2020 News Archives



As we celebrate the Season of Light, The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery would like to wish all of our members and volunteers –  HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a JOYOUS NEW YEAR


fallen stone in Section A

We have reached 80% of our goal!!  Sincere thanks to our donors. Please help us fund the last 20% of this critical project.  What a difference we can make!

Section A attracts many visitors, and we all know that when we take a walk in a cemetery, the first things that catch our eyes are the broken, toppled, or otherwise damaged monuments. We have counted 148 gravestones in Section A that need restoration. And we have received an estimate from a trusted contractor that the restoration work would cost $14,800. 

Section A stones in disrepair

Our restoration dollars are limited these days by the Coronavirus pandemic that eliminates a principal source of income, namely our program of guided tours. We stored up enough money and received a few hard-to-get grants to proceed with the restoration plan we had scheduled for 2020. The final dollars in that fund will be depleted this fall. 
With a cash-strapped city, limited available grants, and our own money-raising ventures diminished, we are turning to our members for help.

Please be a financial contributor at whatever amount suits you. To contribute, please send a check , with the notation “Section A Restoration,” to:
Friends of Mount Hope CemeteryPO Box 18713
Rochester, New York 14618
Our Sincere Thanks for Your Support!


Section A Vignette # 1

Josiah Bissell East Avenue Home

Josiah Bissell was an engineer and  the state contractor in charge of constructing the second Erie Canal Aqueduct over the Genesee River. 

When he demolished the crumbling 1823 aqueduct, he salvaged stone from it to build his home at 666 East Avenue. The stone was so porous that the aqueduct leaked.  He lined the exterior walls of his home with lead to prevent dampness

He also planted horse chestnut trees on East Avenue from his home all the way to today’s Liberty Pole.  This began the custom of planting stately trees along avenues.
He is given credit for naming East Avenue, originally called the “Road to Pittsford.”  He put a sign painted with “East Avenue” on every street corner.  The city did not take the signs down, and that is how the street got its name.


Japanese Maple with dying lead branch

One of our most beloved trees at Mount Hope is the lovely Japanese Maple tree near the Anthony gravesite in Section C. Many people believe that this tree was a gift of the Ellwanger Barry Company in 1848. 

This is one of the 5 iconic trees which the FOMH pay to have cared for professionally – in this case by the Davey Tree Company.

This summer it was brought to our attention that our Japanese Maple was in trouble. One of the leads, or large branches emanating from the trunk, was dead, and the tree was in danger of splitting apart. We worried that the tree would not survive the winter.

Cabled limbs

Two weeks ago the tree was repaired. A cable was installed to support the two remaining leads. We can all relax, knowing that this special tree remains in good health and hopefully will enhance the beauty of this area for many years.

Caring for our iconic trees is part of our restoration committee’s work. It is financed by your membership contributions. Please considered joining the FOMH to support this work. If you are a member, we thank you! 

Tuesday, December 1st

neglected cradle grave

In spring 2020, President Pat Corcoran led an effort to uncover neglected cradle graves throughout Mount Hope Cemetery and find volunteers who would restore the gardens.

 Many of the graves were in disarray and needed to be rebuilt from scratch to ensure that they would be safe for gardeners to work in. 

Some of these graves were repaired by talented volunteers, and some more challenging graves needed to be repaired professionally. FOMH restoration funds from 2019 allowed us to repair the cradle graves that needed professional restoration.

planted cradle graves
plantted cradle graves
cradle graves to be restored

With the help of over 100 volunteers this summer, 80 cradle graves were planted with flowers and tended throughout the long hot summer. These pops of color truly enhanced the experience of visitors who walked through the cemetery in the spring and summer when being outdoors was one of the few recreational activities we could safely pursue.

As the Friends have pursued our restoration activities over the summer, a number of new cradle graves have been found. Many are in a sad state of repair and need extensive restoration to have them ready for “adoption” by our volunteers in 2021.

ROC the Day funds raised this year will allow us to repair many cradle graves so that we can accommodate the long list of volunteers on our waiting list who are eager to contribute to this effort.
On December 1st, click on this link to GIVE to support this project.


Happy Thanksgiving with pumpkin image


Wild Turkey wanders Mt. Hope Cemetery

How grateful we are:  – For your consistent support during this unusual season!

 – For your commitment to volunteer. We are an organization of volunteers.

 – For becoming members or renewing your memberships. Membership monies pay for our restoration projects.

 – For checking out our You Tube virtual productions.  

We look forward to seeing you all in person in 2021. And remember to RocTheDay with The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery on Dec. 1st. All funds collected will be used to repair our amazing cradle graves. Stay safe.FOMH


We always look forward to the annual report sent by Sheryl Gracewski on our bluebird project. She and her team of volunteers do this vital work every year.

snow on bluebird house

“We didn’t check the boxes as often this year as we did in past years, so the numbers are more approximate. There were 5-6 successful bluebird broods nesting in our 13 boxes, each yielding 3-5 fledglings. This is the average over the last 14 years and similar to last year, but only half of the peak of 10. We had approximately 2 successful chickadee broods and 4 successful house wren broods, both down slightly from last year. We are delighted that a flying squirrel is continuing to use one of our boxes for nesting. There were 2 flying squirrels in the box in October, so we didn’t clean out the box when we winterized all of the other boxes. We didn’t see any activity at the old red-tailed hawk nest this year, but we did find a new red- tailed hawk nest in the southeast corner of the cemetery. We enjoyed great views of the newly fledged young hawks in the spring. 

