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Mount Olivet Cemetery (Washington, D.C.)

Mount Olivet Cemetery is an historic cemetery located at 1300 Bladensburg Road, NE in Washington, DC It is maintained by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington The largest Catholic burial ground in the District of Columbia, it was one of the first in the city to be racially integrated


  • 1 About the cemetery
  • 2 Notable interments
  • 3 References
  • 4 Bibliography
  • 5 External links

About the cemeteryedit

Chapel at Mount Olivet Cemetery

On June 5, 1852, the Council of the City of Washington in the District of Columbia passed a local ordinance that barred the creation of new cemeteries anywhere within Georgetown or the area bounded by Boundary Street northwest and northeast, 15th Street east, East Capitol Street, the Anacostia River, the Potomac River, and Rock Creek Existing Catholic cemeteries at St Matthew's Church, St Patrick Catholic Church, and St Peter Catholic Church were nearly full A number of new cemeteries were therefore established in the "rural" areas in and around Washington: Columbian Harmony Cemetery in DC; Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland; Glenwood Cemetery in DC; and Woodlawn Cemetery in DC2 Father Charles I White, the 51-year-old priest who had led St St Matthew's Roman Catholic Church since 1857, was the individual most responsible for the creation of Mt Olivet3

The cemetery was created in 1858456 The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, which then covered the District of Columbia, purchased 40 acres 016 km2 of Fenwick Farm for the cemetery7 A gray stone lodge was built to mark the entrance5 Because the burial grounds at St Matthew's, St Patrick, and St Peter churches were all full by that time, a number of graves were moved to the newly-established Mount Olivet in order to make room at the old cemeteries for new burials8

Mount Auburn Cemetery, a rural cemetery near Boston, Massachusetts, was the model for Mount Olivet9 During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mount Olivet was known as one of the "big five" cemeteries in Washington, DC10

From the start, Mount Olivet was racially integrated Most cemeteries in the city were not More than 7,700 African Americans were buried at Mount Olivet between 1800 and 1919 about 76 percent of all African American burials in the city In comparison, 24,000 Caucasians were buried there during the same period Mount Olivet remains the only racially integrated cemetery from the 19th century to remain active as of 198911

Notable intermentsedit

  • Arizona John Burke 1842-1917, 19th century promoter, press agent, and manager who created the persona and managed the career of William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody12
  • Thomas H Carter 1854–1911 US Senator R, Montana13
  • James Hoban c1758–1831 Original Architect of the White House, Founding Master of Federal Lodge No 1
  • Jan Karski 1914–2000, Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later professor at Georgetown University
  • Watty Lee 1879–1936, Major League Baseball player
  • John M Lloyd c1835/36–1892, Lincoln assassination government witness
  • William Matthews 1770–1854, seventh President of Georgetown College and first British-America-born Catholic priest
  • Joseph McKenna 1843–1926, US Supreme Court justice
  • James Mooney 1861–1921, ethnologist, wrote about Cherokee myths and the Ghost Dance
  • Pola Nirenska 1910–1992, Dancer, choreographer, teacher, Holocaust survivor Married to Jan Karski
  • Robert Emmet Odlum 1851–1885, first person to jump from Brooklyn Bridge
  • Francisco Pizarro Martínez 1787–1840, Mexican ambassador to the United States 1837–1840
  • Thomas Devin Reilly 1823–1854, Irish nationalist involved in Young Ireland Movement
  • Charlie Ross 1885–1950, Harry S Truman's press secretary
  • Mary Surratt 1823–1865, Lincoln assassination conspirator
  • Henry Wirz 1822–1865, Confederate officer and convicted war criminal
  • Robert Wynne 1851–1922, United States Postmaster General
  • One British Commonwealth war grave of a Canadian Army soldier of World War II14


  1. ^ a b Totland, Colton "Washington's Historic Cemeteries: Where the Nation's Past Lives" Washington Times August 9, 2012
  2. ^ Richardson, p 309
  3. ^ "A Good Priest at Rest" Washington Post April 2, 1878
  4. ^ "Archbishop to Dedicate Cemetery" Washington Post June 16, 1956
  5. ^ a b Truett, p 304
  6. ^ At least one source says the cemetery was created in 1857 See: Richardson, p 314
  7. ^ Rash, p 116
  8. ^ Truett, p 305; Bergheim, p 280
  9. ^ Johnson, p 30
  10. ^ The others were Congressional Cemetery, Glenwood Cemetery, Oak Hill Cemetery, and Rock Creek Cemetery See: Richardson, p 321
  11. ^ Richardson, p 314
  12. ^ Hendrix, Steve April 12, 2017 "He made 'Buffalo Bill' Cody the world's first reality star" The Washington Post Retrieved April 13, 2017 
  13. ^ "Carter Burial Here" The Evening Star September 18, 1911 p 2 
  14. ^ CWGC Casualty Record


  • Bergheim, Laura The Washington Historical Atlas: Who Did What, When and Where in the Nation's Capital Rockville, Md: Woodbine House, 1992
  • Johnson, Abby Arthur "'The Memory of the Community': A Photographic Album of Congressional Cemetery" Washington History 4:1 Spring/Summer 1992, pp 26–45
  • Rash, Bryson B Footnote Washington: Tracking the Engaging, Humorous, and Surprising Bypaths of Capital History McLean, Va: EPM Publications, 1983
  • Richardson, Steven J "The Burial Grounds of Black Washington: 1880–1919" Records of the Columbia Historical Society 52 1989, pp 304–326
  • Truett, Randle Bond Washington, DC: A Guide to the Nation's Capital New York: Hastings House, 1942

External linksedit

  • Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington: Mount Olivet

Mount Olivet Cemetery (Washington, D.C.) Information about

Mount Olivet Cemetery (Washington, D.C.)

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