Brooklyn. Calvary cemetery.

The visitor's guide to Calvary cemetery, with map and illustrations online

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Entered according to Act of Congress, m the \

fiv John |. Fostbr, 111 ill,- Office .'/ l/ir librarian
of Congress .it Washington,



^peti&Hy di'nwii lot Gtuide to

CALVARY CEMETERY,



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THE



VISITOR'S GUIDE



$ Jfcty. . Calvary Cemetery,



JA



AF AND ILLUSTRATIONS.



l8 7 6.






" Pure as the mantle, which o'er him who stood
By Jordan's stream, descended from the sky,
Is that remembrance, which the wise and good

Leave in the hearts that love them, when they die."






\_



NEW YORK :
JOHN J. FOSTER, No. 599 BROADWAY.



F7z<2



Copyright,

John J. Fostee,

1876.



New York : Lango, Little & Co., Printers,
10 to 20 Astor Place.



¥o t\}e lPiea*Ier,



Y3

•) XN the limited compass of this hand-book, which now
tfiVjpl greatly exceeds the size originally intended, it is not
^^cj, to be expected that more than a few of the many
prominent features of this beautiful cemetery could be noticed,
much less described. In many parts of it there is such a suc-
cession of fine specimens of the sculptor's art that it would
take a volume to present their merits properly to the public.

The writer had to confine himself, therefore, to the space at
his disposal, and mention only some of those, a visit to which
would repay the visitor desiring to view the grounds in a short
period of time. Should any tomb or monument be sought for,
not here mentioned, every information will be cheerfully af-
forded the stranger at the office in the cemetery by the super-
intendent or any of his assistants.

Should the visitor know the section with the number of the
range and letter of the plot which he desires to find, a refer-
ence to the map accompanying this work will immediately
show its location and enable him to reach it directly. This
map was prepared chiefly from surveys by Mr. Edward
Boyle, the eminent Civil Engineer, lately deceased, who origi-
nally laid out the grounds, together with the aid of private
diagrams held in the office of the cemetery, which were kindly
placed at our disposal.

In a future edition the extensive additions and improvements
now in progress throughout the cemetery will be duly noted.




tntn*




HAT the last resting-place of the beloved dead should
be held sacred, the instincts of almost every civilized
W^ 8 *^ human being teaches, and on examining the habits and
customs of those people of the earth who yet remain in bar-
barism and ignorance, it is found that veneration for the dead
is a prominent trait, and oftentimes carried to extremes. But
from the earliest days, among members of the Catholic Church,
the grave has'been held sacred from a religious as well as a hu-
man feeling.

The church teaches that the body shall be re-united to the
soul at the Judgment day ; therefore that body which was once
the " casket of the soul," through whose reception of the sacra-
ments grace was conveyed to the soul, and by whose good
works the soul is promised in union with itself the enjoyment
of Paradise for all eternity, should, w-hen life departs, be re-
garded as more than a mere lump of clay. Therefore the
ground set apart for the reception of her dead, is blessed and
consecrated with particularly solemn religious ceremonies. By
her laws the consecration of a cemetery is performed only by a
Bishop, it is regarded as- so important.

It follows then that the cemetery, in a Catholic point of view,
is second only to the church edifice itself in its sacred charac-
ter, and therefore great care is taken to preserve it undefiled
and to exclude anything that is unclean or unholy.*

Among the people of antiquity, the homes of the dead were



* The removal of plants, wilfully injuring or destroying anything placed upon or
connected with a grave, seems, in consequence, to approach very near sacrilege itself.



6 VISITOR S GUIDE TO CALVARY CEMETERY.

held so sacred that they were more scrupulously cared for than
the dwellings of the living. They were constantly watched, to
guard against profanation by the burial of an unclean stranger,
a vicious member of their own community, or by the destruc-
tion or disturbance of a tomb. It was not allowed even to re-
pair a tomb, if it could not be done without interfering with
the ashes of the dead. Every violation was punishable with
death, scourging, hard work in the mines, or the amputation
of both hands.

The Roman law provided : " The spot where a man lies
buried is sacred." In Athens it entered into the preliminary
examination of a man chosen to fill any of the highest offices
of the State, whether he had been negligent of his father's
sepulchre.

