I thoroughly enjoy strolling through cemeteries.  The older the graveyard the better!  As an amateur genealogist I get a true thrill finding one of my ancestors tombstone.  Like this one for instance:


It’s the tombstone of Josiah Bartlett, one of my 3rd Great Grandfathers on my mother’s side of the family.  After years of searching I found him in the Painted Hills section of Western New York.  I even located the piece of land he purchased in the 1850’s.  And the house he built is still there.  All cool stuff.  But there is one family member’s grave I haven’t been able to locate.  My 7th Great Grandfather, John Hamton.  He was a Scottish Quaker who came to this country in 1683.

On one of my many visits to New Jersey I visited a church in Freehold and saw many old gravestones.  One in particular gravestone caught my eye.


It said, “Here lieth the body of Katherin Barclay…wife of John Barclay”.  In my research I uncovered original ship manifests that listed a man named Robert Barclay who came  here with my 7th Great Grandfather John Hamton in 1683.  Could John Barclay be a brother or son of Robert Barclay?  I was told by a local that this is not the original location of these tombstones.  They were brought to this location to preserve them.  The original location was the Topanemus Cemetery.

I was given terrible directions and spent the next several hours with my wife, searching for the site.  While traveling through development after development, I finally got some good directions from a man walking his dog.  “Drive back down this road”, he said, “and turn right on to Topanemus Road.  Look for the blue sign.”  After a few minutes we finally found it.


 The gravesite is precariously positioned between two condo communities in a small patch of woods.  My wife and I parked the car, walked back this muddy trail, and came upon a sign bearing the name of many of the buried, and the history of Topanemus.  We walked a bit further until we saw a large  patch of green amid the grey leaf swept forest ground.


This was it.  This was the old Topanemus burial ground established around 1692.  I searched gravestone after gravestone and was disheartened by the vandalism and decay.  Many of the tombstones had been saved and taken to the Episcopal Church in Freehold, but a few still remained.  But I could not find John Hampton (1640-1702).  I’m convinced however, that this is where he is…somewhere.  The only record of who was buried here was taken by Rev. Frank Symmes who wrote the “History of Old Tennent”.  A description on the sign leading up to the gravesite says the following:

who's buried at topanemus

The names on the list of people buried there, including John Reid who accompanied John Hamton (1640-1702) to the New World leads me to believe that my 7th Great Grandfather John Hamton is buried there too.  Can I prove it?  Well I could write a well researched argument defining my reason for believing he’s resting here but ultimately I cannot.  But I do live finding old cemeteries.  I especially like them when one of your ancestors could possibly be buried there.