Archive for the ‘Cemeteries’ Category

debate over maitenence of cemetery in Norwood

residents upset over the way cemetery is being taken care of in Norwood

update: norwood will erect a low stone wall fence around the cemetery

The town will erect a low, stone wall around a 300-year-old cemetery, laying to rest a two-year battle between historians and residents. Council members said they wanted to protect the historic Haring Cemetery, which dates to the 1700s and contains the remains of Bergen County’s earliest settlers. The area, which is in the middle of several back yards, was previously unmarked and overgrown with trees and weeds.

The cemetery, located off Meadow Lane, has been a source of controversy as historical groups and neighbors argued about how to best preserve the site. Historians were concerned that additional stones have been covered up over time. They lobbied to erect a fence around the cemetery while the neighbors feared such delineation would create an eyesore. The borough council decided that a wall made of Belgian block less than a foot high and 66 feet square would be a fair compromise.

“We want to preserve the site but we don’t want it to be overly conspicuous for the sake of the neighbors,” said Councilman Barry Scott, who has been working on the plan for two years. Scott estimated that the wall would cost between $5,000 and $7,000. “This is a big step,” said Rich Williams, chairman of the Norwood Historic Preservation Committee, adding that he’s thrilled with the council’s move to protect the historic landmark. “It’s been a long time in the works. We’re very happy with this. Now we hope to do some landscaping around the area.”

Robert Garner, a neighbor of the cemetery, who had initially opposed the fence, said he was not present at the meeting. He is now having trouble confirming the height of the fence. “If it will be 4 to 6 inches of a cobblestone that blends into the area, then we will be satisfied,” he said Monday. Ownership of the cemetery can be traced to John Haring. When he died in 1802, he didn’t deed the land to anyone. For years the cemetery was ownerless.

The borough recently took ownership at the urging of historic groups that wanted to protect the gravestones. Among those buried in the cemetery are Abraham Haring, who died in 1801 and Betsey Bogert, who died in 1890. Recently, the preservation committee obtained a $1,829 grant that allowed them to hire an expert to restore the aging tombstones, which were toppled over, said Scott. “Now it looks a lot better.” The next step, he said, is to remove the weeds and tall grass surrounding the stones. The council hopes to proceed with plans for the fence in the spring. “The idea is to delineate the area,” said Borough Clerk Lorraine McMackin. “It will be non-obtrusive.”

why I like visiting cemeteries

New Jersey was discovered by Henry Hudson around 1609 and Dutch settlers came soon afterward. Most families buried their dead on the farm or perhaps in a small church cemetery. Markers were often crudely carved stones or wooden crosses. As NJ has become more and more developed, the family cemetery became outdated. People now bury their dead either in church cemeteries or large private cemeteries. Some cemeteries can contain as many as 100,000 dead.

Cemeteries are essentially history. Besides functioning as a place for the families to come and be with their loved ones, you can see patterns amongst the stones. Perhaps it’s the same name over and over and over, or a large number of markers in the same season representing a bitter hard winter. Sometimes cemeteries will have a Jewish section, or a German section, reflecting waves of new immigrants. Sometimes you’ll even find a slave section as well, reflective of that ugly period of American history where such things were legal. Other times you’ll find a mass grave of some disaster or accident. History in the making.

The large cemeteries of today can also provide quite a bit of eye candy. There are beautiful headstones with pictures of the deceased, images of serenity, or pictures of something the deceased enjoyed doing, such as sailing. Then you have large mausoleums where the deceased are interred above ground, avoiding the normal process of decay that consumes from below ground. Then there are the incredibly beautiful (and sometimes very large) images of Jesus, angels, weeping wives & mothers, children, cherubs, crosses, and more. The money spent on monuments like this is unimaginable. I also like when you find a headstone from the 1700’s and it looks smooth and perfect as if it was put there last week. Makes me wonder why other headstones become so decrepit and decayed so quickly….Speaking of decay, it doesn’t matter if a person is rich or poor, young or old, all share the same final destination. As a character on “Six Feet Under” said: “The whole world is a graveyard”.

I enjoy wandering thru cemeteries, appreciating all of these things, and I hope that you the viewer understand why I do this. Just because I enjoy wandering thru cemeteries doesn’t make me morbid, nor am I a goth fan. I don’t dress in black and listen to punk rock, nor do I conduct ceremonies at midnight. I’m just an average guy. I hope you’ll appreciate this section and look on it with respect. Nothing here is meant to make fun of or denigrate any one here. One person I know said,”About a hundred years ago, families would go to cemeteries together with a picnic lunch, the adults would take care of the graves while the kids would wander around. Cemeteries were a place to be respectful, but they weren’t seen as macabre or spooky the way they seem to be by some people today.”. Well stated.

I especially love old cemeteries. The markers are different from the ones they make now. I also enjoy speculating about the people who were buried there. I sometimes find nameless markers and feel sorry for the deceased because they have no family, or sometimes find incredible monuments and think “Damn. This was Somebody.” On the other hand, a large expensive ornate headstone or mausoleum doesn’t mean they were somebody, though often this is the case…


Five children born. Five children died before they were a year old.

Commonplace for the time period, a reminder of how fragile life was 100 years ago…

Dewolfe cemetery

A small roadside cemetery. I don’t know anything about it and the research i did yielded no information. It was likely an old family plot on a farm which was sold off bit by bit till nothing of the family estate remained but the cemetery.



Watchung Reservation

The area was originally settled by the Wilcocks family, who ran a grist and lumber mill. A small cemetery plot with four gravestones dating to the 1700s is the only evidence of the earliest settlers. It is believed that it became abandoned at some point before again becoming occupied in the 1800’s. David Felt rebuilt mills and began a book and paper processing center, which furnished products to the New York stationery business.

