from the beginning (except Amos) and stayed to the very end.
It's tempting to call them the otherother "Nine Old Men," but some of them were women.

----Front row, left to right (typically thus):---

"Thaddeus Walker, 1812"

bottom left: Allen Huffmann, top left: webmikey flickr, right: Dave

"Rufus Finley, 1813"
(The date disappeared when the marker was redesigned in the late 90s.)

right: Davelandweb

"Amos Wilson, 1787-1862"

(NOTE: There is now good reason to think Amos Wilson was a real person. See the update below.)

And speaking of updates, we are surprised to learn that "Amos Wilson" was not the original epitaph on this marker. In the beginning, it was "H. T. Gillett." Harvey Gillett ran the WED drafting room from 1955 until 1963, when he died suddenly of a heart attack. That's probably when the marker was re-christened as an Amos Wilson tribute. (Perhaps it lost its "roof" at the same time.) Gillett was a well-established art director at Warner Brothers pictures before coming to Disney.

Disney 101

top left: princesskoko flickr, bottom left: Dave, top right: Regions Beyond, bottom right: Stuff

"Wing Lee, 1811"

left: princesskoko flickr

"W Pierre Feignoux, J'y Suis J'y Reste, 1809"

top left: princesskoko flickr, bottom left: Voyages Extraordinares, right: Dave

"Lieut. Laurence Clemmings, Fell Here Defending the Right
June 25 1810"

(The date was still there in the late 60's, but eventually it disappeared.)

left: Ron Snider; right: Bill Cotter at Vintage Disneyland on FB

top: Davelandweb
---Back row, left to right (typically thus):---

"Jno C. Sawyer, 1813"
(The cross-piece was curiously repositioned in '09 when they spun the cemetery around.)

left: Dave

"Eliza Hodgkins, Died June 7, 1812, Age 27 Years"
(Originally Eliza went topless. There was no "roof" on her marker. She
may also have been closer to the front row in the first couple of years.)

bottom: Davelandweb

"Sacajawea, Indian Scout"

bottom: Davelandweb

This tenth one was probably there at the beginning but didn't make it to the end.

"1813, Llewellyn Lloyd, Cholera, Aged 24 Mo"

Lloyd disappeared sometime in the late 90s. Maybe the epitaph was deemed just a little too sad for Disneyland.

This next, eleventh stone was not original. It was added sometime between 1977 and 1990 (that's new info), and it
stayed to the bitter end. It started in the front row towards the left but moved to the back and took Lloyd's place when it was removed.

"Ebinizer Browne, -1812-"

right: Regions Beyond, top left: Davelandweb, bottom left: princesskoko flickr
For the remaining grave markers, we have a potpourri of epitaphs on headstones dedicated to "unknowns" of two types. In the beginning there was this grave for an unidentified soul...

"Unknown Remains, Found July 24, 1812"

It disappeared some time after 1977 (new info again) and was reborn in 1981 as
"Unknown Remains, Found 1805"


And that one in turn was replaced with "Unknown Hostile, 1842, HM..ID."

left: Loren Javier; right: webmikey flickr

Reader Craig Conley points out that "HM" is the standard Latin abbreviation for hoc monumentum ("this monument"). His further suggestion that "ID" may mean idibus ("on the ides") is less convincing. I suspect it's simply idem (also abbreviated "ID"), a term commonly used in bibliographical notation with the meaning "the same [author as previously cited]," in order to avoid tedious repetition in multiple consecutive citations from the same author. But that's a technical usage. The word idem by itself simply means "same" or "identification." Thus, "HM..ID" could be an abbreviation for hoc monumentum ... idem, in this context meaning "this monument serves as (sole) identification," which makes admirable sense.

In all three forms that grave marker was found toward the center of the back row, the first version to the right of Sacajawea, the second and third versions to her left (the viewer's right, the viewer's left).

