Buried and Forgotten?

Posted on October 5, 2018 by Martin Oaks under Community, Hello world, Memorial, Resources
Leave a comment

Benjamin Franklin once said: show me your cemeteries, and I will tell you what kind of people you have.

There certainly is wisdom in that quote: without those before us, we wouldn’t even be here. So Franklin was making the point that remembering and honoring those who preceded us here is an indicator of what kind of people we are. Certain cultures – notably in the Far East – venerate their elders.

My late mother, before her death, made the point to me that she felt like many people today are forgetting how important it is to remember those who had passed away. She said it was her sense that we are losing important lessons from the past.

Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory, located at 1230 Kingston Drive, Lewisville, Texas 75067 and 8750 N. Central Expy, Suite 625, Dallas, Texas 75231, is home to one of the area’s oldest cemeteries.  It dates back to Civil War times. Many of our grave markers reflect the changing styles of tombstones – some are flat and simple, whereas others are quite ornate.

We certainly aren’t what some would call a “country club” cemetery — Martin Oaks is an historical place, one that invites contemplation and thoughtfulness. We make no pretentious claims: quite honestly, the cemetery serves the surrounding community with a tranquil, affordable final resting place.

Martin Oaks primarily offers the Dallas/Fort Worth area cremation services, through the funeral directors who work with us. The cemetery operation is, however, a fascinating part of what we do: it has caused us to research how other cemeteries function, and how the communities they serve embrace them.

A good example of this are the cemeteries that serve the greater New York City area.  Over the years, we have spent a good deal of time in the city that never sleeps — currently, we have a number of relatives who live and work in the city.

If you have been there, remember that you may pass cemeteries on the way into town from the airport, but once in you are in Manhattan, how many cemeteries do you recall seeing?

Not many, according to experts.  Only 11 exist today, and only one, the New York Marble Cemetery, has recently sold graves.

What is particularly intriguing about this is that, at one time at least, Manhattan was home to numerous cemeteries.  What happened is that the city grew and grew — and cemetery land simply didn’t fit into the economic equation.

So it came about that in the early 19th century, prohibitions cropped up, forbidding the digging of plots in various Manhattan locations.

Cemeteries themselves began being relocated.  Other cemeteries, sad to say, were not relocated, but simply built over and forgotten.

Trinity Church Cemetery, located at 74 Trinity Place at Wall Street and Broadway, is a classic Manhattan graveyard story.  As early as 1838, the cemetery began looking for more space – the city had stopped burials in the area below Canal Street some years before; Trinity was running out of plots, even as the growing city around it was producing more demand.

By 1842, Trinity acquired more land in Upper Manhattan; later a third portion of ground was added.

Interred in these hollowed grounds are such luminaries as Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton (of steamboat fame), and John James Audubon.  But these burials are now a thing of the past, as land has evaporated.

A more disturbing side of this story is the number of loved ones who are still buried in the city — burial grounds that now are covered by parks and even luxury buildings.

Washington Square, an historic and welcoming part of the city, was once, surprisingly, a potter’s field.  What may be even more surprising is that it is estimated that some 20,000 graves are thought to remain underneath the park — utility repair digging located some of those plots just a few years ago.

There are several other locations throughout the city that may actually contain remains that are now underneath modern developments.

Ben Franklin, were he around today, might find reason to shake his head at these developments: we certainly agree that those who blazed the path before us deserve respectful treatment, peacefulness as they lie in repose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *