Volz Plot, Ridgelawn Cemetery

Ridgelawn Cemetery in Reserve Township began in 1888 as St. Peter’s Lutheran Cemetery. The oldest section is in the far back, and here it reveals its distinctive feature, one that definitely makes it worth a visit: it preserves the style of the old rural cemeteries, with stone-fenced family plots carefully maintained. Even the Allegheny Cemetery, our most famous cemetery of the “rural” movement, has got rid of most of the stone walls, and those that remain are often broken down or half missing. Groundskeepers hate them, after all, and it is much easier to keep the cemetery looking neat if the walls go away.

So we generally see these old family plots in small half-overgrown cemeteries where no one has cared enough to remove the walls. But here the walls are not only preserved, but scrupulously maintained. Paradoxically, Ridgelawn Cemetery may give us a better idea of what the Allegheny Cemetery looked like a century ago than the Allegheny Cemetery itself does.

The Volz plot is typical. It is surrounded by a low stone wall; it has an entrance with the family name on the threshold; and it has a large family monument toward the rear surrounded by individual graves.

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