Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Cemetery - Mount Moriah Vandals

Published in May 1904 in the Philadelphia Inquire out of Philadelphia PA

     The despoliation of burial lots at Mount Moriah Cemetery by vandals, who ruthlessly steal flowers and even entire plants and bushes which have been placed on or near graves by relatives or friends of the deceased, has assumed such serious proportions that George Connell, superintendent of the cemetery, has been compelled to employ special policemen and watchmen and to adopt rigorous measures in the hope of detecting the thieves.
     His efforts were rewarded two weeks ago when Matthew Coats, a special policeman employed by him, caught a man in the act of stealing flowers from a grave. The man proved to be a lot holder, to Mr. Connell’s surprise, and his arrest has led the superintendent to believe that many lot holders in the cemetery, whether maliciously or to save money, have been guilty of transferring flowers and plants from other lots to their own.
      The man arrested two weeks ago was arraigned before Magistrate Stratton and heavily fined. Mr.  Connell declared yesterday that the next person caught despoiling burial lots would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law instead of escaping with a mere fine. He said the penalty for such an offense, under the charter granted to the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association was imprisonment for a term of not less than six months nor more than four years.

Have Offered Reward
     “The next person,” Mr. Connell continued, “we catch stealing flowers or otherwise despoiling burial lots or graves in Mount Moriah will go to jail. We have offered a reward of $25 for the arrest and conviction of any person who shall willfully remove, destroy, cut or break any tree, shrub, plant or memorial of any kind within our cemetery. We do not even allow lot holders to remove flowers or plants from their own lots without having first secured permission from us. I have men detailed throughout the cemetery all the time on the lookout for flower thieves, but it is no easy matter to keep a watchful eye over the entire cemetery continuously.
     “You will realize this, I am sure, when I tell you that we have 365 acres, of rolling land to look after, part within the city limits and the rest extending into Delaware County. We have 45,000 lot holders, and there is hardly a clear day that we do not have at least five thousand visitors. On a nice Sunday it is no uncommon thing for 25,000 persons to visit the cemetery. You can imagine the task of keeping an eye on such a large number of persons. Strangers are about to sneak in despite our efforts to the contrary. We are receiving complaints continually form lot holders, all to the effect that flowers and plants have been stolen form their lots and the graves of their departed dear ones trampled upon and otherwise injured.

Thinks Plants Are Transferred
     “The same conditions doubtless prevail in cemeteries throughout the city and vicinity. It is almost impossible to altogether prevent it, but we are doing everything within our power to break up the systematic preying upon the burial lots of our cemetery. I do not think that the flowers and plants that are stolen are removed from the cemetery. I think the guilty ones are lot holders, who, whether from spite or to save themselves expense, pilfer flowers from the graves of others and adorn those of members of their own families with their spoils. This may seem preposterous, but I have good grounds for believing it to be true, and I am working along these lines in hope of catching the guilty ones.