Cemeteries. Every city has one. They are mysterious, historic, haunting and, to me, fascinating. I developed a fondness for cemeteries as a boy.
Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.
Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.
My travels take me to all over the South and Midwest, so I have decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a new Sunday feature.
This week’s cemetery is St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC, where I spent several days recently attending a conference. It’s one of two cemeteries I visited in our nation’s capital.
Adjacent to the Petworth neighborhood, the 80+ acre cemetery is part of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church which opened up the cemetery for public burials in the 1830s. It’s gigantic and hilly with many parts shrouded by shrubbery which makes looking for specific graves a challenge even with a map provided by staff at the cemetery office.
The occupants read’s like a Who’s Who list. Besides plenty of congressmen, judges and other government officials, there’s Cleveland Abbe, scientist and father of weather forecasting; Emile Berliner, inventor of the disc record; former French Prime Minister Camille Chautemps; Wonder Bread creator Charles Israel Corby; Melville Bell Grosvenor, grandson of inventor Alexander Graham Bell and former editor-in-chief of “National Geographic” magazine; civil rights leader Moses Carl Holman; Charles Jenkins, inventor of television; former Cincinnati Enquirer owner Washington McLean and his socialite wife Evelyn McLean who owned the Hope diamond; former Postmaster General Blair Montgomery; “Hill Street Blues” actor Robert Prosky; former Soviet diplomat and defector Arkady Nikolayevich Shevchenko; author and Pulitzer Prize winner Upton Sinclair; and author, screenwriter and playwright Gore Vidal.
Until next time….