Exploring the history of Hollenback Cemetery

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 11 Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices, along with the highest concentration of Civil War veterans in northeastern Pennsylvania, are buried in Wilkes-Barre’s Hollenback Cemetery.

In this week’s edition of Eyewitness to History, WBRE 28/WYOU 22 reporter Chris Bohinski takes us to the final resting place of 16,000 people.

“It is the movers and shakers of Wilkes-Barre,” Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society director Tony Brooks said.

Nestled between the Susquehanna River and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, sits the 20-acre Hollenbeck Cemetery.

“There are 16,000 burials here,” Brooks said.

While most folks are not interested in being buried in the cemetery that was first established in 1855, many want to learn the rich history associated with it through the walking tours offered by local historian Tony Brooks.

“Almost all of the streets of Wilkes-Barre and our park’s names are all right here. Mr. Kirby of Kirby Park is buried right here,” Brooks said.

Fellow lovers of cemeteries, also known as taphophiles, come in droves to learn countless fun facts about the cemetery’s residents, like the beloved songbird portrayed by Meryl Streep in the Academy Award-nominated film, Florence Foster Jenkins.

“She was born on South Franklin Street and now eternally rests here,” Brooks said.

You can also see the final resting spot for the men who belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic.

“One section of the cemetery that is all members of the G.A.R.,” Brooks said.

Whether you are one of the hundred on Tony’s tours or by yourself, “Anyone can come visit the cemetery. It is open every day from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. Plenty of parking and it’s a wonderful place to bring your dog,” Brooks said.

You can join Brooks on his next walking tour of Wilkes-Barre’s Hollenback Cemetery on Saturday, May 22nd at 11 a.m. The cost is $10 per person.

For information on how to secure a ticket and to learn more about the Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society, call 570-793-3631 or visit Facebook to reserve your spot.

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