Roxbury Roots and History

A Spooky Cemetery Tour in the Heart of Roxbury

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Editor's Note:  The date of this event has been changed.

ROXBURY, NJ – Michele O’Halloran is headed for the cemetery this weekend and she wants you to join her.

O’Halloran, administrative assistant to Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd, will be a tour guide for the Moonlight History & Mystery Cemetery Tour taking place on the evening of Nov. 5  in the graveyard behind the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna.

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O’Halloran, who attends the church, said the event will be a fundraiser for the church’s 2018 mission trip and youth activities. Participants will be guided through the dark cemetery and will encounter along the way by costumed characters portraying notable historic figures buried there.

“Right in the heart of Roxbury on Main Street stands a rare historic gem – the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna,” said O’Halloran in an email. “Few passersby know about the remarkable people that reside in its cemetery.”

She said the Moonlight History & Mystery Cemetery Tour” will be a fun, somewhat spooky, way for people to learn more about “the final resting place” of Lenape Indians, Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers and others buried there.

The event will take place rain or shine from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with tours leaving continually. It will cost $5, a fee that gets you cider and doughnuts afterward. Those who attend are asked to bring flashlights.

“In early October, church member Dana Haughey suggested they have a cemetery tour around Halloween as a fundraiser for the mission trip they were planning for 2018,” said O’Halloran. “She recruited volunteers, including the youth of the church, to help plan and carry out the cemetery tour. Graveside characters were chosen. They found it was hard to pick which ones to portray, since the church has so many Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers in its cemetery.”

One thing everybody agreed on: The tour needed to feature the Presbyterian Church’s longest-term minister, the Rev. Dr. Elijah Stoddard, his wife Eliza Ann and their daughter Linnet. Stoddard served for more than 50 years, O’Halloran said.

She noted her 13-year-old daughter, Amy - a student at Eisenhower Middle School -  will be playing Linnet Stoddard.

O'Halloran's husband, Bob, will portray former Gov. Mahlon Dickerson, who is buried right outside the church’s kitchen windows,” she said, adding, “Tour participants will be led through the dark … around the cemetery, stopping at a dozen graves” including the mass grave of 21 Lenape. “Lanterns lit with candles will glow along the cemetery tour route as tales of ghosts and spirits are heard under the moonlight.”

The church is suggesting that people register beforehand, but O’Halloran said walk-ins will be welcomed. To pre-register, call the church office at (973) 584-5238.

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