Designer: Robert Launitz, sc.
Location: Lake Avenue and Sylvan Avenue, near Sylvan Water
Saved in Time: 2005
Do-Hum-Me was the eighteen-year-old daughter of Nan-Nouce-Rush-Ee-Tol, a chief of the Sac Indians who came east from their lands in Kansas to participate in treaty negotiations with the government. The occasion resulted in her meeting and marrying Cow-Hick-Kee, a young Iowa Indian warrior, who was also representing his tribe at the sessions.
The new couple and their people arrived in New York City, where the presence of American Indians was met with great excitement, quickly attracting the attention of none other than the renowned showman P. T. Barnum. He offered to present the Indians at his American Museum, located in Manhattan at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street across from St. Paul’s Chapel. Performing war dances and wedding ceremonies, the Sac Indians, and especially the beautiful Do-Hum-Me, created quite a sensation.
Tragically, the “Indian Princess” was to live only five weeks after her wedding. She was to quickly succumb to overwhelming complications developed from contracting a cold! Sad but true, this was the fate of many Indians, indigenous people frightfully vulnerable to the diseases brought to America by immigrant Europeans. Do-Hum-Me actually died at Barnum’s Museum. He was to record that her grieving father and young husband cooked food and ritually placed it on the roof of the museum so that Do-Hum-Me’s spirit would not go hungry as long as the Indians remained at the site.
The monument to Do-Hum-Me consists of a white marble base, die and capital supported on a granite plinth. The marble is a coarse grained material that appears to be the widely used Tuckahoe marble quarried in Westchester. Set in the face of the die is a bas relief plaque depicting a male Indian in mourning. The work was created by Robert Launitz, a Russian-born artist, trained in his homeland and in Rome, who came to New York in 1828. Launitz was the partner of John Frazee in their New York City-based marble works, producing architectural stonework, monuments and statues.
The burial plot was once surrounded by a simply decorated wrought-iron fence which was removed years ago.
The Do-Hum-Me monument is in whole condition, but has suffered from years of exposure resulting in “sugaring” of the architectural and sculptural marble elements. The carved inscriptions on three sides of the shaft remain clear and legible, despite the presence of biological growths and soiling. The work stands adjacent to Sylvan Water and is mostly shaded by a large tree, two factors which contribute to the formation of mosses, algae and other growths. Jointing between stones is open and exposed to water infiltration. Minor chipping of the marble is evident in several places on the stonework, and the bas relief shows some open veining at the top and general surface erosion, due to weathering and biological habitation.
The monument requires gentle cleaning to remove stains and soiling, possible chemical consolidation to inhibit deterioration, and repointing using mortar specifically formulated for aged, soft marble.
Sitework is limited to restoration of the grass turf that is affected by the dense shade predominating in the vicinity of the monument.