Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bess and the lost grave (updated)

Originally posted June 6, 2012.

John Hinson, great nephew of Bess and Harry Houdini, has generously allowed me to share this unpublished photo of Bessie standing beside the grave of her parents, Gebhard and Balbina Rahner, and other members of the Rahner/Hinson family. I've never seen this photo nor this grave marker before.


But there's a bit of mystery to go along with this. John hasn't been unable to locate this particular grave. He isn't even sure this photo was taken in Gates of Heaven Cemetery, where Bess is buried. So where is this mystery grave?

Any grave hunters out there able to help Bessie's family find their lost relatives?

UPDATE: As you can read in the Comments below, a helpful contributor has discovered that this grave is located in Most Holy Trinity Cemetery, 685 Central Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. The plot sits at Block 82, Row 10, Grave 15. According to the cemetery, Balbina Rahner is buried there with 12 other people. (Another discovery: Bessie's father Gebhard and I share the same birthday, Dec. 3.)

Most Holy Trinity Cemetery. Find A Grave

16 comments:

  1. Tell John I said Hi. When I lived in Acton Ma. he and I used to go over each others house every day. I read so many of Houdini's private diaries and saw many many yet to be published photos and even got to escape from a actual pair of Houdini' cuffs which made a story in MUM's magazine. I forgot which year but it's the one with Thurston on the cover

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  2. http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/surnames.rahner/3.1.1/mb.ashx
    http://www.ovguide.com/bess-houdini-9202a8c04000641f800000000562c69d#

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  3. Harry Houdini Hinson is my uncle my father brother. and the rest of the family

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    Replies
    1. Hey John it's TC. Long time no chat buddy. email me at churchwellbb@gmail.com

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    2. Hi John,

      We met briefly in RI when you were doing a lecture. You may remember that I was doing a show called Houdini Lives Again. The goal of the show was to let today's audiences feel what their grandparents felt when they went to the theater is see HH.

      I am preparing for an event tonight that focuses on HH. You know Halloween and all. As I was preparing for tonight's show, I occurred to me that this might be fun for you. But I had no contact info. A quick Bing search lead me here.

      My email is relave@verizon.net I live in Holyoke. Myphone is 413-538-5277

      Rich Lavengood

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  4. Still searching this but:
    Gebhard Rahner died in 1887
    Balbina Rahner died in 1938
    Harry Houdini Hinson died at the age of 20 in 1934

    Gates of Heaven Cemetery has over 6800 internments, but I can find no complete list, at least not yet. Still searching

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  5. The NYTimes ran obituaries for several of these people, including HH Hinson and Balbina Rahner. It's possible that the obits mention where the deceased were interred.

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  6. You are one step ahead of me dcbyron ... didn't think about the NYT until last night. Article is available online for a small fee but perhaps someone else has access.

    http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30C16FF3A5A157A93C6A9178AD85F4C8385F9

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  7. I ordered the death cert for Balbina and it says that she is buried in Most Holy Trinity Cemetery. I called the cemetery and they said that she is buried there with 12 other people. They wanted $95 for the complete burial listing which I was considering forking over. I want to take a trip there in the next couple of weeks first. I am also going to order the death cert for Gebhard and a John Rahner who died in 1936. I couldn't find any indexes, etc for the other people listed on the monument.

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    Replies
    1. Nice detective work, Anon! Keep us posted. Hopefully that headstone is still there. If so, I'd love to update this post with a pic.

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    2. I sent off for the other 2 death certs, it should take about a month. From the looks of the photo, I think that the names are on some kind of metal plaque instead of etched in stone. It has probably been long gone.

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  8. thanks guys for finding the gave site

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  9. The death cert for John Rahner says he is buried there, while Gebhard's doesn't say where he is buried, but the office says he is there. I uploaded a picture of the monument to their memorials, it looks nothing like what's in the photo. It's made of zinc and is hollow inside. Possibly the other one was damaged? Next up will be to order the burial listing, they say that it will take several months to type up.

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  10. Okay, I got the burial list, it seems that Harry Hinson's real last name was Hinsenhofen. There were also several babies; a Rose Krauss who died in 1971, a Fred Haag who died in 1974, and an Ellen Huber who died in 2000.

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  11. Hi John. Your dad told me the family shortened the family name to "Hinson" to remove any impression of being German some time around WWII. Nobody wanted suspicion of not being loyal Americans to shadow them.
    [signed] Cousin Marina

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