Tom Waring of the Northeast Times has a report on the dedication of the restored house on the property of the Greenwood Cemetery. No hard feelings that they did not invite us to the big event that took place back on June 10th. We’ll get over there in a few weeks and do a before and after of the pictures we took in 2009. There is a lot of great history in that house.
23 thoughts on “Greenwood Estates at Rush Farm”
Gil Don’t feel bad Northwood Civic board never recieved an invite ,no hard feelings Barry
Restoring this house is only a small part of what was done with this property; the whole cemetery looks 100% better. Everyone involved in bringing this project together should be congradulated and everyone living nearby should be appreciative of the dedication put forth in maintaining this property. I’m hpoing the rest of the neighborhood will follow suit and maintain the aesthetics of the neighborhood by keeping their properties groomed as not just Greenwood Cemetery has done; but Oakland Cemetery as well. I know many people who wanted to attend the ‘big event’ on June 10th and honor those who put in the time and effort to complete this project; but schedule conflicts and work schedules prevented this. Hopefully more and more projects like this will continue in the area and there will be plenty of opportunities and ‘big events’ to give everyone the credit they deserve.
You gave a nice heart felt speech at the ground breaking about the good work they do. Maybe they just forgot us.
There are several historians who disagree with the CTCA version of the history.
Many people have a dissenting opinion (including me), have objected to their diluting & minimizing the significance of Benjamin Rush and his association to the house and the grounds.
But, if the RUSH HOUSE was ever going to get restored, they had to come up with an architectural plan, and they did.
They did a great job on restoring it according to “their plan” and it looks beautiful.
The reason why I say “THE RUSH HOUSH” is: It has been designated as the Rush House on the Philadelphia Historic Register and the record has never been reopened or changed.
No-one is disputing that there were several renovations between 1781 and today.
The reports only proved that the Rush House could have been built in 1781 as well as in 1830. I have written to CTCA & to the Historical Commission and confronted them on several of these issues.
I did contact Tome Waring and told him that the Historical Commission needed some clarification as to the meaning of the various reports which were inconclusive in placing an exact date on the building.
On the History of Benjamin Rush’s Cottage Farm at Greenwood Estates – all I can say is the best part of the Rush family history in Northeast Philadelphia is forthcoming.
I know, because I have been researching it over the last 10 years and will be publishing a report shortly.
Joseph J. Menkevich
I would like to read that report Joe will you be posting it here?
lyndad Says: I would like to read that report Joe will you be posting it here?
No, I am planning a submission to the Pennsylvaia Magazine of History & Biography.
First it must meet their (HSP) standards, and then they will review it for accuracy and decide to reject it or publish.
But I will give you a preview.
In my research, I have uncovered evidence that not only did Benjamin Rush live at the house, but his mother, his sister and his negro servants lived there too.
We can call them his servants, but he and his whole family owed slaves.
This is somewhat of a paradox in that he was known as an abolitionist and a champion for the African Americans in establishing their Churches &ct.
But in 1787, while living at the house on Adams avenue, he had an epiphany.
Benjamin Rush had a dream – and this changed his whole outlook on Slavery. He set his slaves free.
Rush did candy-coat his own memoirs so that he would show in the best possible light and they are written in such a way that – although he is not telling a lie – he steers the reader away from the truth.
Rush often promoted misperception by intentional omissions.
But there are many other records that exist that neither Rush nor the CTCA can change. Those are the records that will tell this story.
My story is about the incident in his life which shook his conscience and prompted “His Dream.”
Good luck with the writing, I find it very interesting.
Well lyndad, then there is the “other” history of the Cemetery – after Benjamin Rush’s departure.
In an e-mail from Leonard Williams, NCA Director Emeritus (deceased), he reminisced with a interesting introduction:
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 1:43 PM
The year “2000” seems like a long time ago.
Sorry if it opens an old wound, it is not intentional. Back then, in 2000, this story did not play too well with one person in particular — TO YOUR REGRET!
This created “quite a stir” when posted on MyNorthwood.net board. Someone objected to the release of this “intellectual property” and claimed an alleged “copyright protection.” Such a false assertion may seem childish and ridiculous today in view of the articles having been published in a old, defunct newspaper one hundred and six years prior. Others, along with I, thanked Providence for a thing called “the public domain.”
Her wraft she took out on you. You didn’t deserve or need it.
That claim was sufficient to force the webmaster of the board to take my posting down.
Six months later, after Joe Menkevich was able to secure a copy of an Inquest of the Administrator of the Estate of Phillip Lowry, all of my fraud assertions were borne out and confirmed.
Again, the longest running property tax swindle AND TAX FRAUD in the history of Philadelphia. Still continues to this day!
In the spirit of Greemwood Cemetery, thought you may enjoy a paper I resurrected from its grave.
In my search of our archival files, look what I found.
Our dear, beloved, departed friend once said, “Way you wrote that, Mr. Williams, appears there was a bunch of crooks over there.” [note: this Friend was our Northwood Neighbor, retired Chief Justice Edward R. Becker, 3rd Circuit]
Well, that may be the truth but others do not want to talk about it. Best suppressed.
Apparently, someone did not (and maybe still does not) want the truth known.
Know what I did?
However, keep in mind, such suggestions of “improprieties” are confirmed in subsequent documents, including court filed, sworn statements.
Still the management and officers of the cemmo escaped through the cracks in Orphans’ Court. They still are!
Amended the text message along with my euridite comments and added my own copyright notice. That is legal and that is binding.
Just thought you would like to know. If you didn’t, told you anyway.
Any event, read and enjoy.
DRAFT REVISITED: DRAFT REVISITED:
“A FALLING OUT OF THIEVES?” Or “BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO”
(AMONGST LOVERS, FRIENDS, PARTNERS AND THIEVES!)
This is a story of the breakup of the Pythian Partners, part of the original twelve subscribers and/or incorporators (co-conspirators?), the “Founders” of the Greenwood Cemetery Company of Philadelphia as related by old Philadelphia newspaper articles circa 1894.
Article 1. The Alleged Crime:
ROW OVER CEMETERY LOTS
Mrs. Lowry Charges Superintendent With Assault
The troubles among the stockholders and lotholders of the Knights of Pythias’ Greenwood Cemetery, Asylum pike and Fisher’s lane, were aired in part yesterday, when, in Magistrate Coward’s Court, Wilbur H. Myers, president and William Hamill, superintendent of the cemetery, were given a hearing on a charge of assault and battery upon Mrs. Adelaide Lowry, 70 years of age, of No. 1310 South Forty-sixth street. A grave-digger who was concerned in the assault has not yet been apprehended.
Mrs. Lowry is the widow of a former secretary of the cemetery company, and last Sunday, with her son, George Lowry, and her attorney, David H. Schuyler, Jr., went to the cemetery to visit her husband’s grave. While she was in the office of the superintendent to learn the number of the lot in which her husband was buried, she got into a conversation with President Myers, and accused him of having withheld from her illegally a certificate of ownership of 1000 lots in the cemetery, valued at $80,000. The argument became heated, and it was testified that her companions were ordered from the office, and that she was forced by the president into a chair, and that another chair was brandished over her by a grave-digger. Mrs. Lowry was very much excited, and it was testified, too, that on command of President Myers, the door was locked. However, it was open soon afterward, and she was permitted to go.
Article 2. The Consequences:
Cemetery President Under Bail
Wilbur H. Meyers (sic), president of the Knights of Pythias Cemetery and Greenwood Cemetery, was held in $500 bail for a further hearing before Magistrate Scott yesterday, as the result of the charge of perjury which has been preferred against him by Mrs. Adelaide Lowry, of No. 1810 South Forty-sixth street. The perjury, it is alleged, was committed by Meyers in the trial of a suit instituted by Mrs. Lowry to prove that she is owner of 1700 cemetery lots. It is averred that Meyers testified in the suit that a judgement of $4000 held by the American Surety Company against the estate of Mrs. Lowry’s son, had been satisfied, whereas the prosecutrix avers the statement is false. The case was continued until Tuesday to give Mrs. Lowry’s attorney time to produce the Court records and papers.
Article 3. Name Calling and Its Repercussions:
CAPIAS FOR ARREST OF LAWYER
Attorney Schuyler Accused of Slander in Big Cemetery Fight.
A capias has been issued for the arrest of Attorney David S. Schuyler in a suit for $5000 damages for alleged slander begun by William Hamill, superintendent of the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery. The defendant’s (?) father has been engaged in prolonged litigation with the officers of the cemetery company, and last night the son visited the place and there became engaged in a heated argument with the superintendent.
In the affidavit filed by Mr. Hamill it (?) is charged that Attorney Schuyler accused him of being a cash juggler and a thief and the stool pigeon for Wilbur H. Myers, president of the company, and Charles F. Hinde, while they do the stealing.
Mr. Hamill became highly indignant at the language and charges made against him by Lawyer Schuyler, and at once retained counsel to bring suit for damages for slander. Similar suits may be brought by President Myers, who is an officer of Court No.2, and by Charles F. Linde, who is the secretary of the company, and a well-known member of the bar.
Article 4. Hiding the Records:
SUIT OVER BURIAL LOTS
Knights of Pythias Cemetery Litigation (?) Involving About $100,000
Attorney David H. Schuyler, Jr., counsel for Adelaide Lowry, widow of Philip Lowry, Jr., yesterday filed a petition in Court of Common Please No. (?) asking for a writ of mandamus against the officers of the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company requiring them to permit her or her counsel (?) to make an examination of the books and (?) papers of the company relating to the transfer of 1000 or more burying lots (?) of which she claims to be the lawful (?) owner, in order that she may use said (?) information in a bill in equity to be (?) filed by her to recover possession of the lots which she understands have been transferred without authority to other persons. The lots in dispute are said (?) to be worth $100 each.
Judge McMichael ordered the petition to be filed and the case put on then (?) for hearing on Monday.
It is believed this colorful and bawdy tale of august events heralding the breakup of former Pythian partners occurred sometime before February 6, 1894. This is the date of the postmark shown on a copy of an envelope that accompanied these old newspaper articles. The individual articles are not dated.
Some of these newspaper articles were fragmented on the right hand border. The missing words were completed from its context and word sense. In the transcription of the actual articles, which are difficult to read, all completions of fragments are indicated by the use of the symbol “(?).”
These articles were carefully transcribed and proofread; however, their absolute accuracy cannot be assured.
These articles lay gathering dust in someone’s desk, bureau or file drawer, unnoticed and unappreciated, for one hundred and six years.
Your reviewer only recently chanced upon and read them for the first time. He immediately recognized the significance and implications of the sordid tale they reveal of illegal “private inurement.”
Greenwood Cemetery, a supposed nonprofit corporation, with its “exempt assessment” from City of Philadelphia property taxes, contrived through the alleged official affiliation with The Knights of Pythias and, therefore, a legitimate “Fraternal Organization,” may represent the biggest and longest running property tax swindle in Philadelphia’s history.
July 27, 2000
WARNING: COPYRIGHT JULY, 2000, LEONARD WILLIAMS
DRAFT REVISITED: DRAFT REVISITED:
The above aversions & observation by NCA Director Emeritus Leonard Williams is only part of the story.
How did the property go from Benjamin Rush and end up with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America?
On July 25, 1781 Dr. Rush and his wife Julia, bought a plantation in Oxford Township, Pennsylvania. This plantation was their summer residence until it was sold on December 31, 1792.
I discovered an advertisement confirming Benjamin Rush’s Summer Home ownership and residency, however the people with pecuniary motives continued to attack Rush’s ownership & association to the property.
