Field Trip: Congressional Cemetery

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Yesterday, I visited historic Congressional Cemetery, located on E Street, Southeast, in Washington, D.C.

A view from outside the fence. The Cemetery covers 30 acres.

A view from outside the fence. Congressional Cemetery covers 30 acres.

I used to live only about five blocks from Congressional Cemetery when I first moved to D.C. back in the late 1980s. (I’d never visited when I lived on the Hill; I wasn’t into history back when I was young and stupid.) Since I discovered Emmett, though, Congressional Cemetery moved up on the list of places I wanted to visit. It is full of historically important people; some who might have known Emmett when he was U.S. Congressman.

I don’t think Emmett ever came this far down Capitol Hill when he lived in the city; Congressional Cemetery is about 15 blocks down from where he lived and worked, at the corner of Pennsylvania and C Streets, Southwest.

My husband came with me on the field trip, and we decided to do the self-directed walking tour route. We were interested in visiting several different Cemetery residents (is that the right word?) from across the many themed walking tours available. (You can find the different walking tours, complete with historic information at the link, here).

Mathew Brady, Civil War photographer. This stone was erected fairly recently. The story about Brady was that he died in bankruptcy, and his grave here was nondescript.

Mathew Brady, Civil War photographer. This stone was erected fairly recently. The story about Brady was that he died in bankruptcy, and his grave here was nondescript.

Brady's original stone, which is the at the top of the grave. The more recent stone is at the foot of the grave.

Brady’s original stone, which is the at the top of the grave. It was simple, easy to overlook. The more recent stone, in the photo above, is at the foot of the grave.

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An unusual masoleum erected in memory of

The grave of Sally Wood Nixon, shipbuilder’s wife. She wasn’t of historical significance, but the memorial is shaped like a china cabinet — she was an avid collector in her lifetime. Inside, her ashes rest in an urn on a shelf.

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Cenotaphs of lawmakers. Located appropriately on "Congress Street" in the cemetery.

Cenotaphs of lawmakers. Located appropriately on “Congress Street” in the cemetery.

Selfie with John Quincy Adams' cenotaph. Why?

Selfie with John Quincy Adams’ cenotaph. He died in the Speakers’ room of the U.S. Capitol of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Know why else the selfie?

John Q.A. is distantly related!

John Q.A. is my ninth cousin, eight times removed.

Moving along…

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is here. His grave is the far right dark slab, which is almost completely illegible.

Elbridge Gerry, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is here. His grave is the far right dark slab, which is almost completely illegible.

Major John Kinney, Revolutionary War hero.

Major John Kinney, Revolutionary War soldier.

William Wirt, American author and statesman; credited with turning the U.S. Attorney General's position into one of influence.

William Wirt, American author and statesman; credited with turning the U.S. Attorney General’s position into one of influence. One of the tallest monuments in Congressional Cemetery.

J. Edgar Hoover.

J. Edgar Hoover.

Taza, son of the Cochise Chief of the Chipicahua Apaches.

Taza, son of the Cochise Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches.

Joseph Nicollet, Astronomer.

Joseph Nicollet, Astronomer.

There are 67,000 burials at this Cemetery. Obviously, there were a lot more folks we’d have liked to visited and paid our respects to, but we decided to save that for another day.

The cemetery is well cared for. People were walking about, tending plots; there is also a series of events held each month.

The cemetery is well cared for. People were walking about, tending plots; there is also a series of events held each month.

We’ll be back for another visit; I especially want to take the Suffrage Tour, in preparation for a book I plan to write about Minnie Kehoe after I finish Emmett’s story. One of these days.

What’s wonderful about Congressional Cemetery is that it really is a living cemetery in every sense of the word. Visitors are invited to walk about and to learn about the important contributions these residents made to our country’s history.

Also, you, too can be a part of Congressional Cemetery. Check this out:

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Cool, huh?

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