The Difference between Graveyards and Cemeteries

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As part of funerals at funeral homes in Dayton, OH, burials will take place in either cemeteries or graveyards. Many people think that cemeteries and graveyards are the same thing. However, the two words refer to two different types of burial places.

Funeral directors usually just use the word cemetery when they are referring to a burial place. That is because most people are actually buried in cemeteries, not graveyards. The history of these two words and why they mean different places is interesting to know.

When people started burying dead people, there were essentially two options. One option was to bury the person on private land, which is how many family graveyards began. The other option was to bury them on property owned by the church they were affiliated with. These burial places were known as graveyards.

These were the only kind of burial places until the late 19th century. When the Industrial Revolution roared to life in the second half of the century, how and where people lived changed dramatically. Up until the Industrial Revolution, America’s economy was primarily agricultural. Families owned farms and passed them on to their children who passed them on their children and so on.

This generational inheritance kept many people in the same place from cradle to grave. There were large cities, however, but even there families stayed put. Shopkeepers passed their shops on to their children and tradespeople passed their trades on as well. Even in community services like firefighting and law enforcement, children often followed in the footsteps of their fathers in the same place where there fathers had worked.

One of the demographics of this pre-Industrial Revolution world was that families were multigenerational, often sharing the same living space, and moving away was considered an aberration, not the norm. Even if children left for school, they came back home when they were finished and spent the rest of their lives there.

The Industrial Revolution upended this. With good jobs and good wages to be made in the factories, children began to leave home and never come back. However, this new mobility crowded the already-bustling cities, and they began to run out of graveyard space.

In the last decade of the 1800’s, a new idea emerged for creating burial places that were public, where anyone could be buried. Cities and counties were the creators of these places, and unlike churches, they had the money to buy much more land on which people could be buried.

These large public burial places were named cemeteries. These new cemeteries were far different from the private and church graveyards. They were with beautiful landscaping, walking paths, trees, and benches. The idea was that these cemeteries would be a destination, not just for mourners burying a loved one, but the public in general.

In the early decades after these gorgeous cemeteries were built, families would often visit them on a weekend afternoon. They would bring a picnic lunch to eat. Parents would walk the grounds, while children played in the open spaces.

While that may seem odd to us today, but that was what cities and counties encouraged people to do in cemeteries. That it seems strange to us may also speak to the difference in the way death was viewed then and the way death is viewed now.

If you’d like guidance about burials at funeral homes in Dayton, OH, our compassionate and experienced staff at Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service can help. You can come by our funeral home at 1849 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH 45406, or you can contact us today at (937) 278-4287.

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