EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - I was there among them all. A hillside full of Chitticks, Applebys, Rues, Thoms, and Vogels at the highest point in East Brunswick, the apex of Chestnut Hill Cemetery. The voices of the dead, though stilled many years ago, could be heard on an autumn night after a beautiful sundown. They spoke of their jobs, their lives, their accomplishments, and their families, all of which factored in making East Brunswick the community it is during the daytime. Of course, they had a bit of help from the East Brunswick Museum and a few very willing volunteers.
This year's Cemetery Walk facilitated by the Museum and members of the Middlesex County Office of Historic Sites and History Services, headed by Mark Nonesteid, who noted the record attendance for the popular October program. Paths among the grave sites were lit with luminaria, as historic re-enacters portrayed some of East Brunswick's notables. Museum members and local Boy Scout troops help plant the lights and guide the visitors through the maze of recorded history.
Your editor was there, portraying Louella Jolly Brown, East Brunswick's first Postmistress, who delivered mail to residents for 53 years, generally by horse and buggy through the RFD (Rural Free Delivery) that preceded the full-delivery postal service system of today. "Rural Free Delivery (RFD), service begun in the United States in 1896 to deliver mail directly to farm families. Before RFD, rural inhabitants had to pick up mail themselves at sometimes distant post offices or pay private express companies for delivery. Free mail delivery began in cities in 1863, but it took more than 20 years of agitating by the National Grange for the service to be extended." (Britannica.com)
Volunteers voiced other East Brunswick personalities, whose stories included some tales of wild romance, farming innovation, neighborhood-building, and wartime life.
Then the candles went out, the volunteers went home, and dead went back to rest, perhaps feeling a bit more connected to the world above them.