Exploring the History of New Jersey and Beyond!

Architecture, National Park Sites, Local Sites, and More!

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Somerset County, Morris County... even Cape May County!

No Place is too Small...

What may seem minute and insignificant is what makes history!


Not only do I like to write about history - I love covering events too!

Spread the History!

Help bring awareness to the historic sites in your area.

From historic figures to historic places...

I want to teach America just how significant New Jersey is!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Historical Organization of the Week: Monmouth County Friends of the Parks

Every Monday, I highlight a non-profit related to history or the arts, a historical society, preservation group or friends group whose main objective is to promote the historical and artistic history of New Jersey.

This week, I am featuring the Monmouth County Friends of the Parks. Formed in 1991, the Friends of the Parks is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization comprised of area citizens and businesses committed to the support of the Monmouth County Park System. The Friends raise funding for recreation programs, park beautification, educational programming, and exhibits related to sites throughout the Monmouth County Park System.

In the past, Friends funding has paid for the design and fabrication of Park System exhibits. Visitors can enjoy exhibits furnished by the Friends at: Historic Longstreet Farm, Historic Walnford, the Thompson Park Visitor Center, the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center and Visitor Center, Huber Woods Environmental Center, Tatum Park, and Seabrook-Wilson House. This year, funding has been approved to replace wallpaper in the historic farmhouse at Longstreet Farm and new exhibit panels for both Longstreet Farm and Walnford.

For information about programs sponsored by the Friends of the Parks, please visit http://www.friendsofmonmouthcountyparks.com or call 732-975-9735. 

If you are a member of a non-profit organization or know of one that you would like to see featured on this site, please let us know in the comments or send an e-mail to kelly@thehistorygirl.com.

The 1774 Waln House at Historic Walnford

Sunday, October 28, 2012

eBay Items of the Week: 10/28/12 - 11/4/12

Items up on eBay this week!
Click on each link for the eBay page!
More items always going up.
Stay updated about new items on Facebook.

Miss Stephens' Road Trip

Vintage Reproduction Kodachromes

The Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, Wyoming

San Jose Mission

10 Plastichrome Reproductions

Ross Motel & Inn Vintage Postcard

Conley's Motel Postcard
Pittsburgh, PA

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Historical Happenings: 10/27/12 - 10/28/12

Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
Send me an email to let us know!
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Friday - Sunday, October 26 - 28 - Sandy Hook, Monmouth County
Fort Hancock Days

Gateway National Recreation Area begins its yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary with the annual celebration of Fort Hancock Days, to be held Friday through Sunday. Fort Hancock Days commemorates the establishment of Fort Hancock as an Army base on October 30, 1895. Fort Hancock was added to Gateway as part of the park's Sandy Hook Unit by an Act of Congress signed into law on October 27, 1972.

On Friday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, volunteers from the Army Ground Forces Association (AGFA) will conduct a lantern tour of the Fort, beginning at the Fort Hancock Museum and ending at Battery Gunnison, which was built in 1904. AGFA volunteers, wearing authentic World War II U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps uniforms, will emphasize the fort's World War II years when Fort Hancock's population swelled to more than 12,000 soldiers and civilian defense workers. AGFA will focus in particular on 1943, when the Army converted Battery Gunnison from a disappearing gun battery into its present configuration as a pedestal mounted gun battery.

On Sunday, October 28, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm, visitors can watch or join in helping AGFA members conduct gun drills at Battery Gunnison, to see how an original Model 1900 six-inch gun (actually over 25 feet long and weighing 10 tons) was aimed and loaded. An original World War II ambulance will also be on display, complete with period medical equipment and staffed by an AGFA volunteer Army nurse.

On both Saturday and Sunday, a Revolutionary War encampment will be located on the Parade Ground recreating soldier life. Meet the living historians from the War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II on Sunday, at the Parade Grounds, leading demonstrations for the public.

Battery Potter, America's first concrete disappearing gun battery, will also be open for tours from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sunday. During World War II this battery served as a Harbor Entrance Control Post that controlled the movement of all ships entering into New York Harbor.

To learn about the affect war had on home life for military families, visit the History House located on the north end of Officer's Row in Fort Hancock on Saturday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm.