“…the Improvements consist of a large stone Mansion House, Kitchen, &c. suitable for a large family, formerly the summer residence of the late Dr. Rush: a stone Spring House, a Pump of excellent water, a frame Barn and Stable, a good Garden, two Orchards of prime fruit; also, a tenant’s House, with Garden and Orchard, &c. There are on the farm an Excellent Building and Whet Stone Quarry, both Of which may be worked to great profit, known by the name of Harper’s Quarry. This farm is plentifully supplied with water from a number springs, and from Frankford Creek, which forms a part of the boundary line…”
There are volumes of documents that prove he did own the property.
Perhaps it would be best to begin with modern newspaper accounts and travel back in time. I will attempt to do so in measured increments.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
In Northwood, cemetery ownership will be put to rest
By Tom Waring Times Staff Writer
It looks like a crematory might be coming to Greenwood Cemetery after all.
In a surprising turn of events, the three parties involved in a civil lawsuit last week came to a settlement that will give ownership of the cemetery to Carol Hancock.
Hancock, who along with her husband Ron owns a funeral home at 8018 Roosevelt Blvd., purchased the decaying 43-acre cemetery from George DeLong in January 2000 for $1.
Hancock wanted to renovate the property, located at 930 Adams Ave. in Northwood, and build a funeral home, crematory and 60-space parking lot.
In July 2000, against some community opposition, Hancock won a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment by a vote of 4-1. However, a group of cemetery lot owners and others who have relatives buried at Greenwood filed a civil lawsuit challenging the sale from DeLong to Hancock.
The sale opponents seemed to have sound legal standing, since DeLong acknowledged during a 1995 code enforcement action that he did not own the cemetery. DeLong, the cemetery caretaker, contended that he was merely one of 25,000 lot owners. “I am strictly a volunteer and not even an employee of the cemetery,” he wrote in a letter to then-Common Pleas Court Judge Russell Nigro.
As the lawsuit made its way through the court system, Hancock began the gargantuan task of clearing the overgrowth in the cemetery. The cleanup ended in March 2003, when she decided she no longer wanted to own the cemetery, claiming she didn’t want to continue fighting opponents of her plan.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs in the suit continued to demand that the sale be voided, that Hancock and DeLong make an accounting for the money they spent and that a judge set up a cemetery board of managers.
Common Pleas Court Judge Anne Lazarus, in her earlier rulings, noted that there hadn’t been a meeting of lot holders or a board of directors for decades. In June 2003, she appointed lot owner Gloria Boyd and attorney Kevin Lynch as co-custodians of the cemetery.
In the seven months Boyd and Lynch have been in charge, the condition of the cemetery has improved greatly, though there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Lazarus scheduled a trial on the lawsuit for Jan. 14-22 in her City Hall courtroom. But after two days of testimony, the case abruptly ended. All three sides entered into a settlement that appears to greatly favor Hancock and DeLong.
Hancock will take ownership of the property, allowing her to possibly build a crematory, funeral home and parking lot. She will also have two appointees to a three-member board of managers.
DeLong agreed to pay $20,000 into the cemetery fund, but that’s a pittance compared to what he might have had to spend in additional legal fees. While he’s angry that he was sued, he gets his wish to be out of the cemetery business for good. Though the final details of the settlement have to be worked out and Lazarus has to sign off on it, the losers appear to be opponents of a crematory.
They were counting on Boyd, who led the charge to have the cemetery placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, based on the belief that Benjamin Rush — a signer of the Declaration of Independence — lived on the premises in the late 1700s.
Gwen DeLong, George’s wife, has long insisted that Rush never lived there.
Under the settlement, Boyd and the newly formed Friends of Greenwood Cemetery will have meeting space on the grounds and one member on the three-person board, but no authority.
Boyd was unavailable for comment. “I don’t know what happened,” said Joe Menkevich, a Castor Avenue resident who opposes the crematory because he fears declining property values.
Mike Torchia, attorney for DeLong, thinks the settlement is fair. “Everyone compromised,” he said. “No one got everything, and no one lost everything.”
Torchia, who works for the Jenkintown law firm of Semanoff, Ormsby, Greenberg & Torchia, said all three parties in the lawsuit want what’s best for the cemetery. “It’s not been about the DeLongs, it’s not been about the Hancocks, it’s been about how to get the cemetery back on its feet,” he said.
The attorney added that he and his client believe Ron and Carol Hancock have the business wherewithal to turn around the cemetery. Cremations won’t be starting for a while, if at all.
Some neighbors have filed an appeal to Common Pleas Court, contesting the zoning board decision granting Carol Hancock a variance to build a crematory.
As part of the settlement, Boyd agreed to withdraw as an appellant.
James Mannion, the attorney for Hancock, said his client would continue to overhaul the cemetery. “The object is to restore this to be a proud place for the Northeast,” he said.
Fred Maurer, a community activist and vice president of the Friends of Tacony Creek Park, said it would be an “abomination” to have a crematory so close to the entrance gates of the cemetery. “I’ve always thought a crematorium was a bad deal,” he said.
The Northwood Civic Association was expected to discuss the settlement at its monthly meeting this past Tuesday.
Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or email@example.com>
One of the older accounts tells another version:
The City Paper
ARCHIVES . Articles
May 18–25, 2000
Burning Mad by Gwen Shaffer
Some Northeast Philadelphia residents oppose a crematorium being built adjacent to their homes.
A twilight stroll through Greenwood Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia depicts the best and worst of the neglected property.
A once majestic mansion is rotting away, windows shattered and white paint peeling. Rusty beer cans are evidence of teenage parties. Chin-high weeds and bamboo shoots make many sections of the cemetery impassable.
Across the field, stately tombstones dating back to the early 19th century dot freshly mowed grass. The sweet smell of honeysuckles and the melodic twittering of birds waft through the historic cemetery grounds.
But some residents fear these sights and sounds — wanted and unwanted — could soon be replaced by the smoky fumes and foul odor of a crematorium.
As new owners are poised to take over the cemetery, area residents are being asked to make a choice between the lesser of two evils — to continue living next to 42 acres of overgrown jungle, or have the cemetery cleaned up to make room for two crematorium units. That decision has pitted neighbor against neighbor in this community known as Northwood, just off Castor Avenue.
Neighbors opposing installation of two crematoriums on the historic site are concerned about potential air pollution, as well as demolition of historic structures on the property. One faction suspects that the proposed buyers of the cemetery are angling to use it for commercial development down the road.
The potential new owners, Ronald and Carol Hancock, insist they have no such plans. Because the cemetery is a liability rather than an asset, the couple would acquire it for $1 from George DeLong, who has owned it for 40 years.
Rather, the Hancocks promise to restore a historically significant main house in Greenwood Cemetery and clear away acres of stubborn weeds and bamboo.
If the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment grants a waiver, the couple would also tear down an old shed and replace it with a new building for their funeral home and 70 parking spaces.
And, most controversially, the Hancocks intend to install two crematorium units.
Currently, the family operates a funeral home on Roosevelt Boulevard. It takes “one to two” bodies daily to Ivy Hill Cemetery for cremation. Should the Hancocks’ own crematorium be approved, they would burn these remains at the Greenwood property. They could also contract out the service to other funeral homes.
Grace Muller, president of the Northwood Civic Association and a lifelong resident of the community, is worried that two burners are just the beginning for the cemetery grounds, located at Adams Avenue and Arrott Street.
“Once they are zoned for this operation, they can have two, four or six burners running 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she says. “Could you imagine?”
Muller is skeptical of the Hancocks’ long-term motives for purchasing the cemetery.
“If they have no plans to develop or sell off any of this land, they would surely give the neighbors a good faith gesture, such as a deed restriction,” Muller says.
To date, the Hancocks have not provided any written assurances to the neighbors. Legal restrictions forbid the movement of existing graves.
Therefore, developing most of the land is out of the question, Ronald Hancock says.
At a May 9 meeting of the Northwood Civic Association, the Hancocks’ attorney characterized the proposed crematorium as a win-win situation for area residents. “Most of the 40 acres in the cemetery are completely overgrown,” says Peter Kelsen, of the firm Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley. “It is not property that benefits anyone.”
The Hancocks vow to spend $600,000 to $700,000 to restore the cemetery over the next two years, if the burners are permitted. Without the crematorium, the Hancocks have no financial incentive to purchase the cemetery and the deal would fall through.
The cremation business is booming. According to the Cremation Association of North America, of nearly 127,000 deaths in Pennsylvania during 1998, 18.63 percent of the bodies were cremated. Over the next decade, that ratio is projected to jump to 42.86 percent.
About 52 percent of all crematoriums are in cemeteries, while another 40 percent are in funeral homes, Ronald Hancock says.
A city Health Department official affirms that modern crematoriums pose virtually no health threat.
“The way these units are designed, they operate very clean,” says Roger Fey, an air management engineer for the city.
“Complete combustion” releases only carbon dioxide and water — a standard crematoriums come close to meeting. The unit could release extremely low levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, Fey notes, when tooth fillings or artificial limbs are burned up.
On top of the negative environmental and psychological perceptions of having a crematorium in a residential neighborhood, there is an effort afoot to list Greenwood Cemetery as an official historic site.
An 18th-century mansion and the original “receiving vault” on the property are believed to have historical significance. Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Civil War soldiers are buried in Greenwood. And at one time, Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned the cemetery.
Some residents would like the entire 42 acres preserved, while the Hancocks adamantly oppose listing the entire property as a historic site.
“That would be opening a Pandora’s box,” Kelsen says. “We may get the zoning variance, but we won’t get the Historical Commission’s approval to do the project.”
The commission will discuss the cemetery at two meetings scheduled for May 19 and June 14.
Gloria Boyd, whose family members owned the land before it became a cemetery, is leading the effort for historic designation.
Boyd says she is reserving judgment on the Hancocks’ plan to open a crematorium there. “I want to wait and see what the Historical Commission determines.”
In November 1998, nearby East Frankford residents, with the help of City Councilman Rick Mariano, succeeded in shutting down the Independence Crematory on Foulkrod Street.
Neighbors complained of a putrid stench and black smoke coming from the unit. Even though environmental officials deemed the site safe, the owner opted to relocate rather than face a court battle.
The Greenwood Cemetery is also located in Mariano’s district. But this time around, he sees some benefit to opening a crematorium.
“If we do the Historical Commission designation, this whole place remains a shit hole forever,” Mariano asserts.
Agnes Visco, whose home faces the front of the cemetery, agrees with the councilman.
“That property is a mess,” she says, noting that teenagers regularly party there. “If [the Hancocks] are going to clear and maintain it, they will be able to keep the riffraff out.”
But this should not be the determining factor, urges Grace Muller, who is concerned that future development of the land will diminish both quality of life and property values in the community.
“Just the fact that [Kelsen] is so touchy about the land restrictions sends up a warning flag for me,” Muller says. Source: http://archives.citypaper.net/articles/051800/cb.citybeat.crem.shtml
It should be noted – It was Leonard Williams that dug up the dirt in November 1998. The East Frankford residents put on such a protest against a proposed crematorium, Mariano had no choice but to back the residents.
Also, not one person involved or mentioned in the above article lives in Northwood today (except me).
To be continued …
January 22, 2004 Northeast Times – In Northwood, cemetery ownership will be put to rest:
” ‘I don’t know what happened,’ said Joe Menkevich, a Castor Avenue resident who opposes the crematory because he fears declining property values.”
I must pause here for a moment and have a recap.
The Rush House & adjcent property changed hands over the years and became the “Solly Farm.” Then a few “wash sales” by straw purchasers took place and by 1869, the property ended in the hands of the Knights of Pythias for burials of their Fraternal Membership.
The Cemetery and the Knights of Pythias were Tax-Exempt – supported by the Public Tax Dollars. In the next 140 or so years, the value of the residential and commercial real estate which surrounds the Cemetery had increased, but not the Cemetery itself, as it was never meant to be developed or commercialized.
