Some of my best cemetery finds have come my way through pure serendipity.
Walking through a cemetery can be a solemn and, at times, an eerie experience. The silence, the weathered tombstones, and the weight of history all cast a mysterious cloak over the atmosphere. Yet, amidst the somber surroundings, there are occasions when serendipity sweeps in to unearth unexpected stories that lie quietly beneath the gravestones.
Cemeteries are not solely the resting place of the departed: they are also a testament to the lives lived, the triumphs and struggles woven into the fabric of humanity. Each tombstone tells a unique tale, often with fragments of personal narratives that time has erased. But sometimes, amid the rows of weathered memorials, a serendipitous find sheds light on forgotten stories, connecting us to the past in ways we never imagined.
Other discoveries lead us on unexpected journeys of history and heritage. Beneath an ancient oak tree, we might uncover a tombstone that reveals the tale of a forgotten war hero. Their valorous deeds etched into the stone speak volumes of forgotten battles fought and sacrifices made. The find reminds us how easily the brave can slip into anonymity, the echoes of their courage fading into the annals of time.
Moreover, chance encounters and serendipitous finds can also present opportunities for introspection and reflection. A crumbling, forgotten tombstone brings to attention the transience of life, urging us to live purposefully and cherish the moments we have. The juxtaposition of old and new, of faded memories and bustling life beyond the cemetery gates, grasp our attention and provoke contemplation on our own finite existence.
Serendipitous finds in a cemetery offer us more than merely a glimpse into the lives of those who came before us. They provide a reminder of our shared humanity and the interconnectedness of past, present, and future. These chance encounters prompt us to ponder the quiet stories that lie just beneath the surface, encouraging us to apprecaite the lives that shaped our own.
So, the next time you find yourself strolling through a cemetery, let serendipity guide your steps. Embrace the unexpected finds and absorb the stories they reveal. For within these hallowed grounds, there exists a treasure trove of untold tales waiting to be discovered, reminding us of the beauty and complexity of the human experience.
Moore is in good literary company with novelist Ralph Ellison, publisher E.P. Dutton, and Alfred
Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens, all buried on the grounds.
Another notable grave is that of John James Audubon, the renowned American ornithologist and artist whose estate was adjacent to the cemetery. A 16-foot tall Celtic cross, adorned with animal carvings, towers over his grave. A work of art in itself, the pays homage to Audobon's tireless efforts to document and preserve the avian species of North America.
As my journey through Trinity Cemetery came to an end, I left with a profound appreciation for the preservation of history and the stories that lie beneath our feet. This peaceful haven in Upper Manhattan offers not only a sanctuary for the departed but also a place for visitors to reflect, learn, and connect with the rich tapestry of New York City's past.
This summer I made a couple of trips to Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. My first visit was solely to do research and take photos for an article I was working on for August's American Cemetery & Cremation magazine. Ferncliff is known for their magnificent community mausoleums, as well as an extensive roster of notables. Within their mausoleums are a number of private rooms which contain stunning personalized stained-glass windows. With their intricate designs and vibrant colors, they add beauty and elegance to the sacred space. Exploring the community mausoleums and admiring the artistry brought back fond memories for me, because Ferncliff was the subject of my very first cemetery profile back in 1999. Here are some of the highlights of my exploration.
Waldo Story followed in the footsteps of his father William Wetmore Story,
finding success as a sculptor. He was married to opera singer, Bessie Abbott.
Green River Cemetery Posted on August 25, 2022
Not surprisingly, my article about Hartsdale --the cover of American Cemetery magazine's Nov. 2021 issue-- became one of my most popular profiles.
In mid June, I spent an enjoyable afternoon giving friends a long-awaited tour of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. With so much to see, I did my best to hit the high points: DeWitt Clinton, Leonard Bernstein, Elias Howe and his dog Fannie, Henry Steinway, Civil War Soldiers' Monument, VanNess-Parsons....and many more.
We drove to some sites and walked to others (lots of Fitbit steps for me) stopping to get a closer look at random monuments, and to read a number of poignant inscriptions. Over the years, I've traversed Green-Wood's 478 acres countless times, researching my book about the cemetery, giving public and private tours, as well as serving in my capacity as a funeral director. Yet, each and every time, I make a new find or learn of one before my visit that I must see. The Badger monument was one such grave site.
In 2017, the girls' father Matthew died at the age of 51. He, too, is buried in Green-Wood.
Graves of both survivors and casualties of the tragic 1912 sinking of the Titanic can be seen in a number of New York Cemeteries. Woodlawn in the Bronx and Green-Wood in Brooklyn contain the most.