Progress in Cemetery Work
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The request from my esteemed friend, Mr. Salway, to prepare a paper for this convention came at a most inopportune time, during my busiest time of the year, so that I could not take the time to devote to intelligently handle anyone subject, even provided I could find one, which had not already been ably presented at previous meetings. Reluctantly consenting to the request, the best I can do is to ask, your indulgence to accept a few thoughts jotted down at odd times.
As far back as the Richmond Convention, one of our departed members presented some views and ideas on the derivative benefits of this Association. In a semi-sarcastic tone he told of how some six or eight members (of course without mentioning their names) had been pointed out to him as the brains of this Association and who were repeatedly called upon to furnish papers to be read at the conventions. He went on to say that these papers were elegantly worded, fluent in diction and usually quite instructive. He proceeded to criticize the manner in which these papers had been received, often passed up in silence and without discussion voted to become incorporated in the proceedings. He further contended that instead of reiterating subjects under new or different headings that we select from these records papers and topics for discussion and argument. Personally I agree with this idea and believe it should be done in the future. Our records for the past 30 years teem with papers and addresses embracing every known topic relating to cemetery matters; it would be difficult to point out one single phase of our work, which has not been taken up and thoroughly written about. Without taking up any time to enumerate or point out the most valuable material contained in these records, it is sufficient so say that the perusal and study of any of them will prove to be of much value to everybody engaged in cemetery work.
It would be very interesting to note whether the assertions set forth and recommended in many of these papers can be substantiated, also whether the reforms in cemeteries today bear out the predictions made for such reforms.
I want to say that it is a great pleasure to again visit Spring Grove Cemetery; it was here where many years ago I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting the Superintendent at that time, the late Adolph Strauch, who was the acknowledged originator of the Lawn Plan in Cemeteries.
It was here where I received the first and indelible impressions of what a Rural Cemetery should be. In later years when this beautiful cemetery came under the management of its present superintendent, Mr. Salway, more advanced reforms and pronounced improvements became noticeable and, I believe I may state without fear, of contradiction that Spring Grove today stands preeminently out as the model cemetery of this country.
What better place could have been selected thirty years ago for formation and organization of our Association? Here were to be found the bold and truly sensible reforms and advanced ideas over conditions prevailing some years before in Mount Auburn, Laurel Hill and Greenwood Cemeteries which, as you know, were the earliest types of rural Cemeteries, and in which efforts had been made for affording better methods in planning their improvements.
The originators of these cemeteries at that time already recognized the want of something more in harmony with nature, but they permitted features to be introduced that were superfluous and useless to such an extent that it interfered with existing quietness and charm of natural beauty.
It remained for Spring Grove to improve on these conditions; it became the pioneer in simplicity and attractiveness and since the inception of our Association I dare say that we all more or less have been following along those lines, which are embodied here to such wonderful extent and completeness. Those of us who remember Spring Grove as we saw it years ago and compare what we have then seen with what is to be seen now will realize what wonderful and marvelous improvement has been accomplished. Not a little of which we may lay claim to be due in a measure to the influence of our organization.
From the publication:
“AACS - Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Convention held at Cincinnati, OH"
September 24, 25 and 26, 1919