Mr. Reed built the tomb for his wife, who died in 1893, and proceeded to spend the next 12 years living inside of it, only going home to his Williamsburgh mansion at night to sleep. Reed filled the tiny space inside of the tomb with his wife’s favorite things from their life together, and even kept her canary in the tomb. In the tomb at 8:00 a.m. every day, Reed was a tourist attraction, and many people visited the cemetery to talk to him.
Retired truckman Jonathan Reed’s wife, Mary, died in 1893. The grief-stricken East New York resident had his wife’s remains placed in a mausoleum in the Evergreens Cemetery.
Lonely, heartbroken, and likely a little crazy, Jonathan soon began visiting Mary’s tomb every day.
He put many of his wife’s beloved things in there: paintings, photos, red curtains, silverware, yarn, old gloves, even their pet parrot. Then he brought a rocking chair and a stove to warm the place up. Convinced his wife was still alive, he made the mausoleum his daytime home for the next 10 years.
In an interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1895, he stated: “My wife was a remarkable woman and our lives were blended into one. When she died, I had no ambition but to cherish her memory. My only pleasure is to sit here with all that is left of her.”
His story became international news; thousands of people stopped by the see the man who lived in his wife’s crypt.
Jonathan Reed did not pass away in the tomb. He passed away at Marshall Sanitarium in Troy, New York on Sept. 12, 1905. After he was found gravely ill in the tomb, he was taken to hospital in Brooklyn. Then, he went to his niece’s home to stay in Johnsonville, NY and was later sent to Marshall Sanitarium.
This biography is by Joe Fodor.