If you are a Rochester native and have not yet taken a wander through Mount Hope Cemetery, I’d highly recommend you stop reading this blog, put down your phone, and go for a walk. Well, this blog post might be helpful, so I suppose you can read it first 🙂
Mt. Hope Cemetery is a true Rochester gem. It contains the graves of many prominent Rochesterians, not to mention national figures like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass!
If you’re a woman and have ever appreciated having the right to vote, or if you’re a man and appreciate the fact that women have the right to vote, then you owe Sue B. some thanks. Recently, Rochesterians covered Anthony’s grave in “I voted” stickers as a sign of respect and gratitude for her badass efforts in getting women the right to vote. Her tomb is a little bit out of the way, but it’s now well-signed with a nice path leading to it, so it’s certainly worth the trek to find and pay your respects!
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass is also buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery. Douglass lived in Rochester for several years, where he ran his newspaper, The North Star. His wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, was buried besides him. The Douglass grave just had fresh grass planted (as did Sue’s!). It’s nice to see them being well taken care of.
On to the local legends! One fascinating grave that my coworker showed to me last fall is that of Frank Gannett, a publisher who ran several newspapers in Upstate New York. At the time of his death, he was also involved in radio and TV in addition to print media.
University of Rochester students are likely to recognize many names in Mt. Hope Cemetery! There is a wing of the Susan B. Anthony dorm called Gannett. There’s a building called Bausch and Lomb, and right near Gannett’s tomb you’ll see two mausoleums, one for Bausch and one for Lomb. Rush Rhees’s grave is a little further down the way. You can also spy Dewey and an Eastman (though not George himself- he’s buried over at Kodak Park).
One final Rochester figure whose grave is a bit more challenging to find is Nathaniel Rochester himself. Nathaniel Rochester is credited with founding the city of Rochester in about 1811 (at least, that’s when he moved to the area with his family. That’s the start of a city, right?). At the time, it was called Rochesterville, which is kinda awesome. My favorite thing about his tomb is the Latin on his headstone. It roughly translates to, “If you seek his legacy, look around you.” Pretty cool, right?
I’m by no means an expert on Mount Hope Cemetery, but I do enjoy a good stroll there. I recently took a wander through with some coworkers who had never explored it; it’s always fun to expose people to this historic cemetery for the first time! I’ll be visiting again this week to volunteer doing some cleanup and gardening through United Way’s Day of Caring.
If I’ve piqued your interest, I’d highly recommend you check out a tour through Friends of Mt. Hope! I took a torchlight tour last fall, and the high point for sure is the fact that they let you into the old crematorium (this scenic beauty, which is not typically open to the public)! Tours are cheap and the stories are great, so you’ve got nothing to lose!