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4 notable women laid to rest in Milwaukee's Forest Home Cemetery

 Harriet L. Cramer Headstone
Forest Home Cemetery
Harriet L. Cramer's headstone at Forest Home Cemetery.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we’re taking a look at some notable women laid to rest at Forest Home Cemetery.

There have been many remarkable women buried in Milwaukee's oldest cemetery. Volunteer, guide and author Anita Pietrykowski shares the stories of a few of these women.

Lenore Harrison Cawker

Lenore Harrison Cawker was born in 1873 and died in 1932. Pietrykowski says she dedicated her entire adult life to the care of homeless animals that were in need of shelter in the city of Milwaukee.

In the early 1900s, she happened to witness animals being caught by the dog pound catchers and was appalled by what she saw.

Pietrykowski says Cawker approached the common council and asked if she could serve as the dog catcher and the pound keeper for the city at no cost. The city agreed, and that started Cawker over 20 year journey of caring for Milwaukee's stray dogs, cats, birds, horses, rabbits, goats and other animals.

"She named her shelter the Cawker Animal House, and it was in existence from 1906 to 1930. So over the course of the 24 years that the Cawker Animal House was in existence, Lenore used her own personal inheritance from her parents to pay for the funding of the Cawker Animal House. It was not funded really by the city at all," Pietrykowski explains.

Georgia Green Stebbins

Georgia Stebbins was North Point Lighthouse's longest-running keeper.
Photo courtesy of North Point Lighthouse
Georgia Stebbins was North Point Lighthouse's longest-running keeper.

Georgia Stebbins was living in New York with her husband when she contracted tuberculosis, Pietrykowski explains. Her doctor then advised her to leave New York City and find a place where the air is cool and fresh.

Image courtesy of Forest Home Cemetery
Georgia and Lemuel Stebbins, as well as Georgia's parents Daniel and Catherine Green, are buried in a family plot in Section 10 at Forest Home Cemetery.

Stebbins then came to Milwaukee where her father, Daniel Green Stebbins, was the lighthouse keeper. When she arrived in 1874, she found both her father and her mother in ill health and her father was unable to perform his duties.

"She started doing the duties and the responsibilities of the lighthouse keeper and did so for the next seven years during her father's term. In 1881, then Georgia was appointed the official lighthouse keeper of North Point Lighthouse and served for 26 years in that capacity," Pietrykowski says.

Lutie Eugenia Stearns

Lutie Eugenia Stearns started her career as a teacher with the Milwaukee Public Schools in 1888. There, she was assigned to a classroom with about 50 children, Pietrykowski explains.

After school, every single week, she would take a few boys in her horse-drawn wagon to the library and would take out two books for every child in her class. And she did this for the two years that she was employed as a teacher.

Pietrykowski says Stearns was noticed by the library staff and was asked if she would be willing to take a job working for the library and visiting classrooms in the Milwaukee school system. She wasn't a librarian, but that was the start of her career in library books.

"After she retired, she became a public speaker. She was an advocate for literacy, and women's rights. ... So I think it was her work, traveling throughout the state of Wisconsin and delivering those boxes of books that she earned the title of the Johnny Appleseed in Wisconsin,"says Pietrykowski.

Harriet Laura Barker Cramer

Harriet Laura Barker Cramercame to the city of Milwaukee to stay with a relative and was hired by the Evening Wisconsin newspaper as a proofreader and a typesetter.

Her responsibilities, at the age of 16, was to read the newspaper copy to the editor, who was William E. Kramer, who was both blind and nearly deaf, Pietrykowski explains. The two would eventually get married.

"Harriet went on to live a full life and had a 54-year career with the Evening Wisconsin newspaper. And actually after her husband passed away, she became the president. So she worked her way all the way up from proofreader and typesetter to the president of the Evening Wisconsin newspaper," she says.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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