Christ Church's burial ground has been used since the mid-1700's and contains the remains of some of Philadelphia's finest citizens such as Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson and other Revolutionary War figures. Yellow fever epidemics in 1793 and again in 1797 helped to fill these plots. One woman and her eleven children are buried here--all victims of the epidemic.
The cemetery is an active burial ground and holds 40 remaining plots. Most of the monuments are of King of Prussia marble, which do not weather very well. Some are crafted from slate, which holds names and dates longer. A group of crypts known as "Vault Row" lie 36 feet deep and are accessed by ladders.
Benjamin Franklin's epitaph, written by himself, is affixed to the cemetery wall. His grave and that of his wife, Deborah, lies by the fence line which runs along the street. Daughter, Sally Bache, and her husband are buried next to them.
I’m not sure what draws many of us to the grave sites of the famous. Perhaps it’s an affirmation to ourselves that they actually existed in flesh and blood. Whatever the reason I wanted to see the grave of this great American.
What is first noticeable is the coins thrown on his grave. Seems like people love to throw coins on his grave for good luck. Somehow I never thought of anyone buried in a grave as being particularly lucky, but hey, in the USA we’re supposed to value diversity. Of course he did coin the phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned"
Ironically, Ben Franklin himself had designed the black-bordered Pennsylvania Gazette which informed its readers of Franklin's death. He had been suffering from emphysema, and had a high temperature. His breath was labored, and he almost suffocated. After several days of gasping for air, the pain went away for a day, and he left his bed and asked that it be made properly so that he might have a dignified death. His daughter, Sally, told him that she hoped he would live many years more. "I hope not," he replied.
An abscess in Franklin's lung burst and he passed into a coma. He died on April 17, 1790, with his grandsons William Temple and Bennie at his side. Benjamin Franklin was 84 years old.
On April 21, the funeral procession started at the State House, with his coffin carried by the citizenry of Philadelphia. The clergy of Philadelphia lead the way, ironically since Franklin was not a regular churchgoer by any sense. He had their devotion since he had aided the churches by raising funds to help their construction.
Franklin was buried beside his wife Deborah, who had preceded him in death by 25 years, along with his son Francis Folger, who had died at age 4 from smallpox, was also in the family plot.
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