bluebird on flowering branch

This is the first year of the 2020-2024 New York Breeding Bird Atlas, so we entered all the breeding behaviors we witnessed in the Mt. Hope Cemetery into the atlas portal. Unfortunately, both longitude and latitude block boundaries pass through the region of the cemetery containing our bluebird boxes, so we had to enter data for 4 different blocks. We hope to determine whether screech owls are using any of the owl boxes that were erected in the cemetery, so that we can enter owl data into the Breeding Bird Atlas. However, first we need to locate the boxes. We have found a few, but if you know the locations of any of the boxes, please pass this data on to us.” 


Deb Coffey portrait shot

“Carved in Stone: Exploring Cemetery Symbolism & Iconography”Saturday, November 1410:30 a.m. to 12:00 noonPresented by Deb CoffeySymbols are a part of our daily lives. We use, respond, and react to them without much thought. Consider all the traffic signals and symbols you encounter while driving your car, or the funny face emojis you include in emails and text messages. Symbols communicate with us subconsciously and can be a substitute for written words. 

A cemetery is a virtual encyclopedia of symbols. They are everywhere – on headstones, monuments, mausoleums, chapels, stained glass windows, and statuary. But why are they there? What do they mean? Are symbols meant to be interpreted literally, or is there a deeper meaning? What do they tell us about the deceased? 

We will explore the fascinating world of cemetery symbolism and iconography, highlighting the Victorian and 19th century symbolism found in Mount Hope and other area cemeteries, as well as take a glimpse at how modern-day cemetery symbols have evolved. Deb Coffey is a historian, researcher, and cemetery enthusiast. She is a current trustee, tour guide, and volunteer coordinator with the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York and is an aspiring Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide. Deb has explored and photographed several cemeteries in researching 19th century funerary art & architecture, cemetery symbolism, and Civil War history. Retired from the corporate world, she currently works in Public Safety.


Edward Crone Historic Marker
Edward Crone Gravesite

Happy Birthday to Edward R. Crone, Jr.  1923 – 45 This week there will be many events to commemorate this Brighton war hero and famous fictional protagonist featured in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut admitted that Edward Crone was his inspiration for the character Billy Pilgrim in his American classic. Crone and Vonnegut were fellow WW II infantrymen and prisoners-of-war in Dresden, Germany. Crone died of malnutrition a month before the end of the war in Europe. A few years before his death, Vonnegut visited Crone’s gravesite at Mount Hope Cemetery and visibly wept, saying that the visit “finally closed out the Second World War for me.” Check the websites of our friends at Brighton Memorial Library or Historic Brightonfor information about this celebration. Slaughterhouse Five is now an “All Brighton Reads” title.

 May his memory be a blessing.

Slaughterhouse Five book cover


Dear FOMH friends,

You know how excited we are about our cradle grave project! We now have two special treats for you — two videos celebrating this project. The first is a photo essay by Margaret Miyake, a celebrated local photographer who has a profound love of Mount Hope Cemetery. This summer Margaret spent many hours exploring the cemetery and taking photos. She selected some of her favorites, and our YouTube producer Chris Grooms added the music and FOMH information.
We dedicate this video to our cradle grave gardeners, who worked so hard this summer to produce these “splashes of color and tradition.”
Mount Hope Cemetery Cradle Graves, 2020 — A Photo Essay
The second video, Cradle Grave Gardeners Vol 1, is a collection of some responses received from gardeners when asked to share their cradle grave experiences. We think it is amazing, and we send kudos to all who contributed. We will follow this video with Vol. 2 in the spring, which will include more such interviews.
This video was created and organized by Pat Sorce, our PR chair. Music was selected and added by producer Chris Grooms. (Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21 in C – Andante)
This video is a special gift from the FOMH to the community – We want to celebrate this new program and congratulate our gardeners for their devotion and creativity during this 2020 season!
Take a walk in Mount Hope Cemetery and observe the glory of our many cradle graves. And remember the people buried in these graves and their families.  May their memories be a blessing. 
  — The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery



new blinds for west gatehouse windows
new blinds for north gatehouse windows
new blinds for gatehouse windows

This summer the FOMH were the recipient of a wonderful gift from former Board Member and long time friend Don Hall. Recognizing all the effort that our volunteers were putting into gatehouse improvements, Don purchased blinds for all the windows. They were installed in September, and the difference is magical! Don, we so appreciate your many years of service to the Friends, and we thank you for this generous gift! 

POP-UP HISTORIANS LIVE Program at the Cemetery

Saturday, September 19, 2020       10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Tour Guide and Pop-Up Historian Dennis Carr

Check out the Pop-Up Historians strategically positioned in the cemetery for our themed program:
Goods, Services, & Ideas from the Flower City”

Visit the information tent located near the North Gate House opposite Robinson Drive for location and times of Pop-up Historians throughout the North end of the cemetery.
Enjoy a leisurely self-guided walk through the cemetery. Each historian is one of our experienced tour guides and will share brief stories and facts about the person buried at each gravesite.


