Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Cemetery - Coffins in Flood

Published the 9th of April in 1904 in the Philadelphia Inquirer out of Philadelphia, PA
SHIFTED COFFINS IN FLOODED VAULT
BLUE-COATED MEMBER OF RITTENHOUSE FAMILY MOVED BODIES OF WIFE AND CHILD
     Conditions at the flooded Mennonite Cemetery, at Germantown, are growing worse. Yesterday the flow of water from whatever source it may come increased, and exceeded all efforts of the Water Bureau employes to divert it to the street.
It rose to the top level of the famous Rittenhouse family vault, and was overflowing form that and other vaults and graves into the cellars of near-by houses. The occupants of the latter have become alarmed lest the water, probably having come in contact with the bodies of the dead, may spread disease.
     They have accordingly circulated a petition to be sent to the health authorities, asking that immediate steps be taken to check the flood, as they fear an epidemic of disease may result. Some of the residents, whose houses have been flooded, are: Charles Reiner, E. J. Armstrong, Mrs. Roop, Mrs. D. M. Hicks and Harry S. Rahn.
Coffins Were Shifted
     Before the water reached the top of the Rittenhouse vault yesterday morning, Samuel Rittenhouse, foremen of Fire Engine Company, No. 19, of Germantown, a member of the distinguished family whose name he bears, climbed into the cavern to move the coffins of his wife and child who had lain there for about two years. Standing in the icy water waist deep, he shifted the coffins to shelves on a high level which had not yet been touched by the flood. But a few hours later the water again reached them.
      Meanwhile the Water Bureau employes were working several pumps to reduce the level of water.
     In strange contrast to the gruesome environments of the grave was a relic which came up through the pumps. It was a plain band wedding ring. Whose it was or what joyous union it had helped to bind in the forgotten years is unknown. It was turned over to members of the Rittenhouse family.

     The city employes engaged in trying to trace the source of the water flow have so far been baffled. Notwithstanding previous investigations, they are not inclined again to think the water comes from a broken main. The water has been shut off from most of the mains in the locality to determine it possible form where it flows into the cemetery.