BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local company is doing its part to preserve the memory of three children who died tragically more than a century ago.
Stone Art Memorial Company in Lackawanna donated its services, expertise, and resources to give the children a fitting tribute despite the disturbing circumstances that led to their untimely deaths.
“Anybody that lived on this Earth, or even if they didn’t get that far, should have something permanent,” said Tom Koch, president of Stone Art Memorial Company.
Stone Art Memorial recently provided the children with a granite headstone at their burial site in Concordia Cemetery in Buffalo.
“This is wonderful,” said David Speth, president of Concordia Cemetery, Inc. “It is marvelous that people remember, and people want to remember. They want to honor these people who have lain here for so many years.”
On Saturday, the new headstone was dedicated at the burial site.
“The three children were buried in one casket,” said Bonnie Fleischauer, public information officer for Concordia Cemetery. “The grave had remained unmarked until just this year when a stone was donated.”
The folks at Concordia began talking to Koch and then one thing led to the next.
“So, we kind of created the design and he did all the work, and just created an unbelievably beautiful stone for them,” said Fleischauer.
“Everybody kind of kicks in and we’re just a part of it,” Koch added.
The story of the Mund children, Christof, 8, Helena, 2, and Frieda, two months old, is rooted in tragedy.
On the morning of September 24, 1907, they were strangled by their mother, Bertha Mund, as they slept in their Clinton Street home.
“Just a tragedy to wipe out an entire family like that, “said Fleischauer, who in addition to her other duties, keeps track of available historical records for Concordia Cemetery.
The murders and subsequent funeral were widely reported by local newspapers. The grisly details left the Buffalo community in shock.
According to newspaper accounts, the children’s father, Fred Mund, left for work at a Pennsylvania Railroad yard early in the morning. About two hours later, his wife, Bertha, showed up to tell him what she had done.
“Unannounced at his work, just walked in and said, ‘Fred I’ve killed the children. It’s not right for them to live.’ And that is how he found out. So, he rushed home. All three children she had strangled,” Fleischauer said.
Bertha Mund was initially charged with murder.
According to newspaper reports, Mund told police that she was worried that the children would grow up to be “crazy like me,” citing a history of mental health issues in her family.
“It took a while, but Bertha had to go through the system. She was obviously declared insane, and she was committed to an insane asylum [Matteawan State Hospital] in Fishkill,” Fleischauer said. “And that’s where she died.”
For 116 years, the Mund children’s grave had no marking and no headstone.
Concordia’s David Speth said in those days, people had to make a choice.
“They had to buy bread for the living. They couldn’t afford to buy stones for the dead,” he said.
The tragedy happened three years after another Mund child died. Emma Pauline Mund died in 1904, just shy of her first birthday. She is buried in a separate section at Concordia Cemetery, also without a stone or grave marker.
Cemetery officials say an anonymous donor is stepping forward to provide the child’s grave with a headstone at some point in the future.
Luke Moretti is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2002. See more of his work here.