Fort Hancock protected the harbor area from enemy warships and warplanes from the time of the Spanish-American War through the nuclear age. During the Cold War, radar and Nike air defense missiles were the fort's last defense system. Former Army Nike veterans will conduct guided tours of Fort Hancock's Nike Missile Radar site at Horseshoe Cove on Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. The fort was deactivated in 1974, two years after Congress named Sandy Hook as one of the park units of the new Gateway National Recreation Area.

Friday - Saturday, October 26 - 27 - Denville, Morris County
Haunted Denville Walking Tours

Experience haunted Denville walking tours with Vito Bianco. Tours will be given at 7 pm beginning at the Denville Museum. Ages 16 and older only. $5 per person; $3 for those 65 and older OR under 21. October 28th will be reserved as a rain date but the tour will begin at 6:00 pm from the Denville Museum. Check the message at 973-625-1165 by 2:00 pm the day of the tour for update in case of bad weather. For further information call the Denville Historical Society & Museum at 973-625-1165. The museum is located at 113 Diamond Spring Road, Denville. 

Saturday, October 27 - Harmony Township, Warren County
Historic House and Barn Tours

The Harmony Township Historical Society and the Historic Preservation Commission of Harmony Township invite the public to attend their annual Fall Open House at the historic Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead on Saturday, from 10:00 am to dusk. Admission is free. The farmstead is located at 3026 Belvidere Road, Route 519, just north of the Municipal Building in Harmony Township.

Come see the progress being made. The event will include tours of the circa 1750s main house, the restored wagon house, and the one of a kind Dutch style barn, and war reenactors, live demonstrations, and hearth cooking in the summer kitchen.

Gregory Huber will give a barn talk at 12:00 noon in the lower level of the barn. Huber is an independent scholar, consultant, and principal owner of both Past Perspectives and Eastern Barn Consultants, historic and cultural resources companies based in Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. His special focus is in House Histories and Barn Histories of historic homesteads in southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A student of early vernacular architecture since 1971, Huber has specialized in pre-1830 barn and house architecture of Holland Dutch and Pennsylvania Swiss-German and certain English settled areas of the northeast. He has documented more than 7,500 vernacular buildings in the east since the mid-1970s. He is author of more than 140 articles on barn and house architecture and is co-author of two books-the second edition of The New World Dutch Barn (2001) and Stone Houses-Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania's Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (2005).

For more information contact Ruth at historicalcomm@aol.com.

Saturday, October 27 - Morristown, Morris County
Death & Mourning

The Vail House at Historic Speedwell becomes the setting for a traditional 19th century funeral on Saturday at 6:00 pm. Find out how the family prepared for this event by learning about their dress, home decor, and the casket.

$10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children 4 - 16, under 4 FREE. Pre-registration is required, please call 973-285-6538. Historic Speedwell is located at 333 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey 07960.

Saturday, October 27 - Chester, Morris County
A Miller's Halloween

Visit the Cooper Grist Mill for a Miller's Hallween celebration! Come in costume, if you like, for a fun-filled afternoon! Enjoy spooky story telling at 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm, create corn husk dolls, color pumpkins, and play old-time games. In the Gristmill, be alert for spooks, spiders, skeletons, and surprises! The mill is located at 66 New Jersey 24, Chester, NJ 07930.
Saturday, October 27 - Hightstown, Mercer County
Camden & Amboy Railroad Celebration

Three historical presentations on different aspects of the Camden & Amboy Railroad will highlight the 180th railroad anniversary event to be held on Saturday in Hightstown. The daylong activity will also feature a children's event and railroadiana show, all held at the Hightstown High School and jointly planned by the Camden & Amboy Railroad Historical Group and the Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society.

"The Building of the Camden & Amboy Railroad," presented by noted railroad historian Paul Schopp, will start the day's lectures at 9:00 am. It will be followed by local historian Bob Craig's program, "The Effect of the Railroad on the Area's Development." "The Use of Stone Sleepers," by Pierre LaCombe, will conclude the morning's presentations. A tour of the Hightstown sleeper site will follow.

Registration for the lectures is $15 for pre-registration, $20 at the door and can be done by contacting the railroad historians at 609-443-4746 or jktrr@msn.com. A children's event will also be held, beginning at 10:15 am, and will feature a concert by the Drew School Third Grade Chorus. Director Linda Behrens has written a song about the John Bull, the railroad's first steam locomotive. Additional activities for children will include a story-teller, art activities and a "Thomas The Tank Engine" activity center. This event is free to attendees.

