A Visit to the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

UA June 14 1876

This new lawn cemetery, the burial place for the Roman Catholics, is located four miles from the center of the city, on the chief avenue leading to Lake Ontario. The plot of ground comprises one hundred and thirty-seven acres, thirty five of which have been consecrated by and is under the control of the Rt. Rev. Bernard McQuaid and a board of directors, and all devices and inscriptions intended to adorn the head-stones or monuments are required to be submitted to the Bishop and board of directors for their approval. A main roadway twenty feet in width runs round the cemetery, with other roads varying in width from eighteen to twenty-five feet following the natural depression of the ground, dividing the cemetery in to twenty-three sections. A bordered from fifty to sixty feet in width outside the main driving avenue is adorned with artistic arrangements of trees, among which I noted several varieties of maples and elms, and every section is interspersed with circular raised beds of flowers with as many varieties and species of trees and shrubs as could be judiciously planted, which will, in a few years, form a dense mass of foliage.

On one of the biggest sections stands the monumental Gothic Stone Chapel, which will when completed, be a perfect gem. In part of this there are seventeen varieties of elms with a profusion of flowers. The half of this section on the South-side of the chapel is set aside for the burial of priests, and the North-side for that of the Sisters of the different religious communities of Rochester. Each section presents the appearance of a wellkept lawn with no more obstructions than are absolutely necessary. No fences, hedges or posts are seen and the plot holders are entreated not to encumber their lots with a multitude of monumental stones or slabs. One family monument standing in the center of a lot is deemed sufficient for every record necessary. Every lot has a land mark of cast iron two feet long with a cap five and a half inches in diameter, on which is marked the section and number of the lot and is driven down level with the ground at the corner of every plot.

A green-house has been erected on the ground, where every variety of flowers and plants can be obtained suitable to adorn the graves of lost friends. There are serpentine foot paths leading from the roadways to the inside lots; but these paths are not cut, therefore do not take from the section that appearance of unbroken lawn, with scattered trees, shrubs and flowers planted by a master of the art of landscape gardening.

Water-works for irrigating purposes have been constructed, with a power and steam engine to elevate the water. And if the many improvements now projected by the Bishop are carried out they will make this cemetery, in the course of a few years, as ornate and beautiful as any lawn cemetery in this country.

The soil is of a sandy loam, well adopted for agricultural purposes, and the Bishop and the Board of Directors acted preeminently wisely when they appropriated and set apart a portion of this ground for a vegetable or kitchen garden, which is under the guidance of a German gardener, who has control over the labor of thirty boys taken from the Catholic Orphan Asylum, who are well clothed and kindly cared for, and perform all the manual labor required on the premises. The writer visited the grounds on Decoration Day. There were then but a few at work, and they appeared cheerful and happy. The various plats of ground planted were: twenty acres of potatoes, fifteen of sweet corn, five of peas, two of beans, three-fourths of an acre of horseradish, and eight acres of vineyard, the grapes from which are converted into wine used for altar purposes; the rest of the production of the garden are canned for the market, there being a canning mill connected with the establishment, with all the modern improvements for canning fruits and vegetables, which department is under the direction of the Sisters of Charity.

The continuous labor of these orphan boys not only gives then comfortable homes, but healthful employment, which will, in the course of a few years, enable the Bishop to cancel the contracted debt for the ground.