MONTCLAIR, NJ – Rosedale cemetery is celebrating 175 years of service to the community this year. Sitting on 96 acres of land in Montclair, West Orange and Orange, the non-profit, non-sectarian Cemetery recently hosted a gathering of local community leaders and those serving the community in the memorial business.
Founded in 1840, Steve Marshall, President of the Rosedale board of directors, expressed that the facility remains dedicated to preserving the same character that its original founders had envisioned over a century and a half ago. Upon entrance into the park-like setting, there are significant landscaping upgrades evident throughout the property. Marshall maintained that through careful planning and maintenance Rosedale is committed to making continuous improvements to the grounds and service, as new technological advancements occur.
Marshall said, "We are here to serve the community." He added that webcasting has been added to allow loved ones who cannot attend memorial services, to be able to do so remotely. Marshall also expressed that Rosedale now has a scattering area preserved for those who want to scatter the remains of their loved ones. He added that the landscaping and technological upgrades are part of the plan they have "to invest in the future of the cemetery because we know how important it is for the families."
In the early 1800s, the “Oranges” in Essex County were not yet formed and about 4,000 people was spread out over an area five miles long and three miles wide known as the “Mountain Society.” Until 1840, all burials took place in the “Old Burying Ground” located at the First Presbyterian Church of Orange, at Main Street and Scotland Road. After one hundred and forty years of burials, the local population began facing the issue of lack of burial space and began looking to acquire ground for a new cemetery elsewhere in the area.
On November 9, 1840, the Council of the New Jersey State Legislature received a petition from the citizens of Orange for an act to incorporate a Cemetery Company that resulted in the Council of the House of Assembly passing the bill unanimously. According to the Rosedale Cemetery officials, “The Proprietors of the Orange Cemetery” were granted the power “to take and hold in fee, the tract of land situated in the township of Orange, near the residence of Caleb Williams, containing about ten acres, late the property of John Quimby, deceased, for such Cemetery, and such other tract of land which the said Corporation may hereafter add thereto for the purpose aforesaid….”
On November 17, 1840, the Proprietors and others assembled on the grounds dedicate the Cemetery. At the conclusion of the prayer and public address, 59 lots were sold to those who were present.
With the incorporation of the Orange Cemetery, now Rosedale, many families relinquished their lots in the Old Burying Ground and began re-interments in the Orange Cemetery as early as December 1840. The last record of re-interment occurred in 1859. Among those removed to the new cemetery were persons who had passed on as far back as 1804-5, even before the incorporation of Orange as a township, Rosedale officials state.
In 1843, the cemetery began to expand and others from surrounding communities were also being buried there. Because of this, Rosedale officials maintain that proprietors felt the name “Orange Cemetery” was no longer appropriate. “Rosedale Cemetery” name was adopted on March 8, 1844 by legislative enactment.
In December 1869, Rosedale then expanded into West Orange and Montclair, adding the new entrance onto Orange Road, which is now Rosedale’s only entrance.
Marshall added, "The cemetery is actually in three towns. Orange, West Orange and Montclair." Adding that the trees and park-like surroundings within the cemetery "gives it character."
Rosedale later decided to relocate the office from the former, small white structure on Washington Street in Orange, to a new building near the Montclair entrance on Orange Road. The office building includes a full size chapel, state of the art crematorium and new modern columbariums, with Rosedale setting a precedent as becoming the first crematory in the area.
Rosedale Cemetery officials state that they will continue to work to maintain the same level of beauty the original Founders envisioned back in 1840.
Robert Gist, General Manager of the property, said, "Part of our plan is keeping Rosedale what it was when it first opened." He added that the board of directors for Rosedale are considering the addition of mausoleums in the near future.