The man who lived and died in a Brooklyn tomb

It’s a tale of love and rather creepy devotion from 19th century Brooklyn:

Retired truckman Jonathan Reed’s wife, Mary, died in 1893. The grief-stricken East New York resident had his wife’s remains placed in a mausoleum in the Evergreens Cemetery.

Lonely, heartbroken, and likely a little crazy, Jonathan soon began visiting Mary’s tomb every day.

He put many of his wife’s beloved things in there: paintings, photos, red curtains, silverware, yarn, old gloves, even their pet parrot.

Then he brought a rocking chair and a stove to warm the place up. Convinced his wife was still alive, he made the mausoleum his daytime home for the next 10 years.

In an interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1895, he stated:

“My wife was a remarkable woman and our lives were blended into one. When she died, I had no ambition but to cherish her memory. My only pleasure is to sit here with all that is left of her.”

His story went international; thousands of people visited him, including some Tibetan monks, assuming he had insight on life after death.

He died in the tomb in March 1905—his remains in a casket beside Mary’s.

[Tomb photo: Brooklyn Bridge Baby photostream]

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5 Responses to “The man who lived and died in a Brooklyn tomb”

  1. evi Says:

    what a cool story

  2. Oona Says:

    Many elderly stop living after the death of a spouse, rarely leaving their homes and no longer interested in anything outside. Look around at your neighbors, there is sure to be a few folks who could use a friendly visitor to bring some small joy back into their long walk into the twilight.

  3. Vicki Says:

    You don’t stop loving someone after they die & I can certainly understand him wanting to be close to his wife. But, I’ll bet the cemetery wouldn’t allow that to go on today.

  4. carolegill Says:

    I find this extremely moving. It’s true, his loss was too great for him to move on. I found particularly interesting, the visit by the Tibetan monks.

  5. Terry Says:

    After this many years, who maintains a mausoleum like this? It must be quite an expense.

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