Almost all the walls and fences that used to surround family plots in Allegheny Cemetery have been taken down, but there is an important exception to the rule. In one section of the cemetery are several circular plots where the low stone walls are maintained. Most of them have a central monument with individual graves orbiting it around the edge of the circle; one or two have no central monuments.
The Head plot (above) and the Fitzsimons-Morrison plot (below) are two good examples of the style.
Almost all the fences and barriers that used to demarcate family plots in the nineteenth century were removed in Allegheny Cemetery, but this one has somehow survived the loud protests of groundskeepers. You will note, however, that the groundskeepers seem to be deliberately avoiding the interior of the plot.
As Father Pitt has mentioned, Ridgelawn Cemetery has the best-preserved collection of stone-fenced family plots in the area. Here is a typical and crowded example.
If you should happen to get caught in the middle of a conversation on the Internet in which some ignoramus argues that we do not need to vaccinate against childhood diseases because they were never all that bad, you have old Pa Pitt’s permission to share this picture:
As Father Pitt has mentioned earlier, Ridgelawn Cemetery preserves its stone-fenced family plots, once a feature of every “rural” cemetery, more perfectly than any other cemetery in the area. Here we have a typical plot, except for its unusual shape: a main monument in the rear center is surrounded by various smaller monuments for individual members of the family, and the stone wall breaks for an entrance inscribed with the name of the patriarch of the family.
Ridgelawn Cemetery in Reserve Township began in 1888 as St. Peter’s Lutheran Cemetery. The oldest section is in the far back, and here it reveals its distinctive feature, one that definitely makes it worth a visit: it preserves the style of the old rural cemeteries, with stone-fenced family plots carefully maintained. Even the Allegheny Cemetery, our most famous cemetery of the “rural” movement, has got rid of most of the stone walls, and those that remain are often broken down or half missing. Groundskeepers hate them, after all, and it is much easier to keep the cemetery looking neat if the walls go away.
So we generally see these old family plots in small half-overgrown cemeteries where no one has cared enough to remove the walls. But here the walls are not only preserved, but scrupulously maintained. Paradoxically, Ridgelawn Cemetery may give us a better idea of what the Allegheny Cemetery looked like a century ago than the Allegheny Cemetery itself does.
The Volz plot is typical. It is surrounded by a low stone wall; it has an entrance with the family name on the threshold; and it has a large family monument toward the rear surrounded by individual graves.