Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Visiting the Rich and Famous at Riverview Cemetery in Trenton

Since our trip to Fort Mott, it's been on our short list to get to Riverview Cemetery in Trenton. Not only is it an old graveyard, but it's noted as the final resting place of several prominent New Jerseyans of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including governors, senators and Civil War veterans. We didn't have much of an idea what we'd find when we got there ... or how we'd get there, for that matter ... but we assumed it had to be somewhere near the Delaware River.

Just part of McClellan's grave marker.
His picture is posted at the front.
Current day State Route 29 now hugs the river on the Jersey side, so it was a fair assumption the cemetery would be within line of sight, and hopefully the road wouldn't have displaced important graves. After a bit of wangling with the Droid and the GPS, we found the right location and were on our way.

Once we got there, we found that the cemetery offices were closed, and there were no instructive maps to guide us, so we were pretty much on our own in finding the stones for any famous people. Our main interest was in finding the grave of Civil War General, New Jersey Governor and unsuccessful Presidential candidate George McClellan. He was buried in Trenton despite dying at Llewellen Park in West Orange (he would have been a neighbor of the Edisons had he lived a few more years). His monument was ridiculously easy to locate. Pretty much maligned by a sizeable faction of Civil War buffs, his grave marker nonetheless stands head and shoulders (many heads and shoulders) above any other memorial in the place. It's a huge stone column with an eagle perched on top, and a base that declares his service to his country and his state. Someone has also thoughtfully placed a framed photo of him in front of the column, and there's a note that the whole shebang was put up by his friends. Apparently he had his allies, after all.

Maj. Gen. Gershom Mott's
much more modest grave marker.
We knew that Fort Mott's own Major General Gershom Mott was buried at Riverview, too, but his stone wasn't anywhere near as ostentatious as McClellan's. First, we found the stone for another Gershom Mott who must have been his son; the General's own stone was closer to the edge of the cemetery, with a nice view of the Delaware.

Along the way, we found several other Civil War veterans, plus some famous names closely associated with Trenton's business community. The Roebling family, noted for their wire rope manufacturing and leadership in the design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, was well represented, including patriarch and bridge designer John Roebling, and his grandson Washington who died in the sinking of the Titanic.

Sadly, I didn't know that one of my all-time favorite Trentonians, John Taylor, is buried at Riverview, too. Who is John Taylor, you ask? He is hailed by many loyal New Jerseyans as the creator of the state's tasty native breakfast meat, Taylor Pork Roll. (Without him, where would the pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich be?)  It would have been a truly moving experience to pay my respects.

I hate to say it, but one can only wander around a graveyard for too long before one starts seeing things.  In our case, it's goofy things. For example:

When I first saw this one, I thought the name was "Danger," but apparently that's their middle name, instead.

And, well, here's another one.  Take a look at this and let me know what you think the family name is.

Before we leave Riverview, let's take one more look at the McClellan monument.  It's the one on the left, and it's actually a lot bigger than it looks.

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