It is presumed that in these 11 houses that were built, 4 families lived in each house. There was one building that served as a general store, school, and church for the residents of this village. In the 1860’s Felt sold the village, and it was sold several times over in the next 20 years. It eventually ended up in the hands of a man named Ackerman who renamed it Glenside Park. He tore down most of the buildings and built new ones more suited to farming and raising cattle. The old mill was used as a stable until it become structurally unsound and was torn down in the 1930’s. The barn was built in 1882 to house horses and carriages which would transport business men to the train station.Glenside park flourished until 1916.

In the 1920’s, the Union County Parks Commission purchased the property. The houses in the village were rented out to families until the 1960’s. The village was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1980. The barn is now home to the Union County’s own Operation Archeology.

Watching Reservation is home the bunny bridge and also was home to a Nike base

There is a large water tower nearby, and although there was only one confirmed suicide, it has been nicknamed “Suicide Tower”.

guide to hiking in watchung reservation

another hiking guide

French Burying Ground

The French Burying Ground as it is called is a relatively small graveyard off of patrolman Ray Woods Dr in new Milford. For the uniformed, new Milford is generally considered to be the birthplace of Bergen County. It is home to man of Bergen County’s first families including the Demarests, Zabriskies, and Van Sauns, and you can nearly always find some of their descendants in almost any old cemetery in the county. Historians theorize that David Demarest settled on the banks of the Hackensack River in 1677. His wife Marie died and was buried here in 1681.

The cemetery had become overgrown and forgotten despite its proximity to the local police station and popular ball fields. Several months ago some girl scouts “found it” and decided to explore some of it’s mysteries by cleaning it up. Why were so many family members buried in a single grave, and why did so many deaths occur in a short time frame?

They cleaned up the stones, often using a toothbrush, cleared away decades of overgrowth and brush and revealed some interesting things, such as the fact that the dead were buried facing the East which was beneficial to the souls, or so believed the colonists. Today the cemetery is fenced off and locked up by the DPW. I am not sure why but I assume it’s to keep out vandals, miscreants and kids who might drink or hang out. If true then this says to me that whomever made that decision obviously doesn’t think much of the local police. This cemetery is quite near the local police as well as ball fields, so what idiot is going to be up to no good a block from the police? Regardless, I wasn’t able to gain access but observed what I could from behind the fence.

It’s nice to see young people taking a healthy interest in history, as well as graveyards. Not to get off on a rant but I always felt that anyone who showed interest in graveyards is often unfairly maligned as weird or morose. (I certainly have gotten my fair share of unpleasant comments). I think they can be an interesting window into the past on a general and a specific scale, and these girls apparently learned something about Bergen County and themselves by putting their time into this project. Good for them.






Old French cemetery

This is an old graveyard which is very much forgotten, with graves dating back to the 1800’s. The graveyard sits atop a hill that is almost inaccessible due to its steep incline and heavy grass, but it is doable. The graves are in mostly good shape for their age, and it has a desolate feel to it in an industrial, mostly un-populated part of town. I enjoyed my quick visit immensely, since old, abandoned, little noticed graveyards are always a cool find for me. Other then its unusual location there isn’t anything extraordinary about this spot, but I still had a good time. My son demanded I take a picture of him with the grave. I didn’t put him there, ask him to pose or anything. I think this whole weird NJ hunting thing is wearing off on him. Which is a good thing I guess. Umm… yea. A good thing.



the grave outside the graveyard

This grave is located in North Church Cemetery Aside from having some very old graves, this cemetery is nothing terribly unusual or much to speak of. It does date back to the Revolutionary War and as such it has some especially nice old headstones. Whats odd is that there’s a headstone that sits outside the boundaries of the graveyard, almost on the nearby siedwalk. It’s perhaps 2/3 of the way down the fence along the sidewalk.



Mary Ellis cemetery

Mary Ellis lived in the area of NJ that 200 years after her deat would become Edison & Rahway. She lived near the Raritan River, and in 1813 purchased a piece of farm land near its banks. She married a sea captain, but he went to sea & never returned. In 1827 she passed away, her husband’s whereabouts unknown. She was buried on her own property, with her sister and even, some say, her husband’s beloved horse. The property was passed down through the family, and heirs maintained the graves. In the early 20th century, the wooded area surrounding the Ellis property was sold to developers and became strip malls. The land immediately around the grave itself was leveled, then paved, leaving the grave site an island in a sea of asphalt. The terms of sale of the property give the descendants the right to visit the grave and to maintain it. Currently the grave sits directly behind a Lowes Multi-plex. Biding by the agreement, the grave should remain undisturbed for years to come.



The graveyard at the nursery school

This United Methodist Church was established in 1870, making it one of the oldest churches the state of NJ. It was located on what is now Route 23 for 100 years, until 1973 when the congregation moved to Newfoundland, where they are to this day. The graveyard, though, remained. The church building became the home to Hosica Laboratories Inc, and later to AIM Action News. Then on 2003, the Little Red School House Nursery School bought the building. Apparently the graveyard and the land it’s on still belongs to the church, but it physically butts up against the building of the nursery school.

There is no yard to play in because there are dead bodies where the play area traditionally would be. “It’s unusual, but it’s not a problem,” said the current owner. I noticed all the windows in the building are of chest high in the back of the building, which is just as well because if they were any lower the kids could see into the graveyard.





If the Adams Family ever needs a nursery school, this would be the place. Convenient place for the kids to play “wake the dead”.

Cemetery in a plant nursery

This cemetery was deep in the woods until the land around it was sold. Eventually a plant nursery bought all the land, preserving the cemetery forever as an island in the middle of their property. The cemetery contains about a dozen graves and is ringed by a metal fence for safety and security.