Cemetery Press in 2018

Considering I didn’t have a new book out in 2018, I was pleased with the attention that 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to draw. It opened doors for me to speak at a bunch of new (to me) venues last year, too. Hopefully, I persuaded some new people to check out the beauty of these fragile historic places.

Book publications:

I put a collection of my cemetery essays up on Wattpad in July and August. Graveyard Field Trips: A Memoir gathers essays I published on Gothic.Net and GothicBeauty.com, along with the introduction to the original edition of Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries.

At the moment, I have a proposal out for my new book, The Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area, and another proposal for a nonfiction book with Lisa Morton, president of the Horror Writers Association, that I’m excited about.  Hopefully those books will find homes in 2019.

I’m not sure what cemetery project I’ll work on after those are done. Maybe I’ll finally finish the second volume of Death’s Garden.

Short Nonfiction Publications:

Four Graves for Harvey Milk” appeared on The Cemetery Club  to kick off Great Britain’s Gay Pride Month.

10 American Cemeteries to See Before You Die” appeared on The Daily Beast in April 2018. My collection of cemeteries to see in springtime was illustrated with images from 199 Cemeteries.

I wrote 9 cemetery columns for the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter about the histories of burial and cremation, cemetery ghost stories, and gravestone iconography.

The Madam’s Haunted Tomb” served as part of the Ghosts in the Graveyard series on Roxanne Rhoads’s All Things Halloween blog. I talked about a ghost legend centered on New Orleans’ Metairie Cemetery.

Here on CemeteryTravel.com, I was proud to put together a two-part series on the “Resting Places of Horror Icons.” Here’s part one.

Lectures:

At Cypress Lawn in Colma in September

I spoke to Angela Hennessy’s “Over My Dead Body” class at the California College of the Arts in February. My lecture, called “Memento Mori: Even Graveyards Die,” covered the demolition of the historic cemeteries of San Francisco.

In April, for the “Memento Mori” evening of the Reimagine End of Life week, I talked about the dismantling of “Laurel Hill Cemetery: San Francisco’s Garden Cemetery” at the Swedish American Hall.

I talked about how I came to write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at the Association for Gravestone Studies conference in Danbury, Connecticut in June.

In September, I showed slides of my favorite cemeteries from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Professor Steven Brown invited me to talk about cemeteries to his horticultural class as San Francisco’s City College on October 1, 2018.

My last lecture of the year was near to my heart.  For years, I’ve wanted to trace the development of San Francisco’s Old Mission Cemetery through tourist postcards.  I finally got to do it as part of the Odd Salon’s “Cemetery Stories” event during the Litcrawl on 10/20/18. My lecture was called “Postcards from History.”

Podcasts:

Extreme Genes, my first genealogy podcast ever, chatted with me about cemeteries on 3/25/18. My bit starts 24 minutes in:
https://extremegenes.com/2018/02/25/episode-226-black-history-month-advances-in-african-american-research-199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

Venerable goth podcast Cemetery Confessions broadcast our conversation about cemeteries on 6/17/18:
http://www.thebelfry.rip/blog/2018/6/15/cemetery-expert-loren-rhoads

Mark from On the Odd chatted with me about 199 Cemeteries on October 26, 2018: https://ontheodd.com/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

And I talked with Timothy Renner about cemeteries for his Strange Familiars podcast, but it hasn’t been released yet.

Print/Online Interviews:

“Loren Rhoads takes us through the gates of the Cemetery” for Women in Horror Month on Library of the Damnedhttp://libraryofthedamned.com/2018/02/22/wihm-interview-loren-rhoads-takes-us-through-the-gates-of-the-cemetery/

Sonora Taylor invited me by for a Q&A on her blog in August. Mostly we talked about 199 Cemeteries, but also got into my Alondra short stories: https://sonorawrites.com/2018/08/15/ask-the-author-a-qa-with-loren-rhoads/

Erin Al-Mehairi invited me by her Oh, for the Hook of a Book! blog for a long conversation about cemeteries and more on 10/30/18: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/hookinterview-cemetery-travel-writer-and-horror-author-loren-rhoads-lohf/

Articles:

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to get some press attention this year, even though the book’s been out more than a year. Most of these stories were nice surprises when I stumbled across them online.

I served as a consultant about Potter’s Fields for “State-Funded Funerals: What Happens to the Unclaimed Dead” on How Stuff Works. I’m a fan of the podcast, so this was an honor. https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/state-funded-funerals-what-happens-to-unclaimed-dead.htm

A feature story on 199 Cemeteries called “From Established to Eccentric, These Cemeteries are To Die For” appeared on Gonomad in April: https://www.gonomad.com/109276-from-established-to-eccentric-these-cemeteries

Lifestyles over 50 reprinted Larry Bleiberg’s “10 Great Cemeteries to See Before You Die”: https://lifestylesafter50.com/10-great-cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die/

Atlas Obscura did a lovely piece called “In Search of Cemeteries Alive With Beauty, Art, and History” for Halloween: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die-monuments

Halloween Lifestyle cautioned readers “Don’t Die Before You see These Amazing Cemeteries”: http://www.halloween-lifestyle.com/2018/04/23/dont-die-before-seeing-these-amazing-cemeteries/

And the Steampunk Explorer put together an in-depth 3-part series of historic cemeteries that would appeal to those of a steampunk persuasion:

Part 1: USA and Canada
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-i

Part 2: Europe
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-ii

Part 3: The Rest of the World
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-iii

Miscellaneous Good Things:

A catch-all category for things that made me smile this year.

