The Chester Rural Cemetery Association of Delaware County, PA was founded in March 1863 to serve the needs of the rapidly growing city of Chester, PA and the surrounding Delaware County area.
Among the first interments were Civil War casualties, from both sides of the conflict, from the US Government Hospital located across the street on what would later become the campus of Crozer Theological Seminary and Crozer Chester Medical Center. Many of these casualties were removed on October 28,1891 to Philadelphia Soldiers' National Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA. Some of the confederate soldiers were later taken home by their families for burial. The records of all, however, have been preserved in the archives of the Cemetery.
As the largest and most prominent Cemetery in the area in its early years, its Public Vault was also often used when weather conditions or transportation logistics made it impossible to transport a body immediately to its final resting place. As a result, there are also records available about a number of individuals who were later interred at other cemeteries.
Also at Chester Rural are a number of people originally interred at other Cemeteries but removed to Chester Rural as the city expanded and as families admired the beauty of this "new" rural cemetery.
Chester Rural is Delaware County's only example of the rural or landscaped cemetery built in the days before public parks and as such it was a popular destination for a Sunday afternoon outing as late as the early part of the twentieth century. Its curved walkways and driveways, and rolling hills and valleys were landscaped with a variety of specimens of the area, and until the mid 1950's a focal point was the acre-and-a-half lake, bordered by dogwoods and home to geese, ducks and water lilies.
Spanning over 36 acres and 152 years, Chester Rural is still in full operation and is the final resting place of over 31,000 individuals. Careful records have been kept over the years and, in some cases, family information has been added by visitors researching their ancestors.
If you are researching your ancestors, you can browse the searchable index of all those ever interred at Chester Rural Cemetery through 2005 here. Instructions for submitting a query and receiving detailed results are posted at the above link.
- The grounds of the cemetery will be under the exclusive control of the Board of Managers.
- All transfers or sales of lots must be registered in the office of the cemetery, and must be approved by the Board of Managers.
- All graves and monuments or marker foundations shall be dug or installed by workmen in employ of the cemetery or under its control for which the usual and reasonable charges will be made.
- Monuments and markers shall be of granite, marble or bronze. A monument or marker may not exceed more than 50% of the width of the lot.
- Dogs are not permitted on the grounds.
- The planting of shrubs or trees is prohibited unless approved by the superintendent. Shrubs are not permitted on a single grave lot under any circumstances.
- The Board of Managers or superintendent shall have the right to remove any tree, shrub or perennial that may be detrimental to adjacent lots or increase the difficulties of lot maintenance or mars the general appearance of the cemetery.
- Artificial decorations must be placed in a permanently installed vase or monument urn.
- The planting of annual flowers is permitted at the head of the grave. Flowers must be planted in front of the monument only. Any flowers which are planted and not cared for, including weeding, will be removed by the cemetery.
- All annual flowers and pots will be removed after November 1.
- Holiday decorations for Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day will be removed after a two week period.
- Christmas decorations will be removed after February 1.