Year in Review
Dear Friend of Mount Moriah Cemetery:
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES!!!
Goals were met and in some instances exceeded! The results of our ongoing efforts to restore and preserve historic Mount Moriah Cemetery with the help of our partners have been nothing short of AMAZING. Here is an overview of what happened in 2015:
Receivership Renewed – The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted receivership of the cemetery to the Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corporation (MMCPC) on September 17, 2014. MMCPC petitioned the court this past September to extend the receivership an additional year. The petition was granted. In the capacity of Receiver, the Corporation is authorized to act on behalf of the original owners, determine possible options for the future of the cemetery and report its findings to the Court. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery work in tandem with the Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corporation to explore opportunities and resources to better manage, preserve and protect the cemetery and its assets. The organizations have applied for a William Penn Fund grant to fund a collaborative strategic plan
Grounds – Many sections were cleared and added to our regular cutting schedule. A map of the cemetery that indicates the maintained sections is below.
Thousands of Volunteer Hours – This year we had more volunteers who are working in various capacities, such as groundskeepers, record preservation and research than ever before. We held 20 restoration events which ranged in attendance from 20 to well over 150 volunteers. Local colleges and universities continue to send busloads of students to assist with grounds maintenance and clearing at these events. In addition, more and more individuals and families are coming out to clear and maintain their family plots. Some even adopt an entire section. They are driving in from neighboring states and even flying in from abroad. It is truly remarkable to see how much people care about Mount Moriah and her residents.
Records Preservation – When the cemetery closed in the Spring of 2011, the records left in the office were boxed up and sent to a private storage facility. Last year they were moved to the City of Philadelphia’s archives. In total, there were more than 300 boxes of office records, burial records and journals dating back to the cemetery’s opening in 1855. All of these records are in the process of being photographed and sent to numerous volunteers for transcription.
Naval Asylum Plot Transcription Project – A database of 2,124 Navy, Marine, and civilian graves within the plot’s 5 sections has been compiled. We are able to identify, by name 99% of these graves. We recovered the identity of 696 “Lost to history” graves where markers are currently illegible, unmarked, marked “Unknown,” misplaced, or misidentified. Of the 59 “Unknown” markers encountered, we identified 51 veterans and civilians by name. We are now researching each grave to provide a historical profile for each veteran and civilian buried in the Naval Asylum Plot.
National Wreaths Across America Day – The Friends participated in this event for the first time this year. Our goal was to place at least 2,800 wreaths on the graves of veterans interred in the Naval Asylum, the Soldiers Plot and the MOLLUS Plot. A total 1,031 wreaths were purchased and well over 100 people participated. We plan to exceed the 2,800 goal in 2016.
Headstones – Countless headstones were uncovered and reset throughout the cemetery.
Family Assistance – On average, we are assisting 5-10 families each week by researching records and helping to locate the resting place of their loved ones or ancestors.
Awareness – We are constantly promoting the positive aspects of the cemetery and showcasing our events via the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery Newsletter, Facebook (over 3,700 members), a comprehensive website, news media and community engagement. Numerous biographies have been compiled and posted to the website. Earlier this year, a documentary was also released showing the challenges that the cemetery is facing as well as the efforts presently underway to preserve and restore the grounds.
- 2012 approximately $3,200
- 2013 increased to $26,500
- 2014 increased to $41,300
- To-date for 2015 our donors generously contributed $37,700.
Funding is what keeps us going and we cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support. This year’s budget went to a wide variety of items with the largest categories being:
- $6,700 Equipment – 2015 Snapper Pro / 48 Inch Zero Turn Mower
- $5,100 General supplies (chemicals, trash bags, weed whacker line, etc.)
- $4,800 Fuel
- $4,400 Parts & equipment repair
- $3,700 Clean up event supplies (water, Gatorade, snacks, port a johns, bug spray)
- $2,600 Insurance
We would also like to recognize those who passed this year:
Bruce Hoffsommer worked tirelessly to digitize the burial records for posterity. While operating behind the scenes, Bruce spent many months in the archives photographing records one page or burial card at a time. His meticulous work ethic, dry wit and coy smile is sorely missed.
Harvard Wood, III served as a key board member for several years. Harvard was the 4th generation owner operator of H.C. Wood, Inc. Cemetery Memorials which was founded the same year as Mount Moriah, 1855. His knowledge and experience was called upon numerous times during his tenure.
George Powers was a very kind and generous volunteer who we lost this past Spring. Mr. Powers was determined to clear his family plot this year with the help of his son and granddaughter. His son was able to complete the task later this year.
So What Are The Plans for 2016?
Maintaining the Grounds
As with any cemetery, the largest expense and challenge is the maintenance of the grounds, especially during the April through October growing season. In 2015, we began the process of securing bids from landscaping companies to mow and weed whack the maintained areas of the cemetery. Needless to say, we were astonished at the pricing that we were given. We continued to contact companies until we were able to find one that we believe will be affordable. Beginning in 2016, with your financial support, we will outsource the landscaping of the cleared and maintained sections in Yeadon.
Due to decades of neglect, the need for capital improvements is critical.
- Roads have eroded and are in need of repaving and repair throughout the cemetery.
- Sections of fencing have fallen and in need of repair
- Trees need to be trimmed and/or removed.
- Drains and culverts need to be unclogged and repaired to reduce flooding and erosion.
- Securing the perimeter of both sides of the cemetery is a necessity
- Eventually we would like to have solar lighting installed along the main road to improve security.
- While much of the debris has been removed from decades of dumping, there is still additional areas that need to be cleared. (Concrete, tires, and other construction materials)
The gatehouse has been vacant and neglected since it caught fire in the 1970s. Efforts are underway to stabilize its façade with the hope that a columbarium can be built behind it for cremains. A grant has been secured from the City of Philadelphia and discussions are underway with engineers and contractors to design and create the much needed bracing for the façade of the building.
This year, we have made amazing progress on many levels and we look forward to the opportunities and possibilities of the new year. We cannot begin to thank you for all of your past and hopefully future support. Please stay in touch to witness the true renaissance of this ‘Grande Dame’ as your generosity is making all of this possible. If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions please feel free to contact us. We are all part of the Mount Moriah family.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!