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Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Inc.

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Inc. S. I.
158 Myrtle Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10310
Our FACSI page
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Pearse O'Callaghan, Founder (1921-1995)

Inside This Issue

The FACSI Newsletter

Volume 14 Issue 1
Spring 1997
Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island

Pearse O'Callaghan (1921-1995), Founder

Org.1982 Inc.1983

The Cruser Family Burying Ground


Book Notice

Tombstone Touring

Gravestone Rubbing

Are these Your Ancestors?

Membership Form

The Cruser Family Burying Ground: A Most Abandoned Cemetery

by Doris Lane

On February 17, 1997, in the Staten Island Advance, a sidebar to "Resting in peace until now," a welcome article about abandoned cemeteries, contained confused information regarding the Cruser Family burying ground.

The Old Cruser burial ground at "the Cove" was once located where Clove and Richmond Roads meet....In 1809, the Old Cove Church-- believed to be the first Baptist Church to be built on Staten Island--was built there, according to Davis.

The Old Clove [not Cove] Baptist Church was located on the lower hillside overlooking the Clove Road and Richmond Road crossing. This cemetery was ultimately in the path of the Staten Island Expressway. It was never the Cruser Family burying ground, although Hendrick Kruser on November 1, 1831, his wife Margaret Fountain Kruser on April 16, 1829, and their son Henry Kruser on November 2, 1851, were buried there.

It [the Old Clove Cemetery] was discovered by Davis when there were five headstones, some of which were believed to be members of the "prosperous" Cruser family, who were pioneer settlers of the area.

The colonial burying ground of the Cruser family William T. Davis visited in 1889 was at a location then known as the Cove, on the southwestern corner of Richmond Terrace and Bement Avenue. Alexander Rowland in 1901 also found five headstones at the site in West Brighton where the Crusers were indeed pioneer settlers.

Gerrit Dircksen Croesen (pronounced Cruser) was granted an English land patent in 1677 to 160 acres along the Kill Van Kull and into the woods past Castleton Avenue. Gerrit's land was bordered on the west around Broadway by what soon became the Manor of Governor Thomas Dongan. To the east was the property of Peter Jansen (or Johnson) who received a similar land patent on the same day as Gerrit.

Peter Johnson was the brother of Gerrit's wife, Neeltje Jans. Gerrit and Neeltje were the parents of the Voorlezer of Richmondtown, Hendrick Cruser. When Gerrit died in 1680 in the Gowanus colony in Brooklyn, Neeltje remarried and her children settled on the Cruser 1677 Patent on Staten Island. A dispute arose in the 1690s between Hendrick and his brother Dirck over title to the patent lands and the Cruser 1677 Patent was sold in 1701.

Loring McMillen suggested that Hendrick occupied the Voorlezer's House beginning in 1697 partly because of this rift with his brother. In 1699, when Hendrick petitioned the government for his right to his share of the patent lands, Peter Johnson deposed that his nephew Hendrick was then in possession of one half of the patent with his brother Dirck's consent, given after the death of a third brother (Jan). Hendrick had occupied the land at issue since 1687, according to his petition.

The Voorlezer's House in Richmondtown was not used by the Dutch congregation after 1701, the time of the settlement of the dispute over Gerrit's will. Hendrick and his nephew Gerrit were master builders of the first church in Port Richmond completed in 1715. With no minister before Cornelius Van Santvoord arrived from Holland in 1718, Hendrick is thought to have served as unofficial pastor of the Dutch congregation.

Dirck had been implicated in Leisler's Rebellion in the 1690s and like many descendants of Dutch settlers again faced with living under British rule, decided to resettle. He and his wife Elizabeth Cregier and their children were among the early settlers of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

In 1709, Hendrick bought his own homestead farm from George Hoagland, next door to his father's patent on what had been part of the Peter Jansen 1677 Patent. In 1751, Hendrick's son Cornelius and his wife Helena Van Tuyl purchased what had been the Cornelius Van Santvoord farm immediately east of his father's and also on Peter Jansen's original patent. Van Santvoord bought the farm from Peter Johnson's son, known as John Staats, who was both cousin and brother-in-law to Hendrick through his marriage to Cornelia Corsen's sister Catharine.

