Hillsboro resident John Glaze recently donated a statue that was placed in the Hillsboro Cemetery to memorialize the nearly 1,650 children who are buried there.
The statue is a copy of a work called “Five Kids in a Tree” by artist Ken Ross. Glaze purchased the statue from a company in New Jersey, and it was poured at a foundry in California.
“It’s just showing the children playing together,” said Glaze. “My purpose in it is to memorialize the children who are buried in Hillsboro Cemetery. We actually have more children buried here than we do servicemen or veterans.”
Once known as the Greenwood Cemetery, the Hillsboro Cemetery was created on May 30, 1862. Glaze estimated that about 14,000 people are buried in cemetery. About 1,650 of those buried in the cemetery are children.
The large number of children buried at the cemetery can be attributed to high child mortality rates in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The child mortality rate for those 5 an under was 325 per 1,000 births. In 2020, the rate was seven per 1,000 births, according to statista.com.
“At those times there were no vaccines so children died of cholera, whooping cough, influenza, mumps and measles,” said Glaze. “Any of those main childhood diseases was just about a death sentence, and a lot of them were very contagious diseases so children would pass it from one to the other within the family.”
The child mortality numbers declined greatly over the years with the advent of vaccines.
“These days there is childhood cancer, and there are still a fair amount of children who pass away, but it’s nothing like it was before the 1930s,” said Glaze. “Prior to the great flu epidemic in the late teens things like that took so many children, and we didn’t have cures that we have now, and we didn’t have the vaccines that we have now.”
Glaze said it’s possible that there may be future projects to compliment the statue. “We talked about surrounding it with a larger area maybe with flowers or things like that,” he said. “Someone may feel led to purchase benches to put there to make it a place of reflection — hopefully a place for people who have lost children to find some kind of refuge or something to help them heal.”
Glaze said he is pleased with what the statue brings to the cemetery. “I think it certainly gives beauty, and hopefully it gives light to childhood mortality and how it’s changed and hopefully it will educate the public about what it was like to be a child in the 1800s especially,” he said.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.