An Historic Walk Through Newark’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery

by Alice Magdziak • July 3, 2017 • Essex, PhotographyComments (0)2783

We recently toured Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark and were amazed at the array of famous New Jersey people who are buried there.  The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee sponsored the event and volunteers portrayed some of the people buried there.  We heard they also do a Halloween tour and you can be sure that we’ll be returning for that, too.

We met the oldest woman to survive the Titanic disaster, Mary Compton, at the first stop along the tour.  She and her son told us all about the trip.  Her son, Alexander, did not survive the icy waters and has only a headstone in the cemetery since his body was never recovered.

Thomas Edison and his first wife, Mary Sitwell, greeted us near Mary’s grave. Thomas was originally buried here but was moved a few years after his burial by his second wife to a new plot outside his West Orange home. Edison told us that he buried electronic devices with his first wife and tried to communicate with her after she died.  He even installed a bench nearby so he could sit and wait for her to contact him.

We chatted with John Dryden in front of his mausoleum. He founded the Prudential Insurance Company which was initially named the Widows and Orphans Friendly Society. He was also one of New Jersey’s U.S. Senators.

We heard singing along the tour and it turned out to be Samuel Ward, composer of “America the Beautiful.” He wrote the music which was originally called “Materna” and later his music was put together with a poem by Katherine Lee Bates to make the famous song.

There was no fireman character but we heard about the history of “The Firemen’s Plot” from the cemetery’s caretaker Scott Willman. Many of the Newark firefighters who died on duty are buried here.  Scott was a fascinating spokesman for the whole cemetery.

The cemetery is visually interesting to walk through even without the historical characters.  The graves and mausoleums have a wide range of architectural styles including Romanesque, Baroque, Victorian and Art Deco.

Check out all the pictures from our walk through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark and follow the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee on Facebook so you can see when similar events are held later on in the year. It’s well worth the easy trip from Route 21, I-280 or the Parkway.

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