Memory Garden 13
Piscatawaytown Burial Grounds, Edison, NJ
Oldest *legible* stone: 1693
I had read about this cemetery and could not believe it was so close to my home and I had not been there! My husband knew the area very well, having grown up in Edison, NJ.
The centerpiece of the grounds is the Saint James Episcopal Church, founded in 1703, destroyed by a tornado in 1835. The church standing today was rebuilt using as much of the destroyed church as possible, an addition was added in 1913.
This area was a major Revolutionary thoroughfare and saw heavy fighting. A trench (which I could not find even with a sign telling you where it is) was used to bury many of the British soldiers who died nearby.
Some of the stones, considering their age, were in amazing condition! The grounds themselves are bordered by a fence on the street side and one side, the back is open to the small access road behind and the far end is enclosed by a wooden fence and the backs of houses. I was a bit concerned by the rough condition of the grounds. A lot of weeds, stones falling over, deep holes in the ground (watch your step here!), areas that seemed to be void of any grass or vegetation and other widely overgrown. Some litter; old cigarette packs, soda bottles, candy wrappers. I am used to seeing some of this type of neglect in rural areas where there are no caretakers present, but one would assume that the church, which is very active, would have someone police the grounds a bit.
There are large trees in the yard, which lends to the overall beauty of the place. the day I was there was a crisp and cold day, but with glorious blue skies and full bright sun. Large puffy clouds created shadows and played with me throughout my visit; at once warming me from the cold and then suddenly covering the sun and allowing that deep chill to permeate my very bones, like those of the deceased I stood above.
Some interesting stones in this resting place;
The "poysend" brothers who ate wild mushrooms and died shortly after.
The hand-carved triptych stone with letter and number deeply etched in it in random patterns.
The grave of Marcha (Marsha?) Pettinger who died at the age of 23, along with her baby, from smallpox. The rest of the family beside them, all deceased in the same relative time frame.
The cherubs, death heads, and angels carved on so many of these stones are at once unique one from the other, and yet so common during that era. There is a small memorial garden to a soldier lost during the Viet Nam war on the right-hand side of the yard, nearer the church ramp.
This cemetery, surely because of the open back, is rife with deer droppings. Surprisingly this is a peaceful place in the midst of a downtown setting. Maybe spring will bring a renewed sense of honor and clean-up!
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