United States

Eden Cemetery

Located in the borough of Collingdale nine miles southwest of central Philadelphia, this 53-acre cemetery was established in 1902 for the burial of African Americans. Surrounded by agricultural fields, the land for the burial ground was purchased from the Bartram family by five prominent leaders of Philadelphia’s African American community. Collingdale residents, adverse to the presence of an African American burial ground in their town, unsuccessfully attempted to block the burial of Celestine Mosley Cramwell, the first person to be interred at Eden Cemetery. In 1903, burials were relocated to the cemetery from Lebanon Graveyard and from the Stephen Smith Home for the Aged and Infirm Colored Person’s Burial Ground, both in Philadelphia. Twenty years later, additional remains were reinterred from Olive Cemetery. By the 1930s, a network of axial roads had been laid out. Buttressed, stacked-stone gates with arched pedestrian entrances were sited on both sides of the vehicular entrance.

Over the years, the cemetery has evolved to include 23 sections, some named for significant African Americans, such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Others are named to commemorate burials, such as the Celestine, Lebanon, and Olive sections. Amidst a few mature shade trees and large expanses of lawn, modest, fairly uniform headstones are laid out in rows. A wooded creek is the cemetery’s only water feature, providing some variation to the otherwise flat topography. The burial ground is enclosed by an iron palisade and densely planted trees that screen it from its surrounds. Eden Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. 

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