The Old Cemetery

The Grave of Jonathan Edwards at Princeton Cemetery

by Dr. Ken Matto

I believe that one of the most historically, spiritual places a person can visit is an old cemetery. I have been doing this for years and every time I pass an old cemetery, I note the location and return. I like to take my Bible and a note pad with me so I can jot down the Funeral text and the sayings on the tombstones. If any of you have ever gone to an old cemetery, you can almost feel the pathos of standing by a 200 year old tombstone when you read that a baby or an infant had died. You can almost picture the parents, friends, and the preacher standing around that little grave while giving comforting words to all in attendance. You can see the tears rolling down the mother's face as the little baby she held under her heart for nine months must now be committed to the earth because a disease had taken her child. There is so much theology of hope written on the old tombstones in our area in New Jersey, USA and I wish to share many of the sayings with you.

Within a few miles of my home here in Edison, there are many old graveyards. In my hometown of Perth Amboy, NJ, there is an old graveyard with a tomb dating back to 1687 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Many of the white stones have succumbed to the weather and are unreadable but the brown ones have survived because they are made of natural Sandstone which is found in river beds, so they have a much longer life. I believe God has allowed many of these old tombstones to survive to show us the difference between the beliefs of 100-300 years ago in our country with the hope which the church preached and the obvious lack of the theology of hope and compromised teachings of the modern church. I would suggest that when spring and summer comes around, take an afternoon and walk through an old cemetery, it is not morbid, it is getting in touch with the spiritual roots of this country. The atheists say that we were never a Christian nation but you could not prove that lie by any old cemetery as each old one is replete with resurrection hope. Let us now look at some of the sayings which I have found to be both very inspiring and hope filled. Keep in mind that I am spelling the words exactly as they are found on the tombstones

 

Clover Hill Reformed Church
890 Amwell Rd - Flemington, NJ
 
John Voorhees - 9/2/1873
In living friends
who view this tomb
Where doth my body lie
Prepare for death
Make peace with God
That you may happy die
 
Julia Suydam - 4/30/1875 - Aged 26
Her last words were "I am going to see my saviour."
 
John Case - 9/23/1882
Husband and Father thou hast left us
And thy loss we deeply feel
But tis god that hath bereft us
He can all our sorrows heal
 
Yet again we hope to meet thee
When the day of life is fled
Then in heaven with joy to greet thee
Where no farewell tear is shed
 
 
Christ Church Episcopal
5 Paterson St. - New Brunswick, NJ
 
Margaret - Wife of James Williams 10/18/1804 - 33 years old
God my redeemer lives
And ever from the skyes
Looks down and watches all my dust
Till he shall bid it rise
 
Arayed in glorious grace
Shall these vile bodys shine
And every shape and every face
Be heavenly and devine
 
Brigadier General Anthony Walton White - 2/?/1803 - 53 years
In memory of Brigadier General Anthony Walton White
An officer in the American Revolution
A member of General Washington's staff
Washington, Lafayette, and Kosciusko called him friend
 
A sincere and generous friend
A zealous and inflexible patriot
And a faithful active and gallant officer
In the Army of the United States
During the Revolutionary War
 
 
First Presbyterian Church of Woodbridge
600 Rahway Ave - Woodbridge, NJ
 
JB 1690
That is the only inscription written on a small stone. Oldest one in Graveyard. It is believed to be a descendant of the Bloomfield Family.
 
Hannah Cutter - 1/8/1830
Weep not for me my friends
For now my race is run
It is the will of God
So let His will be done
 
Unknown
At rest in Jesus faithful arms
With Jesus in a peaceful bed
Secure from all the dreadful storms
Around this sinful world are spread
 
[Sometimes only parts of a tombstone survive]
 
Mary Marsh - 3/10/1831
Just like a rose in early morn
She withered and decayed
The fell disease came slowly on
and baffled every aid
 
Peter Mellick - 11/17/1829
Till the last hour of life, thy loss we'll mourn
And strew they grave with tears of sorrow shed
O may we then on angels wings be borne
To see him live, who now is dead
 
