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Dark Destinations > United States > Locations in New York > Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY

Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY Other destinations within a
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Filed Under: Cemeteries/Graveyards
Cemeteries/Graveyards > Tours
Historical Locations > Disasters > Shipwrecks
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Infamous Crimes > Grave Robbery
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Added On: April 23, 2007 - 06:23 PM UTC
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791 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620, USA (Rochester, New York)
Mount Hope Cemetery
While the cemetery did not exist until the year 1838, its origin stems from the 1832 outbreak of cholera in the Rochester, New York (see Rochester, New York) area. It killed over 100 people in the community. The number of deaths quickly brought to light the need for a large cemetery to accommodate the growing population of what had become America's first boomtown (thanks to Rochester's flour production and access to the Erie Canal). Churchyards and small rural cemeteries just were not big enough to handle the demand. There were also concerns with cemeteries being set up too close to wells, resulting in diseased drinking water.

Mt. Hope became the first municipal Victorian cemetery in the US. It covers 197 acres and houses between 300,000 and 400,000 dead.

The land upon which the cemetery was built had a reputation with Native Americans for being haunted. A letter from a Rochester resident in the late 1800s (reprinted in the book Mount Hope: America's First Municipal Victorian Cemetery) writes of settlers' unease with the location before the cemetery was built. In the letter he states, "People said that lights moved around in there in the daytime, and in the night would start up and move off up into the hills, and that horrid sounds had been heard. We boys ran like a streak through there, or if we had a horse, we put him through on double-quick..."

The lights and sounds mentioned in that letter are likely the result of swamp gas and wild animals (wolves and bears were common). The area was swampy and densely wooded. However, there are reports of ghost sightings in and around the cemetery in modern day. One of the phantoms is of an old man crossing Mount Hope Avenue in front of the cemetery. When he reaches midway across the street, he vanishes right in front of motorists waiting for him to finish crossing. Other reports have varied from spirits of Victorian women and children to the ghost of a terrified young black man running from something or someone unseen.

Cults and Strange People
There have been rumors in the past of Satanic rituals having been performed in the cemetery. There is even a section of the cemetery known as the "Devil's Bowl." The Bowl is a basin of land that was reputedly a focal point for rituals. On June 23, 2000, the grave of Civil War General Elisha G. Marshall was found to have been desecrated. The General's bones had been scattered and the area was littered with satanic graffiti. The General's skull appeared to have been stolen and has never been located since.

According to an account related in the video The Phantom Tour, there was a man who was discovered to be living in one of the cemetery's mausoleums. The man, who referred to himself as "The Wizard," was arrested after discovery.

Relatives of H.P. Lovecraft
Horror author H.P. Lovecraft's father was born and raised in Rochester, New York (see Birthplace of H.P. Lovecraft). A number of Lovecraft's paternal family are buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. Some of the relatives died in dark and tragic circumstances. One went mad and died of syphilis. Another committed suicide by drinking a vial of acid and then shooting himself. Yet more of them drowned in Lake Ontario and their bodies were never recovered. Strangely, despite some of their fates eerily echoing Lovecraft's work, it appears that he was unaware of their actual stories and it does not appear to have influenced his work. Some of the relatives are buried in Section R, others are buried in Range 4 right near the cemetery office.

The Boyd-Parker Ambush
Victims of the Boyd-Parker ambush of 1779 are interred at Mount Hope Cemetery. Most of them were slain in Groveland, NY. Lt. Thomas Boyd and Sgt. Michael Parker were captured and taken to a nearby Seneca village (see Boyd and Parker Memorial Park), where they were tortured to death in an excruciatingly slow and gruesome fashion. They had been buried separately at the locations of their deaths. On August 19, 1841, the remains of all the victims were brought to Patriot Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.

The remains were left in above ground wooden containers until 1864. A caretaker discovered that the remains were beginning to scatter from the worn and damaged containers. He buried the remains in potter's field. In 1903, the remains were once again moved and buried a final time with proper grave markers in Section BB, Lot 123.

