Marking the Anniversary of Eliza Scidmore’s Death

November 3 was the anniversary of Eliza Scidmore‘s death.

Today I received photos from Mina Ozawa and Kaoru Onji, who paid a visit to Scidmore’s gravesite in Yokohama.

I met both woman last spring during a research trip to Japan. Together, they work to keep the memory of Eliza Scidmore alive through an annual memorial ceremony at her gravesite during cherry tree season in Japan.

The somber tone of this autumn scene is a sharp contrast from the view I saw at the cemetery during my visit in April, when the overhanging cherry tree was in glorious bloom.

Eliza Scidmore’s gravesite in Yokohama on the Nov. 3 anniversary of her death (Photo: Mina Ozawa)

Eliza Scidmore died in 1928 while living in Geneva, Switzerland. A young relative from Madison, Wisconsin, was living with her at the time.

Scidmore underwent an emergency appendectomy and appeared to be recovering, but failed to rally fully and died on Nov. 3. She was 72.

She left instructions saying she wanted no funeral. However, a group of friends in Geneva held a small memorial service. Some of them appealed to the family to have her ashes returned to Japan so she could be laid to rest with her mother and brother. That’s where she rests today, in the Foreign General Cemetery in Yokohama.

One U.S. newspaper that reported Eliza’s death wrote:

“It is probable, and indeed it has been conceded in Europe and this country, that no American woman had a more cosmopolitan assembly of friends or more varied interests of work than Miss Scidmore has enjoyed.”

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  1. Rick J Scidmore on April 19, 2019 at 9:03 am

    This is an unproven relative because of my last name but OMG, she sure was a figure in Society. RIP Eliza

    • Diana Parsell on May 7, 2019 at 10:50 pm

      Rick. She probably was a relative, as all the Scidmores/Skidmores in America seem to have common ancestry dating back to an immigrant from England. And, astonishingly, she was not just a figure in society, as you note, but also a woman who managed to balance that with maverick tendencies–to quite an effect!

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