199 Cemeteries made the preliminary ballot for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award in Nonfiction. While the book didn’t advance to the final ballot, it was still an honor to make the long list.

The podcast Two Girls One Ghost read my fan letter on air after they mentioned 199 Cemeteries in an earlier episode. Here’s a link to their Haunted Cemeteries podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/6692482-episode-27-rest-in-peace which originally aired on 2/25/18.

199 Cemeteries made a Buzzfeed list! “30 Gorgeous Products for Anyone with a Morbid Mind”  appeared on 4/13/18: https://www.buzzfeed.com/malloryannp/gorgeous-products-morbid-mind

I came across the first edition of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel listed on Amazon for $1200. I’d gladly set you up with one for 10 bucks.

Sonora Taylor mentioned 199 Cemeteries in her list “October Reads: Time for (More) Darkness” recommendation list on 10/5/18: https://sonorawrites.com/2018/10/05/october-reads-time-for-more-darkness/

Finally, I got to provide a cover blurb for the first time.  I am really excited about Erin-Marie Legacey’s Making Space for the Dead, which is coming from Cornell University Press in April 2019. You can preorder it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RkuyiT.

Posted in 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die, Good cemetery news | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Life of Death

The Life of Death: The Bare Bones of UndertakingThe Life of Death: The Bare Bones of Undertaking by Ralph R. Rossell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ralph Rossell owns the only funeral home in the little town where I grew up. He’s handled the funerals for my grandparents. I went with my mom to Rossell’s to pick out a casket for my great aunt. I’m sure my parents have an arrangement with him.

When my brother died suddenly at the age of 36, Rossell’s funeral home asked for a photo of him so the cosmetologist could make him look good for the viewing. Somewhere along the line, someone slicked his curly red hair down. My mom threw a fit, the funeral home went into gear, and somebody curled all his thinning hair into ringlets. I thought it looked awful, but then my brother was dead and nothing was going to make me feel better about that. My mom was satisfied. That was enough.

I read Ralph’s book half in dread that the story would come up amidst all his other reminiscences of growing up with and burying the people in my hometown. It didn’t, but I recognized other people I’ve known here. I marvel at the boldness of writing this book — telling these stories — but I will treasure it. It documents the town remarkably well.

I’m vastly disappointed that I wasn’t in high school when the Home Ec teacher was taking the kids to tour the funeral home. My life might have run on a different path. Oh, well.

If you didn’t grow up in small-town Michigan but are interested in what it’s like to run a family-owned funeral home, the book paints a clear picture. There’s some fairly gruesome stuff amongst the folksy memories. The book has no literary pretensions, like Thomas Lynch’s The Undertaking. Because of that, I enjoyed it more.

You can order your own copy from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LdwLXH

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Posted in Cemetery book review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Digging Up the Dead

Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American ReburialsDigging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials by Michael Kammen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book more than I did. It is written in a very dry way, so I wasn’t surprised to discover that the author is a professor emeritus at Cornell. Bess Lovejoy’s Rest in Pieces is a much more fun text on the same subject, although both books don’t really cover the same ground.

This book is exhaustive when it comes to American war heroes who were recovered from forgotten graves and reburied with more attention. In fact, if the Revolutionary War fascinates you, you will appreciate the “Siting and Reciting of Patriotism” chapter.

I wish the chapter on “Problematic Graves” had been longer. I hadn’t considered the tourist value of famous people’s graves beyond Jim Morrison and Hollywood Forever, so I was fascinated by the process of moving gravesites to be more accessible, along with the struggles cities went to in order to hang on to their favored sons.

In fact, the book is thick with dead white men. I wish the author had cast a wider net. I was excited when the African Burial Ground in Manhattan was mentioned. Jimi Hendrix could have been, too, or Martin Luther King Jr. or Hattie McDaniel (who wasn’t moved, in the end). The graves removed from Manzanar might have rated some attention, or the Chinese history of moving the bones back home during the Gold Rush…

I suppose it’s telling that the blurbs on the book come from historians, not from cemetery aficionados.

You can order your own copy of the book from Amazon.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Posted in Cemetery book review | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Last Cemetery Lecture of the Season

1930 mission linen bells002This Saturday night, I’ll be using my collection of cemetery postcards to illustrate the changes to the oldest European-style cemetery in Northern California.
My talk will be part of the fabled Litcrawl in San Francisco’s Mission District. I’ll be joined by Odd Salon Fellows Laura Rubin and Casey Selden for tales from the surprising history of cities of the dead.

Odd Salon: Cemetery Stories

Saturday October 20, 2018 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Admission is FREE!

