Cemeteries tell a lot of stories. And when you have one as large as the Charles Baber Cemetery in Pottsville, there are plenty of stories.
On Saturday afternoon, visitors to the annual Baber Day heard about an hour’s worth of stories on some of the prominent, notorious, or interesting people buried in the city’s toniest cemetery. And they only walked about 300 feet of the 25 acres.
In that stretch, local teacher and historian Mark Major dished on some of those buried within the confines of Baber Cemetery, which is managed by trustees from Trinity Episcopal Church on Centre St. and Howard Ave. in Pottsville.
Mixed in with Major’s stories was Frank Snyder, a retired forester, who spoke about the many trees around the cemetery and garden park.
Major told of some of the more prominent people buried at Baber Cemetery.
There’s the story of Francis Hause, who in short, “became filthy rich” as a cigar purveyor. He and his wife, Louisa, penned intimate letters to each other, which you can read at the Schuylkill County Historical Society.
Louisa, after Francis died in 1900, gave away much of his money and ended up starting Pottsville Mission in the early 20th Century.
That’s the story for a lot of people featured on Major’s walking tour: people who made a lot of money and spent a lot of money.
But you can’t have a tour through a cemetery without at least one ghost story, right?
Well, the spirit of John Wilson doesn’t haunt the Baber Cemetery, as the legend is told. But apparently he is known to frequent his home in the 1100 block of W. Market St. in Pottsville.
Snyder’s focus at Baber Cemetery is the trees. It’s something he’s been focused on for decades and still is even in retirement.
Part of what makes Baber so posh are the trees – mighty oaks and maples, poplars, and perhaps the largest concentration of Japanese red maples in Pennsylvania – that create a shady canopy over the plots and stunning views around the cemetery.
Snyder explained the trees around Baber Cemetery require constant attention. Efforts have existed for years to manage the tree population there, removing dead trees and planting new ones.
“Trees are living things, he said. “They grow old and die. Tree removal is a big expense.”
Saturday’s tour was through just a very small portion of the entire cemetery. If you’ve never been to Baber Cemetery in Pottsville, we encourage you to visit and learn more about the people buried there and some of the majestic trees providing them cover.
Baber Cemetery is more than a cemetery. It’s also known as a garden park and is a popular walking spot for many in Pottsville.
Following the tour Saturday, the Third Brigade Band performed in front of the chapel at the cemetery.
Here are some more images from the Baber Day walking tour:
For more information on Charles Baber Cemetery, check out its website.