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What is Strangers Rest?
Strangers Rest is a 19th century term for single grave spaces, as distinguished from family lots of three, six, or twelve spaces. Those buried in Strangers Rest are usually neither transients nor paupers, though these are among the least expensive gravesites in the cemetery. Most of the Strangers Rest graves are in the area now called Section R, located to the east of Section H, and in the westernmost row of 12-space lots in Section F. A few single graves are located in selected lots in Sections A, C, G, and I (see cemetery maps).
Early cemetery records show the locations of most of the single graves, but for burials after 1903, the records show only a chronological burial number with each name and date, not actual grave locations. Between 1908 and 1948, single graves were identified by numbered concrete markers, each measuring 3½" x 5" x 7". Over time, nearly all of the numbered blocks sank into the earth and were covered up by the St. Augustine grass, so that by the 1980s few were visible. Of the nearly 1,900 Strangers Rest burials, the 350 or so with headstones placed by the family were the only ones whose locations were known.
Strangers Rest Discovery Project (1992-present)
In the summer of 1992, David Gibbons began searching for the grave of his baby sister Juanita Marie, who died before he was born. His quest spurred dozens of CCWCC and WCHT volunteers to uncover several hundred of these small numbered concrete markers over the next fifteen years, thus rediscovering many graves once thought to be "lost" forever. Eventually someone uncovered the numbered block corresponding to Juanita's grave, shown here. To keep the numbered blocks from disappearing again, they were set in 12" x 12" concrete pads. The marker discovery process continues; at this time nearly 70% of the Strangers Rest graves have been located. Most Strangers Rest graves in Washington Cemetery are now listed at FindAGrave.com.
Strangers Rest Marking Project (2012-present)
Washington Cemetery Historic Trust and Glenwood Cemetery are celebrating Washington Cemetery's 125th anniversary by working together to replace each original numbered concrete Strangers Rest grave marker with a polished black granite 12" x 12" tile set in a custom base, like the one shown here for Juanita Marie Gibbons.
If you have a relative whose grave is marked with one of these numbered markers and you have information that would help us to more accurately produce the new marker, please complete the
Strangers Rest Marker Order Form or contact
We do have complete information for some burials and for those we are seeking a sponsor and verification of the information. However, for many of the markers we do not have complete information, and we are seeking volunteer help to gather the correct spelling and dates, before they are literally "carved in granite."