In the Fall of 2019, Jeffrey Simmons, the Manager of Mount Hope Cemetery, expressed to representatives of the Friends of Mount Hope that he was concerned about the condition of the Nathaniel Rochester Gravesite, as well as the dangerous access route.  Many gravestones were knocked over, some were broken into small pieces, and the area was in general disarray. 

The original access route had become inaccessible because of broken and misaligned steps and steep areas which were covered with mud and ice for most of the year. 

The FOMH always prioritize needs to the cemetery management in their annual restoration objectives. At the same time we welcomed Robbie Dreeson to our volunteer team, and she shared with us her work with the Daughters of the American Revolution and their grant program. Thanks to Robbie and the support of the Irondequoit Chapter NSDAR, we applied for a DAR grant.

The steps needed to restore this area were threefold:
Repairing 21 gravestones was our largest expense.These stones were also cleaned. Several of these thin gravestones were in pieces and had to be carefully put together and reinforced.
We designed and purchased three wayfinding signs which would lead people to the new access route.
We selected a new and safer route to the gravesite, repaired and leveled existing steps, and installed a handrail to make the new access route safe.  (This was not funded by the DAR grant, but was paid for by the FOMH.) 

DAR Logo

The project is now complete, and we are grateful for the support of the DAR. The FOMH have provided matching funds for this project. This historic gravesite is now totally repaired and is worthy of the final resting place of the founder of the City of Rochester. The new route is well marked and has allowed our many visitors to safely access this area. On Nathaniel Rochester’s gravestone is the inscription in Latin, ”Si monumentum requiris circumspice,” –”If you would seek my monument, look around you.”  From this lovely area high on a hill overlooking the Genesee River, visitors can view the skyline of downtown Rochester and ponder the story of Nathaniel Rochester. How wonderful to have this iconic area restored!


CRADLE GRAVE GARDENERS — VOLUME I Cradle Grave Gardeners Karen and Dick Kilmartin

The Kilmartins are the first cradle grave gardeners we will profile. Like many of our gardeners, they have taken on the restoration of multiple gravesites. Dick reflects on how they became involved: 
“While walking through Mt. Hope Cemetery this spring we noced the refurbishing of some older and, unfortunately, neglected graves. After meeting Pat we volunteered to help….the “cradle grave” program has been a wonderful and rewarding experience! Delving into the backgrounds of our adoptees really brings the history of Mt Hope to a personal level….we really feel as if we know them and they have become part of our family!” 
We will include the research they have done on their “adoptees” below to annotate the photos of the gardens and monuments. 

karen kilmartin at Melvin Brown grave
Karen Kilmartin at the Melvin Brown gravesite

Melvin Brown (Section C lot #77) 

Captain Melvin (Melville) Brown, a Civil War veteran, was born in 1832 and died in 1878 at the age of 46 of “consumption”, now known as tuberculosis. His wife Margaret (1832-1910) is buried in an unmarked plot next to him (almost under the path leading to Susan B Anthony). 

Also in the Brown family plot is E. Burke Collins whose wife memorialized him with an interesting angle-shaped monument titled “My Husband.” Also a Civil War veteran, he survived being “desperately wounded” in battle; in 1872, at the age of 29, he was accidentally shot to death in Louisiana. The sharp angle of the stone suggests the “cutting off” of a young life; the inscriptions hint at the ultimate reward of a noble life.

Kittie Bryan grave
Grave of Kittie Bryan
Edward Michel Grave
Grave of “Little Eddie”
Lillie Michel Grave after cleaning
Grave of Lillie Michel after cleaning

Kittie Bryan (Section C lot #24) 

Caroline E “Kittie” Davis Bryan was born in 1845 and died at the young age of 32 in the spring of 1877, also of “consumption.” She was the wife of Frank Bryan and lived on Marshall Street in Rochester. 

Children: Little Eddie and Lillie Michel

Edward J Michel
, (Range 2, SE 1⁄4 lot #60), son of Jacob and Ardelia Michel, sadly passed away (from congestion of the lungs) in 1868 at the age of only 11 months. Shortly after his death, his parents, brother, and two sisters moved from their home on University Avenue to Detroit, Michigan (where they are buried). Karen notes, “We ‘adopted’ Eddie on his birthday, May 25, which we noted with a stone among his flowers!”  Eddie rests in the Michel-Micheals-Kall family plot, near his 4-year-old cousin, Lillie Michel. 

Elizabeth (Lillie) Michel, age 4, daughter of Frederick (FP) and Rosa Michel, died in February of 1868, just two months before Eddie. She is memorialized with a stone monument with a Bible and anchor of hope, which was cleaned from a century of grime. Dick says,”We plan to plant lilies around her headstone.” 
President Pat Corcoran says, “We thank the Kilmartins for their enthusiasm and dedication to their lovely cradle graves. It is wonderful to attach a name and a story to these gravestones. We can imagine how cherished each of these deceased people were by their families who built these cradle graves and adorned them with flowers.” 

Pop-Up Historians present:

SusanB Myrtle Hillside

On Saturday, August 15, our Pop-Up Historians presented the second themed event of the summer, “Susan B. Anthony — Six Degrees of Separation.” Each historian selected a person who could claim an unique connection to Susan B. Anthony. (“Six degrees of separation” is the concept that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other.”)

graves of Susan and Mary Anthony

At our Information Tent, participants obtained maps that led them on a self-guided walk to our historians located throughout the cemetery. Graveside, historians shared information about the highlighted person and their connection to Susan B. Anthony. Visitors also viewed the newly restored gravesite of the Anthony Family plot made possible by a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation in 2019.