Ancient reverence in many cases assumed an extravagant
phase. Witness in Egypt the colossal pyramids of the
Pharaohs, and to-day, in Rome, the monument of Adrian, the
pyramid of Cestius, and the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella.
In Greece the extravagance was such that special laws were
enacted, placing a limit on the time for the construction of the
military tombs.

Cremation, or the burning of the dead, was practised for a
time by the Romans, Greeks, and Gauls. The elder Pliny gives
its origin to be as follows : " The early Romans did not con-
sume their dead ; but finding, by experience in later years,
that the bodies of soldiers killed in battle and buried in distant
lands were afterwards dug up by the enemy, it was decided
thereafter to burn these bodies on the battle-field, and carry
away the ashes. Inhumation, or burying in the earth, was,
however, always more or less practised. Thus, no member of
the Cornelia family was ever burned prior to the time of Sylla,
the dictator; and he wished to have his body consumed on the
funeral pile, lest it should be dug up and mutilated by the
friends of Marius, whose body he himself had thus treated."

The practice of burning the dead was discontinued under
Constantine, but at no period of their history did the Romans
lose sight of the fitness of burial in the earth, even when cre-
mation was the general custom. Cicero is very clear on the
subject, when he tells us : " Previous to the earth being thrown



visitor's guide to calvary cemetery. 7

upon the dead, the place where the body has been burned is
not held sacred ; but when the earth has been cast upon the
dead they are considered buried, and the place then enjoys
many sacred privileges."

If a traveler came to any unburied corpse, it was his sacred
duty to stop and throw some earth upon it, and Seneca assures
us that this law of charity towards the dead was more bind-
ing than any written in the code. It was also a superstitious,
yet common belief among the ancients, that the spirit of an
unburied corpse was condemned to wander up and down the
banks of the river Styx for one hundred years, and to this
kind of purgatory or non-interment, their law condemned
parricides, matricides, and suicides. The last had their hands
cut off, and were thrown into the common pit. The Hebrews
left their suicides above ground. The Athenians amputated
the guilty hand, and buried it apart from the body.

The burning of the remains of the wealthy inhabitants of
ancient Rome, took place in the Field of Mars, where funeral
piles, in the shape of altars, were erected, and tastefully and
richly ornamented. On one of these the body, sprinkled with
perfumes, was carefully laid, with its face towards heaven.
Then the nearest relative, holding a lighted torch behind him,
walked backward to the pile, and set it on fire. As soon as
the body was consumed the fire was extinguished with wine,
the ashes and charred bones were gathered up, washed in milk
and wine, and then enclosed in an urn, occasionally of great
value.

On looking back to the remotest antiquity, we find the
resting-places of the dead were within the walls of private
dwellings, and history tells us that ancient Egyptians em-
balmed their deceased friends, and preserved them carefully
at home. But this custom could not have become very gen-
eral or lasting. Extensive as the houses may have been,
they would soon become too small for the living and the
dead. The practice, therefore, seems to have been followed
by burial in the temples, or, as some ancient writers state,
they built temples over the tombs, such was their respect
for the dead.

In connection with this subject a curious discovery was



8 VISITOR S GUIDE TO CALVARY CEMETERY.

made in the vicinity of the city of Rome showing undoubted
proof that both in republican and imperial Rome a number of
corporations, confraternities, or clubs as we should rather call
them, known at the time as collegia, existed, whose members
were associated with a view to the due performance of the fu-
neral rites. Inscriptions discovered, and most of which are
still extant, testify to nearly eighty of these collegia, each con-
sisting of the members of a different trade or profession.
There are masons and carpenters, soldiers and sailors, bakers
and cooks, corn merchants and wine merchants, hunters and
fishermen, goldsmiths and blacksmiths, boatmen and divers,
doctors and bankers, scribes and musicians ; in a word it would
be difficult to say what trade or employment had not its colle-
gium. Sometimes the members were united in the worship of
some deity. A long and curious inscription, belonging to a col-
legium which consisted mainly of slaves, and was erected " in
honor of Diana and Antinous, and for the burial of the dead,''
in the year A. D. 133, reveals a number of most interesting
particulars as to its internal organization which it may be of
interest to repeat. A certain fixed sum was to be paid on en-
tering, with a keg of good wine besides, and then so much a
month afterward. For every member who had paid his con-
tribution, so much was to be allowed for his funeral, a certain
proportion of which was to be distributed amongst those who
assisted. If a member died at a distance of more than twenty
miles from Rome, three of the confraternity were to be sent to
get the body, and so much was to be allowed them for traveling
expenses. If the master of the slave would not give up the
body, the deceased member was nevertheless to receive all the
funeral rites. In fact he was to be buried in effigy.

