Published the 12th of May in 1902 in the Philadelphia Inquires out of Philadelphia, PA
THE CITY’S OLDEST
Interesting Historic Memories Cluster About Hood’s Cemetery, in the Heart of Germantown’s Business District
It is somewhat of a surprise to the chance visitor to discover a burying ground right in the heart of the business part of Germantown, on valuable property along the main street, with stores on either side. The fact that it must ever continue a cemetery, and that the bodies cannot be removed to give opportunity for building operations lends special interest to the spot, for the old deeds state that it must “continue a burying ground forever.” Since the handsome marble wall and entrance gate have been erected the place had been known as Hood’s Cemetery, after the giver of the find inclosure, but it is still popularly known as the “Old Lower Burying Ground,” in contrast to the “Old Upper Burying Ground,” another rare old historic cemetery in the upper part of Germantown.
The Old Lower Burying Ground or Hood’s Cemetery crowns the summit of the hill leading form Wayne Junction along Germantown avenue to Logan street. Though only five acres in extent, this diminutive city of the dead – according to a local historian – possesses a history which, bit by bit, links the present to the period when Germantown avenue was an Indian trail, and the city of Philadelphia itself a collection of about one hundred houses, lying for the most part east of Second street. Peculiar interest is attached to the cemetery from the fact that the Lower Burying Ground antedates any cemetery in this city. The history of this little graveyard begins with the incorporation of the borough of Germantown. The lot at the corner of Main street and Fisher’s lane was selected as a suitable site for a burying ground I 1690, a few months after the borough’s organization.
The plot was secured by gift form Jan Streepers, of Holland, probably one of the Moravian emigrants who came to Germantown with Pastorius. The first authentic record of a conveyance is a deed dated February 12, 1692, in which one Leonard Arets granted the land to Paul Wolff, his heirs and assigns, for no other use than a burying place forever. The ground mentioned in this transfer measured one-half acre, of a square form, laying along the eastern side of Main street, or Germantown avenue. By subsequent purchases the premises were enlarged to their present dimensions. The frontage on Germantown avenue is one hundred and eighty feet, with a depth along Logan street, on Fisher’s lane, of three hundred and fifty feet, the whole lot containing about five acres.
In March, 1847, William Hood, a rich but eccentric Germantown merchant, made a proposition to the trustees, that, in consideration of allowing him to build a vault in the doorway near the front gate, he would erect a marble gateway and entrance. This offer was accepted, and Mr. Hood built a beautiful entrance gate of Pennsylvania marble, with a handsome arch, the canopy supported by Corinthian columns. He also put a marble wall and handsome railing along the whole front. Mr. Hood died in Paris in 1850 and his instructions regarding the wall were carried out by his nephew, William H. Stewart.