Levi Ziegler Leiter (November 2, 1834 – June 9, 1904)
Born in Maryland, Leiter moved to Chicago in 1855. He initially worked as a clerk at a wholesale drapery house with a fellow clerk named Marshall Field. That’s right the famous Chicago department store! The two former clerks founded the business. Unlike those who were going to war in the 1860s, Leiter just kept working. Leiter would later sell his portion of the business to Field.
Leiter was crazy rich and built a mansion adjacent to Dupont Circle. When he died in 1904, Leiter’s funeral was held at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Yesterday I visited hisgrave at Rock Creek Cemetery. I had seen these greenhouse encasement-style graves in pictures but never in-person. To say that I was excited would be a bit of an understatement.
After doing a bit of research, the glass enclosure isn’t the only thing that is interesting about this grave. Leiter wanted to take precautions against any disturbance of his grave. The New York Times reports that such precautions included digging a hole 12-ft square in the plot, adding steel beams with his casket snuggly inside and then pouring two feet of concrete on top.
What in the world!?! Was Leiter worried about coming back from the dead? Nope. He was concerned about grave robbers though.
"THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED" / TO THE GLORY OF GOD / AND THE HONOURED AND / BELOVED MEMORY OF / LEVI ZIEGLER LEITER / BORN NOVEMBER 22ND 1834 / DIED JUNE 9TH 1904 / MARY THERESA CARVER LEITER / BORN DECEMBER 13TH 1844 / DIED MARCH 6TH 1913
The sarcophagus is made of white Carrara marble. I almost bought a table made of this material but my love of red wine put a stop to that. Carrara marble holds stains so I wasn’t going to take any chances. The Washington Post also notes that this may actually be the second version of the sarcophagus since the cemetery warden speculates that the first melted away in the elements. That wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve seen some grave markers in pretty rough conditions. The glass was a later addition to the grave and most likely to protect the marble. Even with grave robbers and a melting marble sarcophagus, I doubt anything is going to reach Leiter's body.
Findagrave.com noted this was published in the Naples Record of Ontario County, New York, on 24 June 1904.