"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

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!


  1. Jill I love stories like this!! Probably the Nancy Drew in me! LOL I have a ghost story of a true legend I want to share too. With pics where it happened! Guess this time of year would be a great time to share it!! LOL Take care, Love ya Fran.

  2. Jill this is awesome! Your photo turned out so well for being the last one in the camera. I love little tidbits like this... has me wondering where the real grave is.

  3. How cool is that!! I love those "Weird" books. I have the one about Virginia (where I live) DH and I always say one day we are going to visit some of those places when we retire.



  4. Mary seems to still be alive and kickin' to me. You've given her the honor of entering blog land and now she is even more famous.

    I had to smile at the thought of you hiking over the wall. Hope you had your jeans on and not that poodle skirt from the 50's!

    With all due respect to dear Mary, may she one day rest in peace!

    Loved the post...it's the sugar of blogging girlfriend...top of the crop fun.

    Just got home from work. My last customer of the day gave me $37.75 in coin. Shut down my whole line. Smile!