Also to be held on the day is a railroadiana show, with vendors selling model train items, books, timetables, photographs and railroad antiques. Several operating model train layouts will be featured. Admission is $8, with a maximum family fare of $10. Children under 12 are free. Doors for the show will open at 9:00 am. The day's event is commemorating the arrival in Hightstown of the Camden & Amboy Railroad in 1832, a route that stretched from Bordentown to South Amboy. Later, the railroad would connect Hightstown with Camden and Trenton, New Brunswick and Jersey City.

Saturday, October 27 - Union, Union County
Pumpkin Patch Day at Liberty Hall

On Saturday, enjoy Pumpkin Patch Day from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm at Liberty Hall. The day features its traditional menu of activities, including pumpkin picking, hayrides, house tours, and Halloween crafts, including carving or decorating your pumpkin. An exciting new activity this year is a corn maze! Program Fee: Adults: $6.00, Children: $10.00, Under Three: Free.  Additional charge for pumpkins and lunch will be available from a vendor. Reservations suggested, call 908-527-0400. Rain date is Sunday. Liberty Hall Museum is located at 1003 Morris Ave, Union, NJ 07083. Visit www.kean.edu/libertyhall

Saturday, October 27 - Montclair, Essex County
Spoon-a-Thon Event

On Saturday the Montclair Historical Society (MHS) and Montclair Community Farms will be celebrating the expansion of Montclair Community Farms with a "Spoon-a-thon" event. The event will take place at the Montclair Historical Society at 108 Orange Road. The event will run from 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. and has something for everyone. The suggested donation for adults is $5 and $10 for a family. The rain date is Sunday.

As live music plays, attendees can participate in the tasting and judging of delicious seasonal soups provided by local restaurants and caterers. They can take tours of the historic homes on the grounds of the Montclair Historical Society, as well as tours of the new farm and chicken coop areas. There will be a cooking demonstration in the Israel Crane House as period soup is made in the open hearth kitchen there. Kids can enjoy "Stone Soup" story time. There will also be a slide show about Montclair Community Farms and information about growing organic produce, raising chickens and more. Restaurants participating at this event will be: Fitzgerald's 1928, Raymond's, Comfort Food Kitchen, Terra Café, Let'spoon and Uptown 596.

Montclair Community Farms is a youth farming program that teaches local teens how to grow and sell vegetables. It makes local fresh produce available at affordable prices for those in the community living on limited budgets and donates locally grown vegetables to area emergency food programs and lower income residences. The expansion of Montclair Community Farms to the Montclair Historical Society quadruples the space available for planting, supplementing the original site on Miller Street in Montclair. The new farm at the MHS Clark House property will also be home to a dozen chickens whose eggs will be sold to local residents or donated to local group residences and soup kitchens. www.montclairhistorical.org

Saturday, October 27 - Cranbury, Middlesex County
Stories of Cranbury

Museum docent and walking tour guide Don Davidson will present stories of Cranbury's history for children 8 to 13 and their families. You are invited to come dressed as an American Indian or early settler, if you would like. The program is free, and refreshments will be served. Cranbury Public Library is sponsoring this program with Cranbury Historical & Preservation Society. The event begins at 2:00 pm at the Parsonage Barn, 3 Cranbury Neck Road, Cranbury. In case of rain the program will be held in the Cranbury Public Library, 23 N. Main Street, Cranbury.

Saturday, October 27 - Cape May, Cape May County
Ronald Reagan's Legacy: Lessons for Today's Citizen Leaders

Launching a "Lessons of History" lecture series for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), Dr. Myles Martel will share his unique perspective on what made Ronald Reagan one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century - insights he gained first-hand as he personally coached Reagan for his outstanding performance during the 1980 presidential debates. In the decades since, Dr. Martel has emerged as one of this country's most influential leadership communication advisors, providing counsel to Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrities and political leaders.

Regardless of your political persuasion, Dr. Martel's insights offer practical advice that can help you, your organization, and your community. His multi-media presentation, including a treasure trove of personal photographs and audio and video clips, has been widely acclaimed as "enlightening,"  "engaging," and "inspirational." He is pleased to share with his adopted hometown a program that has captivated audiences around the country.

