Recent research for a City View story on Evansville’s founding families led me to the Reitz Family Monument in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. I had not driven in the meticulously groomed cemetery recently, so last week I took a quick detour returning from a meeting in German Township.
In operation since 1841, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery is owned and operated by 18 Catholic parishes in the city of Evansville. The cemetery was located northeast of the city, in an area that now is bounded by Columbia, Michigan, and Garvin streets; it operated until 1871. Two sites were studied for relocating the cemetery: the present day Johnson Place on Lincoln Avenue, and property that was selected, 115 acres on Mesker Park Drive. In 1872, the grounds were ready for burials, and by 1879 all bodies were reburied in the new cemetery.
The Reitz family monument is located on highest ground in St. Joseph Cemetery, overlooking the park-like grounds and the West Side of Evansville. Francis Joseph Reitz erected the monument in 1919 to commemorate his parents and siblings. Reitz, his parents, and six of his siblings are buried here.
The website Art in Indiana calls the Reitz family monument “one of the most extraordinary private family burial monuments in the U.S.” The website is a project of art majors at the University of Southern Indiana.
I researched the monuments of the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Fords, and Asters. Only the Vanderbilt family monument stands as grand as the Reitz family monument. The Vanderbilt family mausoleum, located in the Moravian Cemetery in New Dork on Staten Island, N.Y., was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and constructed in 1885. It is part of the family’s private section within the cemetery and is not open to the public today.
If you’ve never seen the Reitz family monument, I encourage a visit to St. Joseph Cemetery.