Benjamin Wilson - 8/17/1814 - Aged 2 Yrs - 2 Mos - 11 Days
No more thy pleasant child is seen
The parents joy no crown
The tender plant so fresh and green
All wither'd is and gone
 
Sarah Marlin - 3/25/1806 - Aged 11 Yrs - 9 Mos - 14 days
Sleep lovely child and take thy rest
Both young and old must die
God called thee home he thought is best
To sing his praise on high
 
Edward Crowell Potter - 12/4/1826
Tis not youth, science, arts or skill
Nor loving friends or the worlds good will
From deaths arrest one day can save
All flesh must moulder in the grave
That God who gives and takes away
Will do whats right in his own way
 
Esther Bloomfield - 9/11/1742
As bright sol the equator past
Death cut her down as with a blast
And in deaths fetters must lie bound
Till raised by the last trumpet sound
 
Elizabeth Freeman - 12/3/1760 - 87 Years old
Our days begin with trouble here
Our life is but a span
And cruel death is always near
So frail a thing is man
 
Henry Freeman - 10/10/1763 - 94 years old
Here let him sleep in undisturbed dust
Until the resurrection of the just
 
 
Stelton Baptist Church
334 Plainfield Ave - Edison, NJ
 
Jeremiah Manning - 1/18/1831
Ye mourners who in silent gloom
Bear your dear kindred to the tomb
Mourn not for those who go to rest
They sleep with Jesus and are blest
 
Abraham Van Gilder - 2/28/1818 - 116 Yrs - 4 Mos
Rebel against heaven this man had been
Full years one hundred and sixteen
By Christs free grace he then became
An heir of God, a new born son
[Abraham Van Gilder was born on the high seas October 1701 and became saved at the age of 113.]
 
 
Presbyterian Church at Basking Ridge
1 E. Oak St. - Basking Ridge, NJ
 
Elizabeth Ayres - 10/16/1801
Give up yourselves through Jesus power
His name to glorify
And promise in this sacred hour
For God to live and die
 
John Cross - 9/25/1796
Now let your souls ascend above
The fear of guile and woe
God is for us our friend declared
Who then can be our foe
 
Elizabeth Boyle - 7/13/1803
Oft as the bell with solemn toll
Speaks the departure of a soul
Let each one ask himself am I
Prepared should I be called to die
 
Bryan Cooper - 6/12/1798
God has laid up in heaven for me
A crown which cannot fade
The righteous judge at the great day
Shall place it on my head
 
 
Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church
892 Stuyvesant Ave - Union, NJ
 
Hannah Townley - 11/3/1827 - 30 Yrs old
Here lies entombed a patient one
Of Davids chosen race
She left the clay with pure delight
To see her saviors face
 
Nancy Winans - 1/16/1825 - 30 Yrs old
She died in Jesus, blessed dead
For so the Holy Spirit said
And rests upon that shore
Where she beholds her savior God
And triumphs in atoning blood
Then weep for her no more
 
Sarah Winans - 7/4/1822 - 70 Yrs old
The unremitting path she trod
That leads to happiness and God
Her seventy years had run their race
Where she was called to heavenly embrace
The joyful spirit left the clay
Until the resurrection day
And here the precious treasure lies
Till God shall call it to the skies
 
Aaron Faitoute - 8/26/1838 - 65 Yrs old
What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Psalm 89:48
 
God my redeemer lives
And often from the skies
Looks down and watches all my dust
Till he shall bid it rise
 
Phebe Faitoute - 12/12/1823 - 44 Yrs old
Husband and children you I leave
O do not mourn, O do not grieve
But strive to gain the happy shore
Where we may meet to part no more
 
Davis Headley - 9/10/1832 - 70 Yrs old
Laid in the dust he must abide
Thus sleeping by his consorts side
Ye living children, come and see
Where both your once loved parents be
Then follow in the paths they trod
Till you shall rest with Christ in God
 
Betsey Woodruff - 4/7/1814 - 22 Yrs old
Husband and children farewell I'm bound
To heavenly Canaans happy ground
I leave you with a God of love
And hope to meet you both above
 
Go home dear friends wipe off your tears
I must lie here till Christ appears
And then O! then I hope to have
A joyful rising from the grave
 
