The fireman memorial at a Brooklyn cemetery

The Evergreens Cemetery, 225 acres on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border, doesn’t get a fraction of the attention Green-Wood Cemetery receives.

But it should. Incorporated in 1849, this peaceful burial ground is a necropolis of over half a million.

Think Civil War soldiers, Lincoln assassination figures, artists and actors, and thousands of ordinary prosperous German-Americans who settled in this part of the city in the 19th century.

Among the elaborately carved angels and mausoleums is a curious firefighter memorial: two statues of firemen plus the gravestones of fallen firefighters from several Eastern District volunteer hose, hook, or engine companies.

An 1858 New York Times news brief describes its beginning:

“The Board of Representatives of the Eastern District Fire Department, at a recent meeting, adopted a plan for a monument to be erected on the grounds in the Cemetery of the Evergreens.

“The design is a marble pedestal six feet square, upon which is to be placed a full-size statue of a fireman.

“The whole ground to be surrounded by a galvanized iron fence, the posts representing Corinthian hydrants. The expense, it is estimated, will not exceed $2,500, and the work will be commenced forthwith.”

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8 Responses to “The fireman memorial at a Brooklyn cemetery”

  1. Frank Lynch Says:

    One of the reasons Cemetery of the Evergreens doesn’t get as much attention is that they enforce their no photography rule. On my one trip I was approached by security twice.

  2. Frank Lynch Says:

    (Adding: the two cemeteries have very different policies on outreach: GWC is “out there,” with Open House New York events, Memorial Day reenactments and band concerts, etc.)

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    No photography rule? I had no idea!

  4. Joe R Says:

    I lived near Evergreens as a kid. If I recall correctly, there was also a formal Chinese Cemetery in the grounds.
    Checking on the Find-a-Grave website, Evergreens also loses to Green-Wood in having many less famous residents. The most prominent names (to me, anyway) were cartoonist Windsor McCay, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and jazz great Lester Young.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Fewer famous residents but yes, many Chinese graves.
    And Evergreens also has a commanding view of the Manhattan skyline, just like Green-Wood. It’s a lovely place to walk and explore.

  6. nycedges Says:

    Lots of interesting spots in “cemetery row” If you’re in the area check out Ridgewood Reservoir which also has great views of midtown and overlooks the National Cemetery which pre-dates Arlington.

  7. Laura Six-Pattay Says:

    That is a memorial commemorating a giant fire which began in the Standard Oil building in 1919. Standard Oil covered some 20 acres, and held 110 gallons of fuel. Newtown Creek was so filthy, the sludge on top of it caught fire as well.
    Eastern District firefighters tried, in vain, to contain the fire with hand-held pumps. Fire boats could not be used. These brave men, volunteers all, fought this fire, several paying with their lives. One of the firemen fell from the slickened pylons and into the burning Newtown. There was no hope to save him.
    The Standard Oil Fire of 1919 remained one of the greatest losses of NYC firefighters for many years (in 1966, a collapse on 23rd St, and in 2001, the Twin Towers)
    On a side note, a large portion of the spilled Standard Oil is still there- under the water of the Newtown it has settled into a crack in the waterbottom, and some of it still lies on the surface.

  8. Marjorie Melikian Says:

    In Cemetery of the Evergreens, at 51 Prospect Hill, on a corner, is a Memorial stone for deceased members of The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, founded 1652. The church held a Memorial Service there for their 350th anniversary in 2002. We DID take photos. Cemetery officials joined with us for the memorial service. One was the cemetery historian who provided me with a list of family names from the old cemetery, which I read aloud. There are also 9 small stones flat in the ground commemorating individuals buried after 1900. Those were the only burials the city required be moved. They were almost completely overgrown, and I and other church members tried to clear them, but I hear soil has once again covered them. Sadly the church’s former cemetery from 1822 was sold in the 1950s. It had been across the street from the present church and had been completely full for nearly 60 years, badly damaged by Halloween vandals who had opened vaults, overturned and broke stones, etc. Some bodies were claimed and moved. But not all. After all the years, not much remained. Even gravestones of 1700s & 1800s pastors vanished. I don’t know why they, at least, weren’t saved. We do have one of a child. Construction crews probably just dug up everything and carted it off. A large apt. house sits on the site today. …..As the church historian for the past 15 years, I am trying to preserve our heritage. At least we do have many original records, going back to 1715, before there was even a United States. I have had much of it digitized. They were also hand copied by James Riker in 1850, who wrote a great history of the area, “Annals of Newtown” (reprints available on Amazon). They were hand copied again about 1910 by the NY Genealogical & Biographical Society which put them into their publications.. I got the church on The National Register of Historic Places.We are now recognized as the fourth or fifth oldest Presbyterian church in the U.S. & the oldest Presbyterian church in NYC. In May the church will take part in NY Landmarks Sacred Sites Open House. Watch their site for the dates or contact me at Come and see a display of original old photos and documents, hear a talk on the architecture and history, and go on a short walking tour of Old Newtown, hearing the stories of what used to be, and what still is.

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