When Greenwood Cemetery Company changed it’s name and Charter to the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company in 1870, sent a petition to their former Civil War Commander Brigadier-General John W. Geary, who was then the Governor of Pennsylvania. The Cemetery Company was looking to be exempt from paying taxes.
It was approved and signed into law with certain Proviso and restrictions on the sale of lots.
Act 72 of 1870 has some tax ramifications & restrictions on lot sales and land sales. There is a certain amount of Public Trust Doctrine that applies to the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery – insomuch that it (the Cemetery property and Corporation) was made exempt from taxes by an act of of the General Assembly, signed into law by Governor JNO. W. GEARY on February 02, 1870.
The tax exempt status with regards to lot sales did not extend to large parcels or acreage but was specific to single persons and 5 lots or less in their own right.
“And whereas, it seems reasonable and necessary that provision should be made for the permanent protection of the remains of those who have been committed to the earth therefore … Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same …”
The charter change of Greenwood Cemetery coincided with a law change for non-profit status of the Knight of Pythias by then Governor Jno Geary. But the Cemetery Charter change also had some kickers – so that the original investors would not lose on their investemnt.
The cemetery was divided into “15,000 lots, when sold in 1869. Anyone buying a lot got 1 share of stock. Stock is of no value as it never paid dividends. There are 15000 shares of stock out there somewhere.” – [1970 excerpt from Roy Allen DeLong]
The capital was not the stock, as he stock did not exist in 1870. The Capital was always “the lots in fee simple.” The books state at the 1870 name change, that members present ” … owning more than five sixths of the Capital of said Company……” in lots.
“11th day of November A. D. 1871” the total number of “legally qualified votes” was described as”… and out of 8824 [sic] Lotholder votes (that being the total number in the said Association) 6116 [sic] votes were received of which 6101 [sic] were in favor of the four several amendments…”
The 1873 Amendments to the Charter concerning stock never empowered the stock holders with any ownership rights. It only allowed them a vote for the members of the Board of Managers.
So what’s the point?
1894 Philip Lowery Jr. dies. In his will he bequests all his Cemetery Stock Certificates and Cemetery Lots to his wife. His widow gets roughed up by a bunch of thieves. Her house is ransacked and all her husbands stock certificates stolen by the Myers gang. This leads to the series of newspaper articles, and in turn lead to the 1906 Orphan’s Court case against Wilbur Myers and the Cemetery Company. It is a rather interesting story on how the Myers got he stock.
The point is that this was a stock purchase agreement between the Hancocks & the Delongs for 8100 or so shares of cemetery stock (for ONE DOLLAR) that had no value, but only conferred voting rights. Somhow these same shares were sold to the CTCA for an undisclosed sum, and suddenly half the cemetery turns into a parking lot.
This was somehow passed off as a benifit to the Public?
The real trick in all this was how this Myers/DeLong family got away with this scheme for over 100 yeras. Well they just kept hiding the stock certificates, illegally laundering them in various trusts, wills & estates until all the living witnesses were dead.
So back in 2004 when I am quoted as saying “I don’t know what happened,” what I should have really been saying is “knowing all that we now know, how could such a crime go unpunished?”
For example, let’s compare the case of the Greenwood Cemetery theft to the Theft of Cemetery funds in Souderton:
March 10, 2003 Decree by the Hon. Anne Lazarus:
IN THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA COURT OF COMMON PLEAS ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION
In Re: Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company
AND NOW, this 10th day of MARCH, upon review of the Motion for Summary Judgment, the responses thereto, and the replies to the responses, the Court makes the following findings of fact:
1. No meeting of either the shareholders or a Board of Directors of the Cemetery Company was held for more than 30 years prior to closing on the Stock Purchase Agreement.
2. There was no shareholder activity of any kind for more than 30 years prior to closing on the Stock Purchase Agreement, including the period from September 1983 to October 2000, during which time a corporate fiduciary was the purported majority shareholder.
3. No meeting of either the shareholders or a Board of Directors of the Cemetery Company was held to discuss and/or approve the transfer of the Cemetery Company to Willow Ridge.
4. No meeting of either shareholders or a Board of Directors of the Cemetery Company was held to discuss and/or approve the transfer of shares of Cemetery Company stock to Willow Ridge.
5. No Unanimous Consent of either the shareholders or a Board of Directors of the Cemetery Company approve a transfer of the Cemetery Company and/or shares of Cemetery Company stock to Willow Ridge.
6. Northumberland National Bank and David George DeLong, who jointly signed the Stock Purchase Agreement as “Seller” of 8,100 shares of Cemetery Company stock in January 2000, did not own any shares at that time.
7. By the time the Bank received a stock certificate in its name as Trustee, the Myers Trust had terminated and the other assets had already been distributed to the beneficiaries.
8. Ownership of Cemetery Company stock gives only voting rights to the shareholders.
9. A legitimate transfer of Cemetery Company shares would confer only voting rights on the transferee.
10. Northumberland National Bank and David George DeLong had no authority or ability to transfer the Cemetery Company and/or shares of Cemetery Company stock to Willow Ridge.
11. Respondent DeLong used Cemetery Company funds for personal expenses and signed over to himself more than $90,000.00 worth of checks drawn on Cemetery Company funds and written to third parties from 1990 to 1994 and in 1998.
12. Respondent DeLong also used nearly $35,000.00 in Cemetery Company funds to pay legal expenses related to termination of the Myers Trust in May, 2000.
13. Through December 2001, Respondents Hancocks used nearly $84,000.00 in Cemetery Company funds to pay their counsel fees and expenses to establish their for-profit company and to obtain a zoning variance for their proposed crematorium business, contrary to their agreement to pay these expenses personally.
14. There appears to be a fund valued at almost $700,000.00 which was created to provide perpetual care for the Cemetery, which has never been accounted for.
Based upon the above facts, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that the ultimate issue of whether the Stock Purchase Agreement between Willow Ridge, Ltd. and Northumberland National Bank and David George DeLong dated January 28, 2000, and the transfer of stock and assets of the knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company to Willow Ridge, Ltd. are null and void is RESERVED pending presentation of further evidence to the Court. A pre-trial conference is scheduled by Decree bearing even date herewith.
It is further ORDERED and DECREED that Respondents shall file an accounting of Cemetery Company funds from 1970 to the present within ninety (90) days of the date of this Decree. Respondents are directed to notify Petitioners of such filing as parties in interest.
Adam T. Gusdorff, Esquire
James F. Mannion, Esquire
Mahael J. Torchia, Esquire
In the End – Lazarus delivers a miscarriage of justice and give away the store by legalizing all the looting & robbing of monies, but back in Souderton and in the same time period:
Souderton man charged with theft
By: MIKE PIFER, STAFF WRITER
A Souderton man with access to the trust accounts of
the Hillside Cemetery has been arrested and charged
with theft by deception and other charges.
John W. Snyder, 32, a resident of the first block of
Front Street, was arrested Nov. 13 by Montgomery
County detectives and charged with theft by unlawful
taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property,
misapplication of entrusted property, forgery and bad
checks, said police. Snyder was arraigned Nov. 13
before District Justice Kenneth Deatelhauser in
district court in Souderton.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Snyder
and R. Bruce Fenstermacher, who shared responsibility
for the operation of the cemetery, had earlier met
with an unnamed attorney and an agreement was made for
Snyder to pay the sum of $105,000 to replace money
that he had taken from the cemetery trust account and
items that he had taken and sold, plus interest, to
the trust account. Although Snyder did not sign the
agreement, he made two payments totaling $45,000. No
further payments were received or offered. Payments
began May 20, 2000 and the last payment was to be made
July 7, police said.
The affidavit shows $28,261 was transferred from the
cemetery trust account to the cemetery checking
account between January 1997 and July 1998, and
$26,800 was transferred from the cemetery checking
account to a checking account for JS Industries, a
light manufacturing and packaging company of which
Snyder was the sole proprietor, between October 1996
and July 1998. Most of the transfers from the trust
account to the cemetery checking account were
performed by bank check, police said. A few of the
transfers were made by phone at Snyder’s request and
transfers from the cemetery checking account to the
checking account of JS Industries were all by phone at
Snyder’s request, said police.
Three checks also were written between September 1996
and November 1997 from the Hillside Cemetery checking
account, made payable to Plant Rouse, an employee of
Snyder. The checks totaled $8,800, police said.
County detectives questioned Rouse, who told them he
never worked at the cemetery, never billed the
cemetery, and did not recall receiving any checks from
the cemetery, said police. When detectives showed
Rouse the three checks made payable to him, Rouse said
the endorsement on one of the checks was not his and
he knew nothing about it. Rouse said the other two
checks appeared to have his endorsement on the back,
but he had no recollection of the checks. If he did
cash the checks, he would have given the money to
Snyder, Rouse told police.
In addition, 13 withdrawals endorsed by Snyder from
the Hillside account, a dozen by check and one for
cash, were made between September 1996 and June 1997,
for a total of $45,560, police said.
Hillside Cemetery of Souderton is a non-profit
corporation created by a charter filed on Dec. 4,
1894. No elected officer or director of the
corporation now exists, and no formal meetings of the
corporation have been held for 25 years.
In October, Fenstermacher petitioned the Montgomery
County Court of Common Pleas to appoint a receiver to
preserve the corporate assets and carry on the
day-to-day business of the cemetery. During a Dec. 11
county court hearing, an attorney, James W. Maza, was
appointed temporary receiver.
Attempts to reach Snyder and his attorney were
A hearing on the charges against Snyder is scheduled
for district court in Souderton Jan. 4 at 2 p.m.
©Montgomery Newspapers 2007
(next article in part 2)
I will explain how it happened & who is involved – More to come.
anuary 22, 2004 Northeast Times – “In Northwood, cemetery ownership will be put to rest” – I am quoted as saying “I don’t know what happened.”
It did not take too long before I found out exactly what happened.
Back in Souderton in a contemporary & precedent case – Montgomery County Court Judge Stanley R. Ott calls out the border guard and puts the thief in jail:
Souderton borough may take charge of cemetery
By:MIKE PIFER, STAFF WRITER
Souderton Borough Council Monday night approved a motion to authorize the borough solicitor to prepare all the necessary documents to transfer ownership of the Hillside Cemetery to the borough.
The solicitor’s office is now preparing a petition for ownership to file before Judge Stanley Ott in the Orphan’s Court in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, said Borough Solicitor Elvin Souder. Borough Manager P. Michael Coll said if the court approves the petition the borough will take over the cemetery within three to six months. The borough will probably be forming a committee to run the cemetery, said Coll, though who will be on the committee hasn’t yet been decided.
Because of legal and financial problems, the cemetery seemed to be headed towards a state of disrepair, said Mayor Charles Allebach. “We had an inkling of this some time ago,” he said.
Following the meeting Council President John Young, who is also chairman of the cemetery committee for Zion Mennonite Church, said the borough will probably hire an outside lawn care company to maintain the grounds at Hillside. But until borough officials have the proper paperwork, nothing is definite. “We just don’t have the details yet,” Young said.
In recent months the cemetery has been the object of controversy.
A descendent of one of the charter members of the Hillside Cemetery Corporation and responsible for its day-to-day operations, R. Bruce Fenstermacher, began in 2000 to collect what corporation shares he could find with the hope of being declared sole proprietor of the cemetery. Since it was unclear who owned many of the shares in the corporation, Fenstermacher said, he wanted to “clear up the mess of ownership” and form an appropriate group which would be responsible for its operation. To locate all the shareholders, however, would have been impossible, he said. He did, however, collect commitments for 26 shares.
Though approximately 70 shares were still outstanding, Fenstermacher said he had plans to approach the county court with the commitments to see if he might be declared majority shareholder in the corporation and have a board of directors formed. “Someone has to be the owner,” he said. He said he also wanted the borough to be involved. “Had I gotten majority ownership … my plan was to approach the borough to be involved at some level,” he said. “It’s a community cemetery, and what organization is guaranteed to be here forever but the borough?”