More than 650 visitors attended our pop-up historians’ presentations with rave reviews! Chair of this event was Deb Coffey. Special thanks to Deb and all the pop-up historians and tent volunteers:

visitors enjoy popup historians
volunteer popup historian Mitch Jones
visitors enjoy popup historians
historian greets visitor with visual aid
visitors at Douglass gravesite
pop-up historian Tony Flier


Historian                              Gravesite
Lynda Baudanza                Elisha J. Keeney
Eric Birken                        Henry R. Selden
Dennis Carr                       Rush Rhees
Jerry Cheplowitz                Myron Holley
Pat Corcoran                    Rhoda DeGarmo
Joan Hunt                        Beverly Waugh Jones
Mitch Jones                      Fish/Stebbins Family
Kristine Klein                     Amy Kirby Post
Snow Knight                     Cody Family
Joanne Mitchell                  Dr. Sarah A. Dolley
Rose O’Keefe                    Rosetta Douglass Sprague
Marty Palmieri                   Elisha J. Keeney
Barry Platt                        Dr. Sarah A. Dolley
John Quitter                      Jacob H. Myers
Tom Rudy                         Frederick Douglass
Colleen Ruffino                   Dr. Marcena S. Ricker
Pat Sorce                         Jean Brooks Greenleaf
Linda Steinberg                  Mary S. Anthony
Mary Ellen Sweeney            Mary S. Anthony

Sue Bellinger                  Lynda Baudanza
Robbie Dreeson               Deb Coffey
Barbara Figura                Tony Filer
Chris Grooms
Kristine Klein                   PHOTOS
                                    Ryker Knight                       
Tom Jones
Henry McCartney


flowering cradle graves overhead shot

Thanks to the efforts of dozens of volunteers, the historic cradle graves of Mount Hope Cemetery are being restored and replanted. Our cradle grave program, which began in 2019 with about 25 cradle graves in the north part of the cemetery, has expanded this year to the south section as well.  Currently we have more than 80 cradle graves planted, with over 100 volunteers working on this project.

Our Mount Hope cradle graves were originally built by German immigrants.  Germans were Rochester’s largest immigrant group, and people relocating in Rochester and leaving behind their lives in Europe tried to retain many of their family customs, which included cradle graves.  

cradle graves grassy

During the 1800s until the  mid 1900s, families would visit Mount Hope regularly and tend to their family graves.  At Mount Hope our oldest cradle graves were built in the 1840s (the cemetery opened in 1838), and the most recent ones in the 1940s. As customs changed and family members left the area, cradle graves deteriorated.

Our cradle graves reflect the affluence of the families who built them. Many are ornate, made of precious stone, and are pieces of art. Others were constructed simply by families who were middle class. Each was thoughtfully designed and marks the grave of a family member, adult or child, who was deeply loved.
In spring, 2020, FOMH president Pat Corcoran led an effort to uncover neglected cradle graves throughout the cemetery and find volunteers who would restore the gardens. Many of the graves were in disarray and needed to be rebuilt from scratch to ensure that they would be safe for gardeners to work in. Some of these graves were repaired by talented volunteers, and some more challenging graves needed to be repaired professionally. A 2020 cradle grave grant along with 2019 FOMH funds allowed us to repair many cradle graves, so that we could accommodate the long list of volunteers on our waiting list.

planted cradle graves

Gardeners at Mount Hope are encouraged to be as creative as they would like. We recommend drought resistant plants which are not attractive to our deer and groundhog residents. Being that this is our second year, we are still in the process of identifying which plants are ideal for our climate and conditions. We have a wonderful mixture of master and amateur gardeners, all combining their time and talents to make our cemetery bloom. Cradle gravers generously buy their own flowers and supplies and keep their graves watered, which is a challenging task. Like a family, our gardeners are happy to reach out to each other for help or advice.

Kirstein gravestone

Many gardeners are researching the history of their cradle grave families and have found some interesting stories. For example, Edward Kirstein (1825-1894) came to Rochester in 1848 from Germany and founded the optical company Edward Kirstein & Sons Optical.  He married Jeanette (1832-1914) and had six children. Son Louis rose to international prominence as a retailer and philanthropist. He lived in Boston and became Vice President of Filene’s & Sons. 

Kirstein cradle graves

Right next to the lovely cradle graves of Edward and Jeanette are the cradle graves of their son Henry and his wife, Fannie Solomon. Son Henry stayed close to home, took over the optical business and changed the name to Shur-On Optical. During the 1950s, Shur-On was the largest independent optical manufacturer in the country. 

The Kirstein Building

The Kirstein Building at 242 Andrews Street was constructed to serve as company headquarters in 1909. The company continued to use the building for offices and production until 1965. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Today it is known as Kirstein Lofts, and is home to 25 luxury residential lofts and commercial space.

In our next cradle grave article, we will profile some of our volunteers and show pictures of their gardens.

