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Old Presbyterian Graveyard
Somerset County, New Jersey

Submitted by Mary Nelson [mnelson@sclsnj.org].

To reach cemetery from the North/Northeast/Northwest: take Rt 18 N or Rt 27 N or S or Rt 1 N or S to Rt 287 N to Rt 28 E to Hamilton St to E. High St. E on E. High St. The graveyard is at the end of the block, on the corner of East High St & East St, immediately to the left of The Bound Brook Memorial Library as you face the front entrance, at 402 East High St.

To reach cemetery from the South/Southeast/Southwest: Rt 18 N or Rt 27 N or S or Rt 1 N or S to Rt 287 N to Rt 28 E to Hamilton St to E. High St. E on E. High St. The graveyard is at the end of the block, on the corner of East High St & East St, immediately to the left of The Bound Brook Memorial Library as you face the front entrance, at 402 East High St.

The Old Presbyterian Graveyard, located at the corner of East High Street and East Street in the borough of Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey is the original cemetery of the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church. The two acre site has also been sometimes referred to as the Revolutionary War Cemetery and the Pre-Revolutionary Graveyard.

The founders of the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church were banished from their Scottish homeland and sailed here in the 1680s after struggling to maintain Presbyterianism as their state religion. The actual date of the Church's organization is unknown, but there is historical evidence that it was prior to 1700. The first frame building for the Church was constructed in 1725 on the corner of Main Street and East Street. Services were held here until February 6, 1896 when a second building dating from 1829 was destroyed by a devastating fire and hurricane. The original cemetery is located directly behind this church location and is adjacent to the Bound Brook Memorial Library.

In 1898 the Presbyterian Church was rebuilt on the corner of Union and Mountain Avenues. A "new" cemetery had already been established on the east side of Mountain Avenue. Sized at 12.16 acres and named "Bound Brook Cemetery" it was purchased on September 7, 1863 by the church trustees from John D. Voorhees. The first to be buried in the new ground was a Civil War soldier, Nicholas Conover on May 15, 1864. Burials continued in the old cemetery for another thirty-five years.

In 1907, Miss M. Antoinette Quinby recorded inscriptions through the year 1850 and later, A(braham) Van Doren Honeyman recorded inscriptions from 1850 through 1899. Ms. Quinby's brief inscriptions were published in The Somerset County Historical Quarterly, Volume I, in 1912 and Mr. Honeyman's in Volume IV, in 1915. The full inscriptions of the earlier set were filed with The New Jersey Historical Society in Newark, New Jersey in Monumental Inscriptions of Somerset County, Volume 16.

The Old Presbyterian Graveyard was bought by philanthropist George M. La Monte in 1926 from the church trustees and the deed was given to the DAR, Camp Middlebrook Chapter with $1000.00 towards its improvement and maintenance. The Camp Middlebrook Chapter added $500.00 to the $1000.00 sum and a tri-partial trust made up of the Presbyterian Church, the Camp Middlebrook Chapter of the DAR and the Bound Brook Trust Company was formed, the latter in charge.

Mabelle Titus Powelson, a secretary to Mr. La Monte handwrote approximately 600 epitaphs from the tombstones probably sometime in the mid- to late 1920s. From these handwritten records, the DAR had the inscriptions typed into a 5 volume leather-bound set, in memory of Elizabeth Herbert Olendorf, Organizing Regent. These volumes were presented to the Bound Brook Memorial Library in 1972.

Over the years, the cemetery was renovated and landscaped and an iron fence was erected. In fact, the cemetery was well maintained by the DAR, from 1926 until 1934.

In 1929, Miss Caroline B. La Monte erected a colonial design entrance gate at the corner of East High and East Streets. In memory of her brother, George M. La Monte, one "Gateway of Remembrance" plaque inscription reads "In the year of this Pact of Paris, this Gateway of Remembrance was placed here for the sake of George Mason La Monte, a citizen of this borough who reverenced the past and who worked for the future wherein war shall cease and goodwill shall prevail among men! 1929." The companion plaque reads "The work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17."

After some years of financial and legal issues between the borough and the DAR, Camp Middlebrook Chapter, the latter deeded the tract to the borough as a public park in 1934. The DAR, Camp Middlebrook Chapter was designated "curator". Over the next three to four decades, the cemetery suffered from neglect and vandalism. Dorothy Stratford, a local historian recorded the graveyard in the late 1950s.

On May 24, 1963, the Bound Brook Memorial Library was presented with a grid of the cemetery, indicating the burial coordinates of some of the Revolutionary War soldiers, War of 1812 soldiers, the Mexican War soldier and the Civil War soldiers buried there. The grid was prepared by Miss Esther Stryker, a DAR member. It is estimated that there are approximately seventy Revolutionary War soldiers buried in the graveyard, about forty-five of which are identified, three of the War of 1812, one of the Mexican War and four of the Civil War.

Improvements to the cemetery were included in the Recreation Master Plan for the year 1972. For the Nation's Bicentennial in 1976, a project to restore the cemetery and create a public park was proposed and embraced by many residents. Funds of approximately $40,000 were raised. The Bound Brook Bicentennial Committee landscaped and regraded the site and installed brick walkways and a brick entranceway next to the public library on East High Street.

A brick monument listing the names of the known interred was erected on Sep 12, 1976. Headstones were laid flat and it is not clear how many are in their exact, correct location. Due to this uncertainty, the burial coordinates defined here, may no longer be relevant. Unfortunately many broken stones were carted away. In the year 2005, only about 170-180 markers remain on the site: approximately 152 readable headstones, 2-3 footstones, 11 monuments and 13 unidentifiable headstones. The Degroot family vault has vanished and there are only some brick remnants and a flat family monument to mark the location of the Steele family vault.

Presbyterian Church members discussed taking over the maintenance of the cemetery but that never actually happened. Unfortunately, since 1976, the Cemetery has been suffering from disrespect and neglect. It is estimated that there may be as many as 1000 to 1500 people buried in The Old Presbyterian Graveyard. There are approximately 600 known interred who were placed in marked graves and an unknown number in unmarked graves.

The graveyard most probably dates from about 1700. In 1907, the oldest legible stone recorded a death in 1744 for Sarah McCoy. It is possible that Hannah Dye may have been buried even earlier, perhaps in 1736, but the general consensus is that she probably was buried either in 1756, 1786 or 1796. Many unmarked graves are said to be older. The last burial took place in 1899 for Susan Van Nortwick Cammann.

In February 2005, The Bound Brook/Middlesex Rotary had two signs erected on the outermost pillars of "The Gateway of Remembrance." One identifies the site as "The Old Presbyterian Graveyard" and the other identifies it as The Bound Brook/Middlesex Rotary Centennial Project . The Rotary is committed to future upkeep of the site and supported the effort to list the known interred on www.interment.net.

For additional information, contact: Bound Brook Memorial Library 402 East High Street, Bound Brook, New Jersey 08805 Tel: 732.356.0044

- Mary C. Nelson

 

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