Archive for April 13th, 2008

I decided to visit Mt. Olive Cemetery to see how many graves were unmarked. I thought that I could maybe catch something that the surveyors missed. Oh, the hubris of our young. Not only is the cemetery a large one but it has plot after plot of unmarked graves. It is a real tragedy. So many people have family members buried there without any headstones or markers. And it is not as though the families intended to forget these poor buried souls. For one, many of the half-above-ground graves received a surface mounted rubber marker. I assume it would have had the person’s name and dates on it. Many of the rubber markers are permantently destroyed by sun and weather deterioration. Secondly, it is clear that the cemetery has little funds for upkeep. You would think that the graves were extremely old by the looks of the place but most dates that I saw were from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. The following are photos of this cemetery.

Mt. Olive Cemetery: The front section looks quaint although overgrown a bit.

This photo shows a row of slightly above ground graves that have no markers at all.

These above-ground graves are concrete shells and have handles on the sides that, I assume, were to place the lid on the top. You can see near the top of the photo is a cracked, black rubber marker. At the bottom of the photo you can barely make out an outline of a cross that was once made of rubber.

This is a close-up of a rubber marker. This is one of the more intact ones and you still cannot decipher many letters (if any).

Something exciting did happen today. Yesterday I emailed a woman who I found one Rootsweb that was on the Mt. Olive Cemetery council. I asked if she had any information about the burial plots. I was hoping she would have had some old deeds or documents from Mt. Olive Cemetery Inc. She told me that none of the plots were purchased.  People just acquired an area to bury their relatives.  So there would not have been any deeds to record when or who bought the plot or where it was located. Which obviously explains why we couldn’t find a deed. However, I am still a bit perplexed because we discovered a few grave deeds related to Mt. Olive Cemetery at the records department.

But then again, I found a website just today that says that people don’t buy the land for a burial. The land is still the property of the cemetery. You can just reserve the right for burial in a certain place. Why would Joel have us look through deeds for a grave site if there was no way to be deeded a burial plot? There is something missing here. Why are there some deeds for Mt. Olive and some that obviously do not exist? Or, maybe cemeteries retaining ownership of the actual property is a recent phenomenon?  I really need to do more research into the death business.

I’m sure most people would think that this seems a bit trivial. But cemetery research is becoming a fairly big part of historic preservation. So I intend to find out. I just had an idea. Maybe I should go directly to the funeral home’s office. When I called their office to ask for information, the woman seemed to take very little time to find the information. Maybe she was just looking it up in a database. MAYBE, just maybe, they have a paper file that has more burial information. That pretty much would be the last hope. I think.


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