Whippany Burying Yard – Known Only to God
On Sunday May, 3, I was invited by my Wise Owl Workshop friends to join them at a dedication ceremony up in Hanover Township, at the Whippany Burying Yard. It was a very nice ceremony – the local boy scout troop participated, local clergy said opening and closing prayers, township officials and the dedicators themselves – members of the Hanover Township Landmark Commission and Whippany River Watershed Action Committee all spoke. Some dressed in period clothing! Just beautiful, ladies!! Local history and history of this burying ground was of course discussed, as well. In 1718, it is the oldest graveyard in North West New Jersey. In 1718, Schoolmaster John Richards signed a deed, then donated this tract of land to the citizens of Whippanong – for a meeting house to worship God and schoolhouse and a burying yard. Even a training yard for the local milita. Please visit this site to read its thorough history and information about the many notables who are buried there – http://www.hanovertownship.com/Portals/1/Landmark/BY_Tour.pdf .
On this beautiful, warm Sunday, a memorial – Known Only to God – was dedicated at this 300 year old burying yard – to remember the 100+ people laid to rest there in unmarked graves. In order to be sure that local officials (mayors) could in present day be buried here, they hired an individual to do ground penetrating and electromagnetic survey of the open areas. I am not a scientist so I'll explain as easy as I know, but the equipment used crosses the area, notes the ground density. Areas where grave were dug shows a different density. Ok, right from Wiki – it is used to create maps of subsurface archaeological features – even traces of human activities. Geophysical instruments can detect buried features when their physical properties contrast measurably with their surroundings. Like the ground density is different where a grave has been dug than the soil around it. That is how they discovered these 100+ unmarked graves. Why, I asked would so many be buried with out a marker. We won't ever know for sure, but it could have been for social status reasons, mass illness and death... what do you think?
After the ceremony concluded, refreshments were served and tours of the burying yard were given. Of course I joined one, but along with Lorna and Phil, we often got delayed ooooing and aaaaahhhhing over our stone art discoveries. The photo above is my favorite, ever, soul effigy that I have found. I love the face, especially they eyes. The entire stone was a work of art. Many incredible sandstone markers with winged souls and my first ever sightings of winged skulls!! Not just one or two, but many! Other stones there are made from marble and granite. I never tire of looking at the older sandstone markers, often just plopping myself down and sitting on the ground directly in front of the gravestone, reading it, studying it's typeface, noting any different forms of spelling words, – like the way an "f" is used in place of an "s"– is blefsed... affectionate as a hufband...
This beautiful little 300 year old burying yard is well worth a visit, tucked right between Rt. 10 and the Whippany River below. You can park in the J&R Tobacco parking lot, and cross the new, very quaint bridge over into the buying yard. View all of the winged skulls and winged souls, each individual in look and style. You may ask why some are worn and some are immaculate. Well some stones have been sent off and restored! Incredible! It is wonderful when these historic towns care and preserve these local burying grounds and cemeteries. You hear of so many stories where neglect or towns not wanting to take responsibility for these historic locations Cheers to the Landmark Commission of Hanover!