Economy In Starting New Cemeteries

Date Published: 
September, 1895
Original Author: 
Mr. Rhedemeyer
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 9th Annual Convention

The success of a new cemetery depends upon its location and the way it is designed.

Adopt rules and regulations, have them strictly observed and follow the modern plan, for it secures economy and attractiveness. Perpetual care should be provided for. One easily makes costly mistakes. The first step is to select grounds suitable for a cemetery, using precaution not to get ground with too much stone, or that which is low or too near the city. A thorough test should be made before deciding on any particular spot. The size of grounds should be according to population and surrounding places. It pays to purchase all the land you may need in years to come, as interested land holders know how to get a price for what could be bought for two-thirds less when first purchased.

Employ practical help, pay good wages and expect good results. Not many weeks ago I was requested to call and see a new cemetery whose owners had paid a snug amount to get it started. Upon looking around I discovered four men laying out lots in a field with stumps, stories, weeds and ruts (also enjoying good cigars). This work was started by a supposed first class engineer and to my surprise I found the drives as usual in the best part of the grounds. It is a common occurrence to see the mistakes of others and not our own. We do not care to conflict with the many so-called landscape engineers, few of them take advantage of natural beauty. Practical men should see at a glance what to do and how to go about it. Get a lawn or section in use at once, which will help curtail the expense. Beautifying the grounds, making lakes, waterfalls, etc., may be carried on when nothing urgent is on hand. Do not make your lawns small have them large, say from two to three acres in size. Where a smaller cemetery is needed, it will look better to have it in small sections, say one to one and a half acres to each section. Curves are always attractive; have them liberally displayed. When done take measure and stake opposite side for width of drive, which should be no less than eighteen feet, if you do make them smaller, the public will at once say it is a question of dollars, not beauty. When grading allow sufficient fall to carry the water to proper place. Be careful in grading. By all means get the ground smooth and shaped before sowing the grass seed. Grading is a permanent thing and nothing looks worse than a poorly graded place. In doing this use tools best suited for the soil. We at first work the scoop, which is drawn by two horses and carries eight cubic feet. When proper places are filled in we follow with a scraper eight feet long. This is a simple grading device, which does the work to perfection. It is simply an old-fashioned road scraper, governed by two men and one driver. With it we can accomplish more in one day than six men would in one week.

When finished harrow the sections thoroughly, pulverizing the soil to receive the seed. Lay your border with sod ten feet wide. Select some calm hour for sowing, after which apply the best bone fertilizer to be had. By all means abolish manure if you wish to have a nice clean lawn. Manure is a good fertilizer if plowed under, but great care should be taken not to use it for top dressing. Use nothing but Kentucky blue grass, as it gives the prettiest effect. When seeded, harrow again after which roll it with a light land, roller, and in a few weeks when the grass has appeared roll it again. When finished stake out lots to suit location and purchaser. Encourage the purchase of large lots, as they are the secret of a pretty cemetery. By all means do so, on your best sites. If your demand is greater for small lots select some spot where they will not be too conspicuous. Make up your mind to display stone yards on them. Allow nothing but good solid stone work; no patent arrangement should be allowed, as they are not in harmony with a modern cemetery. Keep your place clean, allow no outsider to put in foundation work or set markers. As to planting evergreens, trees, shrubs, etc., use precaution. Do not try to get too much in one spot. Avoid too close planting. Do not conceive the idea that you can succeed by not allowing plants on graves or allowing no mounds. This is too premature, our successors in years to come may accomplish this, but with the present competition surrounding every cemetery one has to use great care in the way things should be governed. Encourage cut flowers, as they are less troublesome and pay better than anything from the greenhouse.

Every cemetery should have its own greenhouses and grow plants and cut-flowers for the accommodation of lot holders. This gives pleasure to the lot holders, as they like to stroll through a greenhouse and appreciate it if properly cared for. Keep it clean. Do not grow anything that has no value. Plants of interest are what we want such as Palms, Orchids, Carnations, Roses, Violets, Pansies, Forget-me-nots, Specimen Ferns, Smilax and Bedding Plants, with a few other good flowering bulbs, as these are the standard varieties. The one in command should have full charge of employing, discharging, buying and paying all bills, and if anything is wrong he is responsible for it.

Have your men who attend to the burials provided with proper garments, such as men should wear. Do not have them appear like tramps, wearing unsightly looking clothes, as if to scare the mourner. Everything should be cheerful.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 9th Annual Convention
Richmond, VA
September 18, 19 and 20, 1895