This lecture is cosponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and Martel & Associates. Limited event. Tickets: $15 for the lecture; $30 for the lecture and reception. To reserve tickets call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278. The lecture begins at 4:00 pm at Cape May Stage's Robert Shackleton Playhouse, located at Bank & Lafayette Streets in Cape May. It will be followed by a meet-the-speaker reception at The Queen Victoria at 5:30 pm.

Saturday, October 27 - Jefferson Township, Morris County
Jefferson Museum Attic Sale

The Jefferson Township Historical Society will hold an Attic Sale on Saturday from 9:00 to 3:00 pm, rain or shine. The Attic Sale will take place on the grounds of the Jefferson Township Museum, 315 Dover-Milton Road, Jefferson, NJ  07438. This sale will be put on by members of the JTHS who will be selling their own items. Come see what treasures you can find! The Jefferson Township Museum is on the National and State Register of Historic Places.  For further information, visit www.jthistoricalsociety.org.

Saturday, October 27 - Pemberton, Burlington County
October 2012 Moonlight Walk at Historic Whitesbog Village

Whitesbog Preservation Trust will host a moonlight walk at Historic Whitesbog on Saturday at 7:00 pm. By the soft glow of moonlight, walk through the dark, mysterious pines, along white sugar sand roads, to the shimmering cranberry bogs. Listen for the haunting hoots of owls. The leader will offer stories of the people who built Whitesbog, the local "Piney" folk, and the more recent American immigrants, all of whom worked here to make it one of the most successful agricultural enterprises in New Jersey. 

Meet at the General Store at 7:00 pm. Guests should be prepared for a relatively vigorous walk, are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring anything that may be needed for your comfort, such as sturdy shoes, a light jacket, and a flashlight. Light refreshments will be served after the walk. Inclement weather cancels. Fee is $5 per person. Reservations by Friday, October 26 are required: leave name, telephone number and number of people attending on main voicemail, 609-893-4646, or email WhitesbogPreservationTrust@comcast.net.

All proceeds benefit the Whitesbog Preservation Trust in its tireless efforts to restore and protect Historic Whitesbog Village and its surrounding lands. Whitesbog Village is located at mile marker 13 on County Route 530 in Browns Mills (Pemberton Township), NJ. To find out information and directions: call 609-893-4646, email WhitesbogPreservationTrust@comcast.net or visit www.whitesbog.org.

Saturday - Sunday, October 27 - 28 - Burlington, Burlington County
"Ghosts in the Graveyard" Weekend

Children and families are invited to Ghostly Tales with Storyteller, Dennis Strain, on Saturday from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at the Burlington County Historical Society. Dennis will make you laugh and shiver with spooky tales of New Jersey! Crafts and snacks will follow the program. Wear your Halloween costume! Special guest appearance by the "Jersey Devil" himself! The stories are appropriate for ages 2-102.

Then come back on Sunday from 2:00 - 4:00 pm as we welcome Dr. Richard Veit and his talk "Stranger Stop and Cast an Eye." Dr. Veit will explore the cultural history of New Jersey's historic cemeteries and burial grounds from the 17th century through the dawn of the 21st century. The presentation will provide an understanding of the state's historic burial places and the grave markers they contain. Q and A and light refreshments after the talk.

Both programs take place at the Corson Poley Center at the Burlington County Historical Society, 454 Lawrence Street in Burlington. Free parking on High Street and in the Society's parking lot on Lawrence Street. Admission is $5 per person. RSVP recommended for Ghostly Tales!  For more information call 609-386-4773 or e-mail burlcohistsoc@verizon.net.

Sunday, October 28 -Toms River, Ocean County
Cousins' Day Reunion

Explore your Ocean County roots and join in the fun from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm on Sunday at the Cousins' Day Reunion at the Research Center of Ocean County Historical Society, 26 Hadley Avenue, Toms River. Swap family histories and get to know your new "cousins." We can help you preserve your family history by making copies of your family Bible records and pictures of your ancestors to add to our extensive collection. Don't miss a new valuable source of information to be unveiled. Register today for this free event by calling 732-341-1880. Refreshments will be served.

