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Inside This Issue

The FACSI Newsletter

Volume 14 Issue 2/3
Summer/Fall 1997
Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island

Pearse O'Callaghan (1921-1995), Founder

Org.1982 Inc.1983

Staten Island Cemetery Association Trustees Notes

Hebrew Free Burial Association

Book Notice

Tombstone Touring

Are these Your Ancestors?

Membership Form

From the Record Books:

Staten Island Cemetery Association, West New Brighton

Part One:

May 13 1869*Resolved, that the several bills should be paid and J. Steers was authorized to pay them also to settle with Jeremiah Smith for care of the grounds to June 1869. Resolved also to purchase 75 Arbor Vitae for Western side of cemetery to form a hedge also Six spruce threes for the Centre. J.D.Francis

June 12 1869*It was discussed the necessity of creating a permanent Fund from Interments to take care of those lots whose owners by Death or removal at a great distance out of reach of collection. This money to be invested from time to time in Government or other securities in the name of the Trustees the interest deriving from this fund to be used for this sole purpose and no other. No action taken.

Statement for Year Ending June 1870*Adult $5.00; Child $3.50 To be paid at the time of Interment to the Keeper of the grounds. The Keeper the only authorized person to make interment or removal. Wm. Chorlton John Steers J.D. Francis, Secy

West Brighton July 9 1870*Trustees met at the cemetery grounds and it was Resolved that in the future the grounds would be closed for interments against those lot owners who are in arrears for their assessments for more than two years until those arrears are paid. J.D. Francis, Secretary

West Brighton*January 12 1871*Resolved, to erect our part of the fence between the Fountain Estate and the Cemetery. W. Chorlton was authorized to purchase the material and also have the work done for the same. No further business and we adjourned. J.D. Francis

Report for the Year Ending June 1872*A. McConnell Florist Taylor Street has furnished the flowering plants gratis to fill the beds at the entrance the last Five years.

June 19 1873*Persuant to a call we met at John Steers. James Seton was appointed collector in place of J.C. Siever Deceased. It was also ordered that the Tool House roof be Tinned and the front fence be cleaned and painted. No further business adjourned. J.D. Francis, Secy

January 17 1874*Resolved that the fence between the Cemetery and Mrs. Woodruff be reset by the Cemetery and Wm. Chorlton was appointed a committee to purchase the material, see that the fence be put anew. No further business on hand, adjourned. J.D. Francis, Secy

June 8 1874*Resolved, that in consequence of the attendance of only one Lot Owner besides the Trustees, this meeting be adjourned until Monday the 15th at 7 o'clock OM and that the Secretary notify the lot owners through the North Shore Advocate or by circular that if they wish the grounds attended to and kept in order they must attend the meeting or the Trustees will resign their trust. John Steers Wm. Corlton J.D. Francis

June 13 1875*Pursuant to the call for the annual meeting we met on the grounds. Wm. Chorlton, J.D. Francis and Mrs. Drew were the only persons present owners of Lots. Not owners enough present no business was transacted. We have but two Trustees for the coming year. No assessments being levied, we shall use up the Surplus money and then let the grounds go. J.D. Francis

July 19 1877*Owner of Lot No. 19 called on the Keeper of the Grounds Mr. John Steers for permission to inter or bury a grand child in said Lot and was refused without an order from the Trustees. She then called on the Trustees and they refused to give an order for the Interment. Reasons for so doing was that the said Lot was in arrears for 12 years or 10 assessments amounting to $19.75 also in accord with a Resolution passed July 9 1870.

March 1878*It was thought best to have the line fence between the cemetery grounds and the ground of the Church of the Ascension reset and it was agreed to do so and Mr. John Steers was authorized to have it done. It was also requested that J.D. Francis should call on Mr. Roberts one of the Vestry of Said Church and see if they would bear half the expense of said fence. J.D. Francis called and after Mr. Roberts said that he would consult with the Vestry. After doing so I called again and he declined to bear half the expense. Afterward, J.D. Francis had a talk with Mr. R. Smyth and Mrs. Roberts. They said they would talk the matter over in their next Vestry meeting which they did. Then Mr. R. Smith called on Mr. Steers, said they would pay one half of the expense but we would have to wait for the money. In the mean time, the fence was reset and paid for. J.D. Francis

June 9 1879*On motion it was agreed that we Should have a book for the better record of Interments. Mr. Wm. Chorlton was appointed a committee to purchase the book.