The catacombs of Rome are a vast labyrinth of galleries ex-
cavated in the bowels of the earth in the hills around the city,
not in the hills on which the city itself is built, but in those
beyond the walls. Their extent is enormous, not as to the
amount of superficial soil which they underlie, for they rarely
if ever extend beyond the third milestone from the city, but in
the actual length of their galleries ; for these are often excavated
on various levels or stories, three, four or even five, one above
the other ; and they cross and recross over another, sometimes at



visitor's guide to calvary cemetery. 9

short intervals, on each of these levels ; so that on the whole,
there are certainly not less than 350 miles of them. The
galleries are from two to four feet in width, and vary in height
according to the nature of the rock in which they are dug.
The walls on both sides are pierced with horizontal niches, like
shelves in a bookcase or berths in a steamer, and every niche
once contained one or more dead bodies. At various intervals
this succession of shelves is interrupted for a moment, that
room may be made for a doorway opening into a small cham-
ber ; and the walls of these chambers are generally pierced
with graves in the same way as the galleries.

These vast excavations once formed the ancient Christian
cemeteries of Rome ; they were begun in apostolic times, and
continued to be used as burial places of the faithful till the cap-
ture of the city byAlaric in the year 410. In the third century
there were twenty-five or twenty-six of them, corresponding
to the number of parishes within the city ; and besides these,
there are about twenty others, of smaller size, isolated monu-
ments of special martyrs, or belonging to this or that private
family ; originally they all belonged to private families or indi-
viduals, the villas or gardens in which they were dug being the
property of wealthy citizens who had embraced the faith of
Christ, and devoted of their substance to His service. Hence
their most ancient titles were taken from the names of their
owners, and many of them are yet known by them.

A writer of very recent date, speaking of his visit to the
Catacombs, says :

" Some visitors are so impressed by the aspect of the Cata-
combs, and so suffocated by the atmosphere of their narrow,
low, and never-ending passages, where the air is made thick by
the smoke of torches, that they beg to be allowed to make
their way back. In truth, if the torches were to go out, one
would be condemned to await death in this tomb of some mil-
lions of souls ; if the old and bowed guide who went before
us, had by mischance been struck by apoplexy, probably not
one of us would' ever again have seen the light. The Cavern
of St. Agnes not being public, we had come alone to our ap-
pointment ; and even supposing that a week after another
guide should have brought a company, the party would most



10 visitor's guide to calvary cemetery.

likely have directed its steps towards some different quarter.
These are reflections to which people do not stoop until after
the event. The tombs of martyrs and heroes, often nameless,
draw one's attention specially ; it is easy to make them out,
for when the grave-makers closed them, they fastened in their
cement by the side of the head an ampulla of glass in which
the blood of the martyr had been collected. You still see on
nearly every hand the marks and often the fragments of these
vessels. When the martyr had been drowned, burned, or put
to death without spilling of blood, then in sealing up the
burial place, the workman, with the point of his trowel, drew
in the fresh mortar a rude sketch of a palm tree, and a certain
number of these are to be seen. Occasionally we recognize
calcined bones of a martyr burned alive, and it sometimes
happens that the bones are crystallized to such a degree as to
shine. Inscriptions give the name of the dead ; those in Greek
are usually the oldest. Many of the tombs are yet closed fast
and untouched."



aiuar





(HE enclosed portion of Calvary Cemetery consists of over
one hundred acres of dry, firm soil, admirably adapted
rp to the purpose for which it is used. The surface is, for
the most part, a series of gentle elevations and depressions;
affording with the well designed and faithfully executed plans
of the engineer, most complete drainage of the whole ground.
At the time the property first came into the possession of the
present owners, much of it was wet and swampy, and many
sewers had to be constructed requiring engineering skill and
liberal outlay. All these works have been lately enlarged and
improved, to answer the requirements of a more extensive sur-
face ; some of the drains being six feet in diameter, and built
in the most substantial manner.

