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A Little Bit of Philadelphia History and a Mystery—by Melissa Tevere

History and Mystery!

Looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday? Take a stroll through Laural Hill Cemetery!

Laurel Hill Cemetery was founded in 1836 as a rural garden cemetery. Located just five miles north of Center City, Laurel Hill is still, as it was in the 1800’s, a beautifully landscaped haven from urban Philadelphia. With lovely plantings and pathways that meander across a hill overlooking the Schuykill River, Laurel Hill also boasts burial to some of Philadelphia’s most famous and renowned citizens, including signers of the Declaration of Independence, scholars, artists, writers and contemporary local celebrities, including most recently, Harry Kalas, the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, who died in 2009.

Its residents also include lesser-known and mysterious un-known former residents of Philadelphia.

On a recent visit to Laurel Hill, we were pleasantly surprised to discover a gallery exhibit featuring a project by longtime Appel farm camper, Jamison Lung. Jamison was a participant in a Friends Select School project, where students selected a marker, mausoleum or monument for further study, reflection and inspiration.

Intrigued by a mysterious grave marker of a man named “John E”, Jamison was inspired to take a haunting photograph of this marker. Because John E.’s gravestone is half hidden under the roots of a tree, Jamison also surmised that John had been buried before the planting of the tree.

Laurel Hill did some investigation on its own and discovered that John’s last name was Ely and that his family had planted the tree to shade his grave at the time of his burial. Mystery solved!

Looking for a mystery of your own to inspire a short story, work of art, a poem, a play or a photograph? Laurel Hill Cemetery is located just off of Kelly Drive at 3822 Ridge Avenue. It is free and open to the public Monday – Friday from 8:30 – 4:30 and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 – 4:30.