Date Published: 
September, 1903
Original Author: 
Bellett Lawson
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 17th Annual Convention

When Mr. Kel1er wrote that he would like a paper from me I hastily said I would write one; naming my subject later.

I must confess that I was at a loss to find any subject that was new to our association. Under the circumstances I was compelled to name my subject "Generalities", giving me under such a title a chance to write on anything pertaining to cemeteries.

I have been called upon during the past season by several agents who were representing the manufacturers of signs and among their stock has always been a conspicuous sign, "Keep off the grass". One agent told me he had sold a leading cemetery in this state several hundred of these signs. I do not think this is at all consistent with a modern cemetery. We advocate the use of grass paths in order to have large stretches of lawns and by so doing practically invite the public or the lot holders at least, to walk on the grass.

Walking on the grass does no harm unless it is done in a beaten path; in which case there are better methods than signs to keep off the public.

In reading the June number of Park and Cemetery I saw therein that the cemetery of Spring Grove of Cincinnati, OH, had passed a rule prohibiting the driving of automobiles in the cemetery.

This is a subject that is of interest to us all and myself in particular. I feel that no cemetery board has the right to prohibit any automobile from entering the grounds, any more so than horse-drawn vehicles. A reasonable restriction: as to speed, etc., is perfectly right, but to prohibit is to my mind an unreasonable discrimination.

There are in the City of Buffalo today over five hundred persons who are the owners of automobiles and the number grows rapidly. Should any of these persons be the owners of a burial lot half a mile from the entrance of the cemetery; if he should wish to visit the lot he must walk from the entrance; presuming that the cemetery does not allow automobiles entering the grounds. Fortunately this is not the case in our city. As I have had the pleasure of driving one of these vehicles during the past year I am convinced that they are not the harmful things the general public seems to think they are. As an opinion, I will venture to say that I believe that the day is not far off when funerals will be conducted with horseless vehicles entirely. In conducting funerals, one of our leading undertakers has for the past two years gone to the cemetery in an electric automobile.

I believe that if the owner of an automobile would care to carry any case into court where he was kept out of a cemetery he would win. I venture this opinion because I have been watching the outcome of several similar cases.

Now, I believe that there are among our number many who conduct new cemeteries and who would like some points as to how to get more business. I myself am one of the numbers; but believe that a discussion of this subject will interest many of us.

We have resorted largely to advertising and on this subject I can certainly say where it does or does not pay.

A cemetery is a very hard thing to advertise, as it is something the public does not care to discuss unless they have to; it necessarily has to be done with care in order not to offend anyone.

Most of our Buffalo papers publish Sunday illustrated supplements. We find these the best mediums of all. We also find that church papers and programs are good mediums, but as for the daily papers they are worse than useless. We have found that an advertisement is not looked at unless there is an illustration with it. This of course cannot be done to advantage on the cheap paper used in the dailies. We believe that advertising pays in cemeteries as well as in other lines of business.

To write an advertisement for a cemetery takes a little thought. If you advertise bargains or reduced rates it looks too much like a bargain counter and cheapens your cemetery. However, it becomes necessary, if you are selling lots cheaper than your competitor to let the public know this, so we always confine ourselves to the simple statement that the price of lots is very reasonable; leaving the purchaser to find out for himself on inquiry.

The question may be raised by some of our members as to whether a cemetery should advertise. If not, why not?

It makes no difference whether it is a stock company or a bonded corporation, you must sell lots to pay dividends on the former and interest on the latter; I do not think the purchasing public thinks any the less of a cemetery corporation who advertises judiciously. Another subject that I think deserves the attention of the cemetery officials is billboards and advertising signs.

In some of the states there has been legislation prohibiting these unsightly signs fronting on parks, but I do not know of any similar legislation for the benefit of cemeteries. There are many instances of this kind that are a positive nuisance. Some of out cemetery presidents with influence should have bills' passed in their own states prohibiting any advertising signs opposite a cemetery entrance, also the planting of telegraph, telephone, electric or street car poles immediately in front of the entrance. I know of several instances where the latter positively marred some beautiful entrances.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 17th Annual Convention
Held at Rochester, NY
September 8, 9 and 10, 1903