In one part of Colon Cemetery is the celebrated "boneyard." We did not visit the spot, and should not have seen its ghastly contents had we done so, as it has been covered. A grave for one person in this cemetery for a term of five years costs $10, and a grave for three persons costs for each person $3. The church duties in the former case are $8, and in the latter $4. At the end of five years, if the remains are not claimed, they are thrown by the cemetery authorities into the boneyard.
Those who cannot afford to purchase a plot in the cemetery, for which must be paid 43.50 centenes, or about $225, but who are able to buy a coffin, themselves carry the remains in it to a large ditch and deposit it in this common grave. Those unable to procure even a coffin, and who do not wish to have the remains thrown into the boneyard, are allowed to take them to this ditch in a coffin loaned to them for that purpose by the cemetery authorities, but which they must return.
The American Baptist Cemetery Association, whose cemetery is located a short distance from Colon Cemetery, follows, it is said, the same rules in respect to its dead. Some American soldiers were accustomed to take skulls and bones from the boneyard, and to drive through the streets of Havana with them. General Brooke heard of this, put a stop to it and ordered the great hole to be covered, which was done. The Asiatic Cemetery, frequently called the Chinese, is a short distance south of the Colon. We left this beautiful city of the dead, and followed a rough cart track for some distance to El Vedado.
From Norton's Complete Hand-book of Havana and Cuba
By Albert James Norton