Behnke’s Cemetery aka Spring Hill Cemetery

house

Spring Hill Cemetery, AKA Behnke’s Cemetery, dates back to the Revolutionary War. The burial site lay undisturbed in the woods nears the Paramus HS until the need for housing in Bergen County forced the sales of the surrounding area, and the development of homes on the doorstep of the cemetery. It’s a public cemetery, though being so old, I doubt it gets many visitors. There are stories that this place is haunted by a man hung by British troops during the war.Allegedly if you step on this man’s grave he reaches out & grabs you.

Most of the graves are in amazingly good shape, and they tell the tale of some of the more important families who lived in this area in the infancy of Bergen County. One notable set of graves is for the Van Saun family, interesting because the large park nearby bears their name. One could easily spend time reading the names and pondering the history of the families & this area. And be sure to waive to the neighbors in their backyard BBQ’ing in the summer!

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Charlie on February 28, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I grew up right across the street from the this cemetery. I remember playing there all the time and also building “forts” in the swamp below the cemetery, and right across the brook. There were 3 small ponds right next to it also, Sandy’s pond, Ski’s pond and Tire pond.
    I believe all the graves are still there. There was another family name at the cemetery. Banta, was all over the place. There was also an old water pump that would water the Behnke farm. They pumped the water out of the brook until all the homes were built.
    Fond memories!

    Reply

  2. I too grew up on Behnke Avenue and remember this site well. I was also friends with one of the Behnke boys. They owned two homes across the street from one another on Spring Valley Road. They did sell much of the land on the East Brook side, where the cemetary was. I would be curious if the picture listed for this grave site would look anything like that today. It was my understanding that the entire cemetary was moved or built over. I don’t believe it is there anymore.

    Reply

    • Posted by John Keil on June 18, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      The cemetery is still there, never moved, but treated with much disrespect by Paramus Shade Tree. See my reply to Lucky Boy below.

      Reply

  3. Wow, would there be any way to verify that conjoined baby story??

    Reply

  4. Posted by Brian on March 19, 2009 at 7:42 PM

    I know the Benhnke Cemetary well. I too grew on Behnke Ave in Paramus (#181). It is good to see the little grave yard in such good shape. Back in the late 50’s my Cub Scout Pack (241 based out of the Congregational Church nearby)used to do maintainance on the site. It was very dishevelled back then, no one really cared about it and the nearest house was at least 100yards away. I lived on Behnke Ave from 1950 to 1972, my parents till 1988. Would love to hear from anyone in the area.

    Reply

    • Posted by John Keil on June 19, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Incorrect. My father-in-law very carefully maintained the cemetery through the 50’s, 60,s and 70’s. It was regularly mowed and tended to. My house, the one nearest to it, is only 100 feet away. In the late 80’s the Paramus Shade Tree Department took over maintaining it and recklessly moved grave stones and put them back without regard to where they belonged. They also broke a few stones by running over them with tractors. A truly shoddy performance under the then so-called director.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Rocky on March 19, 2009 at 7:41 PM

    I was raised in Paramus NJ.. I was realy interested in the Behnke cemitary.. I was good friends w/ John Behnke when we were in East Brook Junior High.. I remember playing around the grave yard. It looked alot different back then… There were 3 ponds back in those big yards… and we had a freakin ball. We always wanted to dig up a grave, but we were freakin scared to..
    Anyway… Great web site… I know alot of the things you talked about, and was at alot of those old places back when ht

    Reply

  6. Posted by Lucky Boy on March 19, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Great Site! However, I’d like to add a bit to the story of the Behnke Cemetery in Paramus, NJ. I grew up in Paramus, and actually lived on Behnke Avenue – a short walk from the graves. The family lived in a house in front of the graves, as well as across the street. Over a decade ago they sold their claim on much of the property which eventually became Viola Way. It is not located behind the High School, rather it is a half mile down Spring Valley Road on the same side as the East Brook Middle School. To my understanding, many graves were either moved or built over… There were many people buried in that area, dating back to the origins of Bergen County, when Paramus didn’t even exist, but was part of Rochelle Park. Also, it was always said that a baby(ies) was buried there which were conjoined at the head, and died shortly after birth. Anyway, it is an unusual site.

    Reply

    • Posted by John Keil on June 18, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      None of the graves were built over. I own the Behnke house on Spring Valley, and long before Viola Way went in my father-in-law meticulously maintained the cemetery. In subsequent years the Paramus Shade Tree Commission pretty much made a wreck of the cemetery, moving grave stones, running over them with tractors, and just failing to show respect for hallowed ground. However, the boundaries of the cemetery have always been the same as they are now.

      Reply

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