The Trefoil Tombstone Mystery
In Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond Virginia,
there is a tombstone with a Girl Scout trefoil
on it. The woman buried here was the second Executive Director of
the Richmond Girl Scout Council. Her name was Isabel Fuller Matthes.
Isabel had been the daughter of a state senator in Richmond [Edward
Fuller, was responsible a bill giving free textbooks to students in
public schools]. She had graduated from Vassar College in 1918 with
a major in French. She attended Columbia University for graduate
work, but did not complete her graduate work.* She returned to
Richmond to teach high school at John Marshall High School.
She was an athlete, playing basketball, tennis, and swimming.
At the age of 12, she had saved a man from drowning and was awarded
the Carnegie Medal of Bravery. She swam the Chesapeake Bay
with only a rowboat to accompany her at one point in her life.
She was active in social work, playground work, and the local Girl
According to the Roll Call, Vassar College’s alumni newsletter, the
year after graduation in 1918, Isabel taught school full-time,
about the unruly students. The following year, she taught
part-time and was learning stenography. Then in 1921, the Roll
Call revealed her new job with the local Girl Scouts in Richmond as
the Executive Director. Isabel wrote how proud she was of her
girls marching along in their khaki uniforms, saluting her.
However, she then stated that she was ‘playing the invalid and that
she must go away to a dry climate.’ Sadly, it was at this time she
at contracted tuberculosis. According the Richmond Dispatch, Girl
Scouts grew in numbers under Isabel’s direction during the six
months she was Executive Director; nevertheless, due to her illness,
she was only able to serve in that position for a few short months.
Her health would decline from that day on. She married in 1922 and
had a son in 1923. In 1925 at the age of 27 years, Isabel died from
The Richmond Girl Scout office later would discover an old record of
Isabel's mother asking for permission to use the Girl Scout trefoil
daughter’s tombstone. She thought other Girl Scouts would like
to see it,
and to tell the world of Isabel’s devotion to the Girl Scout
thirteen years old at the time of her death.
*One part of the mystery, I still have not answered, but suspect is
Isabel may have been in the group of young women that were recruited
Edith Macy at Columbia University in the early 1920’s. She attended
Columbia University after graduating Vassar College, but never
finished. Why? Because she became the Executive Director of the Girl
Scouts of Richmond. The timing would be right. I’ve tried to
research this part of the puzzle without success. It may just have
to remain in our imaginations.
Photo of the tombstone & newspaper photo taken one year after Isabel
death with Girl Scouts placing wreath on her grave.
|I stumbled across this memorial while
online. Apparently it is near Beavercreek, Ohio.
3/13/07 Linda Mathis found this additional information:
Beavercreek Community Park was acquired by the district. This 14
acre park is a very popular starting point for local residents to
access CreeksideTrail Bikepath. An important focal point of the park
is Angels Pass Memorial. This memorial was constructed with private
and public funds and dedicated in 1999. It commemorated the 40th
anniversary of the deaths of 8 Girl Scouts and their 2 leaders
killed near that site in a car-train collision. It is a beautiful
and serene area with benches, trees, flowers, flag poles and a large
memorial stone. The scouts and leaders as well as rescue and public
safety departments are honored on this stone.
With additional funds from the Beavercreek Township Trustees, a
large parking lot was built to accommodate about 50 cars.
In recent years, the site has been improved with a pond that
includes a fountain, benches, lights and a walking path, all built
with money secured from another Natureworks grant and local money.
There are 3 primitive campsites carved out that will have access to
water and electricity. A connector through the park to the Dayton
Xenia Road bike path is currently under construction.
A comfort station was constructed in 2004 and funded by the
Beavercreek Township Trustees. There is a gazebo and a small bridge
at the front of the park. The Girl Scouts use the bridge for their
bridging ceremonies. As a community service, the Girl Scouts are in
charge of planting flowers and weeding the circle around the
Memorial. They also plan and deliver the annual Holiday in the Park
for the community in December.
Sunnyside Cemetery 5300 19th Street North
HPC #99-01 - Designated June 2000
Gravesites of Walter J. Hoxie and Mary Russell
Hoxie was a recognized as a naturalist and
ornithologist, Civil War veteran, surveyor, educator. In his
spare time he held a girl's nature study group. This group went
on to become one of the first two Girl Guides of America patrols
in 1912 with his friend Juliette Low. He was the author of the
first handbook for the renamed Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. in
Day was the daughter of Hoxie and a well
accomplished woman in her own right, including bringing Girl
Scouting to Pinellas County, FL. She rests next to her father.
Her marker reads: Mary Russell Day, Daughter of Walter J.
Hoxie, Founder of Girl Scouting in Pinellas County, Cappy Day to
all her scouts.
Patch from Suncoast Girl Scout Council
Info gleaned from this website
On the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts there is
a kind of historical Girl Scout marker on the gravestone of
Doris Hough. Doris , as you all know, was a good friend of
Juliette Low's and one of the pioneers of this great
organization. I must admit it is kind of eerie to see the
trefoil on a gravestone.
Submitted by "julietteinsema"