"The myths about the Galloway "Lady in the Glass Case" memorial in Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown grow bigger with each passing generation. Speculation ranges from the untimely death of a young bride, to the '50s version of the untimely death on a prom date, to a forbidden love between a rich heiress and her chauffeur.
Some embellish the tale with reports that she roams the cemetery on dark and foggy nights, crying for her lost love. The more creative version is that the body of the young woman is encased within the statue itself.
Grace Laverne Galloway was the only daughter of three children born to a wealthy family. Her father, John Galloway, had made his fortune in oil in Titusville, Pa. They lived in a mansion that is now the Moose Club in Jamestown. Because she was a promising opera singer who frequently appeared at Chautauqua Institution, her family chose to send her to a Boston institute to study music. She was a young woman with career aspirations and little time for romance.
Although she was said to be very friendly, outgoing and generous with her time and money for charitable work, the fact is, to the best of Elizabeth Smith's knowledge, Grace Galloway was never seriously involved with anyone before her death at the young age of 26. When she died in 1898, it was from a case of tuberculosis contracted during her stay in Boston, not from a broken heart.
Her parents eager to find a cure, had sent her to North Carolina in the hope that she would recover. She died a year later in Pittsburgh, on her way back from a visit home. All of the Galloway money could not buy the life of their only daughter, Grace.
Later, the family commissioned an artist in Italy to sculpt a statue, modeled after the likeness of Grace, in a dress they had chosen at random. It was a monument to be built in living memory. The rest of the monument was constructed by John Galloway and his father.
When it became evident that the statue would eventually be destroyed by the elements, it was encased in glass.
The life size glass enclosed statue of a young woman in Lake View Cemetery attracts attention of thousands of persons each year... And many stories, most of them untrue, circulate about the young woman.
Grace Galloway died Nov. 2, 1898, at the age of 27. She was taken ill with tuberculosis while studying music in Boston, Mass., and died in less than a year. She had gone south to Asheville, N.C., for her health, and had also been a patient at Saranac, and was returning south when she died in Pittsburgh, Pa. Funeral services were held at the First Baptist Church her and Miss Galloway's favorite hymns were sung.
The Galloway home was what is now the Moose Club Home at Fifth and Liberty Streets. John Galloway, father of Grace Galloway, had seen a monument in a Buffalo cemetery which impressed him and gave him the idea for the monument in Lake View Cemetery... He engaged an artist in Pittsburgh who modeled the figure in clay from Miss Galloway's last portrait. It was sent to Florence, Italy, where it was carved in Italian marble. Miss Galloway's dress was sent along with it so that it could be copied." (Mason, Cheryl. "Unveiling The Mystery Of The Lady In Glass In Lakeview Cemetery," Jamestown (NY) Post-Journal, 16 August 1997.)
In 1985, I was an active member in the Moose Lodge in Jamestown, NY. On Thursday evenings I played cards with my brother and other friends at the lodge. We usually played in the dining room on the first floor, but when we had less players, we would play in the basement. On one particular night I arrived and went directly to the dining room to meet my friends, only to find my card friends missing. They were playing in the basement. Earlier I had taken my jacket off and placed it over a chair in the dining room.
Besides the main stairway from the entrance to the first floor, there was also a back stairway from the dining room to the basement level. Leaving my jacket in the dining room, I proceeded down the back stairs to the basement. We played cards for about three hours until 1:00 am. As everyone started leaving, I remembered my jacket upstairs. Everyone else began leaving through the main entrance/exit. I went up to the dining room, got my jacket and proceeded back down the stairs and on the landing, I came face to face with Grace. We were about two feet from each other.
She just stood there looking at me, barely moving. I said nothing. She appeared to be startled, as was I from our sudden encounter. She was partly transparent white, a little shorter than me and appeared to be calling me to follow her. The area where we were standing became very dry and cold. I wasn't scared and stood there for about thirty seconds, staring at her. I then walked briskly to the main entrance/exit to meet my friends outside.
I looked at my friends with a totally horrified face and said "I just saw Grace", and explained what had just happened.
The building is planned to be razed this spring 2019.