Category Archives: Cemetery

Remah Cemetery

The Remah Cemetery established in 1552 is located in Kazimierz, an historic Jewish neighbourhood in Krakow, Poland. Bodies were no longer buried there after 1800 and the cemetery was more or less abandoned.

The cemetery is named after Rabbi Moses Isserles whose tombstone is one of the few that remained intact after destruction by the Nazis.

wikipedia

During the German occupation of Poland, the Nazis destroyed the cemetery tearing down the walls and hauling away tombstones to be used as paving stones in the work/death camps, or selling them for profit.

The cemetery has undergone a series of post-war restorations. As is common in contemporary Poland, all tombstones unearthed as paving stones have been returned and re-erected, although they represent a small fraction of the monuments that once stood in the cemetery.

tripadvisor3

A wall within the cemetery backing onto Szeroka Street was created with some of the broken headstones. It is known as the Wailing Wall.

instagram

Advertisements

Glen Cinema Disaster

On the afternoon of 31 December 1929, at an area of Paisley called Paisley Cross in Scotland, approximately 2000 children filled the Glen Cinema to watch a matinee. The film was put in its metal can in the spool room where it began to issue thick black smoke. (Nitrocellulose film which is highly flammable can burn without any supply of air.)

When smoke emerged from the film container, an attempt by the operator to smother the film caused the container to spring open releasing smoke and fumes into the vestibule. Everyone fled in panic towards the exits on either side of the screen causing a jam at the exit doors which were protected by a locked iron gate. Many who were crushed by the force of others died from asphyxiation.

rarenewspapers
Source: http://images.rarenewspapers.com/ebayimgs/2.20.2011/image040.jpg

Sixty nine children lost their lives ranging in age from four to fifteen, and almost as many were injured. The tragedy was reported as far away as Memphis, Tennessee. The horror of the event was recorded by the Glasgow Herald Newspaper the following day. To read the detailed report ,click this link. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6qNAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oqUMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4000,90882&dq=glen-cinema&hl=en

The majority of the deceased are interred in Hawkhead Cemetery where a memorial is inscribed with the names of the victims and the words “To the memory of the seventy-one children who lost their lives in the Glen Cinema Disaster 31st Dec 1929“.

geograph_Lairich Rig2

geograph_Lairich Rig
Creative Commons License, Lairich Rig. Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3609168

Asylum Interments

There was a time in the latter part of the last century when facilities for those suffering from mental health issues were known as Hospitals for the Insane, State Colonies for the Feeble-Minded, Lunatic Asylums or Mental Institutions, and the regard for the patients was equally insensitive even in death. Many family members did not claim the bodies of their deceased relatives and they were buried in unmarked graves or graves identified with only a number.

Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum opened in 1842. Over population and a decrease in staff sadly led to mistreatment of patients. People died at an alarming rate and it is believed that 25,000 people are buried in the hospital grounds possibly in a mass grave. The Central State Hospital in Milledgeville as it became known closed in 2010. Cedar Lane Cemetery contains numbered iron markers of patients who died at the hospital. The historic marker at the cemetery states the following: In 1997 a cemetery restoration began here triggered a movement to memorialize patients buried at state psychiatric hospitals nationwide. After discovering nearby neglected cemeteries interred some 25,000 people, members of the Georgia Consumer Council pledged to restore the burial grounds and build a memorial. A grassroots campaign raised funds to erect the adjacent gate and display 2000. numbered iron markers displaced from graves over the years. A life-size bronze angel was placed 175 yards south of here to serve as a perpetual guardian.

Letchworth Village in Rockland County, Rockland County New York, opened in 1911 as a residential facility for the mentally and/or physically disabled. It closed in 1996 after years of reported abuse and a lack of funding. Graves are marked with rusting metal T-shapes embossed with a number.

letchworth
Image source: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/numbers-instead-of-names-on-the-forgotten-graves-of-asylum-patients

The Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum Cemetery in Wells, Somerset opened in 1874 and closed in 1991. The cemetery contains 2900 anonymous graves identified by numbered iron discs. A wooden sculpture by artist Peter Bolton lies on the ground beside the markers representing the anguish of mental health.

As recent as 2011, there was no road, no sign and no headstones for the 5776 patients buried at the Willard Asylum for the Insane. New York State operated 26 of these facilities.

Vermont Asylum for the Insane was founded  in Brattleboro in 1834 to care for the mentally ill. Initially deceased patients were buried in the Village Burying Ground (to later become Prospect Hill Cemetery), then the Asylum Burying Ground and finally in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery known as Fairview. None of the graves have identification.

“The eye of him that hath seen me shall
come no more. Why hast thou set in
me a mark against thee so that I am a
burden to myself? and why dost thee not
pardon my transgression and take away
mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the
dust and thou shalt seek me in the
morning, but I shall not be.” Sarah Culy

vermont

Between 1871 and 1953, there were 3200 patients buried at the Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Oregon. They were represented by numbered stones which sank beneath the surface of the ground.  A granite stone has been erected over a mass grave to mark their lives and deaths.