Van Santvoord moved to Schenectady in 1740 and in 1745 the farm was purchased by Jacob Bergen whose wife Maritje was the voorlezer's daughter. A second daughter, Neeltje, the widow of Denys Van Tuyl, married Joseph Rolph in 1743. She lived west along the Cove of the voorlezer's farmhouse.

Between the two Cruser farms, but on the voorlezer's own property, is where the family burying ground was, just west of Bement Avenue. Burials in the Cruser family took place there until the mid 19th century when it was sold some years after a partition action of Cornelius Cruser's properties in 1832, which by then included both farms and additional lots.

Hendrick buried his firstborn son Garrett there in 1760. The voorlezer himself when he died in 1761 was buried there and his wife Cornelia Corsen was undoubtedly buried there.

The five headstones Davis found memorialized the above mentioned Garrett, son of Hendrick; Garrett's daughter Cornelia in 1760; Garrett's widow Claesje Brinckerhoff in 1787; another Cornelia in 1807; and Belitje De Groot, the wife of Cornelius, Jr., in 1815.

Other members of the Cruser family might be buried on the corner of what was the Fresh Kill and Eltingville Roads. The property, later sold to the Peltons by the Crusers, included a family burial site, said Davis.

Cruser descendants may well be buried at the Fresh Kill and Eltingville Roads junction, but that was not the property purchased by the abolitionist Daniel Pelton. Pelton bought the now landmarked Kreuzer-Pelton House on Richmond Terrace around the bend from the burying ground. This house was built in part by Cornelius Van Santvoord, in part by Cornelius Cruser, and in part by Daniel Pelton. Hendrick Cruser's own farmhouse was torn down in the 19th century and eventually the Staten Island Athletic Club occupied the site.

While later generations of Crusers did live on the South Shore, the family were in truth pioneer settlers of the North Shore. Today the graveyard lies beneath a disused gas station.

Sources page 6


by Fred Crane and Richard Dickenson

Urban Resources Partnership/NYC Members Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries was the community-based collaborator with Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences on "Burial Ground Environmental and Historic Documentation and Education Project." The cemetery selected for this project was Blazing Star* Burial Ground, a colonial cemetery in Rossville, Staten Island.

*aka Rossville, Sleight and/or Seguine

FY '95 Contract with NYC FACSI applied for and received a grant from the Borough President's Office to erect a chain link fence and to prune and cut down trees at Lake Cemetery, Graniteville, Staten Island. Our performance here was rated "Excellent."

FACSI NewsletterThis issue introduces our new computerized format and expanded content. We hope our members are pleased. We invite readers to submit brief articles or letters for publication.

Cemetery Records on Computer Data Base FACSI was the recipient of a $2500 grant sponsored by Assemblywoman Elizabeth Connelley to compile cemetery records and other source material into a data base of abandoned cemetery populations on Staten Island.

Records are displayed alphabetically by surname for a particular cemetery in hard copy, but on disk may be viewed by date, grave location, etc. Where the information was available, place of death and cause of death and next of kin have been included in the data base.

Lake Cemetery was the first completed and may be viewed on disk or in hard copy. Staten Island Cemetery in West Brighton is in progress. Doris Lane and Dick Dickenson are managing this project.

Photos and Inscriptions Duplicating of photos and inscriptions of headstones located on Staten Island is being accomplished by Marge Johnson, Fred Crane and Janet Kiernan. Photographing and updating grave stone inscriptions at Staten Island and Fountain Cemeteries is ongoing.

Family Tree Service FACSI hired Family Tree Service to cut down trees that were about to fall and to cut up fallen ones in Staten Island Cemetery, West Brighton. Cut logs will be stockpiled and reduced to wood chips. Wood chips will be used to pave the walking paths.

Upcoming Projects

Col. Shaw Memorial The 160th Anniversary Colonel Robert Gould Shaw's birth will be held at 1:30 PM on Sunday, October 12, at Moravian Cemetery - with no rain date. This will be the 9th annual commemoration sponsored by FACSI. Plans are being made for participation by Borough President Molinari following the cemetery services. The office of Councilman Jerome X. O'Donovan has confirmed that they are seeking to have a historic sign erected on Davis Avenue adjacent to the lot formerly occupied by the home of Col. Shaw, his parents and sisters.

Cemetery Cleanups

Hand Truck & Trimmer/Mower FACSI purchased a hand truck to be used at cleanups and a trimmer/mower to cut grass and weeds at the cemeteries on a semi monthly basis.