IMG_0559

Loren Rhoads

Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She blogs about graveyards as travel destinations at CemeteryTravel.com. She’ll be talking about San Francisco’s Mission Dolores.

avatar for Laura Rubin

Laura Rubin

Odd Salon Fellow. She’ll be talking about London’s Funeral Railway.

avatar for Casey Selden

Casey Selden

Casey Selden is a Fellow of Odd Salon and a fermentation dabbler. She’s made beer, cider and wine for kicks in her kitchen. She’ll be talking about a grave in Chicago and the woman who goes along with it.

Expert talks on odd topics; odd talks on everything else.

Posted in Cemetery event, Good cemetery news | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cemetery of the Week #172: Greyfriars Kirkyard

IMG_3047

Greyfriars Kirkyard
Also known as Greyfriars Churchyard
Address: 26A Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh, Scotland
Founded: 1562
Size: 5 acres
Number interred: 250,000

In 1447, Franciscan monks (called the Gray Friars for the color of their robes) built their friary at the north end of the Grassmarket on a slope with a lovely view of Edinburgh Castle. The Franciscans, a medical order, served the poor there until they were chased out of Scotland by the Reformation in 1558.

Their friary yard was claimed by Queen Mary in 1562 for a public burial ground. Just in time, too. The graveyard was used “extensively” during the Black Plague of 1568.

IMG_3045

Photo by my friend Jeff. Used by permission.

The first peer buried there was James Douglas, Earl of Morton, executed in 1581 after being accused of the murder of Queen Mary’s husband. The next year, he was followed to the graveyard by historian George Buchanan. Both graves went unmarked, common practice at the time. Painters George Jameson (died 1644) and Sir John Medina (died 1710), and poet Allan Ramsay (died 1758) also lie in unmarked graves.

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 1.53.13 PM

Photo of the Covenanters Monument by Kim Traynor, wikimedia commons.

At the foot of the cemetery’s east walk stands the Covenanters’ Monument — also called the Martyrs’ Monument — which remembers Scottish Presbyterians who died for their faith rather than convert to the Anglican Church founded by Henry VIII in England in 1534.

The scourge of the Covenanters was Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh.  He was a highly educated member of the Scottish Parliament, a lawyer, and a member of the Privy Council of Scotland.  In 1677, he became Lord Advocate in the service of King Charles II of England, in charge of punishing anyone who refused to swear loyalty to King Charles or rejected the Church of England.

By Mackenzie’s command, 400 Covenanters were imprisoned in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in 1679.  The guards abused them. They suffered from the weather, lack of shelter, and starvation. Many ended up buried anonymously in a mass grave in the Kirkyard. In all, Mackenzie is blamed for the deaths of nearly 18,000 people during the eight years dubbed “the Killing Time.”

Mackenzie himself died and was buried in the Kirkyard in 1691.  His tomb stood quietly until 1998, when a homeless man broke into it.  When the thief ransacked the coffins, the floor collapsed beneath him, spilling him into a plague pit full of bones beneath the mausoleum.  The man managed to haul himself out, then ran screaming into the night.

Something had been unleashed.

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 4.45.52 PM

By Jonathan Oldenbuck [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

For the past twenty years, Greyfriars Kirkyard has been considered one of the most haunted graveyards in the world. Visitors have been scratched, bruised, and bitten near Mackenzie’s mausoleum.  Blasts of cold air chase some visitors away.  Others become nauseous and disoriented or are struck with splitting headaches. One woman was found unconscious near the mausoleum with bruises like finger-marks around her neck.

In 2000, spiritualist minister Colin Grant attempted to exorcise the mausoleum.  He felt the presence of hundreds of souls in torment and a presence of overwhelming evil.  He fled the Kirkyard, but it was too late. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack several weeks later.

YouTube is full of videos of people showing off bite marks and bruises received while touring Greyfriars Kirkyard. Enter at your own risk.

IMG_3073As a matter of fact, there is a history of grave robbing at Greyfriars Kirkyard, to supply dissection specimens for the medical students at the University of Edinburgh. The cemetery is overlooked by watchtowers built to protect the sanctity of the dead here. Wealthy families also had cages of iron bars built over their loved ones’ graves, to prevent their bodies from being disturbed. That’s grim enough, even without the poltergeist.

Useful links:

The cemetery’s homepage:  https://greyfriarskirk.com/visit-us/kirkyard/

Welcome to The Most Haunted Graveyard: https://www.thedailybeast.com/welcome-to-the-most-haunted-graveyard-in-the-world-safety-not-guaranteed?ref=scroll

Grave robbers at Greyfriars: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/television/programs/evening/2015/10/30/grave-robbers-greryfriars-kirkyard/74880434/

Greyfriars Kirkyard’s connection to the Harry Potter books: https://www.pottertour.co.uk/blog/greyfriars-kirkyard-harry-potter-peter-pettigrew.html

Night tours of Greyfriars Kirkyard: https://www.cityofthedeadtours.com/tours/city-of-the-dead-haunted-graveyard-tour/

Greyfriars Kirkyard is one of the 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. You can get a copy from your favorite bookstore or via Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CojtVR

More of Jeff’s Greyfriars photos are here: https://cemeterytravel.com/2016/08/19/vacation-in-edinburgh/

 

 

Posted in Cemetery of the Week | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments