Archive for the ‘Headstones’ Category

The final resting place of John Holland

John Holland was born In Ireland in 1841. He entered a Navy submarine design contest, before joining up with a group called the Fenian Brotherhood. Their goal was to develop a small submarine that could be launched from under a merchant vessel, then return. The result of his efforts was the Fenian Ram that was launched in 1881. Holland and the Fenians had numerous differences, and they broke off working together. He designed and built numerous submarine prototypes but he suffered numerous financial difficulties and often sold his designs for less then his research costs. He eventually sold his company to the Electric Boat Company (now part of General Dynamics) forfeiting rights to most of his patents. He died broke but not forgotten.

John Holland is buried in Holy Seplechure Cemetery in Totowa.



the grave of Robert Erskine

The grave of Robert Erskine is one of about a dozen scattered near a small pond at Ringwood Manor. The Manor was once the home to one of the largest iron making companies in the region. During the American Revolution, Robert Erskine managed the plantations. He eventually became the principal mapmaker for General Washington, who visited the estate no less then 5 different times. Erskine died in 1780 and is buried near the pond where he lived. There are reports of ghost activity near the grave, and reportedly the bricks in the grave marker keep “jumping out”.

Read more about Robert Erskine at


The Dotterwich tragedy

On a cold December day in 1874 the 5 Dotterwich children went out to play on a icy covered pond. The ice was too thin, and all five children (age 6-16) drowned that day.


The Middlebush Giant

He liked to call himself Col Ruth Goshen, but to the residents of Middlebush, and to those who saw him in the Barnum & Bailey Circus, he was simply known as the Middlebush Giant. Standing at 7’11, and weighing over 650 lbs, Goshen was one of 14 children, and despite all of the children being rather large, he stood out amongst them. Reportedly Barnum himself found and recruited him for the circus. Goshens real name was alledgedly Arthur Caley.

When Goshen died the funeral was held in his house and the 8 foot coffin had to go out the window. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the woods near the cemetery because he afraid curiosity seekers would try to dig him up. Boy scouts created the headstone for him in 1970.


Singing Sam

Singing Sam Stevens is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside. I don’t really know much more then that, and the fact that this is one of the most ornate graves I’ve ever seen.





Workers for the Englewood DPW uncovered a headstone between the railroad tracks and the parking lot of the Englewood PD. Tests revealed no body buried anywhere nearby. The Police Dept is located on the site of a former building supply company called Prentice Company. The headstone belongs to James Prentice, so it’s assumed that he was buried on the property as a memorial, rather then burying him in a proper graveyard. Experts believe the body decomposed over the last 120 years and that nothing of remains is left. Local authorities have not yet decided what to do with the headstone.

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The British War Grave

While hiking at Sandy Hook looking for the old Nike base, I came across this unusual grave. On December 31, 1783 a British warship floundered & sank off the coast of Sandy Hook. Its 1st Lieutenant, Hamilton Douglas Halyburton, and 12 of his crew died just off the coast in a bad storm. They were buried at what would eventually become Sandy Hook. What strikes me as being so weird is that here we have a grave of what was at the time, a foreign enemy, buried here on American soil. Now I’m not suggesting that we ship his remains back to Britain, but how weird would it be if an American soldier was buried in Iraq?

Frankie Lymon’s Headstone

Frankie Lymon formed the Teenagers in 1954, and recorded the hit “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. He had a brief solo career and died only 10 years later, a result of his cocaine addiction. Lymon was buried in a unmarked grave in Brooklyn, NY. The owner of Ronnies Records is the head of the Frankie Lymon fan club decided to raise money to have one made. Over $1000 was raised and the headstone was carved. He contacted the estate, but ran into trouble because Lymon had married 3 different women,. The resulting legal issues that came from that were one reason why his grave remained unmarked. Not knowing what else to do with the monument, he put it in his store window, where he sells vintage records from the 50’s.

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The Baylor Massacre

In September 1778 British troops were plundering fields and laying waste to cattle. This kept their army fed, and helped to deny food to the American troops. On the night of September 22, 1778, the Third Regiment of the Light Dragoons were stationed on Overkill Rd after several days of driving cattle out of the range of the enemy. They were trying to gain intelligence on enemy troop strength and position. The British, tipped off by local sympathizers slipped behind the patrols and went from farm house to farm house where the Dragoons were stationed and killed the entire patrol. There is speculation that Mr Blauvelt (one of the home owners where the troops were staying) was the one who betrayed the troops, since his house was not plundered by British troops afterwards.

The incident would remain largely forgotten, the bodies buried in small graves on the same farm where they died. 100 years later when relatives told the tale and showed local reporters the site, the story came to light, but it would be another 100 years before the graves were dug up, the bodies moved, and a proper marker placed in their memory.


For full details read this narrative which tells the story in much greater detail then you will read here.

Saujte Tave’s Begraven Ground


The text of his marker reads as follows:

“Here lies the remains of Douwe Talema, who died on the 11th day of May, 1779, in his ninetieth year. This aged man at his residence near this place was willfully and barbarously murdered by Tories. Traitors to their country who had taken refuge with the troops of Britain then in New York, and came thence to murder & plunder. To pay a tribute of respect to his memory and also to commemorate the manner of his death, several of his relatives have erected this stone.”

According to local papers & eyewitness accounts, the Tories were searching for the family money, presumably hidden in a small chest. Refusing to cooperate Tallman said, “I am an old man, I can not injure you, and you will not hurt me.” The Tory response was to ram him with a bayonet. They then dragged him by the feet, his head hitting every stair as they exited the house. They then set fire to his house & barn. His granddaughter took him to her home nearby & he died the next day.