Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Think Green Thursday
Michelle hosts Think Green Thursday for us each week. Thank you, Michelle. It is a really worthwhile project.
My post today is a little unusual. It deals with a subject that many may not care to deal with, and may not appeal to many readers. I never realized it was even a possibility, until I read an article in one of our local papers over the weekend. I like the idea very much myself.
In Steelmantown, NJ, two miles past Woodbine off of Route 557, is located an historic old cemetery, first established in the 1700's. This lovely, rustic old place is what is known as a green cemetery. No embalmed bodies are permitted to be buried there. Contrary to popular belief, there is no law requiring the embalming of bodies, so long as burial takes place in a timely manner. That means that there are no poisonous chemicals to pollute the earth. Burial may take place with the body wrapped in a blanket or other wrapping so long as it is of a natural material, or in a wicker coffin. There are no vaults. Headstones are usually large natural stones. In the oldest part of the cemetery, markers are cedar planks, and over the years the carving has worn away.
Embalming of bodies became popular after the Civil War, when bodies of soldiers killed in the conflict were returned to their families, and it was necessary that they be preserved for the trip. Until that time, it was not considered necessary.
There is a small non-denominational chapel on the property, built in 1910 of all recycled materials.
The newspaper photographs show a lovely, peaceful wooded place. I wish that they were suitable for reproduction here, but they are not, and I do not live close enough to have made the trip to take pictures of my own in the past few days. I have attempted the clearest one from the paper, of the chapel, here. The photo of the trail in the cemetery is from their website. Steelmantown Cemetery may be contacted at 609-628-2297. Edward Bixby II, Prop.
Other green cemeteries do exist, but the closest to our region would be in Ithaca, New York, and in Ramsey Creek, South Carolina. There are some others scatttered over the United States. You can find their locations here. There is a movement at present to establish natural burial cemeteries in Canada as well. At the same link you can look into such places in the UK and Europe.