This Memorial Day, Skip the Sales. Visit a Graveyard.


I have a Facebook friend who lives right around the corner from me.  In the privacy of our own kitchens, we  use Facebook all day to stave off the isolation that comes with being a freelance writer or a painter. We chat and exchange ideas and opinions, sometimes the same, sometimes different, on Facebook nearly every day but rarely get together in real life.  A teacher and avid photographer as well as mother and artist, Carol blogs at watchmepaint.

This week, when Carol graciously shared my column about finding the true meaning of Memorial Day on her Facebook page, she added a comment  saying she would pay her respects by visiting a little-known cemetery in Brighton where there are graves that predate the Civil War. She described where it was to me and I still could not picture how a graveyard could exist hidden away one of Rochester’s busiest highways. So, being it was a gorgeous morning in May, I posted back “Take me with you!”

Every town has an old cemetery. The Brighton Cemetery, walking distance from our neighborhood, was founded in 1821 with some of its earliest graves dating back to 1814. Though the name served its purpose at the time, this part of Brighton was annexed to the City of Rochester in 1905. The cemetery now sits in Rochester’s 21st Ward, or for my reference point, three blocks away from the East Avenue  Wegmans.

it is located on Hoyt Place off Winton Avenue:

How many times have you passed this tiny street on your way to pick up some milk at Wegmans on East Ave?

This is a street I’ve driven past thousands of times without ever knowing what mysteries it contained. It is a street that time seemed to have forgotten, paved in the 1820s at the time of the building of the Erie Canal. As time passed, this part of the Erie Canal gave way to Route 490.

Tucked away into this street are centuries old mansions:

And then.. the Brighton Cemetery:

This week leading up to Memorial Day, find an old forgotten cemetery in your town. Dust off a gravestone to see who is buried there. You will be surprised to see that the many streets in your town just very well may be named for the names on the graves you find there.

And, if you see a grave marked with a flag, take some time to care for it. If the flag has toppled over, prop it back into the ground. Brush off the grass clippings that may be clinging to the stone. Read who the person was and the wars in which he fought.

Isn’t this a far better way of observing this holiday than, say, taking advantage of a mattress sale?

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

8 responses to “This Memorial Day, Skip the Sales. Visit a Graveyard.”

  1. Spiritual World Traveler says :

    I’ve been thinking a lot about shooting cemeteries, but I feel as if I’m intruding. Is there some etiquette I should follow?

    • transplantednorth says :

      I don’t think it’s disrespectful at all. After today’s visit, I think, if you are not there for a funeral, cemeteries are perhaps the last peaceful places left to contemplate and take in the past.

      • Spiritual World Traveler says :

        Hm. I think I will muster the courage this weekend. Thanks!

      • transplantednorth says :

        if you do, be sure to blog about it, looking forward to what you experienced.

  2. Nicole Brait says :

    I love old cemeteries but never thought of the idea of going to one on memorial day. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • transplantednorth says :

      thanks, it’s amazing the information you find out from visiting an old cemetery, plus it felt good to pull a few weeds from a grave marked with an American Flag.

  3. transplantednorth says :

    Reblogged this on Transplantednorth's Blog and commented:

    I’ll post this one more time. Rochester/Brighton folks, take a walk up Hoyt Place this weekend … you can pay your respects and discover a historical gem walking distance from your house.

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