A headline in today's Daily News reads: "It's R.I.P. tide along the Delaware River." The short piece describes the the efforts of a local psychic to visit the abandoned gravestones that are half-submergered in the Delaware River near the Betsy Ross Bridge. The accompanying photo shows the headstone of Mary Ann Leeman.
Leeman's gravestone photo also appears with the Sept. 2011 Hidden City piece about the stones, which were used as foundation material for the bridge after no one claimed them. Leeman's headstone popped up again in June 2012, when a photo of it accompanied a piece in Architizer. But who was this woman who's now being hounded by the morbidly inclined paparazzi?
Mary Ann Leeman was a native of Maine. She married a sea captain, Samuel Leeman, from Eastport, Maine, and at some point they moved to North Philadelphia along with their son, three daughters and a son-in-law.
Their second daughter, also named Mary, had married a sea captain as well, and those two had a son. But the son died of diphtheria in 1886 when he was about to turn 3. Then, in 1893, the younger Mary died suddenly of pneumonia at age 36.
Our poor Mary Ann Leeman lost both a grandson and a daughter in the span of seven years. Mary Ann died about four months after her daughter died. Her husband survived her.
All of the Leemans were buried at what was then Monument Cemetery at Broad and Berks, not far from the family home at at 1820 Marvine Street, between 11th and 12th near Cecil B. Moore. Many of the headstones—not just Mary Ann's—remain by the bridge, claimed by no one.
· It's R.I.P. tide along the Delaware River [DN]
· Watery Graves [Hidden City]
· Gateway to Heaven? Uncovering the Story Behind the Philadelphia Bridge Founded on a Cemetery [Architizer]