The Steam Gauge & Lantern Company Fire Memorial
On November 9, 1888, a fire started on the first floor in the shipping area of the Steam Gauge and Lantern Company (see High Falls, Genesee River, Rochester, NY). The fire spread quickly upwards, trapping male employees (some were children) in the upper floors with no escape. In all, 35 died from smoke inhalation, burns and jumping from the upper floors in desperate bids to escape burning to death. A memorial to the victims of Rochester's most fatal fire sits in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Section BB not far from the Boyd-Parker Memorial. The memorial tells the abbreviated story of the fire and lists victims whose bodies were not able to be identified. The last line on the monument reads "BUT GOD WAS NOT IN THE FIRE. AND AFTER THE FIRE, A STILL, SMALL VOICE."

Buffalo Bill Cody's Children
Showman and legend of the American Old West "Buffalo" Bill Cody has three of his four children buried in Mount Hope. Kit Carson Cody (November 26, 1870 - April 20, 1876) was taken by scarlet fever at the age of five. Orra Maude Cody (August 15, 1872 - October 24, 1883) died from remittent fever at the age of eleven. Arta Cody Thorp (December 16, 1866 - Jan. 30, 1904) died at the age of 37 from complications resulting from surgery. She had been married twice during her short life. Her first husband, Horton Sinclair Boal, committed suicide. Her second marriage, to Dr. Charles Ward Thorp Jr., occurred on January 1, 1904, the beginning of the month in which she died. When Buffalo Bill died in 1917 in Denver, Colorado, an attempt was made to have his remains brought to Rochester for burial with his children at Mt. Hope. The state of Colorado successfully fought to have Buffalo Bill's corpse remain in his burial place in Golden, Colorado.

Marion Ira Stout
The High Falls was also the setting of a murderous misdeed by another Mt. Hope's permanent residents. Marion Ira Stout, who went by his middle name, murdered his brother-in-law in a crime that was bungled so badly, it would have been deemed slapstick were it not for someone actually having died from it. After successfully bludgeoning his brother-in-law to death, Charles attempts to get rid of the body resulted in 30 foot falls for both him and his accomplice sister. They both wound up with broken bones and left much evidence behind at the scene, while not even succeeding at properly disposing of the corpse itself.

The case became extremely public and even involved public figures such as fellow future Mt. Hope Cemetery residents, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. The case involved sibling incest, cheating spouses, an entire family in jail as accomplices, failed suicide attempts and finally a botched execution. Karma was not on Ira's side. However, in death he shares company with some of Rochester's wealthy and notable families, who are interred nearby. Stout is buried in Section D, Lot 60 in an unmarked grave.

Stanley Fox
Mt. Hope Cemetery is the final resting place of Stanley Hubert Fox. Mr. Fox was a former machinist turned salesman for the Gleason Works (known as the Gleason Corporation these days). In 1912, Fox had been in England, conducting sales abroad for the company. Unfortunately, Stanley's return trip involved him travelling aboard the ill-fated Titanic (see R.M.S. Titanic). He was one of the many who died when the ship sank on April 15, 1912. His body was one of the 306 recovered by the CS MacKay Bennett. He left behind a wife and two young children. He'd turned 38 years old only two days before the sinking.

Fox's remains and recovered personal affects were shipped to the White Star Line offices in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His widow was initially unable to travel to retrieve his remains. She'd entered into a state of shock upon receiving a telegram informing her of his death.

A woman going by the name of Lydia Fox arrived in Nova Scotia, claiming to be the sister-in-law of the deceased. The remains were released into her custody. Lydia had the body loaded into storage on a train on which she was a passenger. Shortly after, a telegram arrived from Stanley's widow. The telegram stated that a woman named Lydia Fox may arrive and not to release the body into her possession. It then stated that Lydia might be conducting a scam to collect on Stanley's life insurance.

At the trains next stop, the body was offloaded from the train without notifying Lydia. She continued on with her journey, unaware. Rochester Mayor Hiram Edgerton, himself, then got involved, sending a telegram authorizing the shipment of Stanley Fox's remains to Rochester. He is buried in Range 4, Lot 225.

Edward R. Crone
Edward Crone was the inspiration for the main character in Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse Five. Edward had been a fellow POW during World War II. Vonnegut and Crone were held prisoner together in Dresden, Germany. Crone had an unfortunate habit of trading his rations for candy. This ultimately led to his death from malnutrition. He was buried in a paper suit (due to a fabric shortage) in Dresden. Following the war, Edward Crone's family travelled to Germany and had the remains brought back for interment in Mount Hope Cemetery in Range 4, Lot 116.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five decades later in the late 1960s. The novel's protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, is a POW who survives the fire bombing of Dresden. He later becomes an unwitting time traveler and is kidnapped by aliens. The novel explores concepts of free will and like many Vonnegut books, it points out the absurdity of humankind. Vonnegut kept quiet about Billy Pilgrim being based on Edward Crone until after Crone's parents died.