Sunday, October 28 - Cranford, Union County
Open House Weekend

Bring the family down to the Crane-Phillips House Museum for holiday celebrations. For Halloween, visit the museum on Sunday, October 28th from 2:00-4:00 pm after the Township Halloween Parade and then for Christmas visit the museum on Sunday, December 16th for a Victorian Candlelight Christmas in a Civil War veteran's house from 4:00 - 6:00 pm. The Crane-Phillips House Museum is located at 124 North Union Avenue in Cranford. The museum is open most Sundays from 2:00 - 4:00 pm from September through Memorial Day. For further information, please call the society's office at 908-276-0082.

Sunday, October 28 - Trenton, Mercer County
Trenton & Cemetery Tour

Join the Trenton Museum Society for "Riverview Cemetery: Out and About the City of Trenton" on Sunday at 2:00 pm, led by Richard A. Sauers. The tour will visit the gravesites of notable Trenton residents who championed the efforts behind many of its monuments, historic sites, and oldest municipal parks. These include the Abbott Farm, Broad Street Bank, Cadwalader Park, Mercer County Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Old Barracks, Roebling Monument, Trent House, Trenton Battle Monument, Trenton Country Club, Washington Monument, and even the "shaky bridge."

The tour will begin at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion at 2:00 pm for a brief orientation and then leave by car for Riverview Cemetery. The walking tour will cover about one mile, and participants are reminded to wear comfortable shoes. General Admission $10 at the door. Free for members of the Trenton Museum Society.

Richard A. Sauers is cemetery historian at Riverview Cemetery. He has presented his research, which reflects interests in the histories of monument companies, "white bronze" gravemarkers, and the memorialization of victims of accidents and disasters, to the American Culture Association, Association for Gravestone Studies, Far-West Popular/American Culture Association, Folklore Studies Association of Canada, and Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association.

For more information, contact the Trenton Museum Society at 609-989-1191  e-mail tms@ellarslie.org.

Sunday, October 28 - Westfield, Union County
"Halloween Hocus Pocus"

It's time for Halloween fun! Visit the Miller-Cory House Museum at 614 Mountain Avenue in Westfield on Sunday from 1:30 to 4:00 pm to celebrate Halloween Hocus Pocus. This program is ideal for young children. The museum's costumed docents will greet visitors at the door of the colonial farmhouse.  There are numerous activities planned for the afternoon, including Halloween storytelling, tattoos, and face painting.  Children can decorate their own Halloween cupcakes and make two additional crafts to take home. Festive refreshments will be served. Be sure to come in Halloween costume! The fee for Halloween Hocus Pocus is $4.00 for children; accompanying adults are free. No reservations are necessary for any activity. For more information call 908-232-1776 or e-mail millercorymuseum@gmail.com.

October 1 - November 4 - Morristown, Morris County
Halloween Spirit at Acorn Hall

By the Victorian era, the ancient rituals of All Hallows' Eve had evolved into a holiday celebrated by children and adults alike. A special exhibit at Acorn Hall will explain popular games played at Victorian Halloween parties. It will also highlight the 19th-century Spiritualist movement. Spiritualism asserted that spirits of the dead can and do communicate with the living. Spiritualism developed and reached its peak between the 1840s and the 1920s. It was most enthusiastically embraced and led by women, putting it at odds with established religions.

The exhibit, which will run from October 1 to November 4, is included in the price of a tour of Acorn Hall. Acorn Hall is at 68 Morris Avenue, Morristown. Acorn Hall, the headquarters of the Morris County Historical Society, is an 1853 house remodeled into the Italianate Villa style in 1860. It is open to the public on Mondays and Thursdays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Tours of the house and exhibits are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for students. Children under twelve are free. For directions or additional information call 973-267-3465 or visit www.acornhall.org.

Sunday, October 28 - Piscataway, Middlesex County
History of Film: 1890-1960

View the exhibit "Lights! Camera! Action! History of Film: 1890-1960" at the 1741 Cornelius Low House Museum in Piscataway. The museum is open Sunday afternoons from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The exhibit will run through December 31, 2012.

The Cornelius Low House, built in 1741, was the home to its namesake and is only one of two remaining buildings from historic Raritan Landing. This high-style Georgian mansion is listed on the National Register and operated by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Admission to the museum is FREE. The museum is located at 1225 River Road, Piscataway, NJ . For more information, visit

Some event listings courtesy of the League of Historical Societies of New Jersey

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weekend Estate Sales: 10/26/12 - 10/28/12

Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
Hosting an estate sale? Send me an email to be featured in our weekly post!
Be the first to know about these sales on Facebook!

