Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Laurel Hill Cemetery

If you are wondering why I'm posting about a Philadelphia cemetery, it is because a figure of some note in Revolutionary War history in New Jersey is buried here:

Yesterday, Friday, September 14th, A group of Whitall Volunteers that included master gardeners, docents, and administrative staff, visited Laurel Hill Cemetery.  Established in 1836, it is a beautiful setting on the Schuylkill River and is the final resting place of both the ordinary folk of Phildadelphia and those made famous by circumstances or careers.  We took the “Military Tour” and I would recommend that anyone visiting for the first time take a tour.  I wandered around the cemetery with a distant cousin once and we had particular graves we were hunting for, members of the family tree.  But to really enjoy the cemetery, let a guide point out the architecturally notable, or human interest sites.  The guide we had was both fascinated and knowledgeable.  He had researched the cemetery for years before becoming a guide and clearly enjoyed talking about the often unusual and sometimes tragic figures who have come to spend eternity at Laurel Hill.

We visited our special interest, General Mercer, for whom the fort at Red Bank Battlefield was named, and we visited General Meade of Civil War fame.  General Meade, a humble man, had a humble grave stone to match.
One of my favorites was the story of a woman who was married to a chemist, then widowed with small children to support.  She taught herself chemistry by immersing herself in the bottles and books of her husband’s lab, and developed a set of flares bought by the navy.  Through various financial manipulations, it ended that Martha Costen got nothing for her invention until she sued the US Navy.  She was then awarded a settlement fee, which I sincerely hope allowed her to live her old age in some comfort. 

It was a beautiful day, warm but breezy and my favorite view was from a bluff above the Schuylkill  where I saw single scullers gliding down the river, reminding me of Thomas Eakins unforgettable painting of Max Schmidt, the single sculler.  He has another painting of shad fishermen on the shore at Gloucester City.

Also down below the bluff overlooking the river, is the grave of Harry Kalas, the famous athletics announcer beloved by many.  His grave sports a marble microphone and stadium chairs, so you can sit and visit.

Not far from Laurel Hill is a nice place to eat called The Epicure Cafe' and I would recommend it for lunch after your hike around the cemetery.

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