Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, P.O. Box 5321, Philadelphia, PA 19142 info@fommci.org

Strategic Plan for Mount Moriah Cemetery

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Mount Moriah Cemetery, spanning 142 acres across Southwest Philadelphia and Yeadon Borough, is a study in awe-inspiring contrasts and coexistence. Its rolling landscape is a fecund, sometimes wild oasis in the midst of dense housing stock, a trolley stop, and nearby commercial activity. Within the gates, invasive plant species jockey for dominance with vibrant daffodils and the grave markers for an estimated 200,000 people. Stand near the Circle of St. John and you see nothing but markers and flora in one direction. Look the other way and behold the unmistakable Philadelphia skyline. Since its establishment in 1855, Mount Moriah has been an inclusive final resting place for Philadelphia’s diverse population, welcoming of all races and incomes, and adapting to changing burial needs of its diverse communities, including incorporating US military lots, Muslim burials, and communal plots. Neighbors bustle through their daily routines just outside of the gates that surround this spectacular sanctuary, likely unaware of Mount Moriah’s history, or of the bird houses tied to trees by local Cub Scouts eager to catch a glimpse of one of several species of warbler, or the natural wetlands that offer the perfect conditions for ironweed and deer-tongue grass, which in turn attract butterflies and sparrows for which these plants are food.

Today, about eight years after the Cemetery ceased operations due to the former owners’ mismanagement of the business, and just five years after a court order established the Mount Moriah Preservation Corporation1 as the temporary receiver of the cemetery, Mount Moriah is poised to reemerge with a new identity, a renewed mission, and a vision for Southwest Philadelphia:

Mount Moriah Historic Cemetery & Nature Sanctuary is one of the nation’s oldest rural parkland cemeteries and a unique cultural, ecological, and educational resource in Southwest Philadelphia and Yeadon Borough. Its mission is to provide outdoor respite that inspires serenity, learning, and deeper connections between past and present, nature and the urban environment, neighbors and visitors, and those for whom the cemetery is a tranquil final resting place. Its vision is a world where everyone, irrespective of where they live, has access to tranquil green space.

The timing of this renewed mission, approved by the Strategic Planning Committee2, is propitious. Consider the following:

  1. Philadelphia has seen recent and significant growth in interest and investment in place-making as demonstrated through the current administration’s Rebuild initiative and large-scale investments by local philanthropy (e.g., William Penn Foundation, the Knight Foundation, etc.) in neighborhood-based infrastructure and greenspace. The first round of Rebuild projects have targeted Southwest Philadelphia’s library and recreation center, both within walking distance of Mount Moriah, as early priorities for revitalization.
  2. In addition to its open space, ecological assets, and connection to sites like the Woodlands, Bartram’s, and Heinz, current and potential funders, like the City, William Penn Foundation, and DCNR, cite interest in Mount Moriah’s contribution to the watershed and stormwater network in Lower Southwest, a key piece to resolving major flooding issues in the area.
  3. Philadelphia Planning Commission’s District Plans for the University Southwest and Lower Southwest districts, part of the Philadelphia 2035 Comprehensive Plan, both outline goals to create a strategic plan for the reuse and stabilization of Mount Moriah Cemetery (University Southwest) and reestablish Mount Moriah as a major open space asset (Lower Southwest). Currently, just 7% of Lower Southwest is parkland and another 6% is cemetery land, comprised principally of the Woodlands and Mount Moriah Cemetery. The development of Mount Moriah as parkland would almost double the amount of green, publicly-accessible land in the district.

Energy for the revitalization of Mount Moriah extends beyond Philadelphia, as well. Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Baltimore Avenue Corridor Revitalization Plan promotes a main street character through Southwest’s Kingsessing neighborhood and Yeadon borough, just north of Mount Moriah Cemetery. Delaware County Planning Commission’s Delaware County 2045 Plan outlines the expansion of greenways throughout the county as a top priority for the county. Cobbs Creek, which runs through Mount Moriah, is identified as a key opportunity for the development of a greenway corridor, along with the county-owned Cobbs Creek Park as an open space. Mount Moriah, with revitalized pathways and landscape, would vastly extend this network of greenways and open space.