For information on any of the above activities and volunteer opportunities, please call Fred Crane at (718) xxx-xxxx

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island

xxx , , Staten Island NY 10301

Dick Dickenson, President

Fred Crane, Vice President & Secretary

Marjorie Johnson, Treasurer

Lenny Robusto Counsel/Membership

Doris Lane, Associate Editor

FACSI Statement of Purpose To initiate the preservation and cleanup of neglected or abandoned cemeteries, graveyards, burying grounds and churchyards; and to assist in the beautification, rehabilitation, and/or attempt to restore, and maintain, the markers, stones and history of such final resting places.

Book Notice

Lay Body Down: Living History in African American Cemeteries, by Roberta Hughes Wright and Wilbur B. Hughes III

Cemeteries hold a special significance in African American Culture because they provide an important and elusive link in tracing African heritage--a practice made even more difficult by the institution of slavery. This book aids in locating 300 representative cemeteries in the U.S. and Canada. It provides a unique glimpse into some of the oldest and most fundamental values of African American culture, many of which are preserved only in cemeteries. This is a rich and relevant source for anyone interested in cultural history, genealogy, biography and folklore.

Downloaded from Cornell University Library Web Page.



FACSI encourages readers to submit queries concerning the burial places of their ancestors in abandoned cemeteries on Staten Island. Please call Fred Crane at (718)xxx-xxxx. Queries and responses may be published in the FACSI Newsletter.

Tombstone Touring

The State

Klyne Esopus Historical Society Museum, Ulster County, New York

Cemetery records in the collections of the Klyne Esopus Historical Society Museum include:

For more information: (914) 338-8109; karlwick at mhv dot com

The Region

Princeton Cemetery Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton Cemetery is owned by the Nassau Presbyterian Church and was established in the mid 18th century. From the start, Nassau Presbyterian made plots available by purchase to anyone regardless of religion, race or ethnicity.

In its 200 year history, Princeton has buried a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon, former Vice President of the United States and Revolutionary War hero, Aaron Burr, Civil War Generals David Hunter for the Union and Roger Atkinson Pryor for the Confederacy, an escaped slave from Maryland named James Johnson, President Grover Cleveland, John O'Hara, author of Butterfield 8, and the unfortunate parents of Lyle and Erik Menendez.

To read more about the Princeton Cemetery: If Tombstones Could Talk: The History and Intrigue of the Princeton Cemetery; Priscilla E. Hayes.

Cemetery tours are held at no charge. Donations are accepted. Parking is available.

Farther Afield

Tombstone Historical Jewish Graveyard Tombstone, Arizona

Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona is the final resting place of some legendary characters of the Wild West; the Clantons, the McLowrys, China Mary, Dutch Annie, Quong Kee, Red River Tom and dozens of others. Boothill was established in 1870 during Tombstone's silver rush and closed in 1884 once it was full. Located on a hill facing the Dragoon Mountains, Boothill is designed in long narrow piles of stones marking its occupants.

One area of the graveyard was reserved for Chinese citizens. Another isolated area in the far northeast corner is dedicated as a Jewish Cemetery. Defined only by a crumbling adobe wall, the 2500 square foot Jewish burial ground went unnoticed for a hundred years. In 1983, the Tombstone City Council approved restoration efforts initiated by Judge C. Lawrence Huerta, a full-blooded Yaqui Indian from Tucson.

He said, "The state of the Jewish cemetery at Boot Hill moved me deeply. A burial place is sacred to my people, and I wanted this place to be treated with the respect it once had. In honoring my Jewish brothers I feel I am also honoring the lost and forgotten bones of my own people who lay where they fell when the west was being settled."

A non-profit corporation was formed to carry out the restoration work, clean the site, construct a wrought iron fence to protect the remaining adobe wall, and to erect a simple monument to commemorate all Jewish pioneers who helped to settle the west before the turn of the century.

The monument stands on a platform faced with rock from nearby silver mines. On its east and west sides it bears the Star of David, while on the south side is a HoHoKam Indian sun symbol, and words meaning "those who vanished" in the Papago Indian language.

Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to the Tombstone Historical Jewish Graveyard, Inc., 564 Corpino de Pecho, Green Valley, AZ 85614.