The second "unknown" variety was an open grave obviously there as a comic photo op: It was marked "Unknown Tourist" (later "Unknown Guest") followed by the current year, so it had to be updated annually. By the 90s it was just "Unknown Guest" without any date, and finally it was just left blank. It was probably there from the beginning and always found at the far right of the back row. It disappeared in 1981 or early 82 and returned when the "higgledy-piggledy" rehab was undone and the traditional layout was restored. It didn't survive the 2009 spin-around.

top left: Will Hathaway flickr, bottom left: Greg Nutt flickr, top right: Steve Stuart, bottom right: Mike Hiscano

Check out the amusing story in the Comments from Eddie Sotto ("Anonymous") explaining how and why the
photo-op empty grave disappeared in 1981 and was replaced by the "Unknown Remains, Found 1805" grave.

History Within the History [UPDATED Mar 26, 2018]

In the original post I wrote this: "Two of the headstones reflect real history in some form, while the rest are simply made up names, without any significance. At least I haven't been able to find any correspondents in history or among Disney employees. Sorry to disappoint. Don't you know I wish I had quaint background stories to tell about Amos Wilson and Thaddeus Walker, et al, but it seems to be the case that these dead men really do tell no tales."

But in March of 2018 reader James Wallace shared the following information in a comment:

"Amos Wilson was my Great Grandfather. He was a WW1 vet from Oklahoma. He worked in the shipyards during WW2. He was also an artist. He did all of the detailed painting on Walt Disney's yacht, and when Disneyland was built Walt remembered him and hired him to do the original painting on the Columbia. He also painted the original tea cups and the Carlsbad Caverns [sic. I'm sure he means Rainbow Caverns]. If Walt Disney liked you he named something in the park after you. It has always been a neat thing for my family. Hope they bring the cemetery back somewhere. There is a lot of history at Disneyland."

princesskoko flickr

And as of July 2020 we know that before Amos the marker was a tribute to another real person, Harvey Gillett (see above).

Besides Amos, the two headstones reflecting actual history are "Sacajawea, Indian Scout" and "W Pierre Feignoux, J'y Suis J'y Reste, 1809." I'm sure many of you already know that Sacajawea was the guide for Lewis and Clark during their 1804-1806 "Corps of Discovery" expedition into the American west. Her profile got a significant boost in 2000 when she showed up on new $1 coins (that no one wanted; our wise and benevolent government keeps trying to force the public to use dollar coins, and the public keeps saying No).

As for "W Pierre Feignoux, J'y Suis J'y Reste, 1809," the date is wrong and the name is meaningless, but the slogan is historical. If we want to properly catch the resolute and defiant tone, we should perhaps translate J'y suis, j'y reste along these lines: "That's where I am, dammit, and that's where I'm staying." It originated during the Crimean War, during the siege of Sevastopol in 1854-55. A French general of Irish descent named Marie Edme Patrice MacMahon had successfully captured a Russian fortification on a strategic hill but was told by another general to abandon it, since they suspected the Russians had undermined it and were planning to blow it up. MacMahon haughtily replied "J'y suis, j'y reste" and refused to budge. There was indeed an explosion, but it caused little damage to the French forces, and the siege ended soon afterwards when the Russians withdrew. Thus was born a French catch-phrase for heroic stubbornness.

Until recent days, the slogan spoke well enough for the headstone itself, since it did indeed stay right where it was planted for a very long time. That's where it was, and that's what it said.

Knott's Bury Farm

I'm not sure there is any need to look for an immediate inspiration for the Fort Wilderness cemetery, but if there was one, I'd say the "Boot Hill" graveyard at Knott's Berry Farm is as good a candidate as any. What's funny is that those are funny, whereas the Fort Wilderness graves are utterly grave.


Lori Lynn

I suppose one could argue that the serious tone is due to the fact that 1956 Disneyland tended to present the Frontier experience with a straight face ("hard facts" and all that), but then there's that gag grave, breaking the fourth wall by referring to Disneyland's "tourists" and "guests" and put there strictly for yuks. At any rate, the quintessentially Mansionistic joke about you the visitor joining the resident revenants was already foreshadowed on Tom Sawyer Island in the fifties.

Always room for one more


Before we move on, there's one more quirky and irresistible detail about the FW graveyard that I cannot pass by in silence. Before the 2009 flip, there were four fiberglass tree stumps in there. They were so realistic and so exquisitely done that they were . . . oddly beautiful things.