After cemetery trust funds were found to be missing last March, however, Fenstermacher abandoned his plans. Evidence was discovered that John Snyder, entrusted with perpetual care funds for the cemetery, had transferred monies from the cemetery trust fund into the accounts of his own business, J.S. Industries.
Snyder, who is Fenstermacher’s brother-in-law, made arrangements to pay compensation, but after remitting $45,000 he failed to make any further payments and was subsequently arrested on charges of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, misapplication of entrusted property, receiving stolen property, forgery and passing bad checks. During a Jan. 4 hearing in district court in Souderton the forgery and bad check charges were dropped. Snyder is scheduled to face the remaining charges in county court March 16.
Although the matter with Snyder is yet to be resolved, there should be sufficient revenue to keep the cemetery “self-sufficient,” Coll said. The borough now is waiting on the solicitor’s accounting of all available funds for the cemetery and the results of a title search prior to the final action of the court as far as ownership, he said.
Currently Fenstermacher and Jim Maza, an attorney, are responsible for operating the cemetery. Fenstermacher is receiver of the day-to-day operations. Maza was named receiver at a Dec. 11 county court conference.
“People ask me why I do this,” said Fenstermacher when interviewed last week. “I’ve done it as a volunteer because I have pride in the community I live in.”
A century of history
“The meeting for the object of organizing a cemetery company was called to order at 7:45 p.m. at Landis and Co. store as agreed upon for a business meeting,” states the first entry (dated Sept. 21, 1894) in the handwritten minutes of the Hillside Cemetery Corporation. The charter was approved by the county in December 1894.
Ten charter subscribers each bought 12 shares of stock in the corporation worth $25 each, for a total of $3,000. One of the founders of the cemetery was William F. Goettler, also the original publisher of the Germania Gazette, which later became the Souderton Independent. According to Maza, several local undertakers were also among the original subscribers.
In April 1895 about three and a quarter acres of land between Central Avenue and East Chestnut Street,with frontage on North Second Street, was purchased for $900 from Sarah Benner, widow of Isaac Benner, as burial grounds. More than an acre of land bordering Central Avenue and Fourth Street was added to the cemetery in 1940.
A tract of the land was sold to the Souderton Furniture company in 1950.
Today there are three parts to Hillside: a north and south section divided by Sunny Hill Drive, and a third area known as the Sunny Hill section. The cemetery has 3,480 lots, 1,000 of which remain unsold. Approximately 1,800 – 2,000 people are buried in the cemetery. Many of the founding fathers, business people and artisans of the borough are interred there, including former Souderton Independent editor Rolland Albright and E. Merton Crouthamel, the Souderton educator for whom the elementary school is named. Others buried at Hillside include builders Ralph Drace and Melvin Nice; grocer Abner Moyer; Harvey Shelly, one of the original proprietors of Shelly & Fenstermacher Lumber Co.; Edwin Weidman, a plumber, and clothing manufacturer Milton Zendt.
In 1943, said Maza, the corporation applied to the I.R.S. for non-profit status and a trust account was established at Union National Bank. Shares in the corporation, however, were sold as late as 1957, when the Zwingli Church on Wile Avenue bought 13 shares for $150. According to Linda Giannone, secretary at Zwingli, the church sold its stock in the cemetery in 1972.
When the cemetery was founded, Souderton Mennonite was the only church congregation that had burial grounds located within the boundaries of the borough. Allebach, who at one time in his capacity as president of the church council at Zwingli was on the cemetery’s board of trustees, said other area churches were involved in the corporation but eventually backed out.
A Hillside plot containing eight burial lots sold for $250 in 1960. An individual lot now sells for $600. Originally, individual owners had the option of either taking care of plots themselves or paying into a perpetual care fund. For more than a quarter century, however, all purchasers have been required to pay a one time perpetual care fee.
In the 1940s and 1950s Hillside was a large part of the town, said Fenstermacher, who works as a pilot and occasionally flies over the grounds. The cemetery isn’t any smaller or less significant in the borough now than it was a half-century ago, he said, it only looks smaller because of the houses and other buildings that have gone up around it.
“I’m happy that the borough has decided to take over the cemetery,”
Fenstermacher said following the council’s decision Monday night, “but saddened because it may be the end of my involvement.”
On the average, between 15 – 20 people are buried in the cemetery every year, said Fenstermacher. The last burial, he said, was about two months ago.
©Montgomery Newspapers 2007
Meanwhile back in Philadelphia, Judge Ann Lazarus is the chambers of her countinghouse, laughing and stumbling. – Highlights:
March 10, 2003 Decree by the Hon. Anne Lazarus:
“Respondent DeLong used Cemetery Company funds for personal expenses and signed over to himself more than $90,000.00 worth of checks drawn on Cemetery Company funds and written to third parties from 1990 to 1994 and in 1998.
“Respondent DeLong also used nearly $35,000.00 in Cemetery Company funds to pay legal expenses related to termination of the Myers Trust in May 2000.
“Through December 2001, respondents Hancocks used nearly $84,000.00 in Cemetery Company funds to pay their counsel fees and expenses to establish their for profit company and to obtain a zoning variance for their proposed crematorium business, contrary to their agreement to pay these expenses personally.
“There appears to be a fund valued at almost $700,000.00 which was created to provide perpetual care for the Cemetery which has never been accounted for.” An accounting was then ordered.”
In a reversal of her own finding of facts, Judge Ann Lazarus begins a new course in her career by committing a grievous error – putting the cemetery ownership to rest and handing it to Willow Ridge Ltd a corporation created by the Hancocks.
But why? What happened?
With Rick Mariano in City Council, Northwood residents were the last to know.
Special Announcement from the Northwood Civic Association:
Parkview Hospital to be cancer center
Cancer Treatment Centers of America said yesterday [Sept. 21, 2004] that it bought Parkview Hospital from Tenet Healthcare Corp. and planned to convert the site into a 40-bed specialty hospital. The Arlington Heights, Ill., company said it would spend $44 million over the next year to transform the former 200-bed general hospital that Tenet closed a year ago into its fourth cancer treatment center.”
Who leaked the information to Judge Lazarus & to the Hancocks and when did it happen?
To be continued …
Before I go forward with this chronology – I must start by going backwards.
Here is an area map:
The map is Northwood, Frankford & Juniata, or more precisely, Oxford Township, Bristol Township & Northern Liberties Township.
This is the “other” Rush House, in Byberry, where Benjamin Rush was born: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/pa/pa0700/pa0790/photos/139098pu.tif
It looks just like the Rush House here in Northwood!
Recently, some highly paid “experts” claimed the RUSH HOUSE on Adams Avenue was not built until 1830, when in fact their own evidence proved the wood used in the building, may actually date to 1780 (the year in which Rush first purchased the property).
It was a simple job of reverse engineering – to ignore any evidence that did not conform to their desired preconceived outcome.
Dr. Benjamin Rush sold the farm in 1792. The property then got flipped a few times – ending up as the Solly Farm.
Eliza Solly (a widow) sold it to her son in law, who flipped the property to a straw purchaser, who in turn flipped it to the Knights of Pythias.
Incorporated 1869 as Greenwood Cemetery Company
1870 name change to Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company.
1872 Amended the Charter Constitution and by-laws and changed the structure of the stock ownership. (a stock Corporation with $25 par value)
The charter change coincided with a law change for non-profit status of the Knight of Pythias (a benevolent society to help “heal” Civil War Veterans) by then Governor Jno. Geary, who himself was a general in the Civil War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_W._Geary
In 1894 Philip Lowery Jr. one of the major shareholders of the Cemetery lots & stock certificates died. His will he bequests all his Cemetery Stock Certificates and Cemetery Lots to his wife. This led to the series of newspaper articles, and in turn led to the 1906 Orphan’s Court case against Wilbur Myers and the Cemetery Company.
William Hamill was Greenwood’s superintendent from around 1900 until his death in 1939. He had just purchase a new 1939 Ford! What a shame.
Walter Rex esq., was the Solicitor for K of P Greenwood in the 1906 Orphan’s Court Case. He died July 26, 1916. His wife Isabel E. Rex died October 02, 1939.
David J. Myers was solicitor for the Cemetery (from July 26, 1916 death of Walter Rex) until his death on 05/06/1940.
“The Estate of David J. Myers, Will 1752-1940.”
Codicil February 01, 1939 (probated by Roy Allen DeLong)
There was so much confusion in this file, that the Philadelphia Tax Examiner became alarmed, leading to a series of letters, and a second separate filing and accounting.
The City’s Tax Examiner was never satisfied with the accounting or that the K of P Greenwood Cemetery Stock Certificates were being shuffled into the estate (ex-post facto).
That little impediment was no problem for this Gang.
After all the witnesses died – a “DAVID J. MYERS TRUST” was formed as the residual estate of David J. Myers and it contained the majority of all the known Stock Certificates of the Cemetery.
“CASE NO. 2227 OF 1972 in Philadelphia ORPHANS COURT DIVISION. In re: KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS GREENWOOD CEMETERY” (This would have been their FIRST accounting). It gives a detailed accounting of many, but not necessarily all of The Perpetual Care Trust Funds.
In this 1972 accounting there is also a detailed explanation By Roy Allen DeLong about 15,000 shares of the Greenwood Cemetery Stock Certificates & how an undetermined number of them came into his possession.
He found them in a safety deposit box in Provident National Bank along with other assets and securities of the Company.
These materials were always within his possession and knowledge, but he never mentioned the estate of David J. Myers, which he himself probated, nor any of the stock certificates that gave him much trouble getting past the City Tax examiner and into the Estate / Trust in 1942.
Evidenced by a letter dated February 7, 1942, from Frederick Feigenberg INHERITANCE TAX APPRAISER, the letter to Roy Allen DeLong states: “Under the terms of the will there seems to be considerable confusion as to certain trusts estates set forth therein.”
In 1972, Roy Allen DeLong states to the Orphans’ Court:
“There are 15000 lots, when sold in 1869 anyone buying a lot got 1 share of stock.
Stock is of no value as it never paid dividends.
There are 15000 shares of stock out there somewhere.”
Here is the complete text:
August 19, 1970……
Accountant charges himself with Principal in safe Deposit Box of Provident National Bank.
50 shares of Northern Central Railroad (Paying no Dividends)
170 Shares of Penna Rail Road ” ” ”
70 Shares of PTC Co. ” ” ”
5000 U.S. TREAS 8 1/2% Due October 1970
5000 U.S. Savings Bonds Series H due August 1970
25,000 Treasury Bonds due Nov 15, 1974
4,000 Treasury Bonds Due Nov. 15, 1980
5000 Treasury Bonds purchased January 1965
Building & Loan Shares
James Baird B & L 11000
Crusaders B & L. 10,000
“There are 15000 lots When sold in 1869 anyone buying a lot got 1 share of stock.
Stock is of no value as it never paid dividends.
There are 15000 shares of stock out somewhere.
Present Supt. since 1940 found Perpetual care funds in Book for the purpose.
What was there then and in addition to what is there now amounts to 53,066. …….. [This is signed by]:
Roy Allen DeLong Atty for K of P Greenwood Cemetery Company.
[Another accounting by him has it at $63,066]
He signs the second document as “Atty for K of P Greenwood Cemetery Company.”
Roy Allen DeLong Died January 03, 1975 (no will found)
“George” DeLong, son of Roy Allen DeLong then began to “manage” the Cemetery.
In the 1970’s, there were some “land sales” from Greenwood Cemetery to Parkview Hospital, and this is when Northwood Civic Association became involved.
