The Theoretical System for the Proper Management of Cemetery Employees, Team, etc.

Date Published: 
September, 1894
Original Author: 
H. J. Diering
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 8th Annual Convention

The theoretical system for the management of cemetery employees is a very important feature towards success of a cemetery.

Employees should be cautioned, and be compelled to show great respect and affection to bereaved families, who through loss of their dear ones are compelled to visit the cemetery.

Where employees are rude and harsh, it places great sensitiveness to such families and their friends, and naturally creates public comment and complaint to the management of such cemeteries, and therefore cemeteries are very liable to lose patronage, through advice of their own lot owners to their friends, to seek other burial spots in adjacent cemeteries.

It therefore seems important in taking the first step towards good management to train the employees, especially such men as are in change of interments to be courteous and spare no pains in pleasing the families at such times.

Cemeteries of large acreage, where interments are numerous and improvements are necessary to supply the required demand, a large force of men is required. The superintendent at Woodlawn, has the entire control of selecting and engaging his men, and will therefore speak of his own experience.

Theory may be well applied on a general basis; but it seems to me, that the same applied to large and small cemeteries, may not prove entirely sufficient, and therefore I deem it necessary to apply a certain amount of practical basis, as experience or conditions may require.

At Woodlawn the improving and maintaining the grounds is entirely in the hands of the superintendent, and he thinks a very important factor in managing employees successfully, is to detail a proper system of branches for the various departments required, which should be in charge of a competent foreman. Each foreman in charge of his gang of men is held accountable for the expected and required work of his men. Each foreman is provided with a time-book to mark the time of his force, and on leaving work each day, he must deliver his time-book to the superintendent, from which the superintendent enters the time on his general book, and there from the payrolls are made. The entire employees have to answer roll call at 6:45 a.m. in the presence of the superintendent, who then directs each foreman to his respective work. As the superintendent is present at roll call and constantly on the grounds, no misuse or favoritism of any form can be shown on the part of the foreman in timing his men.

The following department forces are required: Gravediggers, Maintenance, Improvement, Mowing, Gardening, Repair, Stable and Police Forces.

The Gravedigger force, under a foreman and assistant, with horse carts, are required to open graves, attend funerals, excavate foundations and remove all surplus earth immediately. Such force is uniformed by the cemetery with black cheviot suits and hats to be worn at funerals, also with water proof coats and leggings and protected during stormy weather when at work with small grave tents. The above force are selected men, among the oldest employees, and are strictly cautioned to perform their work, in the most quiet and respectful way.

The Maintenance force, under a foreman, is required to keep roads and paths in proper order.

The Improvement force is under a competent foreman with teams in grading new sections.

The Mowing force under a foreman consists of lawn mowers, sickles and shears who mow the grass uniformly over the entire grounds during the season.

The Gardening force, under a competent gardener, is in charge of the bequest lots and the planting of flowers, trees and shrubs.

The Repair force consists of a blacksmith, carpenter and engineer, who build carts, sharpen tools and general repairing, also the shoeing of horses and oxen and the running of steam boilers.

The Stable force consists of stableman and assistants, who are in charge of the stock and must meet funerals that come by train with hearse and removals within the cemetery.

Since we have our own stock for teams and carts, we do not hire much, only in case of necessity. Certain men are selected who have charge of their teams and carts.

A Police force is organized and uniformed, who protect the grounds and give general information to lot owners and visitors. These men are selected from the general force, taking the most intelligent and as they are well acquainted with the grounds can render good assistance. You will observe that by having various departments and each in charge of a foreman with time-book, accurate account can be made and given for charging up payrolls to the various accounts.

The secret of managing a large force of men successfully is to treat them right, pay fair wages, and always show them your strict authority. Experience shows by such treatment, labor troubles have been avoided and any number of men can be obtained when wanted.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 8th Annual Convention
Philadelphia, PA
September 11, 12 and 13, 1894