Is it true that Susan Decatur, the widow of Stephen Decatur, is buried on campus?
Susan Decatur was buried on campus. Until 1953, there were two cemeteries on campus, the Jesuit Community Cemetery and the College Graveyard which was located on the incline where Reiss Science now stands. Burials began in the latter cemetery in 1817 and continued into the 1890s. Over time, the University grew up around it and, in 1953, those buried there were moved to Mount Olivet Cemetery with one exception, Susan Decatur, who was moved to Holy Rood Cemetery on Wisconsin Avenue. In 1988 she was moved again, this time to Philadelphia to be buried with her husband. Mrs. Decatur’s connection to Georgetown is an interesting one. After the death of Commodore Decatur in a 1820 duel, she rented a cottage adjacent to campus and quickly became part of the University community, offering financial support and friendship to Jesuits, faculty and students.When Congress awarded her $7,000 (equivalent to around $3,000,000 today) for her husband’s military services in 1834, she turned it over to the University in exchange for an annuity. Mrs. Decatur was 58 years old at the time of her donation and accepted the annuity with the belief that she would not live much longer. In fact, she lived to the age of 94 and received over $23,000 back from the College. However, the earnings from Mrs. Decatur’s gift did provide welcome relief to the College which had been on the verge of financial collapse at the time it was made.