Posts Tagged Graceland Cemetery

UPDATE: Was Anna Murray Douglass still buried in DC when Frederick Douglass died in 1895?

A couple days ago I posted a clipping from the Baltimore Sun indicating Anna Murray Douglass was buried in Graceland Cemetery within days of her death on August 4, 1882. I then called the clerk of Mount Hope Cemetery who told me their records indicate Anna Murray Douglass was buried there in 1882, but didn’t have the exact date of her internment. Fair enough.

NY Times, Feb. 22, 1895

A friend and a reader have since sent an article I’d overlooked from February 22, 1895 revealing that upon Frederick’s death in Washington in February 1895, his children intended to “disinter” Anna, who was still buried in DC, now at Glenwood Cemetery (as Graceland Cemetery closed in July 1894), and move her to Rochester to rest alongside Frederick, and their youngest daughter, Annie.

I called over to Glenwood Cemetery on Lincoln Road NE and spoke with Walter, the superintendent. I explained all the background and said I was trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. Ever gracious Walter gave a thorough once-over through the card files and internment book from 1894 until 1896. This would have covered Anna’s possible move from Graceland and/or her disinterment, right Well, Walter didn’t see anything but extended the invitation to come over and check the books out in person, if I’d like.

What I find interesting is, that if Anna Murray Douglass was moved from Graceland to Glenwood, she was moved to what Richardson calls one of the city’s “big five” white cemeteries of the last nineteenth/early 20th century. Those five being, Oak Hill, Rock Creek, Congressional, Glenwood, and Mount Olivet, which was a biracial burial ground. The “big five” of Washington’s black cemeteries of this time, Richardson writes, were Harmony, Payne’s (east of the river), Mount Olivet, Mount Zion, and Mount Pleasant.

Now, back to Mount Hope. The New York Times clipping must be read with a certain level of critical perspicacity. At the time of Frederick’s death in 1895, Rosetta, his oldest daughter, was alive, but his youngest daughter Annie, had been dead for thirty-five years. So, only one of Douglass’ daughters was buried in Rochester, not two.

Calling Mount Hope I spoke with Lydia Sanchez, a clerk at Mount Hope Cemetery which is run by the city of Rochester. I explained Lydia my quandary. Once again, Lydia confirmed that according to Mount Hope’s records Anna Murray Douglass was buried in 1882. It wasn’t until 1888 that datebooks of burials were kept.

With this info, is it correct to say that if Anna Murray Douglass was buried in Mount Hope in late February or early March 1895 alongside her husband of 44 years there would be an exact date. I have a whole collection of newspaper accounts of Douglass’s funeral service in DC and Rochester and his subsequent burial in Rochester that I can examine as well as letters. This is not something I had expected to find, but it’s been found nonetheless.

Foner, Quarles, and McFeely don’t really get into detail about Anna’s death and burial. Deadrich in Love Across Color Lines does go there, stating that Anna was brought to Rochester and buried there right after her death. Her citation does nothing to prove her claim. While Douglass’ other biographers didn’t step up to bat on this one, Diedrich did. But she struck out.

My main man, Frederic May Holland, and his blasphemously ignored work 19th century work on Douglass, may come the closest to to giving some valuable clues to solving his mystery.

Will look into this further and get up another post. To be continued….

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If Anna Murray Douglass was buried in DC’s Graceland Cemetery then how and why did she end up in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester?

In life Anna Murray Douglass, the wife of Frederick Douglass for 44 years and mother to their five children, is largely a mystery to historians. In death, she’s still a mystery.

According to her Certificate of Death from August 1882, the 69-year old Anna Murray Douglass, originally of Denton, in Caroline County, Maryland died August 4th of “Paralysis – Hemiplegia.” By care of an undertaker from Anacostia, she he was buried in Graceland Cemetery on August 6th, 1882.

According to the Baltimore Sun‘s “Washington Letter” from August 8, 1882, “The funeral of Mrs. Frederick Douglass yesterday was attended by a large concourse of both white and colored, on foot and in carriages. The funeral procession, a long one, carried the remains to Grace Cemetery, where she was laid to rest by Hon. B.K. Bruce, John F. Cook, Jas. Wormley, Dr. Green, B.D. Woods, and Robert Parker, the pall-bearers.”

In “The Burial Grounds of Black Washington: 1880-1919” published in Vol. 52 of the Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Steven J. Richardson writes, “The only predominately black cemetery that interred a significant number of whites was Graceland Cemetery, established in 1872. Located just south of Mount Olivet on Bladensburg Road, just beyond the Florida Street boundary, N.E., Graceland was a popular biracial cemetery during its brief existence.”

Between 1880 and 1894, Graceland buried 4,722 black Washingtonians and 1,073 white Washingtonians. In 1890 and 1891, Graceland was the final resting place for more blacks than any other cemetery in the city.

Its popularity notwithstanding, with development encroaching and its location on “marshy land,” Graceland closed on July 23, 1894. Many were reinterred at the recently opened Woodlawn Cemetery, on Benning Road NE. (The final resting place for Blanche K. Bruce, John Mercer Langston, and other men and women of local and national prominence.)

So, that means Anna Murray Douglass is buried in Woodland Cemetery and cared for and watched over by the retired United States Marine Tyrone F. General and his corps of volunteers and patriots that are saving Woodlawn, right? No. Today Anna Murray Douglass is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York alongside her husband, Frederick Douglass. Helen Pitts Douglass, the second wide of Frederick Douglass, is also buried in Mount Hope.

I spoke with the clerk of Mount Hope who confirmed that, according to their records, Anna Murray Douglass was buried in Mount Hope in 1882. Unfortunately, there was is no record of the exact date of Anna’s internment, as there is for Helen (12/9/1903).

“That’s quite common for that period,” I was told.

So there it is. Another mystery. I’d imagine there are Rochester and other upstate New York newspaper accounts of Anna’s burial (re-burial) at Mount Hope and I might be able to dig up something in the LOC’s FD papers but more than likely I won’t able to solve this before the final deadline.

But I think it’s fair to say two things about Anna Murray Douglass, 1) Without Anna Murray Douglass the world might never have known Frederick Douglass and 2) At one point Anna Murray Douglass was buried in Washington, DC.

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