Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My favorite cemeteries and why

My four favorite cemeteries are Eglington in Mount Royal, the Newton Friends Burial Ground near the old train station in West Collingswood, The Stranger's Burial Ground in West Deptford and the Mount Vernon Street Cemetery in Camden.
Only one of these is a favorite for aesthetic reasons and that would be Eglington, the oldest still functioning cemetery in the United States, begun in 1776 by John Eglington whose family plot is near the Kings Highway entrance at Mount Royal.  It is a beautiful and evocative place, nice to walk in and visit.
Whoops, I lied, I have another which I CANNOT leave out Harleigh Cemetary in Camden.

 Old Quaker Burial Ground.
1.  Collingswood
The first Quakers in the area settled along Newton Creek in what is now Collingswood. A house of one of the founders, Thackara, is still standing and still occupied with brick work on the roof that says
1754. The Quakers were there in the late 1600's and they had a burial ground near their original meeting house which is now gone and replaced by a train station. The railroad is very important in the
directions. The railroad runs parallel to the White Horse Pike on the West Collingswood side of town. Collings Ave. intersects it. If you take Collings Ave, cross over White Horse pike and cross over the
railroad track. On the right is a small refurbished one room school called the Champion School dating to 1812, but originally called the Union School. To the left is Lynne Ave. and an old train station.
The grassy area runs paralel to the train tracks. At the back corner next to the Newton Creek is the oldest burial ground with stones embedded in a concrete fence and the oldest broken stones thrown into
the center. One of the Quakers was married to a non-member and they wouldn't allow her to be buried there so he started another burial next door, the Sloan family burial ground.  There is a plaque that tells the story.

Next to that is the Revolutionary Burial ground filled with members of both the Thackara family and  and the Sloans. And that leads back to the Train station.

Now on the other side of the railroad is an apartment complex on Eldridge Ave. (which crosses over to both sides of the railroad.) On Eldridge is the old Thackara house.

When the Quakers moved, they went to the Camden area and built the Newton Meeting which is still there. It is near the bridge approach on the Rutgers side,
I remember seeing it but I can't place it accurately in my mental map now. They wanted to take their burial stones but the local historians wouldn't permit it and that is why they are still in Collingswood.

The Strangers Burial Ground in Deptford and the Ashbook in Glendora are both sites where dead Hessian soldiers were interred after teh Battle of Red Bank, where 300 to 400 of them fell in a 40 minute period in a failed attempt to take Fort Mercer.  I visit them because I feel sorry for those young men dead in a foreign place with their families never knowing what happened or where they were and never able to visit their graves.  Since I have Hessian ancestors from the 1840's not the Revolutionary Period, I sometimes feel a 'kinship' duty to visit with them.

Harleigh I love because it is majestic and a gem of a setting.  Also it is where my favorite poet, is buried, Walt Whitman of course, and right behind it is the Camden County Historical Socity and Pomona Hall -  home place of the Cooper family founders of the Camden area.

I'm posting this because it is Halloween and the time to consider the other side of this world.
Happy Trails and if you know of a cemetery I should visit, let me know and I'll go!
wrightj45@yahoo.com

ps.  Don't forget to visit Hoag Levins article on the Camden County Historical Society and Museum Site - it is excellent!

pss.  One of these days I've got to get to the National Cemetery in Beverly, NJ because my Grandmother Lyons is buried there.

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