Old Broadview Road poetically dead ends into this crowded graveyard above Big Creek Valley in Brooklyn.  Also known as "Brighton," "Brooklyn Township," and "South Brooklyn," Brookmere Cemetery was officially established in 1836.  However, many burials occurred before then, and some believe the cemetery actually dates back to the 1700's.  This is a classic old urban cemetery, replete with gothic monuments, obscure markers, overcrowding, and signs of extensive pollution-laden weathering and abuse.

 

 

Brookmere is comprised of 3 smaller cemeteries, which were later merged into one.  It began as a private burial ground for Brooklyn's first white landowners who contributed parts of their land for the cemetery. But it is believed that even before then, slaves and Native Americans were also buried here--in unmarked graves.

 

 

Over time, neighborhood families became increasingly attracted to this cemetery.  It was a common practice for them to dig up their dearly departed from other cemeteries nearby--including old Broadview Cemetery--and rebury them here.   Well, that certainly explains the cemetery's crowded appearance.  At least 3,000 persons are buried here.

 

 

Below, one of the most interesting sights here--the Selover Family Plot, which is surrounded by a solid iron fence designed to look like draping chains.

 

Bells hang from ends of the chains.  According to Vicki Blum Vigil, author of Cleveland Cemeteries, the bells were intended to ward off evil spirits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside, the gravestones of Charles, Azarian and Asher Selover.  Asher Selover, who died in 1866, was a prominent Cleveland attorney and land owner.  In addition, according to Ms. Vigil, he owned the former Cleveland Hotel on Public Square. 

 

A bronze marker for the the Dreyer family.

 

Somehow, this tombstone for John Bayer and his wife, Martha, managed to get turned upside down. The inscription is in German.  Bayer, who died in 1868, was a saloon keeper and the former owner of Youngstown's Renner Brewery Co. 

 

Two interesting-looking monuments, both featuring ornate carvings of shrouded urns.

According to Ms. Vigil, also located in this section of the cemetery are the graves of the five young Ohnacker children, who tragically perished in a house fire in 1851.

 

You can't miss this ostentatious Gates Family monument, oddly situated in the middle of the cemetery driveway.  Smaller markers for the individual family members can be found around the monument and against the driveway along the back fence.

 

A rear view of the Gates monument, featuring the portraits of Ma and Pa Gates.  The family patriarch, Jeremiah Gates, settled here in 1816.  Their daughter has the distinction of being Brooklyn's first native-born white kid.

 

Tombstone of Warren Young.  As his inscription notes, he was the "doner [sic] of this cemetary [sic]."

Mr. Young was one of Brooklyn's first white landowners, and is also credited for constructing the first roadway through Big Creek Valley. He was also the area's first tavern keeper.  Some interesting stories about his family's pioneer experiences were found during the research of this cemetery, including the family's peaceful (but awkward) co-existence with local Native American tribes.

 

This interesting marker was barely noticeable underneath the debris that once covered it.  The crudely-etched inscription in the slate stone is in German, but it is believed to be for an Infant named Susanna (LNU), who died in 1848.

 

 

Another German language marker, this one for Dietrich Reimers, who died in 1871 at the age of 50.

 

The Busch Family plot.  The pillars at one time held chains.  Not knowing whether those chains also had the evil spirit-shielding bells, we did not venture here too closely.  It's clearly unprotected now.