Sleep on dear wife in the cold grave
Till the last trump shall sound
Then from thy God thou shalt receive
A never fading crown
 
Till the last hour of life her loss I'll mourn
My tears of sorrow o'er her grave I'll shed
And may I yet on angels wings be born
To live with her when risen from the dead
 
Laelilia Alnor Baldwin - 4/5/1805
After a tedious and painful illness
Which she bore with Christian fortitude
 
Her trials o'er her toilsome race is run
The Christians prize, a crown of glory won
From tongues seraphic, notes of welcome flow
That hail her soaring, from a world of woe
In robes of light, she joins the angelic choir
And tunes of hymns of praise, the golden lyre
 
 
Second Baptist Church of Scotch Plains
333 Park Ave - Scotch Plains, NJ
 
Nancy Darby - 3/10/1839
Without a sign her fetters broke
We scarce could say shes gone
Before her happy spirit took
Its mansion near the throne
But is she dead? Oh no she lives
Her happy spirit quickly flies
To heav'n above and there receives
The long expected prize
 
 
The Presbyterian Church of Westfield
140 Mountain Ave - Westfield, NJ
 
Joanna Crane - 2/9/1779
The grave has eloquence indeed
Hear it ye mortals and give heed
 
Hannah Miller - 8/17/1774
God is my redeemer lives
And often from the skies
Looks down and watches all my dust
Till he shall bid it rise
 
David Cole - 7/2/1819
As vanishes the fleeting shade
As flowers before the evening fade
Such is the life of feeble man
His days are measured by a span
 
 
First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen
270 Woodbridge Ave - Metuchen, NJ
 
Samuel Ayres - 1/1/1896 & Wife Mary Ayres 10/30/1853
Tell me not the Christian dieth
When the spirit takes its flight
Tis but going home to heaven
To the land of pure delight
 
Anna Louisa Mundy - 7/29/1897
The Master is come and calleth for thee
 
 
St. James Episcopal Church
2131 Woodbridge Ave - Edison, NJ
 
Revne Runyon - 11/21/1811
My flesh shall slumber in the ground
Till the last trumpets joyful sound
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise
And in my saviors image rise
 
Eileen Gilman - 6/6/1837
What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy seat
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer
But wishes to be often there
 
 
United Methodist Church of Springfield
1441 Springfield Ave - New Providence, NJ
 
Sarah Wood - 4/12/1806
With heavenly weapons I have fought
The battles of the Lord
Finished my course and kept the faith
And wait the sure reward
 
Betsy Ayre - 8/3/1861
Our days on earth
Are as a shadow
And there is none abiding
 
 
First Presbyterian Church of New Providence
1307 Springfield Ave - New Providence, NJ
 
Cathe Lacey - 10/23/1794
Come all ye weary souls
Come fly to Jesus breast
In him you'll find a sweet repose
For he will give you rest
 
Thomas Osborne - 4/5/1804
Hark the redeemer from on high
Of born he calls thee to the sky
Leave they fond wife they children dear
To taste of joys unknown but hear
I do regard the widows grief
And unto her will spend relief
A father to thy children b??
But they must put their trust in me
 
Levi Valentine - 2/16/1789 - 14 Yrs old
Is this the fate that all must die
Will death no ages spare
Then let us all to Jesus fly
And seek for refuge there
 
Jonathan Valentine - 4/18/1801
Beneath this clod a man of God
His body did commit
His dust returns to dust again
His spirit to God who gave it
Corruption, earth and worms
Shall but resine this flesh
Till my triumphant spirit comes
To put it on a fresh
 
Matthias Wynan - 10/10/1777 - 16 Yrs old
Why do we mourn departing friends
Or shake at deaths alarm
Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call them to his arms
 
Mary Noe - 4/22/1876
Our Mother at rest
 
 
Hilltop Presbyterian Church of Mendham
14 Hilltop Road - Mendham, NJ
 
Robert McMurty - 2/9/1822 - 73 Yrs Old
Yet faith may triumph o'er the grave
Trample on the tombs
My Jesus my redeemer lives
My God my savior comes
 