JULY 2020


photo of Lucy Colman
planted urn and birthday balloon at Colman gravesite

July 26th is your special day! Please know that you have many admirers among the Friends of Mount Hope. Ever since the publication of Sophia McRae’s outstanding article about your life in the Epitaph Fall and Winter 2020 issue, we have become ardent Lucy Colman fans!

Lucy Colman was an educator, writer, and prolific social reformer who was actively involved in the abolitionist, women’s suffrage, and Freethought movements. She also worked for racial justice and for the education of African Americans. Her hidden, broken-down gravesite in Section M was discovered several years ago by Anna Jannes, and we are now restoring her grave thanks to a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. This project is led by Tom Jones. 2020 will be a banner year for LNC!

New Program LIVE at the Cemetery:  Pop-Up Historians

Tour Guide and Pop-Up Historian Dennis Carr

Saturday, July 18, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Check out the Pop-Up Historians strategically positioned in the cemetery for our Civil War themed program!

Enjoy a leisurely self-guided walk through the cemetery and learn a little more about Rochester’s contribution to the war effort from a variety of perspectives: military, civilian, economic, medical, technological, and political. Each historian is one of our experienced tour guides and will share brief stories and facts about the person buried at each gravesite.

Civil War Monument

Visit the information tent located near the North Gate House opposite Robinson Drive for location and times of Pop-up Historians throughout the North end of the cemetery.

Please be respectful of others: Maintain six feet social/physical distancing and wear facial coverings when engaging with Pop-Up Historians and information tent staff.

Please Note: The Gatehouse and therefore the restrooms will not be open.


volunteer group photo

The City of Rochester and the Friends of Mount Hope sponsor a monthly 2nd Saturday volunteer experience at Mount Hope Cemetery, focusing on a variety of landscape projects. Hopefully these events will continue once a month through November.

On July 11th a most enthusiastic group of city volunteers and members of Community on Tap worked on raking a huge area in Section K. FOMH leaders this month were Tom Jones and Tony Flier, and Lindsay Reardon organized the Community on Tap participants.

volunteers hauling leaves

Those who are interested in volunteering for future “Second Saturday” events should register in advance using the Contact Us tab above. The group works for two hours, 9 to 11 a.m. All volunteers wear masks and follow social distancing and hand washing rules.

This monthly service project is much appreciated by all of us who are working hard to keep the cemetery beautiful. Come join us!


Don Hall with zinc monument

Retiring Trustee Donald S. Hall was recognized for his years of service to the Friends of Mount Hope on June 20 with a ceremony at the red horse chestnut tree planted in his honor. 

Don was best known for his knowledgable and humorous tours including the zinc “white bronze” monument tour and the ice cream tour. He also helped launch our Torch Light Tours, one of our most successful fund raising ventures.
President Pat Corcoran kicked off the event by introducing Trustee Tom Jones, who spoke of the importance of the choice of tree for Don – a red horse chestnut tree. It was chosen because it is a close relative of the buckeye tree, which is the state tree of Ohio where Don was born and raised.

Tour Guides Sally Millick and Tony Filer spoke about Don’s friendship and mentorship over the years. 

Trustee Richard Reisem read the dedication on the plaque at the base of the tree: 
“This tree is planted in honor of Donald S. Hall in recognition of his years of service to the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery. June 20, 2020”

You can find the new tree right next to the Ely mausoleum just off Indian Trail in the North end of the cemetery.

Red Chestnut tree planted to honor Don Hall
Speaker Tony Flier
Don Hall listens to colleagues' tributes

JUNE 2020

Juneteenth logo


Dennis Carr at Douglass Gravesite
Dennis Carr with visitors at Douglass gravesite

On Friday, June 12th, and Saturday, June 13th, visitors to the Douglass gravesite heard stories of Mr. Frederick Douglass’ life and times.

Many people had come from out of town, and they joined our local history enthusiasts in commemorating Juneteenth as well as Rochester’s rich abolitionist tradition.

Pop up historians were Eric Birken, Dennis Carr (pictured), and Pat Corcoran.

Juneteenth Logo

Juneteenth, the “19th of June,” 1865, African-American Independence Day, America’s 2nd Independence Day, recognized the end of enslavement. However, it did not occur until more than 88 years after the first Fourth of July.

The words of our own Frederick Douglass, brilliantly written in “What to the American Slave is Your 4th of July?”, continue as the best historic reminder of why the “4th of July” should never be celebrated without remembering the significance of the “19th of June” in America. This iconic speech was delivered here in Rochester.

Emancipation Announcement Galveston Newspaper

In 1865, a full two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the approximate 250,000 enslaved people in Texas had no idea that they had been emancipated. On June 19th of that year, the Union troops that delivered the news of slave emancipation and the end of the Civil War to this most remote of the former Confederate states were met with shock and jubilation. 

Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination…while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for Black people in America. Juneteenth is considered the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States commemorated with speeches, performances, and family gatherings. Rochester has many activities planned for this weekend.

sculpture of people celebrating emancipation

Today, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or special day of observance and recognition. New York State will be officially celebrating Juneteenth this year, and hopefully it will become a permanent holiday next year.

For more information about the history of this holiday, consult Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s article.