May 17th, 1978 –
Trust Agreement between Northwood Civic Association and Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company, expiration date -December 31, 1985. (Monies from second land sale to Parkview Hospital)
On the 17th of May 1978, then president of Northwood Civic Association, James Travis, formed a Trust for the benefit of the non-profit K of P Greenwood Cemetery. $205,812.82 in funds from a land sale to Parkview Hospital was placed into a bank account. The management of the Cemetery Company signed this agreement.
Marion Myers DeLong (mother of “George” DeLong), died May 27, 1980 (will probated by Northumberland National Bank – Stephen Hafer Trust Officer)
Orphans Court No. 2324 of 1983 (in Philadelphia)
Petition for Substitution Trustee by Northumberland Bank – (Stephen Hafer Trust Office)
With the expiration date of December 31, 1985 on the Trust agreement with the NCA, it was time to move those shares of stock and sell off the Cemetery.
On behalf of the DeLong family and the estate of Marion Myers DeLong, the Northumberland Bank and Raymond A. Thistle, Jr. esq., petitioned the Orphans’ Court of The Common Pleas here in Philadelphia for a “Substitution Of Trustee.”
This was the creation of the “David J. Myers Trust” and the transfer the 8100 shares of cemetery stock (missing in limbo, and possibly caught in 1942), into the all-new “Marion Myers Delong Trust,” held by the bank in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Who would know?
Back to Northwood Civic Association – what part did they play in all of this?
To Be Continued …
There are no shortage of names to throw into the hat – Greenwood Cemetery might just be (as alleged by Mr. Williams), “the longest running property tax swindle AND TAX FRAUD in the history of Philadelphia.”
The transfer the 8100 shares of cemetery stock (missing in limbo, and possibly caught in 1942) may have been illegal because of the Pennsylvania Statutes on the Books at the time, prevented stock certificate transfers of non-profit companies being transferred into estates or into trusts.
The whole history of Greenwood Cemetery is so convoluted that it deserves a place in “Histories Mysteries” or an open investigation … Like this one:
Rare ‘Double Eagle’ Gold Coins Ruled Property of U.S., Not Collector’s Family
“They didn’t go out through the front door,” says Romero. “This was clearly a crime. The people of the United States were robbed.” The U.S. Secret Service probed the case in the 1940s, she says, and every coin they found in circulation traces back to Switt.
But the criminal case was never prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out by the time the Secret Service got involved, she says. The government did recover at least nine coins and melted them down.
But somehow, 11 survived — the 10 that were in Langbord’s deposit box and one that was the subject of litigation in the late 1990s. It is believed to be the Double Eagle purchased by King Farouk of Egypt in the 1940s. …
Greenwood’s Stock was Gold, but not exactly like robbing the U.S. Mint. Back to Northwood Civic Association’s Part in this:
On the 17th of May, 1978, then president of Northwood Civic Association, James Travis, formed a Trust for the benefit of the non-profit K of P Greenwood Cemetery. This agreement was signed by the management of the Cemetery company. $205,812.82 in funds from a land sale to Parkview Hospital, were placed into a bank account.
The interest accrued was to be used for necessary cemetery improvements, with checks being co-signed with the signatures from two members of the Civic Association, and one signature from the management of Greenwood, David G. DeLong. Over the years in spite of all monies set aside for the purpose of upkeep, the cemetery continued to languish in the state of squalor.
At some undisclosed time in the year 1999, David G. DeLong negotiated an agreement to sell the cemetery to Ronald & Carol Hancock who operate a funeral home. The Hancocks later formed a for profit Delaware corporation to purchase the Stock of K of P Greenwood Cemetery Company.
In March of 2000, the Northwood Civic Association sponsored the Greenwood Cemetery Historic Designation. The Historic Commission held a series of hearings; evidence and testimony were taken. Transcripts are available.
On June 28, 2000, an agreement was reached between the NCA President Nicholas Bernardo and the president of Willow Ridge LTD., Carol Hancock. This legally binding document was a contract called the “Memorandum of Understanding.” This memorandum was a compromise by the NCA, and made it in good faith by the Northwood Civic Association.
On the same day 28, June 2000, this document was submitted, along with testimony, to the ZBA by: Nicolas Bernardo, President of the NCA, Ronald Hancock, his attorney Peter Kelsen esq. of Blank Rome, and Councilman Rick Mariano. The ZBA granted the variance with the proviso of adherence to the aforementioned Memorandum of Understanding with the NCA.
The memorandum produced the dual effect of the acknowledgement of Greenwood’s Historic Designation status with the Historic Commission, & it also served in the promotion of the granting of a variance to Willow Ridge LTD. (Ron & Carol Hancock) by the ZBA.
On or about October 10, 2000, the Cemetery was placed on the Historic Register, assuring that the buildings; arch and walls would be preserved from demolition.
Many neighbors who are also members of the Northwood Civic Association disagreed with the “agreement” and the ZBA decision. There was an immediate appeal of the variance to the Court of Common Pleas.
The Hon. Judge Flora B. Wolf of the court of the Common Pleas suspended the appeal of the ZBA decision by neighbors. This suspension was pending the outcome of the ownership (and other complex stock transferals and ownership issues) in front of the Hon. Anne Lazarus of the Orphans’ Court division of the Common Pleas.
This is an interesting tidbit about the 1st. NCA “pay-off.”
I say “Pay Off” because NCA President Nicholas Bernardo was also on the Board of Directors of Parkview Hospital while he was in the NCA. It is not known when he left the BOD of the hospital.
“Northwood Park gets a much-needed cleanup
By Tom Waring Times Staff Writer 11/28/2001
Police matters and a few landmarks along Castor Avenue dominated the talk at last week’s meeting of the Northwood Civic Association.
Group president Grace Muller and area resident Don Price were disgusted with the condition of Northwood Park and its nearby tennis courts.
The park area contained mattresses, chairs and other debris. The overgrowth was getting out of control. And neighborhood teens were partying there.
So Muller and Price contacted Joe Zaleski, an aide to City Councilman Rick Mariano (D-7th dist.).
Together, they worked with Department of Licenses and Inspections official Tom Conway and the mayor’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative to clean the park area.
The two-week project was a success.
“The place looks beautiful now,” Price said.
Now that the park is looking better, the civic association is turning its sights to the traffic circle at Castor and Wyoming avenues.
Price, a commercial artist, would like to add landscaping to the circle. He suggested a ring of hedges, mums and annuals.
Parkview Hospital has agreed to trim the hedges and cut the grass.
The civic association is hoping to work with Parkview on another major initiative. The group would like to erect a “Welcome to Northwood” sign at the circle.
The sign would probably be costly, but some longtime association members noted that Parkview created a $25,000 reserve fund for the group some years ago in appreciation of its support for various zoning issues.
The group is making other plans for the development and maintenance of the circle and other areas.
Muller would like to start a Northwood Green Fund, which would pay a professional landscaper to beautify the neighborhood. She also wants to work with the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program to improve Castor Avenue….”
“Graffiti removal: There’s no time to waste
By Tom Waring Times Staff Writer 12/26/2001
Northwood Civic Association president Grace Muller and Castor Avenue resident Don Price presented Shields and
Joe Zaleski, an aide to Mariano, with photo albums chronicling the progress of the cleanup.
The cleanups will continue. The civic group has about $1,200 in the Northwood Green Fund. A landscaper
recently completed a cleanup of a lot at Adams Avenue and Orthodox Street. …
The Circle is still being groomed and cut. It is unknown who is paying for the upkeep.”
To date, there has never been an independent audit of the NCA’s Books & Bank Accounts to determine how the $25000 was spent or where it disappeared.
To Be Continued. …
I made a draft (one of many) of the history in 2005:
“The history of the K of P Greenwood cemetery dates back to just after the Civil War. The Order of Knights of Pythias was the first American Order ever chartered by an Act of the Congress. With the support of President Abraham Lincoln, The Order began during the Civil War. It’s noble purpose was to help the nation (North & South) heal from the scars of the Civil War.
But before the Civil War was another War.
The history of the land and the house dates back to signer of the Constitution, Benjamin Rush.
The lands boardering the Cemetery and the creek are rich in history with regards to the Native Americans (Indians), the Revolutionary War Powder-Mill, Paul Revere, Oswell Eve, and Steven Decatur. I am just naming a few.
Here in Northwood (to borrow a phrase) we have National Treasures. Greenwood is part of that treasure.
From the archives of records of Northwood Civic Association, on the 17th of May, 1978, then president of Northwood Civic Association, James Travis, formed a Trust for the benifit of the non-profit K of P Greenwood Cemetery.
This agreement was signed by the management of the Cemetery company. $205,812.82 in funds from a land sale to Parkview Hospital, were placed into a bank account.
In my limited understanding of this document, it appears that the intrest accrued was to be used for necessary cemetery improvements, with checks being endorsed with the signatures from two members of the civic association, and one signature from the management of Greenwood, David G. DeLong.
Over the years in spite of all that money set aside for the purpose of upkeep, the cemetery continued to languish in the state of squalor.
At some undisclosed time in the year 1999, David G. DeLong negociated an agreement to sell the cemetery to Ronald & Carol Hancock who operate a funeral home. The Hancocks later formed a for profit Deleware corporation to purchase the Stock of K of P Greenwood Cemetery Company.
Coincidently, about the same time Joyce Halley, and Gloria Boyd (independent history researchers) were gathering evidence to have the House (owned and built by Benjamin Rush), and the surrounding grounds, to be placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
In March of 2000, the Northwood Civic Association sponsored the designation.
This is when all hell broke lose.
There was a percieved conflict of intrest by the prospective buyers of the cemetery company. It was their intention to knock down the buildings, the front gate and the walls for the purpose of putting in a Crematorium, Funeral Home and parking lot – all ‘for Profit’ while using the assets of the ‘non-profit’ cemetery.
This did not happen without a hitch. In the interium, there was an application for a zoning variance to allow the buildings & demolitions.
The first meeting discussing a zoning variance took place at Parkview Hospital on May 09, 2000.
The next meetings took place here at St James church in front of the general membership on May 25th, 2000.
A vote took place by the NCA Board of Directors resulting in a (seldom seen or read) flyer to the membership titled: “Statement of the Board of Directord of the Northwood Civic Association on Greenwood Cemetery,” (draft 6/15/00, distributed 6/20/00).
The crux of the document was the more time was needed to work out an agreement to save the buildings and historic nature of the grounds, with the prospective buyers giving assurances of over $500,000 in a ‘fund,’ for various restorations, while allowing the building of the crematorium, funeral home and parking lot.
On June 28, 2000, an agreement was reached between then NCA President Niholas Bernardo and president of Willow Ridge LTD., Carol Hancock, without a vote by the NCA membership.
This new legaly binding document/contract has been called the “memorandum of understanding.” This memorandum a comprimise by both sides was made in good faith by Northwood Civic Association.
After many meetings, and hearings over the coming months, around October 10, 2000, the Cemetery was placed on the Historic Register, assuring that the buildings, arch and wall would be preserved from demolition.
This memorandum was produced at both the Historic Commission hearing and at the ZBA. The memorandum had a polarizing effect allowing both the granting of a variance and in the historic designation.
It was the voice of the people of Northwood, but it had privisions, that if violated, would allow The NCA to pull the variance away from Willow Ridge LTD.
Many citicens of Northwood including myself, exerciced their legal rights (as citicens of Pennsylvania), and appealed the granting of the variance in the Court of Common Pleas.
Some of the other appellants & protester to the ‘Agreement’ were:
Former Secretery, and former vise president of the NCA, SUSAN BYER,
Former vise president of the NCA, Ms.PATRICIA DOOHAN,
Former vise president of the NCA, Ms. JOYCE HALLEY (deceased),
Former president of the NCA, GRACE MULLER,
Former president of the NCA, Mr. JIM HOWARTH,
Chief Justice of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Hon. EDWARD R. BECKER, (retired) and his wife FLORA BECKER,
Northwood citizen/activist, LEONARD WILLIAMS, &
Northwood citizen CATHERINE BRADLEY ARTER.
