Another Endearing Headstone, Holt Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana
African American Headstone, Holt Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana
This hand carved headstone represents “Jos. Burbridge, Died June 10 1932, Age 52” and “D. Coleman, Died Apr. 14, 1923.” Prior to his death in 1932, Joseph Burbridge (1876/77-1932) lived in New Orleans at 2628 Louisiana Avenue Parkway. Burbridge’s was a full house with his wife Ophelia: their daughter and son-in-law Ernst and Wilma Coleman; his “minor” children—Iceola, Alfred, Edna, Velmer, and Berchman; and one granddaughter Lily Coleman. Joseph Burbridge was a house painter. He paid $30 rent per month. This was not an uncommon lifestyle for African Americans in New Orleans in the first half of the 20th century. The grave represents the “memory” of the Burbridge patriarch. The additional burial that took place at the grave “D. Coleman” is most likely an infant or young child of Ernst and Wilma Coleman. Children at that time in lower to working class families were often buried in unmarked graves as tomb stones were a luxury. When Joseph Burbridge, no doubt beloved, died in 1932, his grandchild’s grave was able to be marked.
Joseph Burbridge had been born and raised in Donaldsonville, Acension Parish, Louisiana by his father, also Joseph Burbridge, a laborer from Kentucky, and his mother Josephine from South Carolina. He had at least two siblings Celia and George E. Burbridge. Josephine’s mother, Jane Holmes was also in residence. He learned the “house painting” business prior to being 22 years, since in 1900, he was living with his mother, by then the widow Josephine Hays, at 177 Lafourche Street, in Donaldsonville. Apparently, Josephine had lost two husbands by that point and was working as a laundress—Joseph’s work as a house painter no doubt supplemented that income. By 1910, Joseph was living with his sister-in-law Mary and her children in New Orleans so that at some point between 1900 and 1910, he and his brother, probably relocated there together for work-related opportunities.
This grave is “In Memory” of his life.