|Brownstone angel grave marker, Chester Cemetery, Chester, New Jersey|
So off we went in Frank’s Chevy Blazer (floor heater not working), on a three hour dead-of-winter trip to northern New Jersey. The trip was uneventful while in Pennsylvania, though we did see a quaint church with a graveyard around Lahaska. The early morning light was perfect. We figured we’d hit it on the way back when the light was not so good (which is exactly what happened so never do this!).
Eventually we crossed into New Jersey, the land of roadside oddities. New Jersey is like an entire state filled with towns like Austin, Texas – here a pair of yellow Adirondack chairs the size of Volkswagens, there a giant ice cream cone ----- with a few dead deer thrown in for good measure. We actually had a destination in mind – this was not one of my usual ramshackle expeditions, setting out with inadequate funds and no map. We were headed for Chester, New Jersey. This is in north central New Jersey, which is a miasma of small towns, with no major highways connecting them. But hey, that’s why God gave us the GPS.
Frank had been up here recently on other business. While driving through the area, he noted some interesting churchyard cemeteries and an abandoned farmhouse that he wanted to photograph at a later date. Hence, our trip.
|Chester "Cemetery," with First Congregational Church, Chester, NJ|
"From about the 7th century, the process of burial was firmly in the hands of the Church (meaning the organization), and burying the dead was only allowed on the lands near a church (now referring to the building), the so-called churchyard. The part of the churchyard used for burial is called graveyard, ....
As the population of Europe started to grow, the capacity of graveyards was no longer sufficient (the population of modern Europe is almost 40 times higher than it was in the 7th century). By the end of the 18th century, the unsustainability of church burials became apparent, and completely new places, independent of graveyards, were devised—and these were called cemeteries." - "Difference between 'cemetery' and 'graveyard' in English"
|Zinc memorials, Union Cemetery|
|Cemetery Traveler Frank in Union Cemetey|
|Marble "doughboy," Union Cemetery|
|Evidence of lives passed ....|
The far northeastern part of North America was the first area of the continent inhabited by the early European settlers, our immigrant ancestors, so this is where all the early stones are. As time went on and the population grew, it moved south and inland – along the way, burial practices changed as did the memorials used to mark the graves.
|1772 brownstone grave marker with angel, Chester Cemetery|