Saturday, August 29, 2009

Henderson v. Rockwell: Biography of a cemetery plot

A small portion of the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.

The Green-Wood Cemetery (it's actual spelling), founded in 1838, is located in Brooklyn, New York. According to it's website, it is currently a spacious 478 acres of history, sculpture garden, and wildlife with 560,000 permanent residents. "By 1860, Green-Wood was attracting 500,000 visitors a year, rivaling Niagara Falls as the country’s greatest tourist attraction."

Quoting from the cemetery's website:

"A magnet for history buffs and bird watchers, Green-Wood is a Revolutionary War historic site (the Battle of Long Island was fought in 1776 across what is now its grounds), a designated site on the Civil War Discovery Trail and a registered member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.

On September 27, 2006, Green-Wood was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, which recognized its national significance in art, architecture, landscaping and history."

The biography of the William Henderson burial plot, located in the Green-Wood Cemetery, is given in detail in this newspaper article: from Mr. Henderson's purchase in 1855 through to the Supreme Court of New York's ruling in 1887. The case is similar to any real estate tug-of-war with the added wrinkle of being the resting place of two bodies. 

The decision is given by Judge Ingraham:

Green-Wood is well known for this extraordinary view of New York harbor in which the statue of Minerva seems to be waving to the Statue of Liberty.

Brooklyn, New York
1 October 1887
page 1, column 2

Green-Wood Cemetery by David Shankbone, cr 2007, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

Minerva in Green-wood Cemetery waving to Lady Liberty by Russell Bittner, cr 2009, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

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