HISTORICAL BLACK CHURCHES & CEMETERIES
CEMETERIES
HISTORICAL BLACK CEMETERIES
IN NEW JERSEY, PHILADELPHIA & NEW YORK
GETHSEMANE CEMETERY (1860), HACKENSACK, NJ

 

Purchased in 1860 for the “Colored Population of Hackensack, New Jersey,” Gethsemane was incorporated in 1901 by African-American trustees as the Gethsemane Cemetery. The one-acre lot houses about 500 interments of free Blacks, former slaves, and a number of Whites. Few stones survive, but there are grave marker artifacts and fragments, such as clay pipes, of Southern Black influence traceable to African burial practices. Since 1985, the site has been owned and restored by the County of Bergen.

 

Among those buried at Gethsemane is Elizabeth Campbell Dickerson Suthill Dulfer, who was one of Bergen County’s most successful African- American businesswomen. She was born about 1790, enslaved by William Campbell, who freed her in 1822. Beginning in 1847, she began acquiring land in Bergen County, including at least 10 acres of rich clay beds. The clay was sold to pottery makers from Newark to Boston. At her death in 1880, her landholdings and other investments had made her one of the area’s wealthiest women. She was survived by her second husband, John Bernardus Conrad Dulfer, who died in 1885 and became the first White man to be buried in Gethsemane.

 

Two Civil War veterans who served with the 29th Regiment of the Colored Connecticut Volunteer Infantry are buried at Gethsemane. Peter Billings was born to slave parents in Bergen County in 1827. His father, Peter Billings, was enslaved by Morris Earle, who freed him in 1833. Enslaved by Lewis Moore, Billings enlisted in the Connecticut Volunteers (there was no Colored Regiment in New Jersey for African Americans to join) on December 30, 1863, and was assigned to Company H as a musician. The regiment, stationed in South Carolina, Virginia and Texas, fought in all the significant campaigns in the Petersburg-Richmond area that brought the Civil War to a close. He died in 1902 at the age of 75. A grave marker documenting his regiment has disappeared.
Source: Hackensack Historical Society; County Of Bergen Department Of Parks Division Of Cultural And Historic Affairs

ALLENTOWN CEMETERY, ALLENTOWN, NJ (HAMILTON STREET)

GEORGE ASHBY* JERIMIAH JOHNSON
(1st) SGT., CO H, 45th USCT DIED 1886
1-25-1844 – 4-26-1946 11th REGT (?) CO. E (?)

JAMES WOBY* JOSEPH WOBY (STACY WOBY?)**
1837-1925 DIED 1887
(SGT) COMPANY H, 22nd USCT COMPANY H, 22nd USCT

GEORGE ASHBY, COMPANY H, 45TH USCI, ALLENTOWN CEMETERY, NJ:
George Ashby enlisted as a private in Company H of the 45th United States Colored Infantry (USCI) in August 1864. By the time of his discharge in November 1865, he was first sergeant of the company. In January 1944, a reporter interviewed Ashby at his home in Allentown, New Jersey. The old soldier, still alert at the age of 100, closely followed the course of World War II, and expressed confidence in an Allied victory. “Fighting’s different nowadays,” said Ashby, “but if I were younger, I certainly would enlist all over again.” Sergeant Ashby lived to see his victory prediction fulfilled, and died peacefully on April 26, 1946. He was the last surviving New Jersey veteran of the Civil War.
SOURCE: J. G. Bilby, 1993

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