Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially when we’re talking about the dearly departed, but one businessman in 1905 was too sad to let go when his wife died. He decided to keep her “alive” in her elaborate tomb and to keep her company. From an article in that year’s March 23 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
“Jonathan Reed, who has lived almost continuously for seven years in the tomb of his wife at Evergreen Cemetery, was found shortly after 4 o’clock today, lying on the stone floor of the tomb apparently in a dying condition. The laborer who discovered the old man did not know who he was and before he had been identified he was taken in an ambulance to the Kings County Hospital. It was reported at 8 o’clock that Mr. Reed was still alive, but in a very critical condition.
The workman who found Mr. Reed happened to pass the doorway of the tomb shortly after 1 o’clock. He noticed that the iron door stood partly open, and thinking that something was wrong entered the tomb. When he saw the old man on the floor he thought that he was dead and hastened to inform Policeman Dooley, the special patrolman assigned to the cemetery, of the fact. Dooley, without waiting to investigate, summoned Dr. Meister from the Bradford Street Hospital to attend the man. Dr. Meister reached the tomb at 1:30 o’clock. He saw at once that the man was not dead, but had suffered a severe stroke of apoplexy. The physician sent a call to the Kings County Hospital for an ambulance, which carried Mr. Reed to the hospital, before any of those who had attended him knew who he was.
When the marble workers and the other business men near the cemetery heard of the old man’s illness, they made an effort to have him sent to his home, but he had already been placed in the pauper’s ward at the hospital and it was decided to let him remain there.
Jonathan Redd, according to his own statement, is 70 years of age. He was formerly prominent in the Eastern District of Brooklyn as a business man and is believed to be wealthy. When his wife died about eight years ago, Mr. Reed had built for her in Evergreen Cemetery one of the most remarkable tombs ever constructed. It was his belief that there was no such thing as a life after death. When his wife died he told friends that the only change which had come about was that the warmth had left her body. He said that if he could keep her warm she would just as much be his wife as before her death. Acting on this theory, Mr. Reed had the tomb fitted elaborately with a dwelling room and from the time of its completion up to the present he had lived there constantly.
For a period of several hours every day and every night Mr. Reed had been accustomed to sit by the casket of his dead wife and talk to her just as he did when she was alive. He says that she understands everything that he says and that he understands the responses which she makes.
In spite of this remarkable eccentricity in regard to his dead wife, Mr. Reed is in other respects an unusually intelligent and interesting man. He converses on all subjects with a degree of knowledge and insight rare to a person of his age. It is only upon the subject of death that he appears to be at all deranged.”