Death-It runs in the family

A curious thing about my ancestors–they’re all dead.  It’s the one thing they have in common. When they die, they get buried.  At least back in the day, that’s what they did.  Today, cremation is a definite possibility, and it’s getting more common.  Especially in Europe where they are running out of room for all of the bodies. But where did the bodies of our Euro-American ancestors go?  I have some guesses, and going by family names, religions, places of settlement, and places of origin, I’d bet some good money that I’ve got late relatives buried in  each one of the cemeteries I found.

Of course, I promised that I’d do some looking into the Polhemus family cemetery where my 5th great-grandfather was buried.  You would think that would be an easy thing considering that the cemetery is smack in the middle of American Revolutionary history. Not so.  None of the links to Colts Neck New Jersey Cemeteries seem to be working correctly.  However, I was able to get some interesting photos with definite possibilities.

I did some sleuth work, based on things I know about the Wyckoff family.  First, I know that they are Dutch; we have traced their records back to the Netherlands.  Second, I know that  they originally settled in the area of Monmouth County in New Jersey.  Third, I have some evidence from Find-a-Grave that indicates that Aukey Wyckoff was buried in the Polhemus family cemetery in Colt’s Neck, New Jersey. And, of course, I know their last name would have been Wikoff, Wykoff, or Wyckoff.  Knowing these things, I have come up with the following photos:

The Polhemus family cemetery, where Auke Wykoff is said to be buried, is located in the Colts Neck Reformed Church Cemetery. This makes sense, since most Dutch immigrants belonged to the Dutch Reformend Church. This is the only photo I could find of the “church” or cemetery.

Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church and graveyard

The Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church in Monmouth county. I would not be surprised at all to find ancestors buried here, even if they are not Wyckoffs.

Wyckoff family cemetery NJ

This is actually a screenshot of a street-view looking at the Wyckoff Reformed Church Cemetery in New Jersey. If I can’t find some relatives here, I’ll eat my hat!

The Wyckoff Reformed Church

  There are so many possibilities in New Jersey.  I would love to take a trip there sometime and do some cemetery hopping.  It would be a lot of fun to see how many of my Dutch ancestors I can find while I am there.

Colonel Wyckoff’s Lost Tombstone

My mom is a first generation American.  This means that she and her siblings are the first in the family to be born in the United States. My Grandfather on my dad’s side is also first generation American.  Mom is half German and half Austro-Hungarian Jew, and Grandpa on Dad’s side is 100% Polish. Grandpa on Dad’s side married an American. This is where the lost tombstone comes in. DAR FT

Dad says he’s half Polish and half mutt. On the mutt side of my family (the American side), I have a 5th great-grandfather who was a colonel in the American Revolution, so I qualify as a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR); even though I am part mutt. Continue reading

The Red Cemetery of West Weber Hides a Secret

It looks like thursday posts are becoming a habit. So thursday it is.

This Cemetery is Hiding a Secret

I found the West Weber cemetery while driving the back roads in Weber County.    It is in a small farm town located West of Ogden, Utah on the plains between the mountains and the north end of the Great Salt Lake.
red cemetery and mountains 1As I got closer to the cemetery itself, I noticed that most of the tombstones, even the newer ones, are a deep rust color.  The newer tombstones are a lighter red, while the older ones are almost brownish-black.

red cemetery almost brown close

While it’s a bit disappointing to see the tombstones covered in a reddish-film, it’s also pretty cool. The dark color of the tombstones make it difficult to get a decent photograph for identifying people buried there, but the dark red color adds a mystique that can even be called “creepy” at Halloween time.  However, the secret of this graveyard is not in the discolored graves. Continue reading

Springville Cemetery Tells its own Stories

It’s rare that you come across a cemetery this well-loved. Around here, cemeteries are clean, lawns are watered and mowed regularly, and a caretaker cleans up old grave decorations.  But I’ve never seen a cemetery like this one.  As soon as I laid eyes on it, I knew that I would get some good pictures, even though I was using my cell phone. I didn’t expect to get a panoramic view that I could use for my header photo, but as you can clearly see, it worked out great.  Here’s another panorama:

Springville wide1

I don’t think Springville Cemetery  always looked this good.  I can imagine it overgrown with weeds, and tombstones knocked over and used for target practice by rambunctious kids.  Now it is completely fenced and cleaned up, but the oldest tombstones needed rescuing. Some, beyond repair, were rescued anyway:

row of broken tombstones Continue reading

Post Postponed

This week’s post is postponed due to malware linked to one of my posts through a Holocaust website. Since I am unable to remove the link, I will either remove the offending post or have it fixed tonight, so that I can finish today’s post by tomorrow.

In the meantime, check out my header photo.  It is a photo of the Springville, Ut. cemetery. Would you believe that I took it with my cell phone?  I’ll be blogging about it tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience, and sorry for the inconvenience!

October is Graveyard Month

October is  my favorite month of the year.  It may or may not be because of my birthday, but I do know that it is because of Halloween.  It is probably a combination of things:  Halloween, my birthday, autumn, and the general feeling of anticipation mixed with dread as the harvest is gathered in preparation for the coming of the dark, cold days of winter.   I feel a sense of romance as leaves change colors, pumpkins appear on porch steps, and figures of ghosts are hung from molting trees.  I love the dark evenings when candles are lit and ghost stories are told. I love the cold crisp smell of the air. It’s the perfect month for celebrating cemeteries.

Balyna Parish Cemetery in Ireland. Did you know that our modern day celebration of Halloween comes from Ireland?

October is a time for romance, the kind of romance that elicits feelings of excitement, nostalgia and mystery–a sentimental mood that lends a listening ear towards the unknown things of the past.  Graveyards are some of the most romantic places I know.  They are the places that keep the things of the past in a state of limbo–we know the stories are there, but they are buried with the storytellers and remain in the realm of the unknown.  Cemeteries are the true places of Untold Stories.

So in the spirit of cemeteries and storytelling, I will be sharing bits and pieces of stories of the past told by others.  Today, I’d like to share a comment made on my own Untold Stories from a fellow blogger, Jeff Roberts:

“We grow up believing graveyards to be haunted. It was almost a rite of passage to test your bravery by visiting the forgotten after midnight. We all thought we saw ghosts as shadows danced from grave to grave by the reflective moonlight….. given time and some maturity this perspective changed. The hauntings became monuments. The monuments became people. These people became giants. Not all who walk this earth are compelled to understand the past that shapes our present.

I am one so fortunate. As a kid hiking the sage & juniper, I saw much more than just nature. Humanity had been here. An arrowhead, a wagon trail trace, a metate, a stump, a rusted ring from a barrel, and a purple glint… glass from a pioneer traveller. Eventually it became my task to make sense out of 150 years of cemetery records. An opportunity to find the lost or the misplaced or the forgotten. An opportunity to connect this grave with that grave or that grave with that family. An opportunity to reconnect people with their past. An opportunity to tell a hundred stories. And what stories and what men and women and what toil and what sacrifice and what tragedy and what sorrow and what joy.”

Thank you, Jeff, for keeping the romance alive; and Happy Graveyard Month!