Cemetery

The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown once had its own cemetery, across the street from our current sanctuary under what is now an apartment building and the Georgia Diner.

Newspaper reports of 1958, when the land was sold (for $187,500), indicate the cemetery predated even "the Old White Church" (next to it) which existed from 1787 to 1928, and may have been started as early as 1708. By the late 1800s it was already beginning to be out of use with few new burials or visitors; horses and cattle strayed in from nearby Newtown Creek. The last burial took place in 1925.

Vandals littered and began to topple and damage the historic stones. From 1948 on, thousands of dollars of damage a year were done, particularly on Halloween. Pastor Northacker declared, "This is a day of vandalism. We're moving the dead to a place where they can get some respect."

There were originally 200 graves, some unknown and most very old. A few graves were privately moved. The remainder found, 8 boxes of mixed unidentified remains or 21 identified persons (records aren't clear) were brought to the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn on June 13, 1958. The church in 1962 erected a grey granite stone, 4 ft. x 6 ft. x 1 ft. "In memory of deceased members removed from church cemetery in Elmhurst."

On September 15, 2001, four members of the Historical Committee travelled to the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn to find the site and whatever records were available. Thanks to former member Frank Spratt's research we knew the location, 51 Prospect Hill. The cemetery is beautiful, with huge old trees, and the church's large stone is in excellent condition. The cemetery office had little to offer in information; no names were listed on their records. However, during this 2001 visit, we found nine smaller stones in front of the church's stone, original ones from our cemetery, dating back to the late 1800s or early 1900s. These had been set lying down and were badly overgrown by grass and sod. We tried to clear some of it, enough to read partial inscriptions. Several of the names are of old church families. We wonder if there might be more stones completely buried.

Some people buried in the church's original cemetery were moved there in 1901 from the old town burial ground (now the playground across from Newtown Athletic Field). These included three of our early ministers, Rev. Samuel Pumroy, (died 1744, responsible for making this a Presbyterian church), Rev. Simon Horton (died 1786), and Rev. Peter Fish (died 1810), also one of the first three Elders, Content Titus (died 1730) and the founder of the Deacons Fund, Philippe Duvineer, (died 1745). They were re-interred in one grave. Among others in the graveyard were Rev. Nathan Woodhull (died 1810), Rev. John Goldsmith (died 1854) and U.S. Congressman James Lent, (died 1833). It is unknown whether all were removed to Evergreens.

In 2002, as part of our 350th anniversary celebration, we held a memorial service at our cemetery site.