It’s mid-October and my thoughts turn to cemeteries. Some time ago I published several articles on the cemeteries of Delaware Township on the “The Delaware Township Post.” I would like to publish them here on my website also, with any additions or corrections that occur to me. The following (somewhat expanded) was published on the Post on January 8, 2008.
There are 25 known cemeteries in Delaware Township, many of them dating back to the 18th century. Most of the people buried in these cemeteries are little known, except perhaps to their descendants. The more we can learn about their lives, the more we will understand the history of our town.
The 25 Known Cemeteries
Over the years, many historians and genealogists have gone looking for the old cemeteries, and thankfully, they wrote down the names and described the cemeteries that they found. Based on these writings and on cemeteries I’ve been able to visit, this as complete a list of known township cemeteries as I can manage.
Canal Workers’ Cemetery
Locktown Baptist Church
Locktown Christian Church
Lower Amwell Old Yard and New Yard
Pine Hill Cemetery
Rittenhouse Family & Canal Workers
Sand Brook Church
Sandy Ridge Church
Sergeantsville Methodist Church
It is quite possible that there are other small family burying grounds in out-of-the-way places that have long since fallen into the earth, that were never located and identified, never recorded, and may never be found.
The Lenape were the first people to live and die in our township. They were seasonal visitors who came to hunt and to make tools at certain times of the year, and then moved on. In Archeology of Warren and Hunterdon Counties, 1917, Max Schrabisch did a survey of known Indian habitations and identified several in Delaware Township. He located a Lenape burial ground at Mount Gilboa, not far north of Lambertville and the Alexauken Creek. It can be seen on older USGS topographical maps of Delaware Township. It must have been a special place, giving a view of the Delaware River as it came down from the northwest and swung to the south. In the 20th century, Trap Rock started turning the ‘mountain’ into gravel.
There were Lenape in Delaware Township when the first settlers arrived, during the early years of the 18th century. By the 1750s, their numbers had been greatly reduced by disease, and most survivors had moved north and west. Some stayed, however, including a woman called “Old Indian Mary.” She was known by members of the Moore family who lived on the western edge of Delaware Township along Route 604. The Moores claimed that she was the last surviving Lenape person in Delaware Township. When she died, she was buried next to the Moore Family Burying Ground—not inside the wall with the family, but “over in the woods.” This comes from a story written by Egbert T. Bush (“Old Farms in Old Hunterdon,” Hunterdon Co. Democrat, April 9, 1931), and I am sorry to say he did not give us the date of Mary’s burial. By 1931, that little fact was probably lost in the mists of time.
Types of Cemeteries
One way to think about township cemeteries is how they are owned. There are what I call public, semi-public, and private cemeteries in Delaware Township. Public cemeteries are presently owned by a public entity, either a church or an independent cemetery organization. Maintenance is taken care of by the originating agency or by a related organization. Semi-public cemeteries are fairly large cemeteries that are seemingly public, but the organization that created the cemetery has gone out of existence. As a consequence, maintenance of these cemeteries is problematic, often relying on the work of volunteers. Private cemeteries are more properly called burying grounds and are found on private property, usually well-concealed from the road. Some are cared for and others are ignored. Finally, I have added a category of abandoned cemeteries. These cannot be found anymore, but they were written about by early 20th century county historians.
I have taken the liberty of classifying our cemeteries this way:
Public Cemeteries: Holcombe-Riverview, Rosemont, Lower Amwell Old and New Yards, Locktown Christian Church, Sandy Ridge Church, Sergeantsville Methodist Church.
Semi-public Cemeteries: Barber, Locktown Baptist Church, Sand Brook Church
Private Cemeteries or Burying Grounds: Cherry, Kitchen, Moore, Opdycke, Pine Hill, Rake, Reading/Johnson, Rittenhouse, Sutton, Thatcher
Abandoned Cemeteries: Anderson, Bosenbury-Taylor, Canal Workers, Johnes Family, Titus Family, Wert Family
In the next post, I will tackle the public cemeteries.