“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Elmira in Chemung County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Woodlawn Cemetery History

Woodlawn Cemetery History Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 31, 2020
1. Woodlawn Cemetery History Marker

The development of Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery was the result of a need for more burial space and an outgrowth of the "rural cemetery movement" which became increasingly popular after 1830. Elmira's earliest known burial ground was located on the land on the northeast corner of Sullivan and Water Streets. In 1802, Jeffrey Wisner gave a tract of land, which today is the eastern part of Wisner Park, for a burial ground. In 1830, the Second Street Cemetery was opened and by 1858, it was full. Historian Ausburn Towner wrote that, "many moved there and none moved away."

In 1858 the Village of Elmira was urged to establish a new cemetery. The state legislature authorized a loan of $10,000 for the purchase and by a margin of 22 votes the tax-payers agreed to pay it off. A search committee was formed to select a site. The major portion of the land was purchased from Charles and Mary Neish Heller.

Based on English and French precedents, the American rural cemetery landscape was one of winding roads and picturesque vistas.

The man the village selected to design Woodlawn Cemetery was Howard

Woodlawn Cemetery History Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 31, 2020
2. Woodlawn Cemetery History Marker
Daniels, a noted landscape architect of the pre-Civil War era.

A proponent of the rural garden cemetery movement, he is considered one of 19th century America's most preeminent and prolific landscape architects. The connection with Daniels has contributed to Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery being accepted for inclusion at the National Cultural Landscape Foundation, as well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On October 9, 1858, the body of Colonel John Hendy was disinterred from the Baptist Cemetery which had been donated by Jeffrey Wisner, and with "martial music and impressive dignity," was brought to Woodlawn Cemetery. Ceremonies at the cemetery included prayers and an original hymn composed by a member of the Elmira College senior class. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, the remains of Colonel Hendy were reinterred at the new location marking the first burial for the new cemetery.

To the left is the Mortuary Chapel, designed by the Elmira architectural firm of Pierce and Bickford in 1907. The purpose of the new chapel was, "to afford a beautiful house in which the dead may be given fitting burial services without cost and where all may be served alike...." Since 1962 it has been the administrative office.

The Heller Garden allows for an appropriate memorial for cremains.


Woodlawn Cemetery's former Mortuary Chapel<br>(south elevation) image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 1, 2020
3. Woodlawn Cemetery's former Mortuary Chapel
(south elevation)
Now the cemetery offices
the street is the Stephens Memorial, one of eleven mausoleums in the cemetery. It was built in 1896 by Margaret Stephens as a memorial for her family. The statue of a Grecian goddess is in memory of her, "darling sister Tut."

To the right of the Stephens Memorial is the Superintendent's residence. Cemetery offices were originally located there.

Created in 2006, the Friends of Woodlawn appreciate your interest in this cemetery.

[Photo captions, top to bottom]
Mary Neish Heller

Charles Heller
Erected by The Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesSettlements & Settlers.
Location. 42° 6.26′ N, 76° 49.618′ W. Marker is in Elmira, New York, in Chemung County. Marker is on Walnut Street, on the left when traveling north. Marker is in Woodlawn Cemetery, just north of the entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1200 Walnut Street, Elmira NY 14905, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Underground Railroad Participants (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans of All Wars (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mark Twain (approx. 0.2 miles away); Colonel John Hendy

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(approx. 0.2 miles away); Augustus W. Cowles (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pulaski Park (approx. ¼ mile away); John W. Jones Museum (approx. ¼ mile away); Kopernik (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elmira.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery. (Submitted on August 5, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Woodlawn Cemetery and Woodlawn National Cemetery National Register Registration Form. (Submitted on August 5, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 5, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Jan. 25, 2021