I had been sent the notice that the County of Morris, New Jersey was having a two-day Open House of many of their historical sites for touring and for special events for a program entitled “The Pathways of History: Museum and Site Tours of Morris County, NJ”.
The “Pathways to History” event takes place every May
The weekend event spread to small museums, historical homes and cemeteries all over the County with walking tours and lectures at various sites. Having never been or even heard of many of these sites, I was interested in visiting as many as I could for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” which is here on WordPress.com as well.
I plotted my two days of the event and tried to organize the trip so that we could see as many sites as we could. The event asked the sites to open one of the two days as…
On my last stop of touring Historic Morris County for the “Pathways for History ” event, I visited the Whippany Burial Yard at 325 Route 10 in Whippany. The old cemetery is steeped in history as one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey and home to many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans. As we learned on the tour later on, the only people that can be buried there now are former Mayors of the Town of Whippany who have died.
Two of the founding families of the town have many family members buried here, the Tuttle’s who still have relatives living in the area and the Kitchel’s. The guide for the afternoon took us on an hour tour of the cemetery, pointing out prominent members of the war years including Timothy Tuttle (died 1754), a founding judge of Morris County, Keturah Tuttle Platt (died 1850), who was a Charter member of the First Presbyterian Church, Captain Timothy Tuttle (II of III-died in 1816), who was a member of George Washington’s First Regiment in the Continental Army, Samuel Tuttle (died in 1762) and Colonel Joseph Tuttle, a blacksmith and Deacon at the Presbyterian Church who served in the French & Indian War.
The entrance to the Whippany Burial Yard
The Kitchel family was prominently represented as well with Abraham Kitchel (died in 1741), who was one of the six original judges of Morris County and his wife Sarah, whose family was claimed to date back to Charlemagne, Emperor of France, Abigal Kitchel (died in 1768), Uzal Kitchel (died in 1813), a Militiaman in the American Revolution and his wife, Anna (died in 1815). Many of these people as well as their ancestors made major contributions to the growth of the surrounding community.
We were also given a lesson in the construction and care of the old tombstones, some of which were beyond repair. Some of the original grave sites were made from sandstone, marble and granite with granite becoming the popular choice later on. Here and there some of the tombstones were decorated with winged skulls or cherubs. These show morality images of the dead (Whippany Burial Yard pamphlet).
We were also walking by the river that the graveyard sits on and were told that current erosian is affecting some of the grave sites. These might have to be moved in the future and the tour guide was not sure if any have been lost over the years. The old Presbyterian Church that sat on the site (built in 1718 and removed in 1755) has since disappeared and there is no trace of it now.
The Whippany Burial Yard has many different types of tombstones
At the end of the tour, the guide explained to us that the old Tuttle House, dating back from the late 18th Century was just left to the town by its last owner to be preserved as a museum for the community. The Tuttle house will need a lot of work in the future.
I ended my tour of the cemetery here as the graveyard was closing for the evening but planned on coming back in the future. There are more interesting things to see amongst the tombstones.
History of the Whippany Burying Yard:
(From the Township of Whippany website/The Township of Hanover Landmark Commission):
The Whippany Burying Yard is the oldest graveyard in North Central New Jersey. It contains the oldest dated colonial artifacts in Morris County. It was established in 1718 before the United States was conceived before New Jersey was a state and before Morris County was founded. Two of Morris County’s first governing judges and many Revolutionary War soldiers are buried here.
The three and a half acres of land was donated by John Richards for a “meeting house, schoolhouse, burying ground, training field and for public use. Mr. Richards was the first one buried here when he died in 1718. His grave is the oldest in Morris County, NJ.
For the next 200 years, the burying yard was maintained by the members of the Presbyterian Church with which it was closely associated. In 1914, the Presbyterian Church elected trustees for a group that would be known as The Whippany Cemetery Association. They maintained the yard for the next sixty-one years.
The graveyard is legally, publicly owned but no particular entity or institution in named in the deed. The grantee is interpreted to be the “Christian friends and neighbors in Whippanong”. It was formally maintained and administered by the Whippany Cemetery Association until its maintenance and administration was transferred to the Township of Hanover in 1976 as an historical site. The Township gave the responsibility for the Burying Yard to its Landmark Commission, where it remains.
The Burying Yard holds about 450 graves that include 11 veterans of the American Revolution, nine Civil War veterans. In 2011, the Burying Yard was listed on both the State and the National Register of Historic Places. When visiting the Yard, you can see that the gravestones are made out of three different materials: sandstone, marble and granite. Visitors can see a 300-year time span of various commemorative styles. The Burying Yard is also home to two prominent families in the area: The Tuttle’s and the Kitchel’s.
Some of the prominent members buried here are John Richards who was the schoolmaster who donated this land for public use, Abraham Kitchel who was an early settler from Newark, NJ and one of the six original judges of Morris County. Joseph Tuttle Sr., who was a blacksmith, had served as a Colonel of Morris County militia in the French and Indian War and Timothy Tuttle who was a Sergeant of the First Company under Captain Joseph Morris in Lord Sterling’s First Battalion of New Jersey’s First Regiment in Washington’s Continental Army.
This 1796 National Register site is the house of Samuel Tuttle, the grandson of Joseph Tuttle, a Colonel in the Morris Militia. The Tuttle’s were among the first to setting in Hanover and they played an important role in its development.