Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ADJ's Final Resting Place

by Jerome

If any readers wish to examine Albert Royal Delmont Jones’ death certificate, they can access it through the Family Search website. Punch in “Albert Delmont” and use the search terms “1930” and “Delaware” and you should quite easily call it up. This site is particularly useful because it is free to use.
Albert’s death certificate is a sad document. He died at the New Castle County Hospital on May 15, 1930. This was originally called the New Castle County Almshouse, and was a last resort home for people who were elderly, single and poor. The certificate shows he was 76 (linking in with a known birth year of 1854) but that is about all the history it contains. Albert wasn’t then around to provide any more information. So next of kin, occupation, place born – all these sections were “no record.”  Fortunately when the census was taken earlier that year, Albert Delmont was listed as an “inmate” and was lucid enough to state that he was from Pennsylvania, as were his parents. Hence the match.
Even though ADJ was a bad boy, I find it sad that no-body knew who his family were, and there was no-one to claim him. At least two of his children were still alive at that time, but obviously no-body knew or perhaps even cared what had happened to him.
The New Castle County Almshouse/Hospital was located at a small place called Farnhurst, and was next door to the quite separate Delaware State Mental Hospital. Those who died at New Castle Hospital who had no-one to claim them for burial elsewhere were buried in what is now called the “Cemetery in the Woods at Farnhurst.” (Residents from the mental hospital were buried elsewhere). The “Cemetery in the Woods” also received the bodies of premature/stillborn babies and unidentified bodies that turned up in the nearby rivers. Several thousand people were buried there.
This was to be ADJ’s last resting place, what was called at the time the New Castle County Hospital Cemetery. As a Potter’s Field cemetery, there were no named grave markers. However, small 5” square granite markers were provided but they only had numbers on them. It appears that a fire at the original building in the 1950s destroyed any of the records linking names to numbers.
But it gets worse. The cemetery was replaced by another Potter’s Field location in the mid-1930s, and the original New Castle County Hospital Cemetery was abandoned. Then in the late 1950s, early 1960s, around 85% of the cemetery was covered up with the construction of the 1-295 freeway ramp to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It was planned to clean up the area and put up a lasting memorial, but of course, once the road was built, that was the end of that. Apparently about 100 or so granite markers are still visible at the base of the ramp – but you have to climb a fence and crawl over trash and brambles to get to them – and they date from earlier decades than 1930.
So what does this mean for ADJ? I tend to think of the possible fate of many gangsters who disappeared in times past. In ADJ’s case, he really does appear to be buried under the freeway.
It is a long way from genteel grave markers in park-like cemeteries in Pittsburgh.

Grateful thanks are due to Kathy Dettwyler of the University of Delaware for assistance with this material.

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