Education

Lantern Cemetery Tour of Scotch Plains' Aging Tombstones Oct. 21 -- If You Dare

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SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- If your love of history is stronger than your fear of zombies, then mark Saturday, Oct. 21, in your calendar.

As part of the Four Centuries in a Weekend history event, the Rev. Chaz Hutchison, pastor of the Scotch Plains Baptist Church, will lead a lantern tour of one of the oldest cemeteries in the area. The tour starts at 5:30 p.m. and will run approximately one hour.

“Pastor Hutchison is known for exploring many old cemeteries in the area. We appreciate his taking the time to share what he has learned over the years,” said Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski.

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“The cemetery includes the graves of some of the earliest European settlers in our area. You may recognize some for the streets that were named after them,” she said.

The cemetery, which the church has maintained since 1747, extends from Mountain Avenue to Grand Street, and from Park Avenue to Forest Road.

In the old part of the burying ground may be found the markers of some of the founders of the church. The first Recompense Stanberry and his son, who was instrumental in rebuilding the church after a fire, and numerous members of the family are interred here. You can also find the grave of Caesar, a freed slave who drove supplies to the American militia fighting the British in the Battle of the Short Hills.

The names Drake, Darby, Stiles, Osborn, Hetfield, Swan, Miller and many others are found in the old plot, while some stones are too worn for identification. The grave stones, typical for the time, were, for the most part, simple markers, although a few more elaborate monuments are to be found.

For more information and complete details on all Four Centuries in a Weekend events visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation/cultural-heritage-affairs or contact the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 908-558-2550 (NJ Relay Users dial 711) or culturalinfo@ucnj.org.

 

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