25 Years Later

Posted: December 16, 2009 in The Chicago Whitechapel Club
Whitechapel Club Honors Morris Collins.
Commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the cremation of the body of Morris Allen Collins, seven members of the old Whitechapel Club dined at the Press Club last night. Old stories were retold and comments on the club’s actions were read. Collins’ favorite poem, "The Cowboy’s Prayer," was recited, and the old club toast drunk to "the dead already, and hurrah for the next who dies." Those present were Dr. Frank G. Lydston, Michael Strauss, Major H.J. Jaxon, Tomo Thompson, Senator E.F. Noonan, Arthur North and Wallace Rice.
Source: Chicago Examiner, Vol. 15, No. 177, Monday July 16, 1917, Page 6
Whitechapel Club Reenacts Rites at Funeral Pyre.
Members and Friends Commemorate Cremation 25 Years Ago of Morris Collins.
Time: Last midnight on the beach in the dune country.
Place: The site where the body of Morris Allen Collins, cowboy and radical, who took his own life to prove he had no fear of death, was burned on a pyre at Collins’ request by members of the Whitechapel Club twenty-five years ago this month. One of the aims of the club was to dissipate the fear of death. "Its members were writers and other professional men of 1887-1894."
Dramatis personae: Honore Joseph Jaxon, Collins’ intimate friend and chief orator at the rites a quarter of a century ago and a number of Whitechapel Club members who were present then.
Major Jaxon has been in and among the dunes for several days making preparations for this commemoration of the life and death of his friend. Last night he built the driftwood he had been gathering into a pile on the exact spot of the original funeral pyre, where the year after the incineration a similar pile had been erected.
On this was placed a cruse of oil, a flagon of wine, a jar of honey, funeral baked meats, barley bread and other symbols of sacrifice.
Exactly at midnight the pile was lighted and certain commemorative rites, including brief speeches and reminiscences of Collins, were begun. They came to a successful conclusion just before daybreak.
Source: Chicago Examiner, Vol. 15, No. 183, Monday July 23, 1917, Page 6
Whitechapel Club Observes Anniversary of Collins Cremation.
Chicago, July 23. – Surviving members of the Whitechapel club assembled at midnight on the shore of Lake Michigan, near Miller’s, Ind. and remained until dawn today for the purpose of commemorating the death twenty-five years ago of Morris Allen Collins, poet and cowboy member of the club, who killed himself that the social ideas he favored might be remembered. The Whitechapel Club, which was made up of journalists and artists and whose motto was "Laugh in the face of death," gave up its formal organization in 1894, but the members still keep a more or less close association. The ceremony this morning was held about the base of a great funeral pyre, the mortuary ceremonies being of the nature of the ancient Greeks and the American Indians.
Collins, who committed suicide in 1892, came to Chicago from the west in the late ’80’s. Championing the cause of the poor and oppressed, he waged a campaign against possessors of great wealth. His cause met with little encouragement and it was to bring it before the public that Collins killed himself, first requesting that his fellow members cremate his body that his sacrifice might be more effective. Today’s ceremony was similar to that held twenty-five years ago.
Source: The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Monday Evening, July 23, 1917

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