June 24 1887 West New Brighton*Mr. Wm. Chorlton was appointed a committee to wait on the Executor of the estate of Mr. Lot C. Clark to see if he could get them to release the interest that Mr. Clark had in the Cemetery ground at the time of his decease.

March 18 1884*Mr. John Steers Keeper of the ground notified the Trustees that considerable damage had been done by some persons in the employ of Mrs. Eliza Van Pelt widow of Capt. Nicholas Van Pelt to the ground. Also to Mr. R. and Mrs. John F. Simonson lot fence in front of their lot, also damage to the Hedge of Wm. Burgher Deceased Lot.

June 14 1887*Inventory

2 Lawn Mowers 1 Lawn Scythe 1 Sharpening Stone 2 Sickles 1 Wheelbarrow 1 Hay rake 1 Iron rake 1 Shovel 1 spade Boards 1 pail 1 wrench

June 10 1890 Overcast but fair Weather*According to notice given we met on the grounds of the Cemetery to hold the annual meeting at 7 PM. The only persons present were Mr. John Steers three ladies and myself J.D. Francis. Not a number sufficient present, no business was transacted. I must say that we felt quite disappointed. J.D. Francis, Secy

June 13 1890*J.D. Francis met with Mr. John Steers to consult what to do about holding over again as no election was held. We concluded to hold over for one more year.

Regular Annual Meeting held by the Owners of Lots Saturday June 6th at 4:30 PM 1891 at the Cemetery*There were present 10 representatives. Mr. Joseph H. Barker was unanimously elected chairman and J.D. Francis Secretary. The following motions were unanimously carried. An assessment of Three dollars a Lot on Lot Owners for repairing fence and keeping the ground for the ensuing year.

May 3 1895*Authority was given the president, secretary and Treasurer to buy all lots and half lots offered for sale at a fair price, also to sell such at a fair price for the benefit of the Assoc. and that the president, sec. And treas. Be authorized to execute a quick claim deed to all persons buying lots or half lots belonging to the assoc. and to Keep a correct account of all such sales and purchases. Jos. H. Barker, Sec.

June 1 1895 at 2 o'clock in the school room of the Church of the Ascension, West Brighton, SI*Resolved, that such lot owners are requested to remove the hedges about their lots within 90 days from date, after which time the Trustees will remove such hedges at the expense of the association.

(to be continued next issue)

Paper and copying for this issue of The FACSI Newsletter courtesy of United Federation of Teachers

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

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island

xxx , New Brighton, Staten Island NY 10301

Dick Dickenson, President

Fred Crane, Vice President & Secretary

Marjorie Johnson, Treasurer

Lenny Robusto Counsel/Membership

Doris Lane, Editor

Juan Santiago, Editorial Assistant

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.


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.


Col. Robert Shaw 160th Anniversary Memorial at Moravian Cemetery, Sunday, October 12 at 1:30 PM

The Hebrew Free Burial Association: Silver Lake & Mt. Richmond Cemeteries

by Fred Crane

As a result of newspaper articles about our group activities, I received a phone call from Sandra Wiesel, the Administrator of The Hebrew Free Burial Association, seeking our help in directing a cleanup of Silver Lake Cemetery, the oldest Jewish cemetery on Staten Island dating from 1892, owned by the Society Brotherhood of True Charity, 409 Grand Street, New York NY.

I was very interested, thinking we could ask for volunteers in our local newspapers. We read too often of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and here was an opportunity for something constructive. However, on inspecting the cemetery which was in fairly good condition, I notified Sandra that there was not too much we could do now, but would check later in the year. I asked her if she would share with us and our members information on the history of the Association. With her permission, we reprint the following.