Foreign Antiques
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Antiques Dolls & Pottery
Morristown, NJ Estate Sale
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Mid-Century Furniture
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

19th Century Furniture
Pottersville, NJ Estate Sale
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Antique Clocks & Fixtures
North Plainfield, NJ Estate Sale
9:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday
10:00 am - 4:00 pm Sunday

Vintage Cameras
East Rutherford, NJ Estate Sale
9:00 am - 2:00 pm Saturday

Find more Estate Sales near you at estatesales.net

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making the Grave: Cemeteries and Stone Carvers in New Jersey

Making the Grave: Cemeteries and Stone Carvers in New Jersey
Written by NJ Historian

Cemeteries and grave sites dot the New Jersey landscape. Whether it is a small family burial ground in the woods or along a country road, a historic graveyard surrounding a church, or a large memorial park in an open field, cemeteries are a distinct feature of New Jersey. They are peaceful places to remember our ancestors, to ponder life, and are sometimes associated with a ghost story or two! When looking at historic graveyards and grave stones, there is a subtle beauty associated with them. From the rolling hills and placid landscape of a Victorian era cemetery to the art of a skilled carver creating a masterpiece on stone to last generations, you find these cemeteries sitting idly, as life around them unfolds and changes. Yet, these monuments to time remain the same. These stones tell a story, offer inspiring words, and physically represent a traceable history of funerary art that can be seen in the styles of stone, their materials, and the marks left by their carvers.

Rahway Cemetery
Early in this nation's history, small rural family plots and church graveyards were the norm. They were eventually supplemented by planned cemeteries with a board of directors beginning in the 1830s. This change in burial reform is known as the rural cemetery movement. By the Victorian period, gravestones began to reflect the changing lifestyle of America, with a gravestone becoming a status symbol. Large obelisks, pillars, statuary, and sculpture filled cemeteries and replaced the small, marble and sandstone tablets of the earlier generation. Eventually, concerns about overcrowded monuments and obstructing views led cemeteries to adopt more rigid policies on stone size and the development of lawn park cemeteries, with standard size memorials and a greater focus on landscaping. Today, cemeteries representing every time period can be found across the state. In this article, I will briefly examine three early cemeteries in New Jersey, two of which are still in use, and point out a few significant events and persons associated with them, in addition to a few carvers who helped shape the cemetery landscape.

Rahway Cemetery

"From London truly fam'd came I.
Was born in Stains a place nearby
In Rahway at old Age did Die.
And here intomb'd in earth must lie
Till Christ ye dead calls from on high"

This epitaph is from the grave of Mr. John Lawrence of Rahway, New Jersey, who "yielded to death" on October 16, 1766. 

The Rahway Cemetery was established in 1724. The cemetery property was originally associated with a church building, as were all cemeteries until 1829, when the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery was incorporated. The First Presbyterian Church of Rahway was built between 1741 and 1742 on what is now St. George's Avenue, just within the current cemetery enclosure. The present main driveway to the cemetery passes directly over the original church site. The church was a two-story frame structure built of heavy timber and its sides were enclosed with shingles, with two rows of windows, and a tower with a spire, to which was adjusted a copper weather-cock, perforated by a bullet said to be a mark of the Revolutionary period. There were galleries on three sides and a small barrel-shaped pulpit for one. Church records indicate that the floor was made of heavy hewn planks, not closely joined, making it necessary for the women of the congregation in the winter season to bring foot-stoves to offset the cold that came through the crevices of the wide floorboards.

The cemetery at Rahway offers a number of stone styles, from its earliest in 1724 through burials of the modern-day. As one travels toward the back of the cemetery, you will notice gradual change in stone styles, as tastes and preferred materials changed. Toward the front are stones made of Jersey sandstone. Toward the middle are a mix of mid-1800s and Victorian style stones. Family plots become more prevalent during this time and many examples exist in this section of the cemetery. The Oliver family mausoleum was placed near the center of the cemetery grounds. Another mausoleum-type structure exists on the property but is now used for maintenance equipment. It can be speculated that this was at one time a receiving vault or perhaps a mausoleum that was abandoned. 

