I visited Woodland Cemetery this past
November 11th, 2010 on Veteran's Day (as well as Holy Sepulchre
Cemetery ) by myself in spite of the warnings that it was unsafe
to go alone. It was a perfect sunny mellow weekday to visit. Very
little traffic and the people out and about were enjoying the unusually
warm day. Everyone on the street that I needed to ask directions
from was helpful and pleasant. (The directions to 10th Street I
got online were not accurate because some streets are one-way ,
so I was going around in circles.) Although I was born in Irvington
and my dad was born in Newark, my family left the area many moons
ago and I had never been in the city of Newark alone. Next I want
to visit the Newark Public Library to dig up obituaries, business
directories and anything about the turn of the century breweries
that my great grandfather from Germany worked in.
When I arrived there were just 2 other people there looking at
a grave. They helped me find my family plot. Only one other person
walked through the grounds. So it turned out to be a safe trip.
I doubt a police escort is needed if people go in large numbers.
This isn't said to negate that there are destructive people around,
BTW. I think I'll go on the next 'safe day' to plant some bulbs.
The condition of the cemetery was disgraceful - I drove through
the 'roads' which are barely there with grass growing through what's
left of the blacktop. Huge tree limbs were down so I had to back
up and go another path. I thought I was going to tear my muffler
off. It felt like "Escape from New York". Even with a
map of the grounds I found it hard to find the section I was looking
for - some section markers would have been nice. However, the condition
of my family plot was good - it was mowed and the headstones are
squat things circa 1917 that can't easily be knocked over or broken.
I took pictures of the headstones and some of the other visitors'
toppled headstone. I recently found my great grandmother's will
in which she asked her son that a small amount of money be held
aside in perpetuity to maintain the plot - but there's no one left
from their generations to do that. I'm probably the only Hofmann
to see that plot in many years or even care.
Holy Sepulchre, on the other hand, was beautifully maintained ,
well marked and a grounds keeper showed me where that family plot
was. I wish I had more time to look around there at the beautiful
In response to being told it wasn't safe to
visit Woodland Cemetery:
Well, maybe my ancestors were watching over me - glad that someone
remembered them. Several of the people buried in the family plot
died long before I was born or shortly thereafter so I didn't get
to meet or know them. I'm sure there are times you don't go to this
place - at night, for instance. ; ) On this day I saw no menacing
gangs lurking about or prostitutes or druggies sitting on headstones...anywhere
...in the area between Holy Sepulchre and Woodland. The streets
were clean and people even smiled at me. I saw one stray dog with
fleas on a street corner. It was kind of surreal based on my ingrained
perception of a dangerous city. (I am old enough to remember the
The reason I present this view is that I overcame my fear of going
into Newark . It was a big deal to me to drive there ( Rte 78 the
entire way so it wasn't difficult - I live just across the NJ border
from Phillipsburg) AND to go into Newark and figure out my way around.
I spent the night before looking at online maps getting familiar
with the street names and looking at the satellite/street view.
Even then I wasn't prepared for one-way streets. I was a little
confused about getting back to 78, but I asked questions of people
on corners and in their cars and they directed me back out of the
maze onto 78. It was a good visit and I'm looking forward to going
back next Spring.