Aaron Robart - 5/11/1815 - 59 Yrs Old
Within deaths awful gloomy shade
A loving husband rests his head
A tender father here is bound
Till the last trumpet shakes the ground
 
Elizabeth Robart - 8/31/1845 - 88 Yrs Old
Death waited long but came at last
As the winged lightning blast
Yet not to quickly can he come
When dieing is but going home
 
The furrowed cheek this silvered head
Shall sleep not always with the dead
From dust this aged form shall rise
Erect immortal to the skies
 
[Funeral Text] (Rev 14:13 KJV) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
 
At this church is a mass grave with the hallowed remains of 27 Revolutionary War soldiers who died of a disease like small pox in 1777.
 
 
Hillsborough Reformed Church
1 Amwell Road - Somerville, NJ
 
Martin Schenck - 8/14/1823
In God's own arms he left his breath
That God's own spirit gave
His was the noblest road to death
And his the Christians grave
 
Peter Wyckoff - 6/4/1813
O death vindictive agent of the skies
Beneath thine arm a man, a Christonest
Who as a man with terror saw war
But as a Christian, triumphed o'er his fear
 
Rev. John Lansing Zabriskie - 8/15/1850
Pure in life, sincere of purpose
With zeal, perseverance and prudence
Devoted to the service of his master
Here amid the loved people of his charge
His earthly remains await
The resurrection of the just
 
 
Old Tennent Presbyterian Church
444 Old Tennent Road - Tennent, NJ
 
Old Tennent Church was used as a hospital during the Battle of Monmouth at the end of June in 1778. I have never been inside the church as it is normally locked up but a minister I know told me that there is blood on the pews of the church remaining to this day of Revolutionary War Soldiers. The blood was covered by some type of clear coating to preserve it on those pews. I only offer one epitaph from the cemetery but I wish to give a list of Revolutionary War soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom at the Battle of Monmouth. These men have been lost to history but not to God and country.
 
Captain Henry Fauntelroy - 6/28/1778
5th VA Regiment, Continental Line
Born Naylor's Hole, Richmond Co. Va.
6/28/1756 Killed by a cannonball at Battle of Monmouth 6/28/1778
 
THE SOLDIERS
James Anderson
John Baird
John Bowman
William Campbell
Aaron Davis
Abraham Emmons
David Forman
David Gordon
John Hays
Peter Johnston
Moses Laird
William McDermott
Hugh Newell
Thomas Parker
John Reed
Joseph Scudder
William Tone
Benjamin Van Cleve
Aaron Walker
Yohn Yetman

 

Lamington Presbyterian Church
Lamington Road - Lamington, NJ
 
Ann Vanderbeek - 2/11/1824  (27 Years old)
No more the healing art can give
This dying frame a power to live
or stay the hand of death
 
But Jesus calls my soul away
Jesus forbids a longer stay
My dearest friends adieu
Gitty Vanderbeek - 5/9/1822  (35 Years old)
No more can death my soul surprise
My sturdy faith on God relies
And all is peace of mind
 
I see no more of things below
To tempt my stay with joy I go
And leave them all behind
Robert Craig - 10/5/1797  (63 Years old)
Why fhould we mourn depar (despair) or shake at deaths alarms
It is the voise that Jefus fends
To call us to his armes

 

 
Harlingen Reformed Church
Rt. 206 - Belle Meade, NJ
 
Rem Stryker - 8/20/1826
Softly his fainting head he lay
Upon his saviours breast
His saviour kissed his soul away
And laid his limbs to rest
 
Ida Van Cleef Stryker - 2/23/1826
Sleep on dear dust till thou shalt rise
And take thy lot above the skies
There joined to all the church above
Reign endless in the world of love
 
Margeret Veghte - 6/4/1826
Both old and young as well as me
All in due time must buried be
Although im taken in my bloom
Yet Christ hath thought it none to soon
 
Peter Perlee - 4/18/1781
This man he walked in love with God
And did not turn like Aaron's rod
But unto God he put his trust
 
Elsey Baird - 10/16/1801
Dear husband and children now farewell
And friends with whom I lov'd to dwell
I hope to meet you all above
In mansions of eternal love
 