Notable burials in this cemetery include Abraham Clark, a delegate for New Jersey to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence. He served in the United States House of Representatives in both the Second and Third United States Congress, from March 4, 1791, until his death in 1794. Clark and his wife's markers have been reset within a larger stone monument erected by the Daugthers of the American Revolution in 1924.

The grave of Abraham Clark and his wife Sarah.
Near the front of the cemetery among the older headstones is a obelisk dedicated to Dr. John J. Daly. Daly was elected for five terms as mayor of the city of Rahway and died while serving his last term in 1896.

A number of carvers left their mark at Rahway Cemetery. Most notable is John Frazee. Frazee was born in Rahway in 1790. He carved gravestones in Rahway between 1811 and 1814 and in New Brunswick from 1814 to 1818. In 1818 he opened a workshop in New York City specializing in memorials and grave markers. He was well known for tasteful, simple, and well-executed memorials. As he developed his craft, he was commissioned to carve busts of notable Americans and was asked to design the New York Customs House in 1834. Frazee's work can still be seen in cemeteries in Rahway and New Brunswick. Of special note is his first wife's memorial, dated 1832, which is located in the Old Baptist Cemetery in South River. 

Other stone carvers who left their mark at Rahway is Henry Osborn of Woodbridge, Aaron Ross of Rahway, and Ebenezer Price of Elizabeth. 

Osborn's carvings have been dated between 1776 and 1825 and his work has been found in Rahway, Woodbridge, Cranbury, and Scotch Plains.

Mark of Henry Osborn, Woodbridge
Aaron Ross was a late eighteenth/early nineteenth century carver. He was originally from New Brunswick but then moved to Rahway. His signed work can be found at Rahway, Elm Ridge Cemetery in North Brunswick, and the Cranbury Presbyterian Cemetery in Cranbury.

Stone carved by Aaron Ross
Ebenezer Price signed markers between 1744 through 1787. He produced cherubs, tulips, and scallop designs. His work can be found in Rahway, Westfield, Union, Elizabeth, and Basking Ridge. His work can also be found in New York City, Long Island, the Carolinas, Georgia, and the Caribbean

Stone carved by Ebenezer Price
Old Tennent Church Cemetery

"Reader behold as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for death and follow me."

This epitaph is from the grave of Mr. Samuel Rue who passed away October 14, 1808. 

The cemetery at Old Tennent Church was established in 1731, as the church moved from its original location five miles away to the present site near famed Monmouth Battlefield. The present Georgian style church building was built in 1751. Noteworthy individuals such as George Whitefield, Jacobus Frelinghusen, Gilbert Tennent and Jonathan Edwards all preached at the Church. David Brainerd, known for converting Native Americans, administered the Sacrament and preached in the building. During the Battle of Monmouth, the site saw action as the church building served as a field hospital for wounded soldiers. During the battle, the church was pierced by cannon balls. As late as 1916, four cannon balls were dug up on the church grounds during regrading. The pews of this sacred church are still scarred by the surgeon's saw and blood of patriot soldiers, many of whom were buried in this church yard. At the top of Oak Hill is the burial place of Lt. Col. Henry Monckton. He was the highest ranking British officer to be killed in action during the Battle of Monmouth. 

In 1910 Old Tennent Cemetery began to move away from being a secular cemetery and transformed into a non-denominational site. The original one acre cemetery has blossomed into the present sixty-eight acre site.

In addition to countless, unnamed patriot soldiers, Continental Congressman Nathaniel Scudder is buried in this cemetery. He served as a delegate to the Provincial Congress of New Jersey in 1774, was a member of the State general assembly and served as speaker in 1776. He was a Lieutenant colonel of the New Jersey Militia in 1776 became a colonel in 1781. He rose amongst the ranks of Jerseyites to become a member of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1779. Unfortunately, Scudder was killed while resisting an invading party of the British Army on October 16, 1781 at Blacks Point, near Shrewsbury, in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Another notable burial at Old Tennent is Thomas Henderson, New Jersey's third Governor. Henderson served in the New Jersey Militia in 1775 and was appointed to the Minutemen in 1776. He was elected as a Delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779 but declined to serve. He became Acting Governor of New Jersey in 1794 and was elected to the Fourth Congress from 1795 to 1797. He died in Freehold, New Jersey at the age of 81 in 1824.

