Tombstone Tuesday: A Visit to Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

Summer has always been my favorite season for many reasons: no school, outdoor weather, swimming, longer days, flowers and green grass, fresh farm produce, my birthday … and, for many years now, an occasion to head “home” to Western New York to visit family.

Since becoming an amateur genealogist, these trips have also become an opportunity to conduct on-site research. For this year’s trip, I had made a plan to visit Mount Hope Cemetery so that I could look up the gravestones of ancestors resting there with the idea of taking photos and creating memorials on the site, Find-A-Grave.

Decommissioned crematorium chapel and fountain near North Gate entrance.

I made two visits to the Mount Hope Cemetery earlier this month. The first was to take one of the many guided tours offered by the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery. With my aunt, uncle, cousin and a small group of people, I received an introduction to this amazing historical site by docent, Don Hall. Don was genial, humorous and full of fascinating facts about the cemetery and the people buried there.

The Mount Hope Cemetery was founded in 1838; just four years after the city of Rochester was incorporated. It is one of the first municipal rural cemeteries in the United States and covers nearly 200 acres. There are over 350,000 people resting at Mount Hope and their memorials range from very elegant mausoleums, ornate family plots, huge obelisks and humble markers. The site features interesting geological formations from the glacier which covered the area over 12,000 years ago. Wikipedia has a great article about the cemetery, including a list of notable burials.

Looking down Cedar Avenue (Section M)

Mount Hope is beautiful place! A few days after taking the tour, I returned with Harry & Purl (my dogs) for a long picture-taking walk. I visited the cemetery office with a list of names — ancestors on my paternal side — and a very helpful staff-person provided me with maps and instructions on finding the headstones I was looking for. The first plot I sought out was my paternal great-grandparents, George B. & Jennie L. Garrison. When I arrived at their plot, I was immensely pleased to discover that beside them lies their daughter, my paternal grandmother, Florence Mary Garrison Marsh. I did not know she was buried there!

The inscription reads: “WIFE, FLORENCE G MARSH, 1895-1950”

Florence’s marker is covered over with lichen and is difficult to read. I’ve contacted the cemetery staff about getting it cleaned and will follow up on that, either by paying to have it done or doing it myself on my next visit.

The other plots I visited at Mount Hope Cemetery were Garrison and Harris family ancestors of George B. and Jennie L. Below are links to the Find-A-Grave memorials which I have created, each of which includes a photo of their headstone:

I plan to incorporate visits to Mount Hope every time I am in Rochester, and of course bring Harry & Purl along; it’s really a pleasant place to walk. Harry might want to revisit a stone which he particularly liked …

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