|Death: ||Jan. 15, 1878|
Queen of the Gypsies
In 1856, Owen Stanley, king of gypsy tribes in England, came to the U.S. with many of his group because England was so thickly populated. He wanted to make Dayton his permanent home. He bought land in the City of Dayton as well as Harrison, Wayne, Mad River, and Butler townships so they could raise horses and winter there, renting out their farms while they took to the road as soon as the weather became warm.
Gypsies were a group of nomadic people whose ancestors are said to have originated in Eastern Europe. Within their groups they have rulers, sometimes women, who decide what is best for their tribe. British gypsies had so many kings and queens – from King John Bucelle in 1657 down to the Gypsy Queen of the U.S., Matilda Stanley, royally buried at Woodland Cemetery in 1878. It is rare that such royalty would be buried here, or that an American clergy would preach at the funeral of a queen, but that happened.
Matilda was said to have a wonderful faculty of telling fortunes, when she pleased, and remarkable powers as a mesmerist, both qualities being explained by the assertion that they were handed down to her as the eldest daughter in the Stanley family, and were secrets possessed by her alone. She was described in the press as a "plain, hardy-looking woman, with a touch of Meg Merrilies in her appearance, and a manner indicative of a strong and pronounced character." Meg Merrilies was a gypsy queen in the Sir Walter Scott novel, Guy Mannering, made famous on the American stage by Charlotte Saunders Cushman.
Queen Matilda had died of cancer in February. Her husband, Levi Stanley, son of Owen Stanley, sent her body to Woodland to be kept in a vault for burial in September. Newspapers here and in many large American cities sent special reporters who printed long columns of accounts before and after the funeral. The Sunday of the event, thousands of people came in from surrounding places by special trains. An estimated crowd of 25,000 swarmed over the avenues and grounds of the cemetery. Police were needed to make way for the funeral procession. The newspaper said a procession of 1000 carriages began downtown and was so long it had to be refused admission at the cemetery gates. Around the gravesite there were so many people that the minister had to deliver his sermon while standing on a wooden plank laid across the open grave under an umbrella in the rain. The king and his tribe, being heartbroken, stayed around the Queen's still open grave as the great crowd left. Her younger daughters were so upset that they jumped down into the grave onto the marble slab to be closer to their mother and sobbed tenderly.
A granite monument marks the grave of King Levi and Queen Matilda Stanley. Funerals of the Stanley gypsies were quite elaborate. They spared no expense to give their loved ones dignity and show their regard for the dead. The funeral coaches, the undertaker's hearse, a long procession, a rich casket, and a great profusion of flowers were all a part of the event. The women came dressed in their best silks, satins, or velvets. Their fingers were adorned with much gold. The gypsy woman who possesses money does not hesitate to buy expensive things when she has set her heart on them. When you visit the Stanley graves, look for the messages and verses carved on their slabs, called ledgers.
Isaac Jowles (1772 - 1841)
Merrily Cooper Jowles (1782 - 1827)
Levi Stanley (1818 - 1908)*
Levi Stanley (1835 - 1916)*
Sarah Stanley Harrison (1839 - 1899)*
Martha Louise Stanley (1857 - 1866)*
Henry Joles (1814 - 1880)*
Matilda Joles Stanley (1821 - 1878)
Priscilla Joles Stanley (1826 - 1866)*
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
Maintained by: WordenS
Originally Created by: Laura Shultz Kinsey
Record added: Dec 05, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16912512