In 1995, Kurt Vonnegut visited Rochester and while there he discovered that Crone's remains had been moved to the city. He had thought Crone still lay in a German grave. Vonnegut paid a visit to Crone's grave. It is said that he stood at the grave, smoking a cigarette and talking with Edward's grave in private. After leaving, Vonnegut stated that he'd finally closed the "book on WWII" for himself.

Nicolaos Tahou
Nicolaos Tahou (frequently mispelled as "Tahoe") is a well known name in the Rochester area. His Nick Tahou Hots restaurants created Rochester's famous dish, the "Garbage Plate." While it hasn't caught on with the rest of the nation like Buffalo wings (invented in Rochester's neighbor city), the garbage plate is well known in the Rochester area. The traditional Garbage Plate consists of hamburgers or hot dogs (sans buns), placed atop macaroni salad and home-fries, and smothered with onions, mustard and Nick's special meaty hot sauce. There are many variations and options when ordering a plate though.

Nick passed away in 1997 (at the age of 77) and was interred at Mt. Hope in Section U, Lot 196. Apparently, it has become a tradition amongst students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) to eat a garbage plate at Nick's grave on January 6, his birthday.

Clones of the Garbage Plate can be found in many Rochester area restaurants under a number of names; Hog Plate, Trash Plate, Garbo Plate, Junkyard Plate, Heartburn Special, Kitty Litter Plate, Bada Boom Plate, etc. The Garbage Plate, in one form or another, will live on long past the death of its creator.

Other People of Note
Mount Hope boasts a very large number of deceased residents who are famous (or infamous). Walking through the cemetery you will find Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, various scientists and inventors (including the inventor of fuzzy pipe cleaners), both founders of Bausch & Lomb, a slew of politicians and the founder of the Transcontinental Railroad. There are many more, which can be found through exploring books or web sites mentioned below.

Halloween 2008 Incident
On Halloween night of 2008, shortly before midnight, Rochester Authorities received an emergency call about a man on fire in Mount Hope Cemetery. Arriving on scene, rescue workers discovered a dead male, still in flames. A can of gasoline and a backpack were found near the body. The body was burned beyond recognition. The body was that of a young undergrad student of University of Rochester. The University sits alongside the cemetery to the West.

It is believed that the death was a suicide by self-immolation. The body was discovered near Section B, in the oldest section of the cemetery. The very first burial, William Carter, is not far away in Section A. The incident has caused further rumors of satanic activity in the cemetery, with some believing the young man to have been the victim of a sacrifice. However, there appears to be nothing solid to support these theories.

A suicide in the cemetery isn't unprecedented, as a prominent businessman and musician named John Gorres took his own life there in 1886.

The Suicide of John Gorres
John Gorres (Born 1827) was a Prussian immigrant to the United States. He made a decent living as a music professor in Savannah, Georgia and was a well-respected member of the community. His wife, Augusta bore him three children, two girls and a boy, and spent the last years of her life teaching in the same profession as her husband. She died suddenly of an unknown cause in the early 1880s.

In 1882, Gorres and his family relocated to Rochester, New York where he opened a business selling pianos and organs. He rapidly became one of the largest music dealers in Rochester. His meteoric rise in the industry was shortly followed with a fast decline as John's mental state began unraveling. Exhibiting signs of what was described as "religious fanaticism" (a description that seems all the more extreme considering Rochester's well known evangelistic nature in that century) he began talking to himself in public regularly, regularly was incoherent with his speech and kept ignoring his business in order to study Christianity. He was reduced to running his business from home. He still managed to do well for himself under these circumstances.

On September 7, 1886, Gorres purchased two 32-caliber revolvers from a local pawnshop. The last time John Gorres was seen alive was on the evening of September 8. He left a note for his children, telling them that he was "God's son" and that he would return in a few days to take the children with him to heaven along with him. He apparently then walked from his home on Elizabeth Street to Mount Hope Cemetery.

