Centuries pass, yet children's gravestones evoke sadness

Daniel O’Donovan                               Eleanor O’Donovan
July 3, 1902 - January 2, 1905         April 11, 1901 - January 27, 1905

Visitors to New Cathedral Cemetery occasionally leave gifts at the gravestone of Daniel and Eleanor O’Donovan.

Visitors to New Cathedral Cemetery occasionally leave gifts at the gravestone of Daniel and Eleanor O’Donovan.

Death was a constant visitor to Baltimore homes and families with children. 

The O’Donovan children's grave stone in New Cathedral Cemetery is one of the best representations of a children’s graves. The inscription reads: "Daniel O’Donovan, July 3, 1902 to January 2, 1905, and Eleanor O’Donovan, April 11, 1901 to January 27, 1905." The O’Donovan family lost two children in less than a month.  

Historians say that In the year 1900, pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, and enteritis with diarrhea were the three leading causes of death in the United States. Children under 5 accounted for 40 percent of all deaths from these infections. Ten to twenty percent of the children born in 1900 did not live until age five.

Walking through any of Baltimore’s cemeteries will give you an idea of the tragedies that befell families. You will see grave stones adorned with lambs, dogs, likeness of children and decorated with toys. Today anonymous visitors frequently decorate the graves of Baltimore’s children. 

by Richard Berglund

The heartbreaking inscription on the gravestone of Daniel & Lily O’Donovan’s children at New Cathedral Cemetery

The heartbreaking inscription on the gravestone of Daniel & Lily O’Donovan’s children at New Cathedral Cemetery

A sleeping child gravestone at Green Mount Cemetery

A sleeping child gravestone at Green Mount Cemetery

The children of William C. & Annie C. Zirk are buried together at New Cathedral Cemetery

The children of William C. & Annie C. Zirk are buried together at New Cathedral Cemetery

Not forgotten at Western Cemetery

Not forgotten at Western Cemetery

An sculpture of a crib, worn by time, is still visible atop this stone at Baltimore Cemetery.

An sculpture of a crib, worn by time, is still visible atop this stone at Baltimore Cemetery.

Time and the elements wear away grave markers, like this praying child who is missing a leg and a head, located at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Time and the elements wear away grave markers, like this praying child who is missing a leg and a head, located at Woodlawn Cemetery.