In spite of personal (conflict) issues with many directors, the NCA kept it’s side of the agreemant.
The appeal made by the citicens went nowhere because it was put on hold, pending the outcome of a related case in the Orphans court. (the Civic association and appellants were not part of the Orphans court case)
(The case in the orphans Court went on for almost the next five years).
In that time, Willow Ridge LTD. (Ron & Carol Hancock) did not comply with the terms of the ‘Memorandum.’
In the Orphans court case, there were many complex issues involving discussing the ownership of the Cemetery, stock transferral and an accounting of available monies.”
When I became the NCA President (January of 2005), in spite of my personal objections & independent lawsuit against the ZBA & Greenwood, I had an obligation to uphold the agreement and Memorandum of Understanding made by NCA President Emeritus Nicholas Bernardo and the people who claimed ownership & control of Greenwood cemetery, Willow Ridge LTD.
Here is what I did:
(To be Continued) …
Before I say anything about what I might have accomplished, I must retrace to Thursday, 23-Nov-00 09:34:01
Leonard Williams & I were discussing the stock transaction of the cemetery stock. Leonard said to me “you made the statement which follows:
‘…, but you nor anyone else ever understood that this was not to be a real estate transaction.’ You then went on to say: ‘This was to be a stock transaction. (I wonder if the Securities and Exchange Commission will need to review this one?)’
Yes, in my humble though learned opinion, this transaction IS within the purview of the Commission. It is totally within the purview of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations as promulgated under the 1933 Securities Exchange Act as amended. Furthermore, it is within the purview of the Commonwealth’s Securities Bureau in Harrisburg and its ‘Blue Sky Provisions.’
Our local esteemed barristers could tell you that. Believe if you search back within these messages you would find that I did indicate the applicability of these agencies.
Believe the term I used was ‘… looks like a 10B fiver.’ That is Rule 10B(5) of the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is a term that graphically encompasses ‘SECURITIES FRAUD.’
If you were to couple 10B(5) with an allegation of ‘Racketeering’ then the lawyers would have something to write about!
Yep, in the Criminal Courts.
Yes, there is a history of a repeated pattern of fraud. Problem is the lawyers have to go back and find it.
We were all told at a Northwood Civic Association meeting that the Contract of Sale of the control of the Greenwood Cemetery Company and/or The Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company called for the exchange of One Dollar and other valuable consideration from the purported buyer to the seller, a George David DeLong and/or family.
This was always a securities transaction. I was attuned to this on ‘Day One.’
Believe you are the one who provided documents from the public file and records of the Zoning Board of Adjustments, particularly a letter of Blank, Rome, Cominsky et al.
This letter stated that the Hancocks were buying the stock of the cemetery company. Plain and simple, it is there!
While this Contract of Sale has never been made available to the ZBA, the NWCA and its members or the courts, it will be! Maybe we are better off without it.
The question is whether or not the statements made therein contain substantial misrepresentation of material facts. And, INVERSELY, whether it contains SUBSTANTIAL OMISSIONS of material facts necessary to reach an informed investment decision.
Much more is there. Read Blank Rome’s letter. This letter was posted on a former message board which went belly-up.
That board and its messages are no longer available to us. If you have it, possibly you could post the entire text of the letter for all our members, readers and “lurkers.”
We have many qualified lawyers within our audience. Surely one of them could post a comment or two. Should be interesting!
Remember one thing: Failure to disclose IS NOT “THE AMERICAN WAY.”
Need I say more? I look forward to each and every new development as this sordid story unfolds. Should be interesting, rewarding and amusing.
Did anyone ever think we were not vigilant and diligent?
In closing I do say that the collective knowledge and experience of the Northwood Community is substantial and surprising.
A very pleasant and happy THANKSGIVING DAY to all of us. This is my sincere wish to all.
LEST WE FORGET:
Congratulations are due Grace Muller, our President Elect, Joyce Halley, our Vice President Elect and all the new directors. I do not have the official list of the directors.
I wish someone would post the names in order that special thanks can be given for their commitment to serve.
There will be much work to be done over the next year. Inherent in the voting was the implied understanding that all of these individuals are the brightest and the best qualified, possessing the knowledge, wisdom and experience which will be necessary to guide Northwood through the next year.
Again, a very sincere heartfelt wish for A Happy Thanksgiving Day.
But it was not to be. My first mentor in historical research had just made an unexpected exit:
By Tom Waring
Times Staff Writer
Joyce Halley was remembered Saturday as a woman who loved her family, pets and Quaker religion, as well as the Frankford/Northwood community.
Halley, 67, died Nov. 30, a day after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
On Saturday afternoon, about 75 family members and friends gathered for an hour-long memorial service at the Unity Monthly Meeting House, at Unity and Waln streets.
The service was a traditional Quaker ceremony. Folks sat in silence until someone stood to offer a few words on Halley.
Some of the comments were simple. One woman said she’d honor Halley by making mud pie, one of her favorite dishes.
Others recalled how Halley made significant contributions to her community, despite suffering the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
“Whatever your beliefs, if we were to measure a person’s worth on the good they have done, Joyce would be off the chart,” said her sister-in-law, Lois Halley. “The world is a better place for her having been here.”
Halley is survived by her son, Richard Loos; her teenage grandchildren, Richard and Sarah Loos; her sister, Marilyn Burke; and her brother, Joseph Halley.
On the day she was stricken, Halley was in Center City for a doctor’s appointment. Before the visit, she made a side trip to a jewelry store to purchase something for her granddaughter.
Halley’s good deeds didn’t end with her death. She donated her organs for transplants and her body for the medical research of rheumatoid arthritis.
Though having spent a lifetime in civic involvement, Halley was looking forward to doing a lot more. Less than two weeks before her death, she had been elected vice president of the Northwood Civic Association.
Halley learned to help others at home, where her mother raised three children alone after getting divorced. She worked to help her mom pay off the mortgage.
She also took care of her little brother. Joe Halley recalls how his big sister designed iodine teddy bears on his scraped knees.
“Joyce became ‘Sister Mom,’ ” he said.
Longtime friends recalled that Halley was always giving of herself.
Len Williams, who attended Frankford High School with Halley, remembers that she was a volunteer secretary at the school.
At Frankford, Halley finished first in her class. She was also part of an eight-girl sorority.
The ladies stayed in touch over the years. Those who were able to make it to the memorial service said Halley was looking forward to her 50-year high school reunion in April.
Professionally, Halley worked for Central Penn National Bank before retiring.
John Buffington noted that Halley was a businesswoman who always believed people were put on earth for a higher purpose. Despite all of her charity and volunteer work, Halley maintained a modest sense of herself, Buffington added.
At one time in the late 1980s, Halley was the sole worshiper at the meeting house. Her dedication helped build up membership.
She also served in leadership roles at the Historical Society of Frankford, Foundation for Architecture, Elfreth’s Alley Association, Frankford Ministerium, Frankford Welcome America Celebration Committee, Frankford United Neighbors CDC and the Frankford Main Street Program.
Ken Ruch, executive director of the Frankford Main Street Program, recalled Halley as an inspiration to the group. “Joyce cared deeply about the history and preservation of Frankford,” Ruch said.
Gloria Boyd shared a love of history and research with Halley. Boyd recalled that her friend was a great story teller who could bring others to laughter, even in places reserved for quiet.
“We almost got kicked out of the National Archives one time,” she said.
Halley lived on the 1000 block of Haworth St., directly across from state Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) and his family.
Taylor said his family will miss Halley. He tearfully cut his remarks short when thinking about how Halley treated his kids.
“I’ll always remember her interest in my children,” he said.
Halley was a longtime friend of U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward Becker and his wife, Flora.
The judge, who lives on Herbert Street in Northwood, said Halley possessed intelligence and a zeal for life, despite her health problems.
“Justice (Oliver Wendell) Holmes once said that ‘He who has not partaken of the action and who has not partaken of the passion and action of his time is in peril of being judged not to have lived.’ Joyce Halley did not fail Holmes’ test,” Becker said.
Others mourned a lady who loved to travel and show off her stylish hats. She was a lady, family and friends recall, who became a vegetarian in order to save animals from pain.
Most of all, they are happy that Joyce Halley is probably in a better place.
“Joyce told us that sometimes in her sleep, she dreamed she was free of the arthritis and running through a field,” Lois Halley said. “My religious beliefs lead me to think that is what she’s doing now.” **
Donations can be sent in Joyce Halley’s name to the Pennsylvania SPCA, 350 E. Erie Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19134.
By the winter of 2004 the the Hancock’s Attornys had convinced the Orphan’s Court that they would win the ZBA Case.
Behind the scenes, a motion to rescind the Historic designation had been made by the Hancocks, and this was fed to Judge Lazarus (Orphans’ Court).
Judge Lazarus went “all in” and just “gave away the store.”
Lazarus then began to base her poor & biased decisions on the faulty belief that if the Historical Commission rescinded the Historical Status of Greenwood that the Rush House could be knocked down; and if the Rush House was knocked down, there was nothing left for the neighbors to argue about.
Even though the Hancocks had only had One Dollar invested, Lazarus gave the Hancocks’ & their attorneys “Carte Blanche” in looting & plundering the Perpetual Care Trust Funds of the K of P Greenwood Cemetery to pay all of their legal expenses.
To accomplish this all that needed to be done was to be assassinate Benjamin Rush’s Ownership.
In the meantime, our neighbor the Hon. Edward R. Becker had talked to NCA President Emeritus Jim Haworth, asking him to nominate me to be the next president of the NCA. This was an act of desperation, as there was no opposition & membership had dwindled to nothing – no one was interested in the job.
At the NCA meeting of December 2004, the only people present were Tom Waring, Jim Haworth, Leonard Williams and myself. At that moment, Northwood was a lonely place.
I wrote the following letter:
December 24th, 2004
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Edward & Flora Becker,
Thank you so very much for the wine. My wife Janice and I will very much enjoy it.
I really do not know what to say, as your Holiday greeting reflected my sentiments of you. I feel so lucky to live here in Northwood and even luckier to have both of you as our neighbors.
As you know starting in January, I will be serving as the president of the Northwood Civic Association. The Civic association is faced with many problems and challenges in this up coming year. Membership is very poor. Money in the treasury is almost nil. The charter had not been renewed since I do not know when. I have a plan. I plan on straitening these things out.
I have recently been reading the old records, and I am so humbled by the efforts of the leadership of my predecessors. I am so proud to be able to be a part of the tradition of the NCA by thwarting ongoing efforts of interlopers, blocking attempts of commercialization or industrialization and to uphold and protect the Burk Deed Restriction, while seeing to the enforcement of the zoning laws.
I found a letter dated May, 29, 1965, written by former NCA President Edmund A. Gordon to The City Planning Commission Re: Council Bill #1109. (I am sure that you probably remember), but back then there were plans to build a Two Guys Lumber Yard in Northwood (Two Guys is now defunct, bankrupt or non-existent).
Mr. Gordon’s words were true then and are still true today:
“May Northwood be a community of Urban Maintenance, preserving the ideals of our predecessors and a heritage for our successors!”
I am enclosing a copy of the letter. I do not know if Mr. Gordon is alive today, but I certainly feel that he is certainly the “Ghost of Christmas Past.” I appreciate his message and foresight.
Again thank you both for being good neighbors to everyone, and have a happy Holliday this season.
