This 19th century graveyard monument in Mercer Cemetery engraved to “The Wife of My Youth” first makes you wonder what kind of monument the wife of his dotage got. But the phrase is from the Old Testament of the Bible:
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
The Mercer Cemetery in Trenton, NJ, was created in the 1840s. There were few new internments after the 1930s. Unlike the Riverview Cemetery, which is still active, no one has been buried in Mercer since 1973. In the 1990s, the city spruced up the cemetery, but it became neglected, landscaping and maintenance was deferred, and conditions within the cemetery deteriorated. Fortunately, Trenton is now looking to rehabilitate the Mercer cemetery, beginning with a recent volunteer cleanup effort.
Founded in 1844, the Albany Rural Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I don’t normally seek out cemeteries, but this is the second major rural cemetery I’ve visited in the last month or so.
President Chester Arthur is the most famous resident. New Jersey governor and U.S. Supreme Court justice William Paterson (namesake of the university in New Jersey) is also buried here.
The name Henry Antheil, Jr, is on a tombstone in Riverview Cemetery, but he is not buried there. Henry, the younger brother of avant-garde composer George Antheil, was a Trenton, New Jersey native who joined the U.S. Foreign service as a cipher clerk and was posted in Helsinki, Finland, at the beginning of World War II. Henry Antheil, Jr., could be considered an early American casualty of both World War II and the Cold War.
As the Nazis advanced on Paris, the Soviet Union moved towards taking over the Baltic country of Estonia. On June 14, 1940, the 27 year old Antheil was sent to pick up several diplomatic pouches from the American legation in Estonia’s capital. He then boarded a Finnish commercial airplane, the Kaleva, to return to Finland. Less than ten minutes after the Kaleva took off from Estonia, two Soviet bombers intercepted it and shot it out of the sky. Almost immediately, a Soviet submarine arrived at the crash location and seized the diplomatic pouches. There were no survivors. The plane has never been recovered.
Trenton’s Riverview Cemetery has its origins in a Quaker Burying Ground established overlooking the Delaware River in 1685. This was later incorporated into the Riverview Cemetery when it was created in 1858.
Nonexistent or weakly enforced laws in Philadelphia have led to historic graves being destroyed by construction. Hastily organized rescue excavations have salvaged some of these human remains, but others have been destroyed, or are threatened by future development projects. In an attempt to reduce the damage to historic cemeteries, archaeologists in the city have produced an interactive map showing where unmarked gravesites and burial yards were located. They caution, however, that the map does not show all historic burial locations, and that even if a historic cemetery is documented to have been relocated at some time in the past, many human remains are likely still present in the original location. Read more about the issues that led to the creation of this map at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.
French Huguenots founded the town of New Paltz in New York state in 1677. Their first houses were made of logs, but by the beginning of the 1700s, they were building more permanent stone houses. Several of those buildings survive today on Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark.