Bodies at the Train Stop: 2

March 22nd, 2007 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Boston’s Toll Gate Cemetery does not speak well of the treatment of the urban dead. While nearby Forest Hills Cemetery does, it is private and commercial. Come a hurricane with falling trees damaging markers and sites, the grounds crew is quickly out putting the care in perpetual care.

In contrast, storms and ruffians alike have ravaged the century and one-half vest-pocket burial ground on Hyde Park Avenue. Their caprice more likely than their choice kept some markers whole and others shattered.

Toll Gate Markers

Many markers also suffer simply from the class issue that affects many East Coast cemeteries. Those whose graves have the less expensive sandstone fare far more poorly than the ones with slate or granite stones. Our driving rains, the sleet and the snow show no mercy in wearing down the names and other inscriptions.

Note: For any image here, click on the thumbnail to see a larger version.

We can rarely blame the water or wind for toppling stone, though. Numerous markers here show the effects of vandals.

Broken headstone Shattered stone

A disturbing number have been beaten into pieces. We know that the one below marked the grave of someone from County Galway, who died December 20, 1858 at age 60. Yet, the dead’s name was lost in the damage.

Abused headstone

A few of the toppled stones survive in a disabled way. You can make out the Denny inscription and its iconography. Here, kind souls could at least use local rocks to prop it up until something more permanent can happen.

Denny stone Stone propped up

The next post will show some of the stones in good shape and what they tell us about those buried here.

See part one of this post, describing the area and cemetery generally.

Tags: harrumph, harrumpher, Boston, Forest Hills, Toll Gate, cemetery


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6 Responses

  1. One of my sons and I did a study of this cemetery around three years ago. He re-visited it recently and said that the gravestones were in much worse shape than they had been before (and that many more were damaged).

    Apparently this cemetery now (more or less) “belongs” to Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale. It had previously been linked to the nearby St. Andrew the Apostle Church (after this was built — around 1918). When St. Andrew’s Parish was consolidated with that of Sacred Heart in 2000, this little cemetery apparently became associated with that parish in turn. The pastor of Sacred Heart, however, only learned about the linkage of this cemetery to his parish within the last couple of months. ;~}

  2. Harrumpher says:

    Great lead, Michael. Thank you.

    I was waiting to hear back from one of the veterans who apparently are unofficially trying to help there. Father Kelley was on my list to call and I’ll definitely do that now.

  3. We never did hear back from anyone from the veteran’s group — back when we tried to get in touch with them three or so years ago.

    My favorite grave marker here — the one (in German) for the 20 year old teacher, presented by her students. A heartbreaker. I hope this one is still intact.

  4. Harrumpher says:

    That one is still there and in fair shape. The very top of the stone, probably previously coming to a peak is missing. That might be weather or maybe vandalism. From the cross down through the inscription, it is one of the clearer markers there.

    I have not heard from the group or from the fellow who says he recorded all the legible inscriptions there. It seems as though they’d welcome attention and perhaps some donations of time or money.

  5. > It seems as though they’d welcome attention
    > and perhaps some donations of time or
    > money.

    One would think so.

  6. Harrumpher says:

    I have been slack on completing this cycle. I have two good leads on key details on the history as well as the future of this burying ground. Also, I still hold hope that eventually, the fellow who researched the stones and those buried there will respond to requests and tell us more.

    I’ll try to get more up on this in May.

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