Cruser Family Burying Ground


The Andros Papers 1679-1680, Peter R. Christope and Florence A. Christoph, eds., Syracuse University Press, 1991

Annals of Staten Island, John J. Clute, 1877 (Reprinted 1986, Heart of Lakes Publishing, Interlaken NY,)

"The Cruser-Pelton House and its Owners," William T. Davis - Proceedings of the Staten Island Institution of Arts and Sciences, vol. 7 October 1932-May 1933, Parts 1-2

"The History of the Staten Island Athletic Club," Charles E. Clay, 1888

"Inscriptions on The Homestead Graves of Staten Island," William T. Davis, Proceedings of the Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences, Special #9, December 1889

Legends, Stories & Folklore of Old Staten Island; Part One, The North Shore, Charles G. Hine and William T. Davis, 1925, Staten Island NY

"Memorandum of Title of the Cruser Property at West New Brighton, New York 1677 to 1830," Alexander Rowland, 1946

New York (State) Secretary of State: Calendar of New York Colonial Manuscripts: Indorsed Land Papers in the Office of the Secretary of State of New York 1643-1803, E.B. O'Callaghan (Revised Reprint, 1987, Harbor Hill Books, Harrison NY)

Staten Island 1524-1898, Henry G. Steinmeyer, 1950 (Revised Edition, Staten Island Historical Society, Staten Island NY, 1987)

"A Survey made Dec. 1829 of the Real Estate of the late Cornelius Cruser of Castletown, Staten Island, dec." A. Crocheron, Surveyor

"The Voorlezer," Loring McMillen, Staten Island Historical Society 1939 No. 2 Historical Pamphlets

The Voorlezer's House: An Illustrated Guide, Richmondtown Restoration, Staten Island Historical Society, 1985.

"The Widow Cruser," Alexander Rowland, The Staten Island Historian, vol. IX #1 Jan-Mar 1948

Gravestone Rubbing: How To Do It

Tools: A soft brush and a toothbrush. Paper, white or rice paper. Black or gray chalk and hair spray, or flat black crayons. Scissors or Exacto knife. Masking tape or painters tape. Small spray bottle of water and soft absorbent rag.

Prep Work: Use the soft brush to remove dirt and debris from the surface. Be gentle and respectful. If it looks like you might scratch the tombstone, move on.

Once most of the dirt is off the stone, spray it with the bottle and wipe it with the rag. Let the tombstone become perfectly dry. Cut the paper larger than the stone itself and wrap it tightly around the stone. Tape it very securely so that it does not move.

Method: Start rubbing on the outside edges and make yourself a frame of sorts. Don't rub very hard; go back over it if darkening is needed. The image should be emerging at this point. Once the darkness is to your liking, carefully spray down the paper with the hairspray. When it is dry, you can trim the paper to the shape of the headstone or leave a border.

Etiquette: Ask permission. Tombstones can be delicate; treat the one you are working on as if it is your mother's. Be sure to clean off all marks accidently left on the stone. Leave the site clean.




These images are from the record books of the Staten Island Cemetery in West Brighton. If these are your ancestors, and even if they are not, won't you help us show respect for their memories by contributing to the upkeep of their resting places. Please join us in our work by using the FACSI membership form on the back of this page and volunteering a few hours of your time.

This document tells us that Benjamin Van Buskirk was born in Bergen County, New Jersey, but died in West Brighton, Staten Island. He lived on Water Street where his funeral was held on February 21, 1879 at 2 PM. He died of cancer at about 35 years of age. John Steers was the undertaker who buried Van Buskirk in Lot 68 at Staten Island Cemetery. If we looked at the FACSI data base for this cemetery and sorted by location, we would know who else is buried in that lot.

William Van Name was born in the town of Castleton in Richmond County. He died on February 21, 1879 and was waked at his home, 257 Clinton Street in Brooklyn. He died of Brights Disease and was buried in Lot 156 on the "left side of monument." In this case, John Steers's name appears as superintendent of Staten Island Cemetery, but the name of the undertaker is "not known."




FACSI Membership Form

Name ______________________________________ Enclosed please find:

Address____________________________________ Dues $6.00 ________

Telephone__________________________________ Tax Deductible Contribution $ __________

Please call me about volunteering ________

Return this form and your enclosed check to:

Marjorie Johnson, 115 Townsend Avenue, Staten Island NY 10304






Staten Island NY 10301

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