A Brief History of The Hebrew Free Burial Association

(incorporated January 24 1889)

The Hebrew Free Burial Association (HFBA) was established over 100 years ago to bury indigent Jews. In its century of service to New York's Jewish community, HFBA has interred over 55,000 Jews in our two historic Staten Island cemeteries.

The organization has its roots in New York's Lower East Side. It began as a neighborhood community free burial society, formed by a small group of men who felt strongly that burying the dead in the tradition of our Fathers was one of the central obligations of Jewish life. Among them, they raised the money to buy a small cemetery on Staten Island, Silver Lake Cemetery, and to bury those Jews who could not afford the cost of funerals or plots. When the first cemetery was filled, they raised the money to buy a second, Mt. Richmond Cemetery, which is still in use today.

Over the years, the Association branched out, offering simple dignified funerals according to Jewish tradition to anyone in need. Today, HFBA is the largest, most active free burial agency in the Diaspora, burying more than 400 people annually.

When HFBA began its mission, most of those we buried were immigrants who lived in New York's Jewish ghettoes. We buried hundreds of children who died in the influenza and diphtheria epidemics which swept the tenements in the first years of this century. We buried many of the victims of the Triangle ShirtWaist Company fire. In our cemeteries are early Bundists, soldiers who fell fighting in the World Wars, grandparents and grandchildren.

Our two historic cemeteries on Staten Island, New York are important reminders of the American Jewish experience. Silver Lake and Mt. Richmond Memorial Parks are filled with the hopes of thousands who came to our shores hoping for a better life for themselves and their families. Parents, grandparents and adult children, they died before they could move out of the ghetto. Or they passed away after living many years and watching the old neighborhood change and the more affluent move out. Children are buried who died before they had a chance to know and appreciate the glory of living.

Today we still bury immigrants who made it to our shores but never made it up the ladder. In the years since the Iron Curtain was first opened to Soviet Jews, many have been buried in our cemetery. We bury those who have outlived their savings; people who stayed in the old neighborhood when everyone else moved to the suburbs. We bury the homeless, those who die in the nursing homes and hospitals, those who have fallen through the safety net. Anyone who needs it can get a Jewish burial through HFBA.

The HFBA is the other side of the American success story. Those we bury are not the stereotyped Jewish professionals, shopkeepers, merchants and professors. They are the "huddled massed yearning to breathe free"; they are workers who toiled unglamorously in sweatshops. They are the immigrants who never were able to master English and were left behind. As important as our role models are, these people also need to be remembered, for they are also part of our Jewish community.

The Burial Association is currently involved with a project Make Your Mark. The idea is to supply at $150 a granite marker for the graves of the victims of the Triangle ShirtWaist Company fire and children who died at Willow Brook State School (for the Mentally Retarded), and later for those unable to mark their graves.

I thought our members would be interested in this Association and if there are any questions, we could answer in a later newsletter.

Book Notes

The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History, Sloane, 1991 293pp, hardbound $45

In the transition from churchyards to urban cemeteries to suburban memorial parks, the cemetery in America changed from sacred refuge to business venture. The cemetery's role as the repository of history and memories faded, assumed by museums, historical societies, and family albums. Sloane rediscovers the rich legacy of the American cemetery.

Old Burial Grounds of New Jersey: A Guide, Sarapin, 1994, 224pp, softbound, $14.95

Not only does the author describe New Jersey burial grounds, she also introduces you to the history and lore of old graveyards, shows you how to read epitaphs, how to date gravestones by style, how to restore an abandoned graveyard, and how to find the stories of the people buried there.

Available from Frontier Press Bookstore KGFrontier at aol dot com

Tombstone Touring

The City

Beyond the Grave: Cultures of Queens Cemeteries

A New York City Community Gallery Exhibition

September 23 1997-March 8 1998

The Museum of the City of New York is presenting this exhibit in collaboration with the Queens Council on the Arts. Cemeteries became part of the Queens landscape when a series of ordinances passed in the 1800s progressively restricted burials in Manhattan. Nineteenth Century developers then looked to rural Queens, not yet a borough of New York City, where abundant farmland could be had at a reasonable cost. The aim of the current exhibition is to highlight the ethnic diversity of Queens County through the expressions of various cultures found in its graveyards.

