Graves moving for progress

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Letters to the Editor
The Jersey Journal

There is a phrase that if you dig deep enough in some parts of this world you can strike it rich. This is not true at Laurel Hill in Secaucus. If you dig deep enough in this once thriving location of Hudson County institutions, you may strike the poor.

Since late October of this year, I have been on a hunt to find the location of my third great-grandfather's final resting place. It is becoming reality that I may never know where his remains are. There seems to be little information about his existence and even less information about the cemetery where he is buried. There are plans for a newer part of the cemetery to be moved for the Secaucus Interchange project by the Turnpike Authority. This section of cemetery holds those interred since the 1920s and through the 1960s and it is mapped and documented. However, no maps seem to exist for those who were buried from 1880, in plots numbered 1 and up, to the 1920s. The total number of those listed in the burial ledgers seems to be well over eight thousand!

The three burial ledgers, which have been discovered, tell the tale of the county's not so lucky people who were given a burial by the county. It does not tell us in any detail about where they were buried. Lack of information and Hudson County support and caretaking over the years has made the cemetery vanish into the land, as well as the souls of all those who are buried there. They are forgotten by all, except a handful that can look back knowing they had a relative buried at the cemetery and the few that know of its existence.

Soon the only well-documented section of the cemetery that now exists will be desecrated. The remains that are found will be disturbed and reinterred to another cemetery to be forgotten.

I have been trying to inform the public the best I can with a Web page that I had set up at . With over eight thousand burials I am sure that there are more descendants still around who have kin buried here. Only a few have stepped forward to find out any information they can. I have also personally devoted my time in helping with their genealogical research when possible. To some this may just be another obstacle in the way of progress. To me it is progress that will be in the way to many people's past.


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