Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Funeral of Pietro Viani Held on City Island in the Town of Pelham in 1875

Yesterday I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog a sad account of the gunshot suicide of a promising young man during his recitation of a scene from Phaedra in front of a large crowd on City Island in 1875.  See:

Thursday, November 5, 2009:  A Shocking Suicide During a Performance on City Island in 1875.

Today's posting provides an account of the funeral of the young man who was buried on City Island.  The account is followed by a citation to its source.



The funeral of Pietro Viani, the young Italian artist who committed suicide at the Congressional picnic on Tuesday last, took place at City Island yesterday afternoon at 1 o'clock.  Among those present were the Italian Consul, Ferdinand De Lucca, Dr. R. Ogden Doremus and family, and other friends of the deceased.  The remains were inclosed in a plain rosewood coffin, with the inscription:

Died August 31st, 1875.

Upon the casket was a rich and varied display of floral offerings contributed by friends of the deceased and residents of the island.  It had been the wish of those having the funeral in charge that the services should be performed by a Roman Catholic priest, the Viani family belonging to that Church, but although repeated applications were made to several of the Catholic clergy in this City, the latter in every case either refused or evaded the request.  The duty thereupon devolved upon Rev. Mr. Monselli, a Protestant Episcopal clergy resident on the island, who read the prayers appointed by the Episcopal liturgy, and in conclusion offered a few remarks upon the nature of the act by which the deceased had terminated his life.  The reverend gentleman though that there could be no reasonable foundation for the assumption that the dead man had knowingly and, with a full sense of its sinfulness, committed the rash deed which hurried him into eternity.  Everything went to show that he was at the time suffering from a sufficient amount of monomania to place his death out of the category of ordinary suicides.  The case was, in many of its aspects, a remarkable parallel to that of Hugh Miller, the great Scottish geologist.  In both instances the so-called suicides, while preserving an outward show of reason, were laboring under the delusion that enemies were seeking their lives and were thus led, for purposes of self-defense, to provide themselves with the weapons which were afterward so fatally used against themselves.  The speaker alluded in a feeling manner to the high talents and bright prospects of the deceased, and added his own eulogium upon the good qualities of the departed which had come under his personal observation during the period preceding the fatal event.  The body was interred in the cemetery on the island, where it awaits the disposition of the family, who have already been notified by telegraph."

Source:  Funeral of the Italian Suicide, N.Y. Times, Sep. 4, 1875, p. 5.

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