Mourning in the Morning: Speaker Series at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County 

“The Death of Harriet Bentley in the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic — A Family Grieves.”

portrait photo of Harriet Bentley

Presented by Patricia Corcoran     (Streamed Live via ZOOM)

Saturday, June 13, 2020 

10:30 p.m. – 12:00 NoonIn this presentation we visit a Rochester family and learn how family members dealt with the tragedy of losing a beloved mother and daughter in the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic. We also are able to compare and contrast life in Rochester during the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic with our lives today living through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Patricia Corcoran has been in love with Mount Hope Cemetery and its history since she moved to Linden Street in 1975. Currently serving as president of the Friends of Mount Hope, she has been a FOMH volunteer and trustee for years, serving as a tour guide, speaker, and chair of many committees. Her writing and research focus on interesting women in Mount Hope Cemetery, epidemics, orphanages, and poor lots. She was an ESOL teacher for 30 years in the Rochester City School District and served as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Geneseo, Nazareth College and St. John Fisher College. When not involved at Mount Hope Cemetery, Pat continues her love of history as a transcriber at the Seward Family Digital Project at the University of Rochester.

The Mourning in the Morning series is a joint program of the Friends of Mount Hope and the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County Local History & Genealogy Division.


stone cleaning volntr1stone cleaning volntr2stone cleaning volntr3stone cleaning volntr4

Devoted volunteers on this committee meet on some Sunday mornings to clean gravestones. Currently they are working on Section A.

Committee chairs are Valerie O’Hara and Robbie Dreeson. Loyal stone cleaners are Henry McCartney, Pat Curran, Chris Grooms, Pat Sorce, Deb Coffey, Mary Jo Meteyer, Chris Petote, and Dennis Carr.

MAY 2020


Saturday, May 9, 2020
Dear Friends,

Patricia Corcoran portrait shot

On Wednesday, May 6, our Board met and passed a resolution to cancel our 2020 Tour Season, including the Torch Light Tours.
While this was a traumatic decision for us, it was our only socially responsible route during this difficult time.

We had planned an amazing tour season, which we were all looking forward to. Our plan is to postpone this tour lineup until 2021. Hopefully we will be able to return to some normalcy by that time.

In the meantime, we have organized a committee to explore digital opportunities to distribute on our YouTube channel as well as general outreach to our members within state and local guidelines for social distancing. We will continue to communicate with you via this website.

Many thanks for your loyalty to the FOMH. While our tour program is the heart of our organization, we are flexible and will continue to fulfill our mission in new and creative ways.

COVID 19 has not slowed down our restoration activities, which are funded with membership dues and grants. As you stroll through the cemetery, you will see evidence of our many restoration projects. 

This year your membership renewal is more important than ever to keep our restoration program alive. We appreciate your ongoing financial support through your membership dues.

We will stay in touch…Each of you is important to us and to our mission.


Patricia Corcoran, President
Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery

“Innovation and inspiration are the cure for despair.”
— Rachel Maddow


GE Values Vets logo

On Thursday, May 21, General Electric employees and veterans Tyler Ekwell (US Marine Corps), Ron Kerst (US Air Force), Kris Dytche (US Marine Corps), Steve Nichols (US Army, and Bret Robison (US Navy) placed over 500 flags on the graves of the Spanish-American War and WW1 veterans at Mount Hope Cemetery. The GE MDS GE Veterans Network (GEVN) group has done this for several years, and we are grateful.

GE Veterans Network team with flags
GE team placing flags

Tom Jones, Dennis Carr, and I from the FOMH had the opportunity to interview these men and hear about their military history. We were in awe of their service all over the world, their patriotism, and appreciation for how military service had given them the skills which are so valued in their current work in General Electric.

While these men came to Mount Hope to honor veterans of yesteryear, we at the FOMH pay tribute to each of them and their service to our country. They made us proud to be American.

Pat Corcoran FOMH

Mourning in the Morning: Speaker Series at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

C Conway portrait shot

“Mount Hope Cemetery: An Artistic Legacy” (Streamed Live via ZOOM)
Presented by Christopher C. Conway

Saturday, May 9, 2020
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Registrants received a link to the ZOOM meeting in an email an hour before the program start. Sign Language interpreters were provided.
The public was invited to join the Monroe County Library System, the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, and Christopher C. Conway to explore a selection of artistic works found throughout the cemetery, and an introduction to the artists responsible for them. 

The program highlighted works of architecture, sculpture, and decorative design that make Mount Hope an unexpected, exceptional and serendipitous public, open-air museum.

Viewers also learned about the lives and work of a number of artists, and of local patrons and supporters of Rochester’s arts community, who have found final rest amid the natural splendor of America’s oldest municipal, rural, Victorian cemetery.

Christopher C. Conway, a native of rural East Texas, grew up in the greater Houston area. He traded the Gulf Coast for the Pacific Northwest and, for the whole of the 1990s, called Seattle, WA home. He happily made his way to Rochester in 2017 — and has yet to try a Garbage Plate.

Chris holds a BA in art history from the University of Houston and is currently employed as an Exhibitions Assistant at the Memorial Art Gallery. He looks constantly to indulge a life-long love of travel and theater. You may well catch, if you’ve not already caught, an occasional glimpse of him on Rochester’s local stages.

The “Mourning in the Morning” series is a joint program of the Friends of Mount Hope and the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County Local History & Genealogy Division.

