Old Burying Ground
(First Presbyterian Church Cemetery)

Photos - If you have any photos of this cemetery please email me.

The Old Burying Ground Case 1888 (off site)


Newspaper Articles

April 23, 1882 - Neglected Condition
June 24, 1883 - Newark's Burying Ground Suit
January 10, 1886 - The Mayor's Recommendation...
February 14, 1886 - Attacked in the Old Burying Ground
March 28, 1886 - The City's Right is Asserted
April 25, 1886 - Graveyard or Market
May 2, 1886 - The Historical and Legal Aspects of the Case
April 12, 1903 - Old Coin Found in the Burying Ground
June 19, 1904 - The New Branford Street Through Old Burying Ground
June 24, 1906 - Auction Sale of "Old Burying Ground" Property

From "Charter of the City of Newark, and Laws of New Jersey Relating to said City with the Ordinances passed by the Common Council" April 5, 1850:


Requiring the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Newark to protect and keep in repair the Old Burying Ground in said city, and quieting the possession of such parts of said burying ground as are already occupied

1. Whereas, the old burying ground of the city of Newark hath for many years ceased to be used as a place for burying the dead; and whereas it has so occurred by lapse of time that a portion of the land originally allotted for the purpose of a burying ground lying adjacent to the premises now designated by enclosures as the old burying ground, has been appropriated for other purposes, and has been improved for the most part by erecting thereon expensive buildings and whereas it hath been insisted that the portion of said ground appropriated and occupied otherwise than for a burying ground should be restored to the use for which it was originally set apart, and according to the trust to which it was originally set apart, and according to the trust to which it is alleged the same is subject, which would be attended with great inconvenience, and subject innocent purchasers to great pecuniary loss and be of no public utility, inasmuch as the location of said ground renders it improper and inexpedient to make any further interments therein and whereas it is desirable that the said burying ground, enclosed as aforesaid, should be protected, and that the occupancy of the portion thereof occupied otherwise than for a burying ground should be quieted therefore,

Be it enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, That is shall be the duty of the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Newark, to protect and preserve the burying ground as now enclosed aforesaid and the enclosures thereof and that the occupation of such parts of said ground, originally allotted as aforesaid, as are now occupied for purposes other than as a burying ground as aforesaid, shall remain undisturbed, and that the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Newark shall apply such proceeds and profits thereof as they may receive to the protecting, and keeping in repair, the burying ground aforesaid, and the enclosures thereof Provided nevertheless, that nothing in this act contained shall in any manner affect the vested rights, if any, of any person or persons in the said lands, independent of the said alleged trusts and provided that this act shall not confer any additional rights to any person or persons, as to lands south of the town lot, bordering on the said burying ground, and which have within the last ten years been enclosed.

Approved, March 3d, 1848

From various issues of the Newark Daily Advertiser 1853 & 1854, "Newark, The Unhealthiest City":

In 1853 an anonymous benefactor was willing to donate $10,000 for the building of a hospital if the city would raise an additional $30,000 and build the cemetery on the site of the Old Burying Ground. The central location and the lack of any adjacent buildings made the Old Burying Ground a desirable location. The plans fell through when the public looked upon this venture as trespassing upon the remains of the dead and the fear of the spread of communicable diseases.

From "Hand book and guide for the city of Newark, New Jersey: carefully edited and compiled from authentic sources" Newark Daily Advertiser Print, 1872:

"Though many of the churches in the city are still surrounded by their old graveyards, internments have long ceased to be made in them. The rural cemetery has superseded all other forms of sepulture, as being not only better adapted to the purpose, but as affording greater certainty that the remains of the dead will remain undisturbed by the extension of the city. Of these urban graveyards, one is the most venerable of all our ancient landmarks, being coeval with the town, and the last resting place of many of the original inhabitants. It lies in the rear of the stores and factories on Broad Street, south of Market Street, where the first church stood. A handsome gateway fronts on Broad, having the houses of the Minnehaha Engine Company, and Union Hook and Ladder Company on either hand. Entering, we find a quiet piece of green sward surrounded by the rear walls of factories and stores. Through not by any means neglected, it has a few evidences of a loving regard. It's irregular square is crossed by a few walks and shaded by a few trees. Most of the remains have been removed, and the headstones bearing dates of a century ago or two, are piled on the western side of the plot, to still further moulder with the lapse of time. The few that remain in the ground are suggestive of how ancient cities gradually disappeared, and are in need of an "Old Mortality" with steel chisel and mallet, to deepen those early records which the winds and rains of heaven have contributed to so nearly obliterate. The old graveyard is under the charge of the city, but a municipal government is necessarily more alive to the active issues of the present, than interested in the dead past. Our people cannot reasonably expect more of them than they have already done. Were the whole place under the care of an intelligent committee of citizens, who would take a pride, not only in preserving, but in beautifying and adorning the spot, we might hope to see the grounds in the condition so beautifully pictured by Dr. Stearns, in his Historical Discourses. 'Let the ground be made the most beautiful and attractive in the city, as it is most replete with holy memories; and let the generations as they rise, learn to hold in especial honor and affection, the old graveyard where the Fathers lie waiting for the resurrection of the just'."