Three Mile Run Cemetery

"My flesh shall slumber in the ground
Till the last trumpets Joyful sound
Then burst the grave with sweet surprise
And in my Saviors image rise"

This epitaph is from the grave of Reverend John Leydt who passed away June 2, 1783. 

The Cemetery at Three Mile Run is one of Middlesex County's earlier cemeteries. Long forgotten and neglected, it has recently been cleaned up and somewhat maintained. The history of the Church at Three Mile Run dates back to 1703, when it is believed that a Dutch Reform Church was established by the recent settlers to the area that is now New Brunswick and Franklin Township. The first meetings would have been held in homes by itinerant ministers who preached on a circuit. The earliest documents mentioning a church building is a subscription list dated 1717. The exact location of the church is still unknown, yet many speculate that it may have been located in the center of the cemetery or nearby along present-day Route 27. 

The cemetery at Three Mile Run, New Brunswick
The original church was a plain square structure with a tall, pyramid shaped roof. It would have had few windows, no fireplace and a dirt floor. The Church of Three Mile Run's most prominent minister was the controversial Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, who arrived in New Jersey from Holland in 1720. During Frelinghuysen's tenure, he challenged the Dutch Church by preaching against church doctrine, introducing new customs, and allowing Reverend Gilbert Tennent to preach to the Dutch congregation in English! The congregation became so upset that letters were sent to Holland demanding Frelinghuysen's removal and tradition notes that he was locked out of the church by its members. The disagreements were eventually worked out and Frelinghuysen continued to preach until his death, which documents suggest was in 1748. 

The second pastor at the church was Johannes Leydt,  who had studied under Frelinghuysen and became the Pator at New Brunswick. It was their family that became the first burials at Three Mile Run. The oldest stone is that of Johannes' daughter Anna Leydt, who died June 10, 1760 at seven months. The next burial was Elizabeth Leydt, who died at the age of twelve on October 27, 1760. These stones are written in Dutch. The Reverend passed away June 2, 1783 and is buried with rest of his family. 

Stone of Elizabeth Leydt, 1760.
It is unclear when the last services were held at the church, but some historians speculate that services were no longer held at the building after 1754. The building is said to have been destroyed by British troops during the American Revolution.

John Frazee also left his mark at Three Mile Run. On a stone for Johannes Van Liew, the bottom is signed "Frazee & Co." Van Liew died in 1794, when Frazee was only four years old. Frazee operated in New Brunswick between 1814 and 1818, so it can be surmised that this stone replaced an earlier stone that may have been damaged or was the first permanent stone to mark his grave.

"Affliction sore. long time
I bore.
Physicians art was vain.
But God alone did hear 
my moan.
And eas'd me of my pain."

Additional photos of my trip to Three Mile Run CemeteryOld Tennent Cemetery
and Rahway Cemetery on Pinterest

For More Information:
For more information about New Jersey cemeteries, gravestones and carvers, read New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape, a well-researched book by Dr. Richard Veit and Mark Nonestied. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Historical Organization of the Week: NJ Cemetery Associations

Every Monday, I highlight a non-profit related to history or the arts, a historical society, preservation group or friends group whose main objective is to promote the historical and artistic history of New Jersey.

This week, instead of one specific group, I am highlighting the numerous cemetery associations and boards across New Jersey. Many of the non-religious cemeteries in New Jersey are run by non-profit boards and all of the plot-owners are voting members. These cemeteries rely on a maintenance and preservation fund to keep the grounds and monuments in good shape. However, many older cemeteries across the state have been filled and may no longer have a board associated with its preservation. Or the cemetery's funding may be scarce because the lack of new burials. In these cases, the associations must rely on donations and sometimes volunteer groups to come in and help remove trash, cut grass, and make repairs. Examples of noteworthy cemeteries that fell on hard times and have been renewed by the help of self-less volunteers and donations are the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery in Jersey City and the Mount Peace Cemetery in Lawnside.

To find out more about historic cemeteries and their care in your town, contact your local historical society. They most likely have the resources to point you in the right direction or may even be responsible for trying to resurrect one!

If you are a member of a non-profit organization or know of one that you would like to see featured on this site, please let us know in the comments or send an e-mail to kelly@thehistorygirl.com.