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Historic Cemeteries: Cast Iron Graves by J.R. Abrams #GraveHour

Cast iron grave covering – not mere decoration

The photo below shows a child’s grave with a cast iron covering. This type of cast iron grave covering was patented in 1873 by Joseph R. Abrams, and there’s a lot more to it than mere decoration!  It was intended to be better than simply mounding dirt at a gravesite.


Cast iron grave patented by J.R. Abrams in 1873
Cast iron grave patented by J.R. Abrams in 1873

Invented by J.R. Abrams in 1873

As J.R. Abrams explains in his patent: “By this construction the sinking of the loose earth in the grave has no effect upon the superposed and hardened artificial mound formed by the cement.”

Click here to read Abrams’ patent in which he gives a full description for this grave covering, along with an illustration of it. It’s a very well thought out construction!


Abrams mentions mounding the grave with seashells

I think it’s interesting that he mentions adding seashells or other decorations to the cement layer beneath the cast iron! Hmmm!

Have you seen cast iron grave coverings in your area?

Although the patent mentions that he lived in Alabama, off the top of my head, I’ve seen a few of Mr Abrams’ cast iron grave throughout Texas, including the towns of Jefferson and Keller. One thing, though: I’ve only ever seen them used for the graves of children, although I didn’t notice anything in his patent saying that these grave covers were meant only for children. Also, this is the first time I’ve seen one that was painted silver like this. (This one is located in Old Alton Cemetery near Denton, Texas.) All the others ones I’ve see were plain rusted iron.

Research continues!

I will continue to research J.R. Abrams and his invention. I’d especially love to find an old catalogue with these for sale. I’m curious why they only ever seem to be on the graves of children, too. If I find out more, I will share it here! And if you know anything, I hope you’ll clue me in.

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Tui Snider
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