In nearly every township across the Unites States, you will find at least one cemetery or graveyard. According to Statista there are approximately 25,000 cemeteries across the 50 states. Each cemetery is filled with historic architecture and stonework as well as many personal stories of its residents. Cemeteries show our respect for our forefathers and celebrate the passing of families and friends that helped shaped the communities around us.
One of Central New York’s most famous and largest cemeteries is Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester. Founded in 1838, just three years after Rochester received its charter from the state, Mount Hope was originally founded as a municipal rural cemetery on 196 acres of hills, valleys, and forest on Mount Hope Avenue, next to what is now the University of Rochester.
Home to more than 350,000 permanent residents, Mount Hope has grown and thrived along with the city of Rochester and can claim roots with significant historical importance. The mid nineteenth century saw the rise of slavery and its abolition after the civil war. One of the key figures of the slavery struggle, Frederick Douglass, spent most of his adult life in Rochester and was buried at Mount Hope upon his death in 1895.
Another Rochesterian, Susan B. Anthony, now rests in the cemetery as well. Anthony met Frederick Douglass in Rochester and early in her adult life, gave passionate speeches against slavery. After the Civil War, she devoted much of her time and energy to speaking on behalf of women’s suffrage, leading to the ability of millions of women to gain the right to vote in American elections beginning in 1920, 14 years after her death. Susan B. Anthony was buried at Mount Hope in 1906.
The graves of Douglass and Anthony represent just two of the hundreds of famous burial sites at Mount Hope. Other important figures from history residing at Mount Hope include Myron Holley, the founder of Liberty Park, and Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, a Revolutionary War veteran who, with his two partners, bought the land that became Rochesterville, and later Rochester. Col. Rochester died before Mount Hope Cemetery was founded and was reinterred from his original resting place in the Buffalo Street cemetery which was closed to make room for St. Mary’s hospital.
As you stroll through the grounds, you will find granite obelisks, marble and slate headstones, bronze grave markers and mausoleums in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The first grave in the cemetery was actually dug six weeks before Mount Hope opened and belongs to William Carter, a grocer who died of a fever in 1838. His grave stone is white marble and depicts a popular engraving of the time- that of willow branches, which were thought to represent eternal life since willow trees can continue to flourish no matter how many branches are cut away.
Rochester saw over 5,000 of its young men join the Union Army during the civil war and many of those men were later buried as war heroes at Mount Hope, such as General E.G. Marshall, whose unique tomb is a raised white sarcophagus topped with a sheaf of wheat. Others died during the war and were either buried in the cemetery or else had monuments erected at Mount Hope in their honor.
If you find yourself looking for a place to experience a little bit of Rochester’s history and visit the resting place of some of the area’s famous founders you will surely find a trip to Mount Hope enjoyable and educational.
If you are interested in securing a grave or cremation setting within the Mount Hope Cemetery, you can contact us at the Hart Monument Company for more information. Hart Monument along with its sister locations, Brigden Memorials, in Albion and Oakley Monument, in Batavia have a close, working relationship with Mount Hope.