Continue reading the strategic plan (pdf).

Major Benjamin Loxley, Master Carpenter & Artillery Officer from Philadelphia during the American Revolution

Born: December 20, 1720

Died: October 10, 1801

Plot: Section 112, Lot 53

Benjamin Loxley was a witness to the American Revolution as well as an important participant in the new government, conceived and created by the Founders.

Early Life

Benjamin Loxley was born in Wakefield, England (near Yorkshire) to Benjamin Loxley and Elizabeth (nee Pullen). When he was 14 he emigrated to Pennsylvania to live with a maternal uncle on a farm in Darby, PA He worked there as a farmhand for two years. His uncle then indentured him to Joseph Watkins to learn the carpentry and cabinet making trades. He was freed of the commitment to Watkins in 1742 when he was 22.

He then formed a partnership with another carpenter (William Henderson) and the business was very successful. They built houses that were much in demand in the new bustling city of Philadelphia. Loxley became very wealthy through the business as well as an inheritance.

Mid Life

He started to associate with other businessmen as well as with men who eventually became the power brokers who would form the new state and federal governments. Loxley was transitioning from a businessman to a patriot.

One of the first projects was the building of Carpenters Hall. Loxley was a leader of the Carpenters Company which was a union-like guild supporting the building trades. In 1768, he, along with Joseph Fox, Robert Smith, and Thomas Newell purchased a lot on Chestnut Street and started to build Carpenters Hall. The Hall when completed served many functions over time, including a library company formed by Ben Franklin, several banks, and many meetings by various organizations both political and commercial.

Loxley also helped build the Pennsylvania State House which would eventually be named Independence Hall.

Military

During Colonial America all able bodied men of certain ages were members of the militia. Individual towns formed local independent militias for their own defense. Around 1740, Loxley was about the age he would be learning about cannons and fire arms. Around 1748 the Colonials started forming units they called Military Associations. These were more skilled and trained, and sometimes joined with the British forces on missions. Two such mission were: (1) The French and Indian War in 1755 and (2) the Battle of Cartegena in 1740 in the Caribbean. For example there were 800 Pennsylvanians at Cartagena. This relationship between the Colonials and the British ended with the Lexington and Concord Battle in 1775.

The Revolutionary War was on and Loxley was appointed Captain of 1st Company in the 4th Foot Artillery Battalion. He was in charge of 175 men.

He knew laboratory work, artillery duty, and military stores. He had contacts with former British storekeepers and was able to obtain ammunition and cannon for the new nation despite being an enemy of the British. He built several forts along the Delaware River as defenses against enemy ships sailing to Philadelphia.

In July, 1776 Loxley led his company in boats down the Delaware River to an engagement with British gunboats at the Battle of Red Bank. A few weeks later he marched them to Amboy, New Jersey (a distance of about 80 miles) to prevent the British  army from crossing from Staten Island.

Personal Life

Loxley married the sister of Joseph Watkins (the man who taught him cabinet making) in 1742. She died in 1760 and he married Catherine Cox from Upper Freehold, New Jersey in 1761. They had 12 children, five of which lived to adulthood.

Around 1770 Loxley built ten 2 story houses together in center city. That area today is called Loxley Court. The complex is entered by walking north through an iron gate at Arch Street between addresses 321 and 323 and Arch. Loxley lived in number 2 and his front door key was the key used by Franklin for his famous lightning/electricity experiment.

Loxley was a member of these Philadelphia organizations:

  • Carpenters Company of Philadelphia
  • Committee of Safety
  • Pennsylvania Hospital
  • American Philosophical Society**

**Members of this Society included these distinguished men:

  • John Adams
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Ben Franklin
  • James Madison
  • Thomas Paine
  • Benjamin Rush
  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson

Loxley died in Darby, Pa on October 10, 1801 and was buried at First Baptist Church located between 2nd and 3rd and Arch in Phila. He was moved to Mount Moriah on March 2, 1865 and interred in Section 112, Lot 53.

