Chinese Ceremonial Altar and Burner (Mt. Moriah Cemetery) - Deadwood, SD
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 44° 22.612 W 103° 43.626
13T E 601405 N 4914519
Quick Description: The big draw to Deadwood's Mt. Moriah Cemetery are the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, but this cemetery is an incredibly interesting city of the dead, with a replica of a Chinese funerary burner and altar at the back of the cemetery.
Location: South Dakota, United States
Date Posted: 7/28/2020 10:35:41 AM
Waymark Code: WM12WW8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Bear and Ragged
Views: 4

Long Description:
The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission is behind the "History Link: A Trail to Deadwood's Past" program that places interpretive signs in Deadwood and the surrounding area. There is one here in front of the burner. Their emblem is at the top of the sign next to its title, along with a QR code. There are two photos, one of a Chinese funeral service from c. 1891, while another shows the original burner and altar already crumbling by about 1920. The text reads:

Chinese immigrants upon arriving in North America in the 1850s, continued to practice their traditional mortuary rituals. Evidence of these rituals can be found in numerous cemeteries throughout the America West in the form of ceremonial burners and altars. Deadwood's Mt. Moriah Cemetery, platted in 1878, became one of sixty-nine cemeteries to contain a Chinese ceremonial burner and altar used in burial and ancestor worship.

The first recorded Chinese burial in Mt. Moriah Cemetery occurred on September 1, 1878. Over the next fifty years, approximately 33 Chinese would be buried in the cemetery. Though interred throughout the cemetery, Section Six contained the highest number of Chinese burials. In 1908, representation from Deadwood's Chinese community received permission to construct a burner and altar in this section. Upon its completion, the altar and burner were used by the Chinese community as a place to leave food offerings and incinerate paper offerings.

By the 1920s Deadwood's Chinese community was in decline and the ceremonial burner and altar fell into disrepair. Over time, the altar and burner were destroyed by vandals with the exception of the concrete pad.

In 2003, archaeologists hired by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission tested and mapped the concrete pad associated with the burner and altar. Using the archaeological data coupled with historic photographs, design professionals developed plans for the reconstruction of the burner and altar. The exact size and height of the burner and altar were determined based on the excavated brick dimensions and number of courses of brick in the photographs. Bricks salvaged from the demolition of the Chinese Wing Tsue building once located on lower Main Street were used in the construction of the new burner and altar.

On July 23, 2013, the new burner and altar were officially dedicated. The Wong Family, descendants from the Deadwood's early Chinese community, helped officiate with the dedication.

Today, the Chinese burner and altar symbolizes the Chinese community that once thrived in Deadwood for over fifty years.
Where is original located?: Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Where is this replica located?: Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Who created the original?: Deadwood's Chinese Community

Internet Link about Original:

Year Original was Created (approx. ok): 1908

Visit Instructions:
Post at least one photo of the replica.
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