 

Lakewood
Image source: http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/clear-pixel-once-anonymous-graves-of-mentally-ill-at-wash-mental-institution-get-named-markers/

The Longview Asylum opened in 1860 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The hospital cemetery contains the bodies of patients who were unclaimed or died indigent. Grave markers consist of small square cement blocks bearing a number.

longview
Image source: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2350754

Spencer State Asylum Roane County, West Virginia, opened in 1893 closing almost 100 years later in 1989. Approximately 850 patients are buried on the hospital grounds.

spencer
Image source: http://www.hurherald.com/cgi-bin/db_scripts/articles?Action=user_view&db=hurheral_articles&id=45196

The Mississippi Lunatic Asylum was established in Jackson in 1848 and asylum patients were buried on the grounds. The cemetery which has been consecrated also contains the ashes of many anatomical donors and is the repository for the ashes of infants who died at UMC and whose families wished them to be buried there. A Ceremony of Remembrance honors them in a fall service.

“By their extraordinary gifts these dead have taught the living how to touch, through them, we touch the body of the world”. John Stone M.D.

This monument was dedicated on april 16, 1996 as a memorial to all those who have donated their bodies to the University of Mississippi Medical Center since 1955 for professional education and research.

jackson
Image source: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2161647

Public attitude has since changed 180 degrees with regards to mental health. Markers and/or memorial walls have been erected to recognize those who died and were buried with no ceremony. A new national memorial dedicated to the unnamed graves of the mentally ill broke ground at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

Cramped Quarters

There are many cemeteries in which limited space has been well appropriated.

In 19th century London an expansion of the railway system required the exhumation and removal of gravestones in St. Pancras Cemetery. Thomas Hardy was assigned the task of reburying them. Hundreds of gravestones were placed in a circular pattern around an ash tree now known as the Hardy Tree.

hardy tree st pancras london

For 300 years during the 15th and 18th centuries there was only one burial ground in Prague, the Czech Republic, in which the Jewish faithful were permitted to bury their dead. The cemetery was small and vacant plots soon disappeared.

As Jewish law prohibits the destruction of graves or the removal of gravestones, soil was layered over existing plots causing the cemetery to rise above street level.

Jewish-Prague-Czech Republic2

The original gravestone was erected beside the new headstone which explains how and why the gravestones are packed so closely together.

Approximately 12,000 headstones sit atop twelve layers of graves beneath.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

How terrible it is to love something that death can touch.

Davella Mills Memorial Carillonic Bells and Chime Tower

The David Mills Carillon Tower is located within the gates of the Victoria Lawn Cemetery, Queenston Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. It was created by architect Thomas W. Wiley and erected in 1949 in memory of David Bloss Mills and his wife Ella C. Mills.

The 30 foot tall ashlar stone tower contains a set of 86 electronic bells activated by hammers which are controlled by a keyboard. Narrow stained glass windows resembling vertical slits light the internal stairway.

DSCN4160

Known as the Davella Mills Carillon it was recorded on the Register of Canada’s Historic Places in 2009.

Mills was a native of St. Catharines who immigrated to the United States and invented the spark plug used by Buick. After his wife died he donated most of his immense wealth to needy organizations in North America and around the world.

DSCN4161

I have been unable to discover how often the carillon plays. However, I believe it may be hourly on the hour as the bells played at 11a.m. while I was there and did not play again (I left at 11:50a.m.)

Abandoned and Forgotten

Overgrown and abandoned cemeteries emote a special kind of sadness.

59880b2f9e8c54569ceabc1bbfb6b58f

Give joy or grief, give ease or pain
Take life or friends away
But let me find them all again
In one eternal day.   1862

d26504404002f3434dfb970bf96dd57f

Reader remember dye thou must
And after Death return to Dust
Therefore repent, repent in time
The Grave next opened nay be thine.

fdde7a5f356bc6c3ff142e1c11b67eff

To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.  1939

highgate london

Tho lost to sight
To memory clear

new orleans
The parish of Saint Bernard, New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

pere lachaise

Lights are from our household gone
Voices we loved are stilled
Places are vacant at our home
Which never can be filled.

sussle org

Abide with me
Fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens
Lord with me abide.

highgate

Death is swallowed up in victory.

taos

Death severs yet unites. 1912

abandoned forgotten

Only goodnight beloved not farewell. 1938

Caged Graves

Known as Mortsafes in Britain, already documented in the post Body Snatchers, these parallel iron bars are known as caged graves in the USA. Legends abound for the reasoning behind the ‘cages’ such as wolves digging up the recently buried, or a restraint against the undead and vampires. However, it was most likely a deterrent to body snatchers hired to provide fresh corpses to anatomists in Medical school.

Mt. Zion Graveyard, referred to locally as the Hooded Graves Cemetery, in Franklin Township, Catawissa, Columbia County, PA, contains several caged graves.

catawissa

On 18 June 1852, Sarah Ann Boone died at age 22 years. A small marker carved with the initials S.A.B. identifies her grave which is protected by a cast iron cage with ogee roof and two winged eagles on the peaks (eagles symbolize salvation). A headstone reveals several details of the woman known as Sarah.

Sarah Ann
Consort Of
Ransloe Boone
Daughter Of Lloyd Frances Thomas
Entered Into Rest
June 18, 1852
Aged 22 Years 6 Mos 9 Days

Lo! Where This Silent Marble Weeps
A Friend, A Wife, A Mother Sleeps

The image of an open bible represents resurrection through scripture, and the drapery with frills and tassels denotes mourning.

Diannesalerni