 

MacMillan & McPherson Familes – Mausoleum Hill

In fall 2017 a group of Haverford College students completed a project to research a number of the burials in Mausoleum Hill on the Yeadon side of the cemetery. These profiles will be presented in our Notable Burials section.

Louis A MacMillan was born on September 5, 1884, to parents Robert MacMillan and Margaret McPherson. He was one of 11 children: his brothers were Geo Landrum MacMillan, Robert MacMillan MD, and Benton MacMillan, and his sisters were Mary Morrow MacMillan, Florence Edna MacMillan, Bessie MacMillan, Helen MacMillan, Sydney Adelaide MacMillan, Margaret MacMillan, and Marion MacMillan. His parents, as well as siblings Helen, Margaret, Marion, Robert, and daughter Myrtle, are also buried at Mount Moriah. Louis had red hair, a sign of his Irish heritage (both his parents immigrated from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine), and blue eyes. Louis worked as a shipwright at the Navy Yard. In 1910, Louis was living on North Thirty Second Street in Philadelphia. On July 20, 1914, Louis married Myrtle E Bradley, of Lancaster, PA, at the Scott Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. The couple lived on 32nd and Hamilton Street in Philadelphia. On May 18, 1925, his only child, a daughter, Myrtle, was born. She passed away a little over three years later, on August 18, 1928, from pneumonia. By this time, Louis had died on April 4, 1927, at the age of 42.

Myrtle E MacMillan was born on May 18, 1925. She was the only child of Louis A MacMillan and Myrtle E Bradley. She was born in Philadelphia, and died at the age of three on August 18, 1928, from pneumonia. Her father is also buried at Mount Moriah.

Jane “Jennie” McPherson was born on March 15, 1866, the daughter of Jane Henderson and George McPherson. She had one sister, Margaret McPherson, also buried in Mount Moriah. She died on March 13, 1914, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of 47.

Robert MacMillan was born on April 4, 1847, in Londonderry, Ireland, to John C MacMillan and Margaret MacFann. The family emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1850. He became a U.S. citizen on October 2, 1868. He married Margaret McPherson on March 11, 1875, at the Scott Methodist Episcopal Church. The couple had 11 children: Geo Landrum MacMillan, Robert MacMillan MD, Louis A MacMillan, Benton MacMillan, Mary Morrow MacMillan, Florence Edna MacMillan, Bessie MacMillan, Helen MacMillan, Sydney Adelaide MacMillan, Margaret MacMillan, and Marion MacMillan. His wife, Margaret, and children Helen, Margaret, Marion, Louis, Robert, and granddaughter Myrtle are also buried at Mount Moriah. He died on January 11, 1923, at the age of 75

Margaret McPherson was born on March 4, 1857, to George McPherson and Jane Henderson, in Donegal, Ireland. Her sister, Jane, was born on March 15, 1866. The family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1873. Margaret married Robert MacMillan on March 11, 1875. She had 11 children over the course of 24 years: Geo Landrum MacMillan, Robert MacMillan MD, Louis A MacMillan, Benton MacMillan, Mary Morrow MacMillan, Florence Edna MacMillan, Bessie MacMillan, Helen MacMillan, Sydney Adelaide MacMillan, Margaret MacMillan, and Marion MacMillan. Her husband, Robert, and children Helen, Margaret, Marion, Louis, Robert, and granddaughter Myrtle are also buried at Mount Moriah. Margaret died on February 25, 1912, at the age of 54.

Helen MacMillan was born on April 17, 1892, to parents Robert MacMillan and Margaret McPherson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was one of 11 children: her brothers were Geo Landrum MacMillan, Louis A MacMillan, Robert MacMillan MD, and Benton MacMillan, and his sisters were Mary Morrow MacMillan, Florence Edna MacMillan, Bessie MacMillan, Helen MacMillan, Sydney Adelaide MacMillan, and Margaret MacMillan. Her parents, as well as siblings Helen, Margaret, Robert, and Louis are also buried at Mt. Moriah. Helen never married, and passed away on October 12, 1918, at the age of 26.

