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"In grateful memory of the founders of the Park Cemetery
Barak T. Nichols, Curtis Thompson, Bradley H. Hull and of
James W. Thompson who developed and beautified it."
Park Cemetery is located at 620 Lindley Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. There is not much information available on it. It seems to date from the 1880s. In 1890, Congregation Adath Israel in Bridgeport purchased land located within Park Cemetery, and the "Jewish section" was used until the 1920s. It now exists as a grouping of several stones in and around a tiny fenced area in the extreme back end of the cemetery.
Park Cemetery is an eclectic place. There are stones engraved in foreign languages (German nd Dutch are popular) and several markers state people's country of birth. You can find veterans from conflicts beginning with the Civil War, but World War II seems to be the most represented. You will also find several Woodmen of America interred in Park Cemetery, and former Socialist mayor of Bridgeport, Jasper McLevy.
It is evident that Park Cemetery, at one time, was a rather nice area. But time (especially the last fifteen years) has taken its toll. The cemetery's back boundary is the Routes 25 and 8 connector - a loud, busy 10-lane highway that links the two thoroughfares to Interstate 95. And the grounds are in appalling disrepair. There is no rhyme or reason to the burials; no pattern exists, no logical layout can be discerned. There is no "older section" as can be found in other cemeteries. Newer burials are being crammed into already crowded areas while other sections remain sparse.
The most atrocious aspect of Park Cemetery is its upkeep. As you approach the cemetery, there is a cheap, hand-painted sign informing you of your location. The columns flanking the entryway do not match. Another sign - a hand painted piece of plywood propped against a tree - says "close at 5:00". There are pockmarked roads in need of paving. A large tree which has split down the center looks in danger of falling; it is held together with a single length of chain. And dozens of the stones are off their pedestals and broken, some into three or four pieces. The amount of trash on the grounds is also unacceptable. The Park Cemetery Associatsion's explanation? A shortage of funds (despite continuous contemporary burials) and their idea that it is the family's responsibility to maintain the monuments. The association must assume that families remain intact and in the same geographic location over numerous generations.
Park Cemetery dates from approximately the late-1800s. The local cemeteries I have researched date back as far as the late 1600s, and most are in better condition. Some towns have directed an organized effort into the clean-up and restoration of their burial grounds (see Easton's Adopt-A-Grave program mentioned on the main page). The Park Cemetery Association (620 Lindley St., Bridgeport, CT 06606. Phone: (203) 334-8165) should be ashamed.
Photos were taken 19 October 2008.
Jasper McLevy, former mayor of Bridgeport, who served the city for 24 years.
McLevy was a Socialist who later left the party and joined the Social Democratic Federation.
Hellman - a Spanish-American War veteran.
The second monument says, "Erected by the Woodsmen of the World (indecipherable...Latin?)
Parry Turner born August 15, 1876 died June 13, 1903"
There are several Woodmen of America interred in Park Cemetery.
"Fred Charlie Kaimer" - there are no dates on the stone.
The obelisk reads, "Stephen Nichols.
Presented this monument to the Bridgeport Protestant Widows Society, 1882."
"Erected in loving memory of departed members of the Danish brotherhood Lodge 37 and
members of the Danishevg.luth.church Bridgeport, Conn.
Erected by Christian-Maren Nielsen 1890-1944"
The plaque reads,
My thoughts are wandering far from here
To childhood home and mother dear,
To fields of clover and golden grain
And to a house by a winding lane,
And there, while softly my tears are falling
I see you, mother, I hear you calling.
I send, dear mother, my love to you
And alll the places my childhood knew."
The fenced area of Congregation Adath Israel Cemetery. Additional graves, engraved in Hebrew, surround the area.
Hebrew inscription followed by, "In memory of Rachel Seligman Died March 29 (?), 1903."
In front of Seligman's stone is Fodeman's. Another Hebrew inscription followed by,
"In memory of my beloved husband Joel Fodeman died Feb. 22, 1903
Age 84 years. Rest in Peace."
All photos copyright by the author, 2009. Not to be used or reproduced without permission.
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