When the Cemetery was first opened, the then existing
means of communication were so inconvenient to the New
York Catholics, that the Trustees endeavored to induce men
of capital to organize a company which would run a line of
ferryboats to within a convenient distance for the accommo-
dation of persons visiting the grounds and for funerals. But
the prospects of immediate dividends seemed so distant that
capitalists, not considering the number and rapid increase of
the Catholic body, hesitated to invest. The Cemetery author-
ities, therefore, were compelled to assume the responsibility,
and they did so, trusting to the future growth of the locality
for reimbursement.

They chartered two steamboats called the Boston and New



12 visitor's guide to calvary cemetery.

York, constructed a ferry-house adjoining Penny Bridge, and
dredged out Newtown Creek for a considerable distance. At
that time nearly the whole neighborhood was laid out in farms
and large tracts of land with a sparse population, and Bliss-
ville consisted of a few scattered buildings. The Trustees
afterwards had a steamboat built more adapted to the naviga-
tion of the creek. This was named by the President of the
Board, the late Archbishop Hughes, the Martha, after his sis-
ter, and is yet in active service on the East River, being
staunch and strong. The cost of the Martha was about
twenty-eight thousand dollars.

After a few years, during which time the ferry was a heavy
expense and burthen on the Cemetery, though all the time a
necessity, the population of the locality had so increased, that
a few men somewhat encouraged, started the ferry between
New York and Greenpoint, distant about two miles from the
Cemetery, and the object of the Trustees being accomplished,
they disposed of their boats and other ferry property, and dis-
continued the trips.

The ferry enterprise was never remunerative, and contribu-
ted largely to the already enormous debt incurred in the
purchase, laying out, and maintenance of the Cemetery.
Since that time numerous other ferries have been estab-
lished, and are now in successful operation, making Calvary
one of the most accessable of all the Metropolitan Ceme-
teries.

As will be seen on reference to the accompanying map, the
Cemetery is divided into ten Sections, and the Sections are
crossed by ranges designated by numbers ; then the ranges
are laid out in plots, generally sixteen feet square, and known
by letters.

The whole plan is very simple, and when once understood,
any point in the Cemetery may be found by a glance at our
map.

The two Sections, 9 and 10, have been but recently added,
and are not yet laid out. The new entrance gate is located in
this part of the Cemetery, and buildings to contain offices and
waiting-rooms are to be erected on each side of St. John's
Avenue, and immediately inside the gate. It is designed to



VISITORS GUIDE TO CALVARY CEMETERY. 1 3

have a tower on each building, containing a clock and' a bell
which will be tolled at the entrance of each funeral. Many
improvements throughout the Cemetery are in contemplation,
and others are being pushed forward to completion, which
will eventually make this " Home of the Dead " reflect credit
on the Catholics of New York and vicinity.




A SHORT HISTORY OF THE



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S early as the year 1840 the late illustrious Archbishop
Hughes, then Bishop, foresaw that in a few short
years the only burying-ground then available to the
faithful of New York, known as the I ith St. Cemetery, situated
in what was at that time the upper part of the city, would be
entirely inadequate to the wants of the rapidly increasing
Catholic population. He cast about him, therefore, for a suita-
ble locality, outside the corporate limits, and away from the
growing villages in their vicinity, where land suited for the pur-
pose could be had in proper quantity, at moderate price, and
withal sufficiently near the city to be reached within reasonable
time. The selection, even at that distant day, when the popu-
lation of New York was less than 313,000, and no " rapid
transit " railroads were needed to accommodate the inhabitants
of the sparsely settled suburbs, was a matter requiring -both
judgment and foresight. However, the property then known
as the Alsop farm, was eventually selected and purchased, and,
together with subsequent additions, forms what is to-day Cal-
vary Cemetery, the last resting-place of thousands of Catholic
dead.

The Alsop farm was situated in the immediate vicinity of
Penny Bridge, on Newtown Creek, which empties into the East
River, opposite 26th street, New York. This tract was the
property of a family of that name, which dates its appearance
on Long Island fully one hundred years prior to the Revolution,
and the Alsops were, it is believed, during that memorable strug-



visitor's guide to calvary cemetery. 15

gle for liberty, zealous adherents of his majesty. The first occu-
pant was Richard Alsop, who, according to local history, was
brought over by his uncle, Thomas Wandell, to this country,
shortly after the year 1670, and adopted by him. This Wandell,
we are told, had been a major in Cromwell's army, but, for some
cause not transmitted to posterity, he incurred the Protector's
personal displeasure, and had to fly to Holland, and thence to
America, where he married the widow of William Herrick,


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