Joseph J. Menkevich
When I became NCA President, the first thing I did was write this letter:
Philadelphia Pa. 19124 January 01, 2005
Phila. Historical Commission
CITY HALL ROOM 576
PHILADELPHIA Pa. 19106
Re: Greenwood Cemetery Designation & Rescission
Dear Messieurs and Madams,
My name is Joseph Menkevich and I testify as a local resident, and as a member of and the current president of the Northwood Civic Association. I am also a member of the Sons & Daughters of the GAR as well as a student of local history. I live within 500 feet of the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery. I wish to remind the Commission that The Northwood Civic Association was the Applicant of Record in March of 2000.
This letter is written in order to provide the members of the Commission with a clear picture of additional fact and information.
In my review of the Historic Designation, and my review of the application of related materials for the proposed rescission of The Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery, I have found no evidence that would be compelling enough for the action of rescission. There is simply no new evidence to support that action!
What I have found are additional documents and evidence that would debunk some misrepresentations past and present, and further strengthen and supplement the now standing Historic Designation as follows:
SIGNIFICANCE OF KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS
Order of Knights of Pythias was the first American Order ever chartered by an Act of the Congress. With the support of President Abraham Lincoln, The Order began during the Civil War.
On February 02, 1870 Pennsylvania Governor JNO. W. GEARY signs into law ACT 72 of 1870. Due to their association with the Pythian Brotherhood, this law singularly benefited the Knight of Pythias Greenwood Company. (Copy of act attached)
In order to take advantage of the benefits of this new law, on March 18, 1870, the Greenwood Cemetery amends their Charter changing their name to the “Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company.”
In my opinion, it was also no coincidence that GOVERNOR JNO. W. GEARY did this for the Knights of Pythias, He did this, as they were Civil War Veterans too.
He was Brigadier General JNO. W. GEARY, a fellow Civil War Veteran (twice wounded), still looking after “his” men on and off the battlefield, in both life and in death.
To fully appreciate the significance of this act one only need to examine the life of GOVONER JNO. W. GEARY.
(See attached history of Pennsylvania Governor JNO. W. GEARY.)
The Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery is also unique as it is only operating Cemetery to have a Law enacted for the removal of a “toll-house” from their property. (See: Act 534 of 1870 attached)
To further add to the record and to debunk information contained in a letter to Mr. Tyler dated August 15th 2003 (Mr. Hancock on the header, Ballard Spahr transmission ID: 2158648398 page 6/9) From that letter:
“With respect to the speculation regarding how the cemetery became associated with the Knights of Pythias organization and the acquisition of 10,000 graves for the use of the society name is wholly inaccurate as documentation of the time exhibits.”
I have the documentation that dispels that statement. See attached newspaper:
“THE HUSTLER 1899,” explains the 10,000 graves for the use of the society name.
There are also additional documents provided that shows the inter-woven and inner workings of the Cemetery with the Knight of Pythias are undeniable and accepted by both the State and City governments from 1870 until present.
Also see a letter of tax exemption from the City of Philadelphia to Mr. DeLong, dated August 31st 1984, describing the countless Civil War Soldiers buried in K of P Greenwood and tax exempt status citing Act 72 of 1870.
Also see attached booklet “History of the Knights of Pythias.” The booklet proves the relationship of Wilbur H. Myers to the founding Knights of Pythias in Philadelphia. (starting on page 20 of the booklet)
Additionally, as stated in the minutes of The Historic Commission dated19 May 2000, on page two, Wilbur H. Myers, the Supreme Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, concurrently served as President of the Cemetery Company, as per stated by DeLong is true.
The Cemetery Charter, by-laws and Deed as well as his grave site, in turn tie Wilbur Myers to the Cemetery property forever.
Further examination of the record of the minutes, leading up to the designation, I have discovered inaccuracies, misrepresentations and voids. I believe that the facts that will fill the void are as follows:
On page 19 of the Minutes of the 454th Meeting of the Historical Commission, on June 14, 2000, (conference room 18th Floor) –
—-“John Buffington, Northwood Civic Association, said that he was instrumental in circulating the petition for designation, and that a majority of the community approves the memorandum of understanding. The community is prepared to accept the crematory, subject to the assurances of the cleaning up and revitalization of the cemetery.”—–
The above statement made by John Buffington is inaccurate. It was just representation of the thinking of one individual. If called upon, he would be hard pressed to back up his testimony with any credible evidence.
Minutes of the Civic Meetings and public gatherings and documents in possession of the Northwood Civic Association that dealt with the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery issue show a different reality.
The current reality is that the “Memorandum of Understanding,” between Willow Ridge,Ltd. (Ronald & Carol Hancock), and The Northwood Civic Association, has been violated by Willow Ridge.
Willow Ridge broke the “agreement,” starting with point # 2 failure to provide “a plan,” thru point # 3, the establishing of an “Advisory Committee,” point # 4, providing the Advisory Committee with a statement of accounting of $500,000 in funds to be used for “restoration of Cemetery property,” “a Plan of Renovation,” and “ No expenditures…. that require a zoning variance or other special permit…” would come out of “…the above described $500,000 of Cemetery Funds.” The list goes on.
The Northwood Civic Association continues to support the Historic Designation, and opposes Willow Ridge Ltd. and Hancock’s attempt to pervert history for personal gain.
Consider this letter as a petition to the Historic Commission to weigh these additional facts and documents submitted by me.
In this supplemental petition, I make a motion that the name “Knights Of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery,” also be DEEMED HISTORIC and forever left unchanged.
My hope and prayers are that the Historic Commission will leave the original designation intact.
I also pray for further consideration for historic designation due to dual reasoning of both Benjamin Rush ownership and The Knights of Pythias/Civil War connection.
This is the time for good men and women to do the right thing. You will find it inside your hearts.
Do not ever believe that signing Provisos or Memorandums of Understanding in granting any variance ever hold up in court. In Philadelphia, it is impossible to get the issues back in front of any court or the ZBA. Here is how I tried to enforce compliance the “agreement.”
Here is the complaint on file, and it meant nothing:
December 30, 2005
Philadelphia Historical Commission And All Interested In Historical Preservation
Dear Sirs and Madams,
The Northwood Civic Association and the Historical Society of Frankford, along with other members of the community present four signed petitions. These petitions were discussed and signed at four separate community meetings.
What these petitions and addendum present to the Commission is the History of abuse to a historically designated property and contempt for the designation process itself.
I would hope that the instant situation would present itself as an opportunity by the Commission to lead by example and force the necessary roof, wall and vault repairs, lest others will see the Commission as weak and Historic Designation meaningless.
Please take this as an opportunity to save the historic designation process by forcing Justice, and in the future not entertaining or allowing for multiple rescission requests that are baseless, frivolous and motivated by profit at the expense and exclusion of historical significance.
Submission of these petitions and addendum to the Philadelphia Historical Commission will bring to the forefront a chronology of the facts, the will of the community and hopefully the spirit of historic designation and preservation.
It is directed to the Historical Commission demanding action to restore the respect and dignity that belongs to Historic Greenwood Cemetery and Justice to the Community, Northwood Civic Association, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the ZBA and the Courts.
The facts and issues contained this petition and addendum are supported by an inventory of exhibits, which include minutes, transcripts, court orders, photographs and a timeline of events.
The Addendum chronicles the unconscionable, demolition through neglect of the various structures protected by law located within the Historic Knights Of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery as follow:
(i) The Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery is on Philadelphia’s Register of Historic Places by virtue of the hearings held before the Philadelphia Historical Commission in the year 2000.
(ii) Carol Hancock, president of Willow of Ridge LTD. was in attendance. Ronald Hancock and their counsel Peter Kelsen Esq. also attended those hearings and provided testimony.
(iii) By request of Dr. Tyler, the Historic Preservation Officer, Ronald Hancock, Carol Hancock, Willow Ridge LTD., Peter Kelsen Esq., the Northwood Civic Association and the Historical Commission were the architects in the design of a memorandum of understanding.
(iv) Open discussions involving the memorandum of understanding were held at the Philadelphia Historical Commission hearings, in which Ronald Hancock, Carol Hancock, Willow Ridge LTD., Peter Kelsen Esq., and the Northwood Civic Association were advised as to it’s content and purpose.
(v) The memorandum of understanding approved by all parties, contained the assurance and provision for $500,000.00 in escrow, to be available for cleanup and necessary improvements to maintain the designated historic structures, in addition to providing an accounting and working relationship with a neighborhood advisory committee.
(vi) The memorandum of understanding was made proviso through testimony to the Philadelphia Historical Commission, and again in sworn testimony to the Zoning Board of Adjustment by Ronald Hancock, Peter Kelsen Esq., and in writing through signature of Carol Hancock president of Willow Ridge LTD., and president of the Northwood Civic Association.
(vii) All attendees understood the memorandum of understanding and the Historical Commission’s jurisdiction over the cemetery property.
(viii) Yet, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the Civic Association, the community, and the historically designated structures within Greenwood Cemetery have received nothing in the way of the mandated preservation.
(ix) The Hancocks did seal the historic building with airbrushed faux windows on plywood sheets while deliberately leaving the roof in disrepair. This was their final step in malicious abandonment and condemnation of the building without a court hearing.
(x) This action promoted and assured the arrival of mold and rotting walls, floors and support beams. The natural cycle of hot summers with rain coupled with a winter expansion contraction cycle of freezing and thawing and resultant condensation, has almost assured the death of the historic building.
(xi) By virtue of a Court approved purchase of a supposed majority interest in the original issue of the Capital Stock of the Knights of Pythis Greenwood Cemetery a nonprofit corporation, majority control and responsibility of the cemetery company was given to president of Willow of Ridge LTD., Carol Hancock.
(xii) The record reflects that Ronald Hancock, and president Carol Hancock of Willow Ridge LTD. along with the approval and participation of Councilman Mariano’s office, through attorney Peter Kelsen Esq., entered into a stock purchase agreement and allegedly purchased the cemetery stock for ONE DOLLAR.
(a) By an order of the Orphans’ Court, stock ownership conveys only the right to vote in corporate matters of the cemetery, and limited property ownership.
(b) Willow Ridge Ltd. as the majority stockholder, own assets: unsold lots, the roadways, and the buildings.
(c) The Orphans’ Court order did not grant ownership of the majority of lots and graves already sold before the turn of the 20th century through the 21st century.
(d) All those lots are already owned “in fee simple” by thousands of individuals and families and are not controlled or owned by Willow Ridge Ltd.
(e) The stock purchase agreement allowed the Hancocks and Willow Ridge LTD. access to funds in excess of $700,000.00.
(xiii) Ronald Hancock and his wife Carol, president of Willow Ridge Ltd., have chosen to ignore the Philadelphia Historical Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Northwood Civic Association, as well as the Community, all who have an enforceable memorandum of understanding as proviso.
(xiv) The proviso and memorandum were specifically and clearly designed as an enforcement tool in order to protect the Historic Cemetery Property as well as the interests and concerns of the Northwood Community and Civic Association.
(xv) Yet, Ronald Hancock and his wife Carol, president of Willow Ridge LTD., while spending considerable sums of money with ongoing litigation in the Orphans’ Court, the ZBA, and in appeals to Common Pleas Court and beyond, with no end in sight, have reneged and refused to honor a documented proviso which they themselves custom designed during hearings before the Historical Commission, and put into testimony before the Zoning Board of Adjustment with the approval of the Community and the Civic Association.
(xvi) Any attempts by minority stockholders of the Cemetery, to access the necessary monies reserved for necessary repairs of the Historic roof and Historic walls in front of the Cemetery, have been futile. The Hancocks and Willow Ridge Ltd meet each instance with resistance.
(xvii) As a result of the Hancock and Willow Ridge Ltd. stock ownership and control, the liquid assets of the Cemetery have become depleted, and the historical protected structures are suffering intentional demolition through intentional neglect for the purpose of circumventing the historic designation, for personal gain.
(xviii) Past and current practices show that the Philadelphia Historical Commission has the responsibility and remedy for demolition through neglect.
