A popular historical tour of one of Lebanon’s best-known cemeteries is returning on Sunday, June 26.
Mount Lebanon Cemetery, at 235 E. Maple St., Lebanon, has been the resting place for many thousands of Lebanon citizens and families dating back to the 1800s. Its deep history and the significance of the tombs and monuments it contains will be the focus of a fourth “not-quite-annual” walking tour arranged and led by Gerald Collins and Michael Trump.
In a phone interview with LebTown, Trump explained that tours of the cemetery, including the community mausoleum normally closed to the public, are popular despite being irregularly scheduled.
“Our first tour we did in 2013. We did it because it was the county’s bicentennial,” he said. Despite the niche subject matter, the tour drew in over 300 people in its first year.
“For this tour, we are covering the monuments themselves,” Trump said. The two-hour tour will highlight and explain the symbols on the monuments as well as landmarks and points of interest such as the tallest monument, the first monument, and so on.
The tour will beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 26. Participants should meet at the central mausoleum and be prepared for a walking tour across uneven ground. Parking will be available at the cemetery office off Centre Avenue, the main access road into the cemetery, as well along the cemetery avenues themselves.
The tour is free and open to the public, though donations to the cemetery are appreciated.
A rain date has also been scheduled on Sunday, July 10, at the same time and place.
History at the cemetery
Collins and Trump are the team of guides who have been researching the history of the cemetery and hosting tours for years. Their 2013 booklet “Time to Eternity at Mount Lebanon Cemetery” covers over 150 years of cemetery history.
An initial charter for the “Union Cemetery” was submitted to state authorities in 1859, but it wasn’t until 1869 that a second charter for the “Mt. Lebanon Cemetery Association” was submitted and the plans for a cemetery were put into motion. The first interment at the cemetery, that of George Stehley, took place in July 1870. The first monument was erected several months later in November.
According to Trump, the turn of the 20th century saw numerous church graveyards in the city reinter their burials at Mount Lebanon. There are over 24,400 burials in the cemetery in all.
A memorial chapel was constructed in the 1870s but removed in 1928 when cemetery board managers decided to replace it with a community mausoleum, erected over the following year. The mausoleum, which is normally locked to the public, will be opened for the tour.
Designed by Reading’s firm of Ritcher & Eiler, the granite mausoleum contains 156 crypts and features stained glass scenes depicting Jesus Christ.
Among the graves that Collins and Trump plan to include on the tour include those of the Baney, Daugherty, Fisher, Hartz, Miller, Reinoehl, Schneck, and Weimer families. The tour is authorized and sponsored by the Board of Managers of the Mount Lebanon Cemetery.
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