Yeah, I've already used this 2003 Allen Huffmann shot, but it gets my vote as the single best photo of the FW graveyard, so here it is again, and here it remains..

Someone in the model shop went to a lot of bother for those. Why? Well, if you look closely, you'll see that they are in circumference about the size of the logs that make up the Fort itself. You're supposed to think of this graveyard as something the settlers put into a clearing in the forest created by the cutting of timbers to build the Fort. I don't suppose that's too terribly important, but you hadn't thought of it, had you? And now that you have, it inspires your imagination to tell you a tale of how this thing came to be, does it not? And Disney does this sort of silent storytelling better than just about anyone, do they not? And pompous rhetorical questioning gets wearisome after awhile, does it not?

Let's move on to gravesite number two, shall we?

The Indian Burial Grounds

Plenty of you remember this one as well, since it only disappeared in the 1990s after being a fixture on TSI since it opened in 1956. It was conspicuous enough to warrant inclusion on the park's McKim-inspired souvenir maps, beginning in 1966.

Dave and the Major have impressive collections of photos, facilitating a "through-the-years" survey of this elevated subject.
Notice how surprisingly much the sombre and yet colorful scene was altered during its long and silent career on the shoreline.

Just this morning (Oct 2, 2017), the Major put up a photo from 1956 showing the Lakota-type burial. The assumption originally was that this was a photo of the Indian Village scene on the west side of the river, but a close examination of the foliage and show pieces in comparison with the 1958 photo below convinces me that this is indeed Tom Sawyer Island and is our earliest photo yet of the tableau there.




The burial style depicted is that of the Lakota Sioux:

The ring of buffalo skulls with the mound in the center is also authentically Sioux.
It was the site of ritual sacrifices and ceremonies in preparation for buffalo hunts.

Something you probably didn't know is that there was once a similar outdoor
tableau in the old Indian Village, over on the mainland where Critter Country is now:

That was in 1961, when Disneyland still took its educational role seriously. The text on the sign reads:

Indian Burial Sacred Ground

After death, a brave's body is wrapped, placed on high poles, and faced to the East...

The tall pole in front reveals his life story...The scalps prove his courage in war...
The buffalo skull shows he was a hunter...On the ground below are his weapons and tools

Here's another shot of it from gdb:

                    Okay, it's time now to look at the third and most obscure of the lost TSI cemeteries.

The Riverfront Graves

We owe our original awareness of these graves to Dave. The photo is dated August 1956:

Even WDI Imagineers and seasoned DL historians were gaping at that one. Who remembered these? Amazing. Well, prepare to be amazed all over again, because these two are only HALF the story. They were in fact a second set, replacements for another pair in the same spot. The first set lasted no more than a few months before "Hintley" and "Campbell" here took their place.

Since the graveyard behind the Fort was not original to the 1956 opening but was definitely there by the second half of 1957, I suspect that the riverfront stones came out when the Fort graveyard went in. In support of this theory is the fact that one of the original riverfront stones had a similar epitaph to one of the Fort stones, and it's unlikely that both would have been on display at the same time.

Photos of the first pair exist, but the headstones are so easily overlooked in the relevant pictures that they are practically invisible. The two best photos I've seen are both from the Major.

Gorillas Don't Blog

I've collected a few other photos in which one or both markers can be seen. They're hopelessly blurry, but the photos themselves are
interesting enough in their own right to justify putting them up. Now you have all the photos of the original set that I have.

Gorillas Don't Blog

Peeky boo

This one I just discovered today (Sep 9, 2017):

Jon on flickr

Another one I discovered at the "DisneyHistory101" website in 2020:

It was probably because they were so hard to notice that they were quickly replaced with a more conspicuous set.

Here are the two pairs side by side:

You want the texts? Well, three out of four is the best I can do. Maybe you can do better.
[I've incorporated a good suggestion from reader Melissa on the third one]

By the time a pathway was constructed for guests along that strip of the island (1957-58), the graves were gone.

They were soon forgotten. Soon forgotten becomes long forgotten. And long forgotten sometimes becomes rediscovered history.
Next time you pass by that side of the Fort, be sure to pay your imaginary respects to the imaginary dead, the ghosts of ghosts.