APRIL 2020

Mourning in the Morning: Speaker Series at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

“Tales from the Crypts: The Mausoleums of Mount Hope Cemetery” (streamed live via ZOOM)
Presented by Chris Grooms

Saturday, April 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Registrants received a link to the ZOOM meeting in an email an hour before the program start. Sign Language interpretation was provided.

Hylan Mausoleum

The mausoleums in Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery are a unique and integral aspect of the cemetery’s physical, historical and cultural landscape, offering examples of different structural types and employing a diverse array of architectural styles. Each of the cemetery’s 85 mausoleums has its own story. In this presentation, Chris Grooms explores a selection of these structures and highlights their significance. Philanthropists, artists, inventors, mayors, entrepreneurs, and everyday Rochesterians commissioned mausoleums to help secure their legacies.

Chris Grooms portrait image

Chris Grooms joined the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery after relocating to Rochester in the summer of 2017. In the summer of 2018 he became a volunteer for the Friends, serving primarily as a tour guide. He has since joined the board of trustees and has focused his efforts on revitalizing the North Entrance Gatehouse as well as researching and advocating for the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery’s mausoleums and 1862 chapel. Chris is a Nationally Certified Sign Language Interpreter who loves history and enjoys traveling, reading, and meandering walks in historic cemeteries.

The “Mourning in the Morning” series is a joint program of the Friends of Mount Hope and the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County Local History & Genealogy Division.


We invite our friends to adopt a cradle grave at Mount Hope. This is a great time to select a grave and start working on getting it prepared for the planting season.

cradle graves planted with flowers

cradle graves needing work

Small rectangular beds attached to gravestones, cradle graves were popular in the 1800s among families who had come from Germany. Families with cradle graves would gather at Mount Hope on the weekends and plant and care for their families’ graves with great dedication. It was a source of pride for descendants to tend to their family plots. As times changed, however, family members moved away, and cradle graves were deserted and fell into neglect.

Cradle Grave with bare soil

Last year we started the cradle grave program, and we attracted many enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers — some novice gardeners and others lifetime master gardeners. It was wonderful to see colorful flower beds come alive throughout the cemetery.

To volunteer, click on “Contact Us” above.We will make a date with you to show you what cradle graves are available, so that you can choose one that interests you. At this time of the year we are preparing for the planting season — weeding, cleaning, raking. Then you can design your garden and be as creative as you would like. Your only guideline is to be aware of the plants that our deer residents will devour — like hostas. We have lists that might be helpful.

When you adopt a cradle grave, you feel like you are a surrogate part of the deceased person’s family. You can research this person and learn about his life and times. These connections are what enrich our lives as Mount Hope historians and gardeners.

planted cradle grave garden

Your commitment is to purchase whatever flowers you use and promise to weed and water throughout the season. If you are planning to be away for a short time, other cradle grave gardeners will volunteer to water your beds. 

It is great fun, and you can tend to your own personal cradle grave garden without worrying about social distancing. It is a solitary but satisfying and fun activity, and you will get many compliments for your work. There is nothing more peaceful than gardening at Mount Hope.

Come join us!

The Mahar Family from McQuaid Jesuit High School volunteer with Bill and Mykel Whitney at the Whitney Kettle Project near Sylvan Waters. 

Mahar Family portrait

This hard-working family worked many hours on April 25th, dragging tons of leaves from the bottom of the kettle.

Family volunteers are so appreciated at Mount Hope.
Visit “Contact Us” on our Home Page if you can help.

Filling tarp with raked leaves
Raking the leaves
Dragging leaf tarp up the kettle bank

MARCH 2020

Congratulations to Sally Millick for her fascinating presentation at the Mourning in the Morninglecture series on March 14th. Sally’s research on the women who voted with Susan B. Anthony and those who supported her during her suffrage activities was the product of much original research and analysis of primary documents. Her enthusiastic audience, which included many fellow SBA researchers, resulted in a wonderful exchange of information.

We at the FOMH are interested in video-taping Sally’s power point presentation so that it will be available to the whole community of Susan B. Anthony aficionados.

Sally, one of our most respected researchers, will be leading two tours during our summer season, one on the Underground Railroad on May 23rd, and the second entitled “The Quest for Women’s Suffrage and Equality” on June 11th and July 25th.

Thank you, Sally! And thanks to all the audience members who participated with such spirit.



Patricia Corcoran, Anna Jannes, Valerie O'Hara

Longtime volunteer, past leader of receptionists, chair of stone cleaning committee, and genealogist Anna Jannes has moved to St. Augustine, Florida. Our gratitude to Anna and her family as well: her husband Kevin and her daughters, who worked side by side with Anna on her many projects over the years.

Anna’s enthusiasm, dedication, and knowledge of Mount Hope Cemetery history were an inspiration to all of us. 

We will miss you, Anna!

L to R: FOMH President Patricia Corcoran, 
Anna Jannes, and Trustee Valerie O’Hara

Mourning in the Morning: Winter Speaker Series at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

Programs are presented on the second Saturday of each month, January through June. All are free and open to the public, accompanied by sign language interpretation. The February program is:

Dr. Charles Lunsford gravestone

African Americans in Mount Hope Cemetery — Presented by Rose O’Keefe

Saturday, February 8,  10:30 a.m. to Noon
Kusler-Cox Auditorium
3rd Floor of the Central Library’s Rundel Building
115 South Avenue, Rochester

Rev. Thomas James gravestone

Based on a walking tour in the southeast quadrant of the cemetery,the program highlights African Americans in that section, including such 19th-century notables as Rev. Thomas James, Dr. Charles Lunsford, Willie Lightfoot, James McCuller, the Douglass Family, and the Dinkle and Bunton families


Rose O'Keefe portrait image

Rose O’Keefe is the author of five history books on Rochester and Western New York and has been a fan of Mount Hope Cemetery for decades.