Every spring, Chinese observe Ching Ming by tending to the graves of their ancestors and bringing offerings of incense, food, and paper money. Jews at Rosh Hashanah leave grass or stones on the top of the gravestone, just as Christians leave crosses made of the palms received in church on Palm Sunday.

Gravestones convey "identity" and often indicate affiliations with social, occupational, ethnic, and religious groups. Occupational identity is portrayed in a policeman's gravestone that is capped with a carved police hat. Carved marijuana leaves and dice provide evidence of the lifestyles of the deceased. "Portraits" of the dead can be seen in a stone carving of a boy who died in 1871 or in etchings in polished black granite favored by Soviet Jews. Some of the photographs portray the simple carved stones of our nations earliest years.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue; (212)534-1672


The Internet


The WWW Post-Mortem Page

World Wide Index of Cemeteries on the Net

Internet Cemetery and Crematoria Directory

City of the Silent

Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY

Dark Side of the Web

Pioneer Cemetery, Coloma CA

Geographic List of Online Cemeteries

Yahoo's Cemetery Page

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington VA

Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester NY

Congregation Mikvah Israel Cemetery, Philadelphia PA

Punchbowl National Cemetery, Honolulu HI



Farther Afield

Moslem Roadside Graveyard in Turkey - May 1997


Moslem Tombstone Photo

Photograph by Dick Dickenson

Click on image for full picture; 134K




The information shown below is 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 help us in our work by using the FACSI membership form on the back of this page to join us and to volunteer a few hours of your time.

De Hart

Gertrude De Hart, Record 481 of Staten Island Cemetery, was 27 years 2 months and 27 days old when she died on May 16 1904 of pneumonia. Although she died on Randall's Island, she was born on Staten Island and lived on Broadway in West Brighton. Her race is noted as "colored." It is a commonly held belief that 19th century cemeteries would have necessarily been racially segregated. Record 481 alerts us that this may be a false notion. Gertrude De Hart's funeral on Thursday, May 19 at 2 o'clock was held at her graveside in Lot 135 of Staten Island Cemetery. Also buried in Lot 135 were: William De Hart Aug 26 1857; Mary De Hart May 14 1875; Nicholas De Hart Dec 6 1885; Mary E. Johnson Mar 9 1906; Mary De Hart May 22 1908; Henry De Hart 1909; Isabella De Hart Poole Aug 1 1915; Anna Wheatley Morris Mar 17 1916; Anna A. Bunce July 4 1919. By checking the FACSI database for Staten Island Cemetery and sorting the column headed Location, we grouped all the occupants of Lot 135. We also found the lot owner's name to have been Nicholas De Hart.


Stephen D. Barnes, Record 203 of Staten Island Cemetery, who was born in Easton PA, died in Mariners Harbor on January 6, 1889. He too died of pneumonia. He was 75 years old. His funeral was held at his residence on Richmond Terrace near De Hart Avenue. His Spanish-style house still stands there today, a rare reminder of the architectural glory that was Captains' Row, where 19th century oystermen built grand houses along the North Shore in Port Richmond, Elm Park and Mariners Harbor. Captain Stephen D. Barnes was one such oysterman, but we don't know this from the FACSI database. We do know that also buried in Lot 40 were Emma Barnes, Lois Barnes, Melvina Barnes, Stephen Barnes Jr. and Judith Barnes. Jane Van Pelt was buried in Lot 40 May 9 1868, Ophelia Barnes Braisted July 24 1885, Elizabeth Wright Aug 28 1898, Stephen D. Wright July 28 1901, Mamie Wright Sept 30 1905 and Joseph C. Wright Jan 7 1910.



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, Treasurer, FACSI

115 Townsend Avenue, Staten Island NY 10304








Staten Island NY 10301

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