Status: On-going Concern
No one knows precisely how many burial grounds there are in New Jersey, but hundreds lie neglected and forgotten. They represent tens of thousands of graves, and they embody an enormous amount of New Jersey history. The problem is most acute with small, out of the way graveyards that were family plots or cemeteries associated with dormant churches.
Just as these burial grounds are spread throughout the state, so the causes of their decay come from many directions. Pollution, new construction, and vandalism all take their toll. With the resources so widespread, and the threats to them so disparate, solutions to the problem of neglected cemeteries are hard to find.
2000 A1177 (Arnone Azzolina) Procedures for Identifying and Preserving Abandoned Cemeteries (also proposed in 1998) would make mandatory documentation of all graveyards.
NJ Cemetery Board 201 504 6553; control over 400
NJ Genealogical Society, Rutgers University Library; documents 800
As many as 1200- in 1972 survey
probably 2,000 according to NJDEP; threatened by pollution, abandonment, vandalism
Brielle graveyard, Manasquan; John Belding cleaning graveyard; finished by 5/01
3/00 NJDOC “Paying Communities Back” program; restoring Mt. Zion Cemetery in Lower township, Cape May County
1983 Historic Cemeteries Act provided for local restoration; not mandatory
2000 “Abandoned Cemetery Maintenance and Preservation Act” to establish a fund for repair and maint. Of abandoned cemeteries; S324 (also 1999) (Rice and Furnari)
Also 2000 $100,000 to Div of Housing and Community Resource/DCA grant to Glo County historic church cemetery cleanup (Mt. Zion AME church, Woolwich)
Two bills introduced in State Legislature that would address the need to identify and fund preservation of historic cemeteries.
Bob Craig, SHPO
4002 Nottingham Way
Hamilton, NJ 08690