Congratulations, Dennis!

FOMH Trustees at sofa dedication

Last summer, the antique Empire Sofa in the gatehouse was reupholstered and restored with a gift from Dennis Carr.  In April 2019, the University of Rochester (UR) had awarded Dennis their prestigious “Staff Community Service Award,”  which included a check that he could donate to his favorite charity. The restoration was completed, thanks to the work of our Restoration Committee, and led by Chris Grooms.

The restored sofa was dedicated at our Board Meeting on February 5, 2020.  A plaque above it reads:

This Empire Sofa is Dedicated to 
In Honor Of 
His 40 Years of Exemplary Service 
And Inspirational Leadership 
The Friends Of Mount Hope Cemetery 

The University of Rochester issued the following statement concerning their award to Dennis Carr:

Staff Community Service Award – University of Rochester
The Staff Community Service Award honors a nonmanagement staff member whose commitment best exemplifies service to the University and the Greater Rochester community.

Answer Desk and ILL Specialist, Institute for Innovative Education: Miner Library

Dennis Carr is being recognized for his dedication to the Mount Hope Cemetery as a volunteer for more than 40 years.

Carr started his affiliation with Mount Hope Cemetery in the 1970s as a tour guide. In 1980, he co-founded the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, a nonprofit organization that promotes the cemetery as a cultural and educational resource and assists with the physical preservation and restoration of the historic site. Throughout the years, Carr has held many roles with the organization—president, vice president, and treasurer of the Board of Trustees; tour director; and tour committee chair.

Carr’s greatest passion in his work with Mount Hope Cemetery—and what he’s most known for—is giving tours. “It is impossible to be in the presence of Dennis without learning a fascinating story that will become an indelible part of our repertoire as tour guides, and enrich our lives as well,” wrote Patricia Corcoran, vice president of the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, in a letter supporting Carr’s nomination. “His curiosity is insatiable, and his creativity enriches our organization and the hundreds of people who come on our tours every season.”

Carr has been involved in countless projects with Mount Hope Cemetery including the restoration of the 1872 gazebo, acquiring grant funding in support of the cemetery’s landscape preservation, and establishing unique and well-attended theme tours.

“Dennis’s long-standing devotion to the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery and scale of his achievements are commendable. His exceptional personal commitment has directly elevated the profile and perception of the cemetery above and beyond fulfilling the mission of the organization he has co-founded,” wrote nominators and Miner Library colleagues Susan Atkins, answer desk manager, and Jennifer Raynor, director. “Dennis is a role model, an inspiration, and truly exemplifies the essence of community service.”


On Saturday, February 1st, members of our Restoration Committee visited Woodlawn Cemetery in Canandaigua to meet with Doug Stone, the cemetery superintendent.  Doug and his wife have restored a historic chapel on the grounds of this cemetery, and we were able to see the amazing transformation of this chapel, which is finally finished.

chapel interior

We look forward to hosting Doug and his wife in the spring at Mount Hope.  Will they have any ideas for our 1863 Old Chapel?

As we gather research on our old chapel, once again we ask our members  to search their family photo albums.  We cannot find a single photo of the interior of our chapel. We have many of the exterior. Considering the number of families who used this chapel, it is strange that we cannot find any photographs.

Can you help us?


Mourning in the Morning: Winter Speaker Series at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

Programs will be presented on the second Saturday of each month from January to June. All are free and open to the public, accompanied by sign language interpretation. Our first program is:

Susan B Anthony in profile

The Arrest and Trial of Susan B. Anthony: Strategy, Tactics, and the Struggle for the Vote — Presented by Dennis Carr
Saturday, January 11, 10:30 a.m. to Noon
 Kusler-Cox Auditorium
3rd floor of the Central Library’s  Rundel Building
115 South Avenue, Rochester

With the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, and its plain language implication that women, as citizens, had the right to vote, master strategist Susan B. Anthony decided to test the Constitution. She, her sister Mary, and fourteen other Rochester women registered, and then voted in the 1872 federal election, resulting in Anthony’s arrest, trial, and conviction. The registrars and elections inspectors, the women who supported her by voting, the judge who issued the warrant, the arresting deputy U.S. marshal, and Anthony’s attorneys are all permanent residents of Mount Hope Cemetery. Front page news across the country, this real-life Rochester drama gave Susan B. Anthony the deserved reputation as the most effective advocate and leader of the woman suffrage movement.

Dennis Carr portrait image

Dennis Carr is a founding member, past president, and current trustee of the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery. He is the Senior Tour Guide at Mount Hope, with 2019 marking his 41st year leading tours of the cemetery. Dennis is also on staff at the Edward G. Miner Library at the University of Rochester Medical Center, assisting students, researchers, clinical staff and faculty. He is a life-long scholar of the American cemetery.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop