Mt Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleums

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery was the high society cemetery in Newark from its founding in 1844 until the demise of high society in Newark. Located on 36 rolling, forested acres along the Passaic River, more famous Newarkers rest in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery than in any other cemetery.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery has so many notable graves that I am going to be covering it in two features. This feature will be on Mt. Pleasant Cemetery's mausoleums. A second, larger feature, to be done at a later date, will be on Mt. Pleasant's traditional graves including the resting places of Thomas B. Peddie, Seth Boyden, the Ballantines, the Kinneys, and the Clarks.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is located at 375 Broadway in the North Ward neighborhood of Woodside.

Founded in 1844, approximately a decade before Fairmount Cemetery, Holy Sepulchre, and Evergreen Cemeteries, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is Newark's oldest "rural" cemetery. Prior to the creation of Mt. Pleasant, Newark's elite were buried in humble, sometimes decrepit, churchyards. The creation of Mt. Pleasant was part of a wave of rural cemetery construction that began with Mt. Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The 1870s era Broadway Avenue gates of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery were designed by Thomas Stent in the High Victorian Gothic style. Although many structures in the United States were built in that style during the 1870s, Mt. Pleasant's gates are clearly modelled on the even more impressive gates of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery (shown below). Mt. Pleasant's gates are made of Belleville brownstone.

Aside from one block of the Canadian Houses of Parliament, Thomas Stent did several notable buildings for the Astor family.

Cemeteries tend to be remarkable for their diversity of architectural styles. Certain Persian architectural motifs, occur nowhere in America other than cemeteries.

Perhaps because so many Egyptian monuments that have come down to the present are funerary monuments, Egyptian-architecture was extremely popular for tombs in the Gilded Age and early 20th centuries. There was a particular mania for Egyptian architecture after Howard Carter rediscovered King Tut's tomb in 1922, though many, many Egyptian style tombs were built before then.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery certainly has its examples of Romanesque and Victorian gothic as well. In the middle 19th century, some British and American architects tried to identify Gothic architecture with "Christian architecture." Their argument was that Classical architecture could not be truly Christian because it was developed in pagan Greece and Rome. A cross emphasizes the Christianity of the O'Dell family interred here.
This is an example of the kind of pagan architure that certain Victorian Gothicists would have disliked - a perfect Greek temple, right at home in the North Ward of Newark.
Here lies Mr. Edward Randolph and his wife Mrs. Julie Randolph, nee Balbach. The couple was married in Trinity Episcopal Church in Newark in 1898. Julie was the heiress of a German-American family prominent in the industrial history of the Ironbound.

Originally from Germany, the Balbach family fortune began in the 1850s when Edward Balbach, Sr. began to turn the shavings of Newark jewelry shops into bullion. Edward Balbach Jr. invented something called the "Balbach Desilvering Process" which made industrial metallurgy much more efficient. In the 1880s, the family even branched out into copper. The Balbach & Sons factory was located on the site of the baseball diamond at Riverbank Park.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is dominated by the 36 crypt mausoleum of John Fairfield Dryden, founder of the Prudential.

Like several other eminent Newarkers of his generation, John Fairfield Dryden was a transplanted New Englander. Born in Maine, Dryden grew up in Worchester, Massachusetts. Like other Gilded Age financial titans, such as JP Morgan, but unlike nearly all Gilded Age industrialists, Dryden did have a college education, graduating from Yale in the 1860s with a specialty in workmen's insurance.

Dryden settled in Newark because it was already an insurance hub in the second half of the 19th century. Mutual Benefit was here, plus a number of smaller companies. The Prudential's niche was selling insurance to the middle and lower classes, then called "industrial insurance." Throughout Dryden's insurance career, he was ably advised by Dr. Leslie Ward, a member of the large, prominent family of which I have written several times.

Dryden became a United States Senator from 1902 to 1907. His only mark on history as a Senator was his move for a lock canal through Panama, as opposed to a sea-level one.

John Fairfield Dryden lived on Lincoln Park and on an estate in the Bedminster Hills called "Stronghold." I am not aware of him personally supporting Newark charities, but the company he founded has stayed in Newark and immensely benefitted the city.

After a serious surgery on his chest, John Fairfield Dryden came down with what was then known as "ether pneumonia." The "Old Gentleman" expired on November 24th, 1911, in his house in Newark. The funeral service was held at the Third Presbyterian Church. Pierpont Morgan, Franklin Murphy, Judge Elbert Gary of US Steel, George Perkins, the McCarter brothers, Frederick Frelinghuysen were some of the honorary pallbearers.

If you look carefully at the Dryden Mausoleum, there is a plaque for Anthony R. Kuser and Susie Dryden. Kuser was John F. Dryden's son in law. It was through his efforts that the area around High Point was preserved. Brooke Astor's first husband was a descendent of Kuser. Therefore, Astor's son, the one accused of elder abuse, came from John Fairfield Dryden's lineage.

Here is the final resting place of Edward Weston, one of many great inventors to live in the city of Newark.

Born in England, Edward Weston made his career in the United States in the electroplating industry. He invented equipment to measure electric charge and improvements to battery technology. When Weston died in 1936 he had received over 300 American patents.

Less well known about Weston is that he was a philanthropist. In 1879, Weston was one of the founders of the Newark Technical School, later called the Newark College of Engineering, the forerunner of NJIT. Along with Louis Bamberger, Felix Fuld, Wallace Scudder, and Franklin Conklin, Edward Weston donated money for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to buy land in the Warren County and Sussex County for summer camps.

In his will, Weston remembered Newark by donating his whole scientific library and his early scientific instruments, to the Newark College of Engineering. Weston's gift of 15,000 books tripled the College of Engineering's library.

Alas, I have been able to find out little about the Weyrauch family. I included this tomb simply because I liked its architecture.

Here is the mausoleum of Governor Marcus L. Ward, one of the greatest politicians to come out of Newark.

Born of a prominent Newark family, Miss Annie Ward, the holdout who almost prevented the construction of Riverbank Park, was a relative. Like many other Newark politicians of the Nineteenth century, Ward was a successful businessman, owning a soap and candle-making factory at 204 Market Street. Unlike many other Newark businessmen, Ward was a professed abolitionist.

During the Civil War, Ward established in May 1862 a 1,400 bed hospital west of Center Street in a few unused factory and warehouse buildings. Despite not being in a purpose-built health facility, the hospital became known as one of the best in the United States.

In 1865, Ward was elected governor of New Jersey by a large majority. After his governorship, Ward served in Congress. He served Newark again by establishing a home for disabled veterans on Garside Street. The site of his mansion is now the Newark Museum. Ward also chaired Newark's 1872 Industrial Exposition.

Presumably, no one steps inside these mausoleums anymore. If you peek inside though, you will often be rewarded with a sight of stained glass.
Despite its church-like appearance, this Victorian structure was never a chapel. In the days before steam shovels, no one could be buried in the winter. Thus, bodies had to be stored. This skull-like building was the vault for those who died when the earth was frozen.
November 2006, Jeffrey Bennett


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