Riverdale Cemetery was established in 1890, with a layout of lots in graceful curves extending from a central axis running front to back. The brick building was erected in 1915, featuring a chapel and housing for the sexton flanking an arched passageway for funeral processions, and topped by a bell tower.
In addition to family plots, Riverdale also encompasses areas designated for, and maintained by, the Temple Israel and Shearith Israel Congregations.
Other sections have been set aside through the years for military groups: an American Legion section was established under the auspices of Post 35 for veterans of all our armed services; there is a separate area dedicated to veterans of the Confederate States of America; and another area is for veterans of the Spanish American War, featuring a monument to the USS Maine, with a plaque made from metal salvaged from the destroyed ship.
Paupers have been buried at Riverdale since as far back as 1905, in areas called Strangers Grounds; most of these graves lack markers. In 1956 an area was set aside having all miniature lots, and was called Babyland.
Porterdale Cemetery is located in an area designated for burials on the earliest map of the frontier town of Columbus, established in 1828. The oldest marked grave surveyed so far is dated 1836, but the area was undoubtedly used for earlier burials which were not recorded or marked, or those markings have disappeared. Much of Porterdale’s history was of the oral tradition, so has been lost over time. Existing interment records begin in 1871, but surviving City Council records list some burials by name as early as 1849.
The layout of lots in parts of Porterdale seems very haphazard, indicating that in its early period families simply chose an area for burials, and added spaces as needed. After 1931, lots were designated in rows and were numbered and recorded when sold.
Richard Porter was named sexton in December 1873, and remained in this position until shortly before his death in 1920 at the age of 79. In 1936, the cemetery was named Porterdale in his honor, recognizing his long and faithful service as its custodian. [click here for more information]
The Foundation hopes to use ground penetrating radar in this cemetery to learn which areas were used for the earliest burials and should not be disturbed. This knowledge will enable creation of walking trails with descriptive signposts, and continued addition of trees and shrubs to beautify the landscape.
About East Porterdale
East Porterdale Cemetery, located eastward across Tenth Avenue from the older Porterdale Cemetery, was opened in 1946 when there seemed to be a need for more burial space. The layout of lots on this piece of land has a more organized appearance, with a paved entry drive through the center, lanes along the perimeter, and narrow paths between the rows.
Beginning in the 1990s, pauper sections for adults and babies have been added at the eastern end of the property.