Colts Neck Family Cemetery Collection
Photographed and copied by Edward J. Piotrowski in April 2000
Family Cemeteries of Colts Neck
My journey started back in the early 1970's when my father brought my brother and me fishing at a local pond. On a small knoll overlooking the tranquil waters of a spring fed pond, there is a family burial ground. Cedar and maple trees surround this place, blanketing the graves in peacefulness. When we approached the graveyard, we found that it had been desecrated. Headstones were broken, others were missing completely. The most impact on me was a broken old red headstone whose grave was freshly dug up. On the broken base of the headstone was a tooth from the person who had been interred there. I had many questions that needed answers. Why do this to someoneÕs grave? Where are the missing headstones?
Colts Neck has a number of family burial grounds tucked away and hidden from the modern world. Some family burial grounds consist of two lonely graves, a husband and wife, resting in peace together as they were together in life. There are family burial grounds that have almost 40 graves spanning 300 years of family history. The lone grave of a soldier who died fighting for the liberty of a nation. Liberty and his 20th birthday he would never see. There are graves of children who died at birth, and ones that lived only into their teenage years. A lone grave of an African American who served his country in the Civil War while fighting for his freedom. There are many unmarked graves which time has erased forever. There is also a Native American burial ground and a slave cemetery. No names, markers, fences, or headstones, just an old picture or a map with a vague location to remind us.
I am currently serving on the Colts Neck Township Historic Preservation Committee. Remembering what impact these scenes had in my earlier years, I wanted to give something back to the people who are buried within our town. Perhaps it is a way of apologizing for what was done to them many years ago, or maybe it was to hear the stories that they could tell. Maybe it is to let them know in my own way that they might be gone, but will not be forgotten. We will always remember their contributions to our town and our country.
All of the information that I have collected and posted is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I have spent many hours cross checking names, dates, and stories. If any information is incorrect please contact me. If you would like to know more about the cemetery work I have completed, share information or have any ideas on how to improve the information, please contact me at [email protected]
I would also like to thank all the people whom I interviewed, photographed and shared stories with. Without you, I could not have done any of this work. You have made this work interesting and brought the past alive again. You opened up your lives and your homes to me. There are too many names to list, so to everyone with whom I shared memories: Thank you for everything.
Colts Neck Historic Preservation Committee
This stone is of Pamilia Hart, wife of Ebenizer Hart.
The stone reads:
In memory of
who departed this life
March 7, 1838
in the 74th year of her age
The footstone is intact and has the initials P. H.
Eliza Ann Angell
John Thomson-Ann Darrow
On the monument side shown are the names:
August 21. 1802
November 10. 1844
January 1. 1776
December 4. 1859
John B. Angell
On this monument are the words:
John B. Angell
November 18. 1806,
July 24. 1895
Investigation is planned about the people who are interred here, and the part they played in the community.
This is a map showing the locations of the stones to each other.
In time the names will not be readable due to the elements.
1. Hynnibal Cummings
2. George Cummings
The writing on this stone is another one that is difficult to read.
The elements erode headsones.
Eventually, the names will disappear.
The writing on this stone reads:
In Memory of
son of Jacob and Judeth
who died Sept. 24
3. Judeth Cummings
This stone is also in bad condition
with the writing almost indecipherable.
In Memory of
who died Feb. 16th
aged 58 years
"She is not dead but sleepeth"
4. Hannibal Coming
The writing on this stone is very difficult to read.
The other stones in the same cemetery have the last name spelled as Cummings. The writing on this stone reads:
In Memory of
Died Sept 21st, 1834
aged about 72
5. Frances D. Minkerson
6. Mary E. Minkerson
These two graves are of Frances and Mary, daughters of Hudson and Sarah Minkerson.
Frances was born first and died before her second birthday.
A year after Frances died, Hudson and Sarah had their second daughter, Mary.
Mary died in her sixth month of age.
There are many family cemeteries in the town that have children interred. Without modern medicine and care, the child mortality rate was high.
This is what the Logan - Bennet family burial ground looked like in April 2001,
just as it did when I found it twenty years ago. Headstones were either smashed or missing and graves were dug up.
In the fall of 2000, some of the missing headstones were located and recovered from a home in Middletown.
Mary Ann Kiernan, Ed Raser and Jerry Ceres assisted me with the recovery.
The top of the headstone is missing.
Whose stone it is may never be known. One half was located on one side of the graveyard. The other half was located under a pile of leaves just outside the cemetery.
John L. Bennet
In the Logan - Bennet family burial ground there are the graves of three soldiers who served in the American Revolution.
One is of:
Pvt. John L. Bennet
Died Nov. 27, 1843
86 years, 7 months and 27 Days
John was a Private in the Continental Army
serving in Lieutenant Barnes J. Smocks' dragoons.
John's stone has not been recovered.
Unfortunately, this is the respect someone had for a soldier fighting for independence.
This stone has not been recovered.
It should read:
John L. Bennet
March 6, 1833
aged 72 years, 10 months
and 22 days
Mary Holmes Bennet
wife of Logan Died September 29th 1868 aged 83 years, 8 months and 13 days
John L. Bennet
Barns I. Smock, Colonel
Born January 29th 1756 Died January 30th 1837 aged 78 years 1 day
Died January 30th 1810 aged 21 years, 3 months and 6 days
This is what is left of John Lefferts' stone.
Feb. 11, 1836
Aged 71 years,
11 months and
This is how John's stone is today.
During 2001, the cemetery will be cleaned, headstones will be placed where they belong, and wrongs from the past will be corrected (as much as possible).
wife of John Lefferts Died August 21st 1858 aged 89 years, 11 months and 21 days
wife of Stophel Died January 19th 1806 aged 69 years, 6 months and 15 days
Phalanx Slave Cemetery Map 1
Located on two separate maps showing the old Phalanx is a cemetery with no markers, headstones or parts to a fence. Without these maps the cemetery would be lost in overgrowth and time.
I wanted to try and find this place of rest but no markers were ever found. I will not probe the ground where these people rest. Ground penetrating radar was thought about, but underbrush would hamper progress.
Phalanx Slave Cemetery Map 2
This older map shows the area around the Phalanx with the property layout including trees, roads and lots.
Friends of mine live next to the old cemetery*. Her mother and grandmother lived where the Phalanx once stood. Her grandmother remembers the cemetery and explained to her granddaughter where this place is located. The grandmother describes this place with having no markers but with grounds that have small raises and bumps. Her memory was the only clue for us. We did find the place where I believe the cemetery is located. Without you Paul and Tina along with your grandmother's memory, this place would have never been "located".
Polhemus Cemetery Map
Polhemus Cemetery General
Mary Lefferts (d.1732)
Mary Lefferts (d.1809)
Catherine wife of Daniel T.
Jane 2nd daughter
Col. Auke Wikoff
Daniel son of Tobias
Mary wife of John
Mary daughter of Daniel & Elizabeth
Alkey Bennet (former wife of Albert)