Monday, November 24, 2008

Death and the Magician 4

Edward Maro born Walter Truman Best, September 9, 1869, died February 26, 1908 at age 39. He was a magician, musician, and artist.

I first learned about Maro’s grave in Mike Caveney’s Kellar book. He cites an article from a St Charles, Illinois newspaper that Edward Maro was to be buried in that same town. I am treading on worn ground. My friend and fellow historian, Chuck Romano stepped here long before me. I still want to see for myself.

The day is bright. That is good. It is the first day of the season where the high temperature will not reach freezing. The sun keeps most of the chill back, only the occasional breeze nips at my cheeks and ears. Maro is buried in a small slab of land named North Cemetery, ostensibly named because it is on the north side of St. Charles on route 25. Across the street is the larger Union Cemetery, both plots of land commemorate the sacrifices of the local boys who died in the Civil War.

It is easy to find Maro’s grave. Upon his death, he arranged to have a 5 ½-ton boulder shipped from his home in Michigan to mark the plot. I knew for Chuck’s previous Maro article that either through time or neglect, the boulder fell down. It is a landmark that cannot be missed.

The, now prone, stone hides a brass plaque proclaiming the greatness of Maro’s forgotten fame. There are three other stones, reminiscent of over sized river rocks and each bearing a name. Edward Maro rests in the center, Addie Best, who may be Maro’s mother, sits to his right and Allie Maro takes her place on his left. Their naturalistic, rustic motif is a counterpoint to the standard monuments that surround them.

Note: Visible on the Maro monument is a plaque which seems inexplicably unrelated to Maro and may be markers for the people buried on the opposite side of the stone. In 1993 Chuck Romano wrote an article for the Linking Ring detailing the life of Maro and his discovery of the grave site. In 1997, Mike Caveney wrote a short bio of Maro that appeared in Magic Magazine.


Gordon said...

Nice post, Bill.

I'm sad to say that I've never heard of Edward Maro, and it took me a moment to realize you weren't talking about Ed Marlo.

ChgoMagic said...

Thanks, There will more on Maro soon and his ties to a lost episode in Chicago Magic history.


Anonymous said...

I grew up in My Grandma's summer home in Leland, MI. That was Maro's summer home. It had a brass plaque on the door that said MARO NOOK. As kid's we thought Maro's last name was "Nook." In the barn there were stacks of his color posters -- my cousins would use them for cardboard to draw on. I see those posters selling online sometimes for $300-500.
The boulder marking his grave perhaps came from around the driveway, there were giant boulders there used as borders.

ChgoMagic said...

I understand it is quite a beautiful place. A few of my friends have been out to the house, sorry to say there is no more posters left.

jebwebb said...

I know this is an old article, but my Grandmother owned and Summered in the Michigan home you mentioned for over 60 years. One of my cousins commented as anonymous. I visited the marker in St. Charles when I lived in West Chicago. I still have four different posters rescued from the barn. A fifth poster exists, and I understand David Copperfield owns it. My Dad has an original drawing of Allie by Maro. Also a pen and ink of Maro himself. The property has since been sold and parceled up. The house Maro built still exists, however and you can see it looking north from M22 on the South side of Leland. It is the highest one on the shoreline.

ChgoMagic said...

Jebwebb, thanks for commenting. It doesn't matter how old the post is. I hope you and your family take care of those valuable pieces of history.
If you have pictures I'd love to see them. You can write me direct at