The dead body of John Gorres was discovered by a pair of gravediggers in section M of the cemetery on the afternoon of September 10. It was deduced that John had tried to shoot himself in the head with both revolvers, but only succeeded in firing one of the weapons. It was determined that he'd died instantly from his wound anyhow. The following day, Gorres was buried right there in Section M. Despite having left behind a reasonable amount of money, he was never given a gravestone and his grave remains unmarked.

A New York Times article about the death of John Gorres claims that he killed himself atop a fresh grave. The article stated that the grave belonged to one of his children who had recently died. It also claims that he was left with a surviving son and daughter. Another obituary apparently stated that he'd recently lost a daughter. Alternately, the book Mt. Hope: America's First Municipal Victorian Cemetery states that Gorres had two boys and a girl and that one of the boys died. These stories appear to be untrue, as there are records showing two daughters and a son who survived both parents' deaths. The daughters eventually found husbands and apparently lived relatively normal lives. However, John's son Emil showed signs of the same mental illness that befell his father.

October 18, 1893, Emil was admitted to the Rochester State Hospital, suffering from similar symptoms as his father. Despite clearly suffering from hallucinations and delusions, Emil was permitted to hold a job outside of the hospital until Christmas Eve of the same year when he attacked his employer. Emil remained in the hospital for decades before finally being released. He moved to Princeton, Wisconsin where he took a job as a hotel clerk. His history beyond 1920 is unknown. Emil's story suggests that there may have been a genetic factor involved in the mental illness both he and his father displayed--though there was a vast age difference between the men at the times when their madness became apparent.

Mount Hope Cemetery in Media
Mt. Hope Cemetery has been featured in a number of books. Mount Hope: America's First Municipal Victorian Cemetery by Richard Reisem and Frank Gillespie provides an extensive history on the cemetery and its inhabitants. Buried treasures in Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York: A Pictorial Field Guide also by Richard Reisem offers a tour of the cemetery and relates the histories of its residents. Mount Hope Cemetery was also one of 13 haunted Western New York locations featured on the DVD The Phantom Tour.

The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the cemetery as well as its history. The organization offers guided tours of the cemetery. For details on the tours, check the Friends of Mount Hope web site listed below.
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Related Sites
Necronomicon Press: Stern Fathers Neath the Mould
Web page for the H.P. Lovecraft ancestry book Stern Fathers Neath the Mould.
Lovecraft Family Tree
A family tree for the relatives of H.P. Lovecraft.
Friends of Mount Hope
Website for historians dedicated to the preservation of Mount Hope Cemetery.
Find A Grave: Mount Hope Cemetery
Very long list of historical people buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, including relatives of H.P. Lovecraft.
Rochester NY Cemeteries: Riverside & Mount Hope Cemeteries
Web page for Riverside and Mount Hope cemeteries in Rochester, NY.
RocWiki: Mount Hope Cemetery
RocWiki's entry for Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY.
Epitaph: Stanley H. Fox
The Epitaph's articles about Titanic victim Stanley Fox.
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See Also on
Blog: What Happened to Boyd and Parker After They Died? (09/19/08)
Blog: The Botched Execution of Ira Stout (10/22/08)
Blog: The Descration of a General's Grave (06/23/09)
Available from
Stern Fathers 'Neath the Mould: The Lovecraft Family in Rochester
The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
A guide or handbook for Mount Hope Cemetery: With photo-engravings and diagram
Buried treasures in Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York: A pictorial field guide
Mount Hope, Rochester, New York: America's first municipal Victorian cemetery
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Florentine fountain at Mt. Hope
This cast-iron fountain was constructed in the 1870's.
From: aaronlovecraft
Egyptian motif at Mt. Hope Cemetery
Egyptian themes were popular in Victorian cemeteries, like Mt. Hope.
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Lovecraft family plot
Sandstone makes a poor cemetery monument.
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Aaron Lovecraft monument at Mt. Hope
Aaron was H. P. Lovecraft's great uncle. He was also a successful Rochester businessman.
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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Dementia Oct 01 2008, 05:35 PM UTC
I love Mount Hope Cemetery. I can see it right out side my window at work. One thing I learned about it was this is where the majority of the glaciers left their massive marks. It caused hills that sky rocket, and valley's that plummet.

I also learned that at the time when it was built, that the land was considered "inhabitable" because of how curvy the land was. Very interesting.
drinkycro Mar 08 2010, 01:18 AM UTC
Great article. I've lived by the cemetery for over a year now. Reading this article gave me a lot more appreciation for this location. Thanks!
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