10+ Trivial Cemetery Facts

View of Mt. of Olives

View of Mt. of Olives

Do you get squeamish at the thought of cemeteries? If you put cemeteries into a new light, such as one that shines from history or from downright silly trivia, you may not be so intimidated. While cemeteries hold remains of the dead, they also hold some interesting facts such as the ones listed below:

  1. The word “cemetery,” which is the traditional place to bury the dead, comes from the German words koimeterion (meaning a sleeping place), and koiman (to put to sleep). The word, “graveyard,” was not recorded until the early 19th century.
  2. The The oldest known Jewish cemetery is the Mount of Olives Cemetery located in Jerusalem and also a burial ground for people of Muslim and Christian faiths. This cemetery is first mentioned in connection with David’s flight from Absalom in II Samuel 15:30.
  3. The first tombstone recorded in the Bible is in Genesis 35:20, where Jacob set up a pillar (tombstone) on Rachel’s grave on the road to Bethlehem.
  4. In March 2002, archaeologists removed what is believed to be the oldest Christian tombstone found in Japan. Discovered near Osaka, Japan, the grave marker relic was dated in the 16th century from the ground in Osaka Japan. Historians believe the tombstone was buried to hide it from authorities who persecuted Christian in its time.
  5. Located on Route 80, near Tombstone, Arizona, the Boot Hill Graveyard became the final resting place to over 250 gunslingers, miners, and other fearless wild west pioneers. One of the tombstone epitaphs reads, Here lies Lester Moore 4 slugs from a 44 no less no more.
  6. A U.S. flag, the Declaration of Independence and an autographed picture of President Woodrow Wilson are just a few of the many items placed inside of the Arlington National Cemetery’s cornerstone, which was placed in the cemetery in 1915.
  7. Although Union soldiers were removed from shallow and inadequate burial sites at Gettysburg battlefield to a new cemetery shortly after that battle, it was seven years before Confederate soldiers were removed from their shallow battlefield graves. From 1870 to 1873, upon the initiative of the Ladies Memorial Associations of Richmond, Raleigh, Savannah and Charleston, 3,320 Confederate remains were dug up and sent to cemeteries in the south.
  8. The oldest known pet cemetery was uncovered in Green Country, Illinois by archaeologist, Dr. Stewart Schrever. He believes the pets were interred there around 6500 BC.
  9. The oldest operating pet cemetery in the United States is the Hartsdate Pet Cemetery in New York, established in 1896. It also bills itself as “America’s First and Most Prestigious Pet Burial Grounds.”
  10. The Vicksburg National Cemetery has the distinction of having the largest number of Civil War interments of any national cemetery in the United States. Of the approximate 17,000 Union veterans, only 5,000 are known. There are no Confederate burials here.
  11. Chicago’s Lincoln Park was created in 1864. The original 120 acre cemetery had most of its graves removed and was expanded to more than 1000 acres for recreational use. A small-pox hospital was located on the grounds as well.
  12. Saint Joseph’s Cemetery, the only known United States cemetery facing north-south is located in Rayne, Louisiana. It was once listed in Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

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