Monday, 10 October 2011

Mt. Moriah cemetery in Philadelphia

Friday, October 7, 2011

Feeling positive about our results of yesterday's visit to Pottsville, we decided to take some time to see the sights of Philadelphia. Really, it would just be wrong somehow to be here for the better part of a week without seeing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. After breakfast, we walked to 5th and Market, and signed up for the hop-on, hop-off tour, which took us on a 90 minute drive around the city highlights on a double-decker bus. We meandered back towards the hotel, and stopped at the Mumbai Bistro for a quick and tasty lunch.

Once we got back to the hotel, I checked the email, and found a response from Ken Milano. I called his cell phone, and asked if he would be willing to take us to Mt. Moriah cemetery. We had determined that visiting Frankford and the Cedar Hill cemetery would be too much to do today, and furthermore, Haldane Hay's grave at Cedar Hill was less important to see compared to seeing Edward MacHarg's final resting place at Mt. Moriah, as I am directly descended from that line. Ken cautioned us that Mt. Moriah was overgrown, as the cemetery owners walked away from it in April this year. I had read the same in the news, but I hoped it might not be too bad. I had the map of the area from our visit to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and knew where the plot was, so off we went.

Ken picked us up within about 20 minutes, and we headed toward the cemetery. He got us there, but it looked pretty bad from the road. We circled back and Ken drove in on the overgrown path, which was quite rough. After awhile, we saw a marker that indicated “Section 130” and noticed a car with the trunk open a bit further down the side path. Ken continued along, musing that it could be someone burying a body or something equally as sinister, and we came to a dead end. Unsure of where to go next, at Dad's urging, we turned around and went back to where the car was parked. There in the middle of the cemetery was a man mowing around one specific section. We asked him if he knew where we were in relation to the map we had, and he said he was maintaining Section 131, which was where some Methodist ministers were buried. Since the cemetery had been abandoned, he had been visiting every 2 weeks to maintain that section. Quite amazing, as it was not easy to access. He encouraged us to try to access the section we wanted, as it was adjacent to the Navy part of the cemetery, which was still being maintained by the military. We went back out to the main path, and continued along to what we figured was Section 142. Dad went ahead on foot, and paced out his best guess as to where it would be. As usual, he was bang on.

We jumped out of the car, and began to check the various stones for names and dates. We were not sure how our map of the section should be oriented on the ground, so Ken began phoning in to a colleague to ask whether we were even in the correct place. We were astounded by the brambles and the poor state of the area, and looked across a low fence to see someone maintaining the military part of the cemetery. We were quite frustrated by our inability to make sense of the map, and to find Plot 13. After a series of phone inquiries, we eventually determined we were in the right general area.

The last call Ken made was to ask about the “Latimer” stone, and he was told that it was placed in Plot 13, which was supposed to be the MacHarg plot. Hmmm. We looked all around that area, and found some small stones on the ground labeled “L” and “M” - they were perhaps to indicate a specific row, or could be to indicate the two families? In any event, we continued to probe the ground all around these stones, but did not find MacHarg anywhere. It was a shame, but at least we could say we had tried to find Edward and two of his sons. For our purposes, we'll perhaps think of this "M" stone as a marker for the "MacHarg" family.

We packed up and got back into the car, and thanked Ken for his willingness to take us to the cemetery, and for his effort to get us to the correct section. We would never have made it to the specific area without his help, as a taxi would never have agreed to drive in there!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Thanks for posting all of this information about your trip. It's great to see the photos and follow your adventures. You are good sleuths! I can't believe the height of the brambles in the Mt. Moriah cemetary.