In 1852, America was struck with an epidemic of yellow fever, and the opening of Greenwood Cemetery relieved the overcrowding at Cypress Grove. Greenwood Cemetery was established by the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association in 1852. America’s third largest city, New Orleans was hit hard with the epidemic with over 8,000 in the city expiring from the disease by 1853. Greenwood’s 150 acres provided an expanse to accommodate the pressing need at the time and for future generations.
When the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association broke ground to build Greenwood Cemetery, it broke with tradition and built the first above ground cemetery without walls. Sparse in architecture and landscaping, Greenwood was designed to maximize its acreage to make room for nearly 20,000 grave lots. Imposing memorials line the perimeter giving the cemetery a park atmosphere.
Greenwood’s Confederate Monument is the first Civil War memorial to be erected in New Orleans. A low mound marks the mass grave of 600 Confederate soldiers whose remains were gathered through the efforts of the Ladies Benevolent Association of Louisiana. Dedicated in 1874, the masonry mausoleum is topped by a granite gallery enclosing an imposing marble pedestal. A statue of a Confederate infantry man resting on his rifle surmounts this pedestal.
The statuary is of a Carrara marble and was carved in Italy. The pedestal base has integral, carved busts of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney, and Johnston and Leonidas Polk. Architect Benjamin M. Harrod was the designer, and the memorial contractor was George Stroud.
Police Mutual Benevolent Association Tomb
The Finest Monument for the Bravest Firemen
Erected by the Association in 1887 in honor of its 50th anniversary, the memorial that sits at the center of Greenwood is the Firemen’s Monument, designed and constructed by Charles Orleans. A cluster of Gothic arches crowned by a steeple enshrines the figure of a volunteer fireman. The six-foot Italian marble statue was created by Alexander Doyle of New York and carved by artist Nicoli.
The monument is centered atop a mound rising five feet above surrounding paths, totaling a height of 46 feet. The original construction consisted of a light grey, Hallowell, Maine granite, not only for its structural integrity and longevity, but also for its meditative, respectful tones.
It is believed that a monument to Sir Walter Scott in Edinburg, Scotland inspired Charles Orleans’ design for the Firemen’s Monument. The monument honors the memory of volunteer firemen who died in the line of duty. The names of twenty-three volunteer fire companies are honored around the base in tribute to their service to the citizens of New Orleans.
The use of cast iron for tombs came into vogue in mid-19th century cemeteries, and Greenwood Cemetery has its share of stunning examples. An iron tomb enclosed by a Gothic-styled fence holds the remains of Isaac Newton Marks, a former president of the Firemen’s Association. A successful businessman, Marks became a volunteer firefighter with the Perseverance Fire Co. No. 13 in 1843.
Another imposing monument at Greenwood is a tomb erected in 1912 by Albert Weiblen, a German immigrant and one of the most successful builders of tombs and cemetery monuments in the south. The tomb is of Lodge No. 30 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The fraternal order was founded in 1868 by a group of actors and musicians in New York. A majestic bronze elk stands guard over a burial mound blanketed with grass, and beneath, a marble chamber contains eighteen burial vaults. Its granite entrance employs the Doric style in its use of two fluted columns supporting an entablature. A clock with hands pointing to the 11th hour, symbolic of a ritual toast to absent members, adorns the pediment. And lastly, bronze doors seal the entry.
Numerous fraternal organizations joined the Volunteer Firemen and Elks in providing memorials to their deceased members. Multivault tombs preserve the history of these organizations and the contributions of their members to New Orleans. The Police Mutual Benevolent Association, the Swiss Society and the New Orleans Typographical Union are fine examples at Greenwood. Formed in 1855, the Typographical Union was the first labor union in the region.
In 1982, the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association opened a new chapter at Greenwood with the addition of a magnificent mausoleum. With 14,000 burial spaces planned, the mausoleum will meet the ever-growing needs of the community and provide peace, comfort, and security for families looking for a final resting place for their beloved and for themselves.