 
Princeton Cemetery
 
Archibald Alexander Hodge, D.D., L.L.D - 11/11/1886
The Farewell Words of Dr. Hodge:
We part as pilgrims part upon the road. Let us pledge one another to reassemble in Heaven. Let us turn our faces homeward; For if we shall soon - some of us how very soon - Be present with the Lord

 

Metuchen Colonial Cemetery
Main Street - Metuchen, New Jersey
 
Eliakam Martin 4/17/1813
I wait for the Lord my soul doth wait
And in His Word Do I Hope
My soul awaiteth for the Lord
More than they that wait for the morning
 
Hannah Thornal 4/5/1786
From worldly woe to relms of joy
Where bliss reigns pure without alloy
Her soul has flown to seize the prize
Prepared for her beyond the skies
 
Charlotta Ayers 6/12/1793
With heavenly weapons I have fought
The battles of the Lord
Finished my course and kept the faith
And gained the true reward
 
Mary Freeman 7/23/1804
In sure and steadfast hope to rise
And claim her mansion in the skies
In bloom of life her flesh laid down
The cross exchanging for the crown
 
Daniel McGregor 10/27/1806
Who after a life of exemplary uprightness and devotion,
left at his death as a testimony of his zeal for the
Kingdom of Christ the liberal donation of three hundred
ninety five dollars for the support of the gospel in this church
 
With the peaceful hope of a glorious immortality
 
Historical Note
Extremely close to the site of this cemetery was a battle in 1777 between the troops of British General Howe and American General Sterling.   General Howe was marching to attack Short Hills when he ran smack into General Sterling and in two hours time the Americans pushed the British back to Perth Amboy.

 

First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury
So. Main Street - Cranbury, NJ  (Cranberrey as written on some stones)
The town of David Brainerd
Sarah Dye 4/1/1782  (3 yrs. old)
Parents weep not for me
For all your tears are vain
Think only on the Lord
That we may meet again
 
James Rue 12/5/1810  (27 yrs. old)
Confind by death to shades of night
He lies conceald from mortal fight
Till Jesus from the lofty fkies
Shall bid his flumbering dust arise
 
Elizabeth Johnson  12/2/1808  (85 yrs. old)
Low at they feet oh Lord I bow
Oh pitty and poor
Here will I lie and wait till thou
Shall bid rise and live
 
Richard Hand  5/23/1798  (1 Year old)
Ah parents do no longer grieve
Nor valley faft and weep
Mefsiah shall his pains releive
And guard him in his fleep
He's on the Savior's bosom laid
And feels no forrow there
he's by a heavenly parent fed
And needs no more your care
 
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
183 Rector Street - Perth Amboy, NJ
Church established 1685 - Oldest in New Jersey
 
Mrs. Ellen Gordon - 12/12/1687  (27 Years Old)   Oldest Stone in New Jersey [Still very readable]
Calm was her death
Well ordered her life
A pious mother
And a loving wife
Her ofspring six
Of which 4 here do lie
There souls in heaven
Whers do rest on high
 
Her husband is buried next to her, Thomas Gordon of the family of Straloch in Scotland.  He was born in 1652 and died at the age of 70 on April 28, 1722.  Thomas and Ellen were married for ten years when she died.   They were married in 1677 and had six children.  Four of them must have died very young since this is written on her stone that 4 of her children are in the same cemetery, although the graves are lost in time.  They could be buried anywhere in the Perth Amboy area since it was basically all woods in the late 1600's.  The grave marker of Thomas is written in Latin.

What a beautiful journey down the path of our spiritual history as we see the hope these people had and spiritual lives they led. Those were times when even the unbeliever showed reverence. So I suggest that you visit an old cemetery one afternoon and spend some quality time and bring your children too as you may open their eyes to the reality that our history is replete with belief in God.  If you go to an old cemetery and there are newer stones there, you will notice that as time approached the 20th century there is a lack of personal and spiritual  inscriptions on the modern stones until you come down to today and see no inscriptions except name, date of birth and date of death. It shows how cold and unattached our society has become.
 
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