(xix) On page one of Greenwood Cemetery’s historical designation, it states: “The Historical Commission will apply The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties in the exercise of it’s jurisdiction over this property.”
(a) Other possibly applicable laws are: the Pennsylvania History Code, The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes HISTORICAL AND MUSEUMS (Title 37), and the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Burial Grounds (Title 9).
(b) The newly formed Historic Preservation Task Force and the Code Enforcement Division of the City Solicitor also prosecute on these violations.
(c) Community petitions to the Department of Licenses & Inspection are also pending:
(1) Members of the community and Northwood Civic Association Inc., represented through Flora L. Becker Esq., have filed: “Petition for Vacatur of Decision of the Zoning Board on Account of Breaches of Proviso to Grant of a Variance.”
(2) On November 10, 2005, Flora L. Becker Esq. sent a follow up letter to Commissioner Robert Solvibile, asserting individual community members and the Northwood Civic Association’s position and efforts to obtain an Enforcement Action through L&I. (Copies in the exhibits.)
(3) After six years of the Hancock’s haranguing about saving the Cemetery both financially and historically what we now have are a depleted Perpetual Care Trust Fund spent on their legal fees, and an accelerating demolition through intentional neglect.
I wish to remind the Historic Commission that as a result of the last scheduled rescission hearing, additional evidence supporting the retention of the Historic Status of Greenwood Cemetery has been submitted by Gloria Boyd.
Also back in January 2005, Mr. Fed Maurer and myself had introduced new evidence supporting Historic Designation on different grounds outside the realm of Dr. Rush. Those additional grounds had to do with the Knights of Pythias’ relationship to the historic building. The facts contained there in, have not yet been weighed, but reside dormant within your file.
An Addendum will follow.
Joseph J. Menkevich President
Northwood Civic Association
[Quote] Leonard Williams:
“Believe the term I used was ‘… looks like a 10B fiver.’ That is Rule 10B(5) of the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is a term that graphically encompasses ‘SECURITIES FRAUD.’ …
We were all told at a Northwood Civic Association meeting that the Contract of Sale of the control of the Greenwood Cemetery Company and/or The Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery Company called for the exchange of One Dollar and other valuable consideration from the purported buyer to the seller, a George David DeLong and/or family.
This was always a securities transaction. I was attuned to this on ‘Day One.’
Believe you are the one who provided documents from the public file and records of the Zoning Board of Adjustments, particularly a letter of Blank, Rome, Cominsky et al.
This letter stated that the Hancocks were buying the stock of the cemetery company. Plain and simple, it is there!
This letter was posted on a former message board which went belly-up.
That board and its messages are no longer available to us. If you have it, possibly you could post the entire text of the letter for all our members, readers and ‘lurkers.’ ”
In the past, had been accused by the dissenting rogue directors of the NCA of “being under the control of Leonard Williams.”
It was all too true – I am still under his control. As per your wish Mr. Williams:
Reconstructed letter of BLANK ROME COMISKY & McCAULEY (may slightly differ from original).
Reviewing a letter concerning a STOCK TRANSACTION Saturday 25-Nov-2000 03:23:23
The letter dated May 1, 2000 from William F. Kerr BLANK ROME COMISKY & McCAULEY LLP. written to Ms. Claire Gatzmer (Department of Licences and Inspections)
RE: 800 Adams avenue Greenwood Cemetery-Application Number 000229029
Enclosed are the revised building diagrams you had requested which specify the number of stories and total building square footage of all buildings. Note that we have done some additional research and believe that a referral is warranted because charitable institutions are Certificated Uses in R-4 Districts.
The Greenwood Cemetery Company is a non-profit institution as; evidenced by the enclosed Bylaws and Charter. Note also that BRT has exempted the property from real estate taxes. Our client is purchasing the stock of the Cemetery Company and will continue the non-profit status of the cemetery.
Please call me if you have any questions or need additional information.
Very truly yours
William F. Kerr
One Logan square. Philadelphia Pennsylvania 19103-6998.
IT SEEMS ALL THOSE LOST DOC’S FROM THE NW CIVIC AREN’T MISSING AFTER ALL???????????
I have been quoted as saying: ‘I don’t know what happened’ ? Here is what happened:
Judge Lazarus ignored PURDON’S PENNSYLVANIA STATUTES & CONSOLIDATED STATUTES: TITLE 15 Pa.C.S.A. CORPORATIONS AND UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATIONS
15 P.S. § 7304 Nonprofit Corporation Law Ch. 21
Membership Certificates and Capital Stock
“…no property held subject to any trust shall be diverted from the purpose or object of the trust. Such shares shall not be transferable by assignment or sale, nor be transferred through legal heirs or devisees upon the death of the owner thereof, unless the bylaws of such corporation make express provision thereof.” 1933, May 5, P.L. 289, art. III, § 304; 1937, July 2, P.L. 2838, § 1; 1957, July 11, P.L. 692, § 1.
“A Souderton man with access to the trust accounts of the Hillside Cemetery has been arrested and charged with theft by deception and other charges;” but in Greenwood Judge Lazarus delivered a miscarriage of justice in legalizing all the looting & robbing by legislating from the bench; by rewriting the laws; by creating precedents by amending the Charter of K of P Greenwood Cemetery (ex-post facto).
Judge Lazarus ignored PURDON’S PENNSYLVANIA STATUTES.
Mr. Williams alleged that Greenwood was “the longest running property tax swindle AND TAX FRAUD in the history of Philadelphia,” but that still leaves unanswered & unasked questions as to why an Honest Judge would do such a thing? (I am reserving that answer for much latter, because I found it).
The biggest clue was in the writings of George Delong to Judge Russell Nigro.
In those letters DeLong sent a carbon copy to Senator Vincent Fumo.
Without subpoena power of Federal Grand Jury this will always remain an “Orphaned Mystery.”
However I have faith that the Truth will come out, because Orphan’ Court Mysteries are “In Vogue” at the moment.
Remember these names:
Senator Vince Fumo
Councilman Richard T. Mariano
Judge Anne E. Lazarus
Adam T. Gusdorff, Esquire
James F. Mannion, Esquire
Lawrence Barth, Esquire
A few simple Googles connect them all in many different ways.
Lawrence Barth, Esquire was the attorney general in the Greenwood Case.
In the news today:
“Last-ditch effort to block Barnes move cites attorney general’s role”
Posted on Tue, Aug. 2, 2011
By Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer
The state Attorney General’s Office simply did not do its job when it agreed several years ago that the financial perils of Merion’s Barnes Foundation would best be remedied by moving the fabulous art trove to Philadelphia, opponents of the move say.
In what amounts to a last-ditch legal effort to block the move to the Parkway of one of the world’s greatest collections of late 19th- and early 20th-century art, an attorney on Monday told Montgomery County Orphans’ Court Judge Stanley R. Ott that the office “clearly did not do probing advocacy” in the case.
Samuel C. Stretton, arguing to reopen the Barnes case, cited “new information” that he said demonstrates that former Attorney General Mike Fisher pressured the board of Lincoln University to accept a diminished role on the Barnes board of trustees.
Lincoln controlled the foundation under an indenture drawn up by patent-medicine maker and art connoisseur Albert C. Barnes, who died in 1951.
The “new information” was contained in the 2009 movie The Art of the Steal, which largely recapitulated material contained in stories that appeared in The Inquirer from 2002 to 2005.
Lawrence Barth, senior deputy attorney general, argued that his office investigated the financial conditions surrounding the foundation prior to litigation and determined “something had to be done” to preserve the Barnes.
His office, Barth said, is not expected to be neutral.
“The attorney general represents the public interest,” Barth told Ott, and in this case, the office determined that the public and the foundation would best be served by the move to Philadelphia.
Stretton took issue with that, asking, “What is his role? Just a supervisor?”
Ott, who had chided the Attorney General’s Office for seeming passivity during the original Barnes hearings several years ago, told Stretton that Barth “didn’t hide his position from me” during those hearings.
The 90-minute hearing was held to determine whether the case should be reopened and if opponents of the move had legal standing. Standing has been repeatedly denied in the case.
Richard Ralph Feudale, a lawyer and author of Barnes Rune 2012: Decoding the Mysteries of Pennsylvania’s Barnes Foundation, A Special American Place, also argued that the case should be reopened. Ott combined his petition with the other opponents’ to expedite a ruling, but did not indicate when he would issue it.
The combinations of Google searches lead to an endless conspiracy of “loose strings” attached.
August 2nd, 2011 at 8:59 am
NW Resident Says: “IT SEEMS ALL THOSE LOST DOC’S FROM THE NW CIVIC AREN’T MISSING AFTER ALL???????????”
That would be because NCA records are kept in the custody of the NCA Secretary.
During my tenure that was Kathleen Fitzpatrick. She is the immediate neighbor to NWCA-Pres Barry Howell and a staunch FUMOCRAT. (I did not make this up).
Leonard Williams said: “FUMOCRAT FITZPATRICK’S MINUTES ARE QUESTIONED AS TO THEIR INTEGRITY AND HONESTY.”
Posted on Mon, Oct. 22, 2007:
Mariano mends fences with DiCicco City Councilmen Frank DiCicco and James Kenney found convicted former colleague Rick Mariano penitent and pensive during a visit at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution last week.
It was the first time they had seen one another since Mariano began serving a 61/2-year corruption sentence in August 2006. DiCicco, Kenney and Mariano, once friends, had been on opposing sides in the never-ending Vince Fumo-John Dougherty wars: DiCicco and Kenney were loyal Fumocrats, while Mariano, a former union electrician, was loyal to Dougherty, head of the electrician’s union.
Mariano reportedly discussed Dougherty with federal investigators, making him unwelcome in Dougherty circles.
The FBI apparently found no use for his information. Mariano had reached out to DiCicco, and DiCicco had sent him a letter suggesting a visit.
The intermediary: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a DiCicco friend who unsuccessfully challenged Mariano in the 2003 Democratic primary.
“He looks better than I expected,” Kenney said of Mariano. Kenney said Mariano, who now sports a short ponytail and goatee, is “not a whiner.”
He has accepted his fate. “He’s like: ‘I did this, and I’ll pay for it.’ He’ll get through it,” Kenney said. They talked about their children, family and prison life, they said. Meanwhile, Mariano has gone back to his old job in prison: He’s an electrician. – Jeff Shields
The history of Barry Howell/Mike Bane/John Talyor, Nick Bernardo/Fran Hannsans/Hancock, Kathleen Fitzpatrick/Mariano/deChicco/Fumo; Grace Muller/Gina Panchella, Bill Rodebaugh, etal and Northwood has been recorded.
Wait & see who the “evil doers” really were.
Without going any further – needless to say there was plenty of double-dealing that went on & it was not put on the record.
The independent citizens of Northwood won the Zoning Appeal in the Case of Greenwood.
What a treasure trove of information!
[PDF] IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA CATHERINE BRADLEY ARTER, ET AL. v. PHILADELPHIA ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
Feb 8, 2007 – v. : No. 1335 C.D. 2005. : Philadelphia Zoning Board of. : Argued: November 15, 2006. Adjustment, Anna Batten … Catherine Bradley Arter, Edward R. Becker, Flora L. Becker, Harold Byer, … affirming the decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of ….. Greenwood Cemetery, et al. …
We now have a proper definition of the FIVE TESTS that must be met in
order to establish a “hardship.” (From Page 13 of the above ruling)
“To establish entitlement to a variance, an applicant must show:
(1) an unnecessary hardship will result if the variance is denied, due to
the unique physical circumstances or conditions of the property;
(2) because of such physical circumstances or conditions the property cannot be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the zoning ordinance
and a variance is necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property;
(3) the hardship is not self-inflicted;
(4) granting the variance will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood nor be detrimental to the public welfare; and
(5) the variance sought is the minimum variance that will afford relief.”
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