For almost 200 years, Greenwood Cemetery has honored the history of New Orleans, its bravest citizens, and its industrious leaders with its magnificent memorials, monuments and tombs. The dedication of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association promises to preserve these hallowed grounds for future generations to honor the memory of their loved ones.
Abial Daily Crossman
Mayor of New Orleans – 1846-1854
Perhaps one of Mayor Crossman’s most enduring accomplishments was the construction of a City Hall on St. Charles Avenue. Designed by noted architect James Gallier, the building cost $120,000 in 1846 and is one of the few examples of pure Greek architecture in the United States. Additionally, the Crossman Administration was known for public education by obtaining state funding to create a new public school system to educate children from the age of 6 to 10. This system was enlarged through the beneficence of John McDonogh who died in 1850. A.D. Crossman Elementary School on S. Carrollton Avenue honors the memory of the late mayor. The Crossman Monument was designed by Jacques dePouilly in 1863. A symbolic urn is borne atop a gracefully fluted Doric column in this elegant marker. The A.D. Crossman Monument is bordered by a cast iron fence, a mid-19th century signature addition.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives – 1875
Born in Bayside, New York in 1820, Lawrence moved to Louisiana in 1843. His agricultural pursuits included planting and refining sugar. His political pursuits included tenure in the Louisiana House of Representatives, and in 1875, Lawrence was elected to the Forty-third Congress. He died on Magnolia Plantation in Plaquemines Parish in 1878.
Oramel H. Simpson
Governor, State of Louisiana 1926-1928
Lieutenant Governor, State of Louisiana 1924-1926
Oramel Hinkley Simpson, was born at Washington, St. Landry Parish, March 20, 1870, the son of Samuel T. and Mary Ester Simpson. He received his early education at Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana, and graduated in 1890. Later he received his LL.B. from Tulane University in 1892. Until 1899 Mr. Simpson was employed in the New Orleans mint. In 1900 he was elected assistant secretary of the Louisiana State Senate and became secretary, a position he held continuously until 1924. In November of that year, he was elected Lieutenant Governor for the term ending 1928. Upon the death of Governor Henry L. Fuqua, he was sworn in as Governor of Louisiana on October 11, 1926. His term as Governor was marked by important engineering projects and the organization of the Tri-State Flood Control League to obtain Federal flood control measures for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. After his term expired, Governor Simpson became Special Representative of the Louisiana Tax Commission in New Orleans. He was defeated for a full term for Governor in 1928 by Huey Pierce Long. Simpson died November 17, 1932.
Source: The Governors of Louisiana, Miriam G. Reeves.
Mayor of New Orleans – 1892-1896
Mayor Fitzpatrick served as a State Legislator, President of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association, State President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and an organizer of the Knights of Columbus. His tenure as mayor ushered in a new era for New Orleans, with railcars no longer being powered by mules, but electricity. He founded the present public library system and was called the Father of the Sewerage and Water System.
John Kennedy Toole
Pulitzer Prize Author
Toole was born in New Orleans in 1937. An unusually gifted child, he graduated from high school at 16, and at 20, he graduated from Tulane University with honors in English and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate studies. In 1957, he enrolled at Columbia University where he completed in one year a two-year masters literature program. He was a literature professor until drafted in the army in 1961. While teaching English at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, Toole completed his manuscript, A Confederacy of Dunces. Despondent over his inability to get published, Toole tragically ended his life in 1969. In 1980, Louisiana State University published A Confederacy of Dunces and it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
William J. Behan
Mayor of New Orleans, 1882-1884
The son of Irish immigrants, William J. Behan was educated at the Western Military Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. His military training prepared him for service as an artillery officer in the Confederate Army. He was the youngest artillery officer under General Robert E. Lee’s command. During the Civil War, he rose from the rank of non-commissioned officer to general. After the war, Behan returned to New Orleans where he engaged as a merchant, manufacturer and sugar planter. He became the first mayor of New Orleans under the new city charter. Behan declined to seek re-election and later broke ranks with the Democratic Party when they proposed to put sugar on the free tariff list. Behan joined the Republican Party during the Cleveland Administration serving as chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee from 1900-1912. Behan was the Republican candidate for Governor in 1904.