From "Quarter Century's Progress of NJ Leading Manufacturing Centers" 1887

Opposite Mechanic Street is the city's oldest burial ground, in which no interments have been made for a century or more.  Though the Legislature enacted nearly forty years ago that it should be the duty of the mayor and Common Council "to protect and preserve the Old Burying Ground," we have it on the authority of one of the city's mayors (Hon. Joseph E. Haynes) that this sepulture of the early settlers of Newark had for a long time been the scene of "pollution, desecration, and wickedness," and that it was a nuisance, "the police, the firemen, or the citizens who live near it, could substantiate in any court of justice in the land."  "I confess," he said to the city fathers, "that my feelings are shocked by the application made to me for permits for its use.  Showmen, traveling venders with brass bands, exhibitors of fire apparatus and fire extinguishers, the Salvation Army, and the skating rink projectors, coolly and calmly ask for its use, and, when denied, go away, not in sorrow, but in anger, evidently feeling that their occupancy of the place would go to elevate and confer respectability upon it, compared with its present use, or rather misuse."  This was said in 1885, and since then the Second Presbyterian Society have removed all the remains from this "God's acre," and propose to use the ground for building purposes, thus redeeming what had been an eyesore for many years to the citizens.

From the "Newark City Directories"


"The old burying ground is given over for public purposes and bones of settlers are removed to Fairmount Cemetery"

January 21, 1887

"The city resolves that provision be made at once for the removal of the bodies buried in the Old Burying Ground to some suitable location. Branford Place crosses the area that once was the burying ground between Broad and Washington and Market and William. The bones and headstones were removed to Fairmount Cemetery where a metal monument marks the spot of their re-interment, stones and all."

December 29, 1888

"The digging up of the remains of the bodies in the Old Burying Ground between Broad and Halsey streets, now crossed by Branford place, is in progress, 60 men are at work and already four pine boxes of bones are ready for Fairmount Cemetery."

From: A History of the City of Newark New Jersey Embracing Practically Two and a Half Centuries 1666 - 1913:

In 1828 the Township of Newark, after long deliberation, bought a plot of nearly nine acres east of New Jersey Railroad Avenue and south of Ferry Street, for a "New Burying Place," to be used in place of the Old Burying Ground, which it had been decided in 1826 must no longer be used for interment of bodies. The sum of $641.27 was paid for the new cemetery property, but it speedily became too valuable for burial purposes, as the building of the railroad proceeded, and was cut up into building lots in 1835, and sold. Very few interments were made there. In the early 1830's the town of Newark was indicted for maintaining a nuisance in the Old Burying Ground, and steps had to be taken to draw off the water that continually gathered there. Little regard for the tombs of the town's founders was shown in those days, and it is not altogether pleasant to note that when a new burying ground was necessary a plot of low, cheap land, below the present Pennsylvania Railroad, was purchased.

The Old Burying Ground between Halsey & Broad Streets was sold by the Common Council around 1900 to help offset the cost of the present City Hall.

From "HISTORIC NEWARK" A Collection of the Facts & Traditions about the Most Interesting Sites, Streets, & Buildings of the City
Printed for the Fidelity Trust Company
Newark, NJ 1916

"Behind the church (on the west side of Broad Street, nearly opposite the site of the present First Presbyterian church), Dr. MacWhorter has said, was the old training-ground. This was between the swamp and the brow of the hill. The burying-place was beyond this swamp, ' on a rising knoll or tongue of land which divided this from a greater swamp or pond, westward of which the land rose into another hill, then presently sunk into a flat or brook, called the watering-place'. This last hill was the original burying-ground."

From: "From Official Guide & Manual of the 250th Anniversary Celebration" 1916

Old Burying Ground was immediately back of the old First Presbyterian Church and extended from Broad Street west to what is now Halsey Street, south nearly to present William Street, and north to the ponds close to Market Street.  Bones of early residents were removed from the Old Burying Ground in the late eighties of the 1800's and the property was devoted to business uses.

Some of the Older Burial Grounds in Essex County
A Brief Explanation by Joan Bretz

Having volunteered to do lookups for early Essex County in the materials I have in my library, I have had several inquiries about the old burying grounds of Newark. I thought I would send general information to the list about two of these since they were the resting places of many of the founding fathers and mothers and their families.

The original Old Burying Ground where many of the first generation were buried was located west of Broad Street in downtown Newark, where Branford Place is now located and across the street from the First Presbyterian Church. There were few burials into the 1800s and by the end of the 1890s the burying grounds were in such a state of disrepair and unused that the remains and stones were removed and placed in a crypt in Fairmount Cemetery beneath the statue of a Puritan gentleman - many of you may have seen this statue in pictures.

The First Presbyterian Church also had a large burying ground behind it where many of the second and third generations of the early families where buried in the late 1700s and first part of the 1800s. By the mid-1950s it too was unused and in a state of disrepair and in 1959 the church was authorized to replace it with a parking lot (to earn revenue during the week). The church does have a small memorial garden with a low wall inscribed with all the early family names. I believe any remains they found were placed in a common grave beneath this garden area and the stones turned over, smoothed out with fill and paved over by the blacktop.

Some remains from both cemeteries were re-interred in other area cemeteries. Lists of burials in both these cemeteries have been published by the historical societies. Further the NJHS has a number of books which show the actual inscriptions from the actual stones in these and other area cemeteries as they were made in the 1800s. These include, for instance, the inscriptions of the Lyons Farms Baptist Church cemetery which now lies under the church which was enlarged in 1907. I believe the actual stones are in the basement of the church, though I have yet to see them.

The churchyard of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth is still extant though there are few stones earlier than the mid-1700s. (I have found three generations of greats there.) The British troops probably didn't care much about them when they were burning the church during the Revolutionary War. There is a published book which lists all the inscriptions, which I discovered in the Newark Public Library.