I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, July 8, 2016
Living in a Cemetery
Cemeteries go by many names - referencing this as a
final abode; names like “eternal home” “city of the dead,” “charnel house,”
“necropolis,” and “marble town.” But there have been people – living people, who have chosen to
reside in the cemetery. No, not necessarily the homeless, and not those looking
for a “creepy place” to party. Sometimes it’s just someone who can’t bear to
loose a loved one, so they decide to move with them ….
The Evergreens Cemetery
Jonathan Reed was a retired merchant from Brooklyn, New
York. He was in his sixties when his wife, Mary died on March 19, 1893. She was
interred in her family’s mausoleum in The Evergreens Cemetery and Jonathan went to
visit her every day. His father-in-law found such devotion to be in poor taste,
so Jonathan limited his visits. When Mary’s father died, Jonathan took things
in hand and had Mary removed from the family vault to a mausoleum he
had purchased on the other side of the cemetery – one where he could visit for
as long as he wished.
As summer turned into autumn, Jonathan had a wood
stove installed for heat. He began moving furniture in; a comfortable rocker, a table
and chairs so he could eat all his meals there - with Mary. He decided the place needed
to look a bit more homey so he hung paintings on the wall, brought the family
parrot in to live, and placed Mary’s knitting by one of
the chairs – as if she had just left the room and could return at any moment.
People talked. Many went to see if this was real. The
first year, Jonathan Reed had over 7,000 visitors. It seems that he never
really believed Mary had died. He thought that “the warmth had simply
left her body” and if he kept the crypt warm and cozy, she would continue
to sleep comfortably.
In May 1905, Jonathan was found by cemetery workers lying unconscious on the
crypt floor. He died a few weeks later and was placed in the homey little tomb he
had created; where he went to visit Mary - to sit and talk with her for 10 years. The door of the
mausoleum was locked that day, and the Reeds have never been disturbed since.
Then again, necessity may be the reason for such a move.
A Brazilian businessman moved into a tomb after his business failed and his family disowned him. In 2000,
35-year-old Fabio Beraldo Rigol was a broker in Santa Isabel, Sao Paulo,
Brazil. Rigol moved into a crypt with his best friend; his friend, however, had
been dead for several years.
Rigol said that after he lost his job, he turned to drugs
and his family kicked him out. He went to the grave of his best friend to
“discuss things” and decided to move in. With enough room for six coffins, the
tomb provided Rigol with shelter from the elements, and safety. (Few people want
to bother a guy living in a crypt.) Although it could get lonely at times,
Rigol didn’t mind, saying he wasn’t very talkative. No word if he still resides