Real Cemetery Reclamation

Date Published: 
August, 1925
Original Author: 
V. Phenix
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 39th Annual Convention

The title of this article would suggest that some reclamation may be pursued which is not altogether substantial and that other processes of reclamation may be considered basic and altogether real and profitable. With sufficient funds at hand it would be an easy matter to regrade, reseed, drain and sprinkle and arid tract removing there from all obsolete forms of ornamentation such as curbs, corner stones, vases or fences. But if lots so renovated should not by this process be financially reinstated and put on a paying basis the reclamation will be short lived and a delusion both to the superintendent and the public. We therefore claim that real reclamation is first of all the financial reinstating of the lot. This can be brought about by several well known processes such as by soliciting of perpetual or annual funds for the liberal care of the lots. But the object of this article looks toward the permanent reinstating of lots which have been abandoned or not adequately endowed and which either are neglected by the association, thus becoming an unsightly memorial to those departed or else on the other hand cared, for by the association as a matter of public pride and at the expense of the upkeep account of such association. Instead of entering into a series of arguments which might not be understood or might be controverted, we devote the remainder of this article to a synopsis of correspondence only and would continue as follows:

Lot owner in Illinois was first written April 10, 1919 concerning delinquent care and was approached on the subject of relinquishment of unoccupied portion in lieu of perpetual care for one grave on this lot. No answer having been received the directory company of was written concerning address. On Dec. 26, same year, answer was received giving proper street address. On Dec. 29, same year, another letter was written to this party to which we received no reply. On Feb. 21, of the following year we laid the matter before the Bank of who called the attention of the lot owner that the item was in their hands for adjustment. There being no reply to this notice from the bank we wrote to the manufacturing company in which this lot owner was employed who handed the letter over to the lot owner for reply and the same reached us April 20th. Twenty-six other letters were written before the party finally agreed to accept our terms, we giving him $50.00 and perpetual care on one grave and placing at the head of such grave a suitable head stone, having a total cost of $20.00. The cemetery received a deed for the unoccupied portion, the value of which is $600.00. This is a typical case at a lot abandoned by the owner. We should add that in the course of correspondence the owner stated that he would probably never use the balance of the lot.

Now we take up the case of the lot owner whose lot was in perpetual care, the endowment therefore being $50.00 for which the cemetery agreed to give care forever. The approximate income from this investment was $2.00 per year. The actual expense for the upkeep was $4.50, thus resulting in a liability for all time to come instead of an asset. This lot owner relinquished for $80.00. The north 8 ft. was sold for $120.00, the south 12 ft. of the north 20 ft. was sold for $180.00 and the south 4 ft. for $100.00 thus reinstating the lot in the perpetual care list on a remunerative basis and giving $287.00 into the current expense account.

We have reclaimed 250,000 sq. ft. in the last twelve years which necessitated on one occasion a trip of thirty-five days through the states of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and New Mexico and on another occasion an automobile trip of 2700 miles in twenty-two days covering the mountain districts of Colorado. These trips were a series of roundups for those items which we could not bring about by correspondence, the net results of the coast trip being approximately $8000 and that of the State trip approximately $2500. The transfers made to the cemetery for twelve years numbered upwards of 350, and the transfers from the cemetery to the smaller lot owners on these identical lots will probably number at least 500. All of these reclamations are of the highest market value because they are in the older part of the cemetery where trees and lawn are at their best and where associations and surroundings are vital selling factors. This cemetery is strongly in favor of caring equally for every lot but we are also firm in the conviction that each lot must be so financially adjusted that it will stand on a firm basis.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 39th Annual Convention
Chicago, Illinois
August 24, 25, 26 and 27, 1925