Robert MacMillan MD was born on August 28, 1880 to parents Robert MacMillan and Margaret McPherson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of 11 children: his brothers were Geo Landrum MacMillan, Louis A MacMillan and Benton MacMillan, and his sisters were Mary Morrow MacMillan, Florence Edna MacMillan, Bessie MacMillan, Helen MacMillan, Sydney Adelaide MacMillan, Margaret MacMillan, and Marion MacMillan. His parents, as well as siblings Helen, Margaret, Marion, and Louis are also buried at Mt. Moriah. In 1903, Robert graduated from the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia. On September 7, 1904, he married Isabella Howard Stevens. On June 2, 1905, their first child, Howard Stevens MacMillan, was born. On May 18, 1907, their second child, Isabella Roberta MacMillan, was born. Robert worked as a physician for most of his life. He was appointed surgeon on SS Adams on October 9, 1909, and later became a master mason on February 28, 1911. He then returned to medicine, and worked as a surgeon on SS Annapolis, appointed to the position on February 1, 1923. He then died on January 10, 1925, in Skippack, Pennsylvania, at the age of 44.

Marion MacMillan was born in, 1900 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert McMillan and Margaret McPherson. She was their last child, and was one of 11 children: Geo Landrum MacMillan, Louis A MacMillan, Robert MacMillan MD, Benton MacMillan, Mary Morrow MacMillan, Florence Edna MacMillan, Bessie MacMillan, Helen MacMillan, Sydney Adelaide MacMillan, and Margaret MacMillan. She died on December 19, 1900, at 8 weeks old.

—Kate Weiler

William & Florence Lawler – Mausoleum Hill

In fall 2017 a group of Haverford College students completed a project to research a number of the burials in Mausoleum Hill on the Yeadon side of the cemetery. These profiles will be presented in our Notable Burials section.

William J. Lawler

William Joseph Lawler was born in Philadelphia on 2 Dec, 1922, and is the child of James and Nellie (Ellen) Lawler (previously Ellen Moran). While both of his parents were born in Pennsylvania, of his grandparents, only his paternal grandfather was born in the state. His maternal grandmother was born in England, his maternal grandfather was born in Delaware, and his paternal grandmother was born in Ireland. In 1930, he was living on 2028 South 23rd St, Philadelphia with his parents and siblings. As of 1940, when he was living in 809 N. Beechwood St, #30, Philadelphia, PA in 1940, he had five siblings: James, John, Joseph, Eileen, and  Robert, born about 1920, 1922, 1924, 1927, and 1932, respectively. Presumably as a consequence of the great depression, William’s father had only had 26 weeks of work in 1939 and had been unemployed for the 8 weeks leading up to the April 1940 census. He worked as a plumber and contractor, and his income in 1939 was $1,040. William’s eldest brother James had been unemployed for the last 5 weeks and was also working as a plumber and contractor, with an income of $468 from 1939. His brother John deviated from the family trade, working as a truck driver. Although John had been unemployed for the first three months of 1940, he had worked every week in 1939 and made $624. William, who was 17 in 1940, was just finishing high school and had not yet begun work. Other members of the household were not seeking employment.

William did not have long after he graduated high school to begin his adult life in Philadelphia; Just as his father had served in the first world war, William came to serve in the second. In August of 1940, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served domestically for two years, from August of 1940 to July of 1942. On July 21, 1942 he entered foreign service, which he served in until August 2, 1945. He served his last week of service domestically, and was separated from active service in Indiantown, PA on October 10, 1945. In 1950, when he applied for Veteran Compensation, he was living at 451 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia (#30), PA. In 1949, he married Florence MacMillan, and is buried near the MacMillan family on Mausoleum Hill. William and Florence had three sons, William, Robert, and Patrick.  In 1989, he was living in Paulsboro, Gloucester County, New Jersey. He passed away on April 6, 1989 and was interred four days later at Mount Moriah.

