New photos added 11/15/22
Check Gallery below
The tiniest of infant bodies are buried at Greenwood Cemetery with no markers or identification of any kind. There was a time not terribly long ago when stillborns or babies who died shortly after birth were whisked away and buried without their parent's knowledge. The mothers were never told the burial location. The best guess on dates from Greenwood's official ledger are notes referring to babies buried from 1891 through WWII. In some cases throughout the USA, stillborn babies were still whisked away for quick burial as late as the 1980's.
Worldwide, it seemed a kind thing to do; bury the infant without funerals, names, or gravestones to prevent the family from bonding with the child in an effort to diminish their grief. "Go home and have another baby", they were often told, "forget about this one". But the parents never forgot and most have kept the lost baby in their hearts for decades and still grieve. Some have been fortunate enough to locate the gravesite, even if it may have been a mass burial site. The comfort was in knowing their baby's final resting spot.
Greenwood's official cemetery record indicates a general area where these babies were mostly buried. One of the ‘baby blocks’ has a plethora of concrete stones. Mike says he has to spend time on his knees attempting to read the actual inscriptions and then compare the ‘stones’ to the names in the book, in case the concrete temporary marker was placed but the location was overlooked. He indicates he can’t tell whether the infant one was a boy or a girl. Some do have first names or first and middle names. Just no location.
Mike continues, "then there are those in the aisles with no record at all. In checking the ground, there are depressions where small graves have settled over the decades, and it appears the wee ones were crowded in, with more in the unrecorded rows than in the recorded ones."
In addition to the unknown number of babies buried in hidden graves, there are over 40 infants that are listed in the ledger but without a specific grave location, often listed as "Baby" along with a surname. These babies cannot be entered into modern digital records because they have no known specific grave location. With a common monument to commemorate them, there will be a 'location' and so they will be represented on updated official records.
The Friends of Astoria Greenwood Cemetery proposed to fundraise for such a common monument as a tribute to these babies so that they will not be lost to the records and so that the era will also be recognized as part of the history of Greenwood Cemetery. There was an immediate response from the local and larger community with donations exceeding the goal, allowing the Leamy's to have some flexibility for the space surrounding the monument.
The end result is a beautiful monument commemorating these stillborn children and babies who died shortly after birth that were immediately taken away for anonymous burial in unmarked and often unrecorded graves. Our hopes are that it will be a comfort to anyone who has suffered a loss and maybe it will even help some families find where their lost child was buried.
Your support is so vital to all the special projects the Friends group proposes, but it is also vital to the cemetery's overall future. When you donate, you may specify 'General Fund' or 'Special Project'. Even though this particular special project is now fully funded, your donation will be greatly appreciated and used for future special projects.
Please donate securely by using the link (use the drop-down menu to designate 'Special Project' or 'General Fund'). Any amount may be filled into the 'Amount' field, and all donations are tax-deductible and gratefully accepted. You may also send a check directly to the cemetery, but please make it payable to 'Friends of Astoria Greenwood Cemetery' and put 'Special Project' or 'General Fund' in the memo line.
In the gallery below, you may click on a photo to enlarge it for easier viewing. We have listed the photos placed in reverse order, assuming most site visitors will want to see the finished project first.
Thank you for donating!
The Stillborn Babies Memorial project is one of the 'Special Projects' of Friends of Astoria Greenwood Cemetery. Please partner with us on this and future projects and become part of the team that is working to preserve and enhance Greenwood Cemetery into the future.
Thank you for being a Friend of Greenwood Cemetery!