Sunday, October 10, 2010
The Tombstone of Mary Ellis
If you're looking at this tombstone, you probably don't see anything special about it. If you look closely, however, what is it that you see in the background? It's not other tombstones, but cars. Does this grave rest on top of a hill, overlooking a parking lot? NO.
Here lies the tombstone of Mary Ellis, Margaret Ellis, and Elizabeth Margaret Evans. It lies not in the middle of a cemetery, but in the middle of a very busy mall parking lot in North Jersey. While visiting my friend, Beth, this past June in Jersey City, we stopped by to see the cemetery on the way home. This picture was taken at night, with only one picture left on the digital camera. I had to climb a stone wall, about 10 feet high to get to it. The wrought-iron gate that enclosed the grave was open, allowing me to walk in and pay my respects.
Who was Mary Ellis? Urban legend tells of a young girl who came to live with her sister, Margaret in the 1790s. She fell in love with a sea captain who one day left, vowing to marry her upon his return. Mary continued to wait for her beloved, even buying property near the river to watch for him everyday until her death in 1827. Mary was buried on her land, once surrounded by woods and brush. She is joined by her sister and other family members.
Over the years, the property changed hands. While once having a commanding view of the river, the tombstone ended up "down in a culvert often strewn with garbage." Eventually, Loews Theatre put the tombstone on high ground again, though where it is in relation to the actual grave is still a mystery.
According to the magazine, "Weird NJ", where we first learned of this intriguing cemetery, if you Google AMC Loews Theatre location, you can easily see the plot of land on which Mary is buried. It's marked "Loews Cemetery." I haven't tried to Google it. I've been there. I've stood by poor Mary's tombstone. The irony is that while it seems so lonely, it probably gets more visitors than any other tombstone in Jersey!