Florence MacMillan Lawler

Florence MacMillan Lawler was born in Pennsylvania in 1923 to parents James A. MacMillan (born about 1898) and Margaret MacMillan (born about 1903). She was the second oldest of seven siblings: James, Harry, Robert, Margaret, Charles, Francis, and Wesley (born approximately 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1938, respectively). In 1940, at age 17, she was employed for non-emergency private work and had worked 36 hours in the past week as a soda dispenser in a drug store. She had not worked at all in 1939; Presumably, this was work she started in 1940.

She married William Lawler in 1949, and had three sons by him, William, Robert, and Patrick.

Florence passed away on the 28th of February, 1976 at age 53. She was survived by a brother, Marshall Boyd.[1] A funeral service was held at the Inglesby Funeral Home, 602 E. Main St., Maple Shade, and mass was held an hour after at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. She was interred a week later (March 3) in section 125, lot 12.

—Leah Budson

Thompson Family – Mausoleum Hill

In fall 2017 a group of Haverford College students completed a project to research a number of the burials in Mausoleum Hill on the Yeadon side of the cemetery. These profiles will be presented in our Notable Burials section.

Anna Clayton Thompson was buried in Mount Moriah on August 11, 1972 following her death at the age of 84. She was born in 1887 in Pennsylvania as Anna F. Clayton. Anna graduated high school but did not attend college. In 1912, when she was 24, Anna married Edmund Anderson Thompson. The couple had three sons together: Robert Clayton Thompson, George Wilson Thompson, and Edmund Anderson Thompson, Jr. The family lived in Delaware County, PA.

Edmund Anderson Thompson was buried in Mount Moriah in 1960 following his death on April 15, 1960 due to a myocardial infarction. He was born in Pennsylvania on April 4, 1887, and both his parents were Irish immigrants. According to his WWI draft card, Edmund was tall, had brown eyes and dark hair, and was of a medium build. Edmund did not serve in the military. Edmund graduated from the Philadelphia Central High School in 1904. He began teaching in Philadelphia public schools in 1906. In 1916, he began pursuing a graduate degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. By 1920, Edmund was a public school supervisor, and by 1930, he was a public school principal. In 1940, Edmund was earning $5000 a year in that role, equivalent to about $88,000 in today’s money.

Robert Clayton Thompson was the eldest of Edmund and Anna’s sons. He was born on December 13, 1917 in Philadelphia. In 1940, at the age of 23, Robert had completed two years of college and was employed part-time at a finance company. According to his 1940 World War II draft registration, Robert had blue eyes and brown hair, was 6 feet tall, and weighed 230 lbs.

George Wilson Thompson was Edmund and Anna’s second son. He was born on January 28, 1920 in Philadelphia. By 1940, at the age of 20, George had graduated high school and was working part-time. From July 20, 1942 to February 22, 1946, George served in the Marine Corps. From July 1, 1943 to December 31, 1944, George was deployed abroad.

Edmund Anderson Thompson, Jr. was Edmund and Anna’s third son. He was born on July 25, 1921 in Springfield, PA. By 1940, Edmund had graduated high school, and he later became a dentist. According to his 1942 World War II draft card, Edmund had blue eyes and brown hair, was six feet tall, and weighed 180 lbs. He served in the US Navy during World War II for three years, from July 1, 1943 to December 30, 1946. From February 14, 1946 to April 28, 1946, Edmund was deployed abroad.

On November 27, 1946, Edmund married Harriet Bloodsworth Thorpe at St. John the Evangelist’s Church in Landsdowne, PA. His brother Robert was the best man and his other brother George was an usher. The couple had a son, Edmund Anderson Thompson 3d, and a daughter, Kathy Thompson Wiley. Edmund, Harriet, and their children all played golf at a competitive level.

—Olivia Graziano