Along with Mt. Pleasant, Fairmount Cemetery was one of Newark's two grand, high society Victorian-era cemeteries. While Fairmount lacks the beautiful location overlooking the Passaic River, Fairmount, at over 100 acres, is much larger. Fairmount is also less like a forest than the densely planted Mt. Pleasant and is much better maintained and guarded. Most of Fairmount's finest graves are arranged in a circle in the central part of the cemetery.
See my second feature on Fairmount cemetery for more information and photographs.
Click Here to see Fairmount's Location - 600 Central Avenue
Fairmount Cemetery was founded in 1853 in the then rural West Ward of Newark. Its primary entrance is now on Central Avenue, but in the early years the entrance was on South Orange Avenue.
Fairmount may be the best landscaped cemetery in Newark. The birch trees covering this redbrick walk reminded me of Russia.
A section of Fairmount was committed to the graves of hundreds of Civil War dead and became a national cemetery. Afterwards, Fairmount became one of the high society places in Newark to be buried. Brewers G. Frederick Hoffman, Christian Feigenspan and Gottfried Krueger, father and son toiletry makers Gerhard Heinrich Mennen and William Heinrich Mennen, Congressman Fred Hartley of the Taft-Hartly Act, Newark Mayor Henry Doremus, and yellow fever hero Clara Maass were all interred here. It is no coincidence that the people just mentioned were German-American, as the West Side of Newark at the time was majority German prior to World War I. In a way, Fairmount Cemetery is the last German neighborhood of Newark. In fact, there are several graves here which contain no English writing.
A criticism of mausoleums like that of Christian Feigenspan is that their Greco-Roman nature was contrary to Christianity. More pious persons (encouraged by architects like Augustus Pugin and Ralph Adams Cram) believed that Gothic was the true Christian style
A few Fairmount tombs exemplify the Victorian devotion to family. See the two photographs on the bottom right. Perhaps members of the Illingworth family sat with the mother lovingly depicted in this statue? There are also many monuments for children.
No visit to Fairmount would be complete without an examination of the Founder's Monument. The Founder's Monument is a zinc structure commemorating the Founding of Newark in 1666. It was installed in 1889 when the remains of sixty-five of the original settlers and their descendents in the Old Burying Ground (by Branford Place) were reburied in Fairmount.
The four sides of the Founder's Monument describe and depict the arrival of Connecticut Puritans to this new settlement on the Passaic river. One of the four sides gives the names of the original settlers and the names and marks of some of the Lenni-Lenape Indians they dealth with. The monument itself is 22' tall and 8' square. The monument was recently repaired after the Puritan statue on top collapsed into the base.
One side of the monument reads "These lands were sold in consideration of fifty double hands of powder, one hundred bars of lead, twenty coats, ten guns, ten pistolls, ten kettles, ten swords, four blankets, four barrels of bear, ten pairs of knives, twenty howes, eight-hundred and fifty bathoms of wampum, . . . " [sic]
In other words, the Indians sold the Puritans all the land from the crest of the Watchung Mountains to the Newark Basin for trinkets. Sound familiar? At least they got a better deal than the Canarsies got out of Peter Minuit. (an apocryphal story, yes).
Charles F. Cummings. 2001. Cemeteries and churches proclaim faiths of West Ward - Knowing Newark. Star-Ledger July 19, Essex Section.