The Cost of Removing A Burial Ground

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Above:  Crews at work laying out the new Washington Park ca. 1869.

When the Common Council authorized the removal of 4,000 graves from the State Street Burying Grounds in advance of its redevelopment as a park, it allocated $30,000 for the project.  However, this was not sufficient and an addition $15,000 was added.

A breakdown of expenses:

For removals from

United Presbyterian ground…… $638.03
Methodist Episcopal…… 818.75
First Presbyterian…… 2,103.95
Garretson Station M.E….. 983.20
Dutch Reformed…… 3,369.00
Friends…… 624.90
Universalist…… 1,119.90
Lutheran Ebenezer…… 1,534.35
Third Presbyterian…… 1,194.90
Baptist….. 998.85
Second Presbyterian….. 368.10
St. Mary’s…… 2,514.15
Potter’s Field…… 3,702.25
African Church (estimated)…… 3,814.00
Saint Peter’s (estimated)…… 2,500.00

To grounds in Rural Cemetery…… 4,000.00
To grounds in St. Agnes Cemetery…… 3,000.00
To boxes, large and small…… 8,947.00
To insurance, clerks, sextons, etc……. 2,795.97

The total cost of the project was $42,373.05 or a little over $11 per body.  It’s interesting to note that the most expense sections to remove was the African Church at an estimated $3,814 which hints that the number of burials there far exceeded the number of graves recorded in the Common Council inventory.  The inventory lists forty names, but as the list was compiled from headstones present in 1868, it is likely that many graves there were unmarked. By averaging the cost of the individual burials, it is possible to estimate that the Potters Field and African lots contained approximately 330 and 340 bodies respectively.

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