LIVING AMONG THE DEAD, Evergreens Cemetery

Here’s one of the stranger stories concerning one of the major NYC cemeteries, Evergreens Cemetery, which is about evenly divided between Brooklyn and Queens, the westernmost burial city in the Cemetery Belt, which sprawls along the terminal moraine, or mountainous lands left by the retreat of the last glacier thousands of years ago, between the modern neighborhooods of Bushwick, Ridgewood, East New York and Woodhaven.

Jonathan Reed loved his wife, Mary. Nothing unusual there. But according to Evergreens, when she died in 1893, Jonathan Reed moved into her sarcophagus to live with the remains, as well as his (still living) pet parrot.

Reed had his Mary’s casket transferred to the vault, where he installed an empty casket in which he would eventually lie. He then settled into what became his second home. Domestic furniture stood in the vestibule, a wood stove provided heat, and scattered about the vault were a clock, some urns filled with flowers, photographs, paintings on the wall, a deck of playing cards, Mary’s half-finished knitting, and the family’s pet parrot (first alive, later stuffed). As word of Reed’s story spread, company began stopping by. Around 7,000 people stopped by in the first year alone.

Witnesses said he ate all of his meals there and held imaginary conversations with his wife. According to the New York Times article, published in March of 1905, “Mr. Reed could never be made to believe that his wife was really dead, his explanation of her condition being that the warmth had simply left her body and that if he kept the mausoleum warm she would continue to sleep peacefully in the costly metallic casket in which her remains were put.” The article also states, “According to his friends, he really believed that his wife could understand what he was saying to her.”

When he passed in 1905 his remains were finally interred here with his wife’s, as well as the parrot.

2/19/15


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8 Responses to LIVING AMONG THE DEAD, Evergreens Cemetery

  1. Don Gilligan says:

    Annabel Lee!!!

  2. thom says:

    True Love

  3. Allan Rosen says:

    Once went on an Evergreen tour. Heard that story and a few more interesting ones. A very rich man in the beer business killed himself when the woman he proposed to declined his offer and also has a mausoleum similar to the one pictured.

  4. Bill Tweeddale says:

    When my sister went there 20 years ago, to make arrangements to bury our uncle, one of the workers told her to look out for roaming packs of dogs or coyotes!

  5. Rigg R. Maurtisce says:

    Please forgive me, but I can’t help but wonder if he also ” jumped her bones”, if you will.

    It would actually make sense, considering everything he did – I guess he was an in incurable necromantic!

  6. Pamela's Voice says:

    He must have been quite the masochist; married AND had a parrot?!?

  7. Frank says:

    I’m sure she showed more life than my ex!

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