We are very pleased to report that our early research and advocacy efforts had a very tangible outcome when the Timbuctoo Historical Society acquired title to the Timbuctoo cemetery in July 2021. Moving forward, we will continue preservation and research efforts. We believe historic cemeteries are important repositories of history, genealogy, and culture, in addition to memorializing the deceased. There is much to be learned from records related to our cemeteries, including lessons about individuals, their families, and the communities where they are located. In 2022, our primary focus in cemetery preservation is research and restoration. Contributions to this effort help with restoration and build awareness of history that is not widely appreciated. More specifically:
The oldest gravestone in the Timbuctoo cemetery is dated 1847,(1) 14 years before the Civil War. We need new fencing, markers for unmarked graves, ground penetrating radar to verify the boundaries of unmarked grave-sites, genealogy research. Ground penetrating radar conducted in 2009(2) indicates that grave-sites extend several feet outside of the cemetery boundary and suggests that some grave-sites may be penetrated by fence posts. Aside from eight Civil War soldier gravestones the cemetery is known for, the cemetery includes three civilian gravestones and at least 59 unmarked graves. These are presumed to be members or associates of the church, according to restrictive language in the original handwritten deed of record.
Moving forward beyond 2022, we plan to expand our efforts to address similar issues at he "old" Mount Moriah Cemetery adjacent to the Mount Holly Bypass.
1. Weston, Guy "Timbuctoo: A Free African American Community in New Jersey" AAHGS Newsletter November December 2017.
2. Chadwick, William and Leach, Peter. (2009). Geophysical Survey of Timbuctoo, NJ. West Chester, PA: John Milner and Associates.
Contributions for the Mount Moriah Cemetery would target the “old” cemetery adjacent to the southbound lanes of the Mount Holly Bypass. This burial ground was located behind Mount Moriah’s original sanctuary on land purchased in 1826.(1) Here we need signage, fencing, and physical upgrades. We commissioned a land survey in 2020 to verify the dimensions of the lot, as gravestones can be seen in the overgrowth far beyond the boundary that is currently recognized. Ground penetrating radar is needed here as well to identify unmarked grave-sites. We will also work with Mount Moriah to develop a portal that will facilitate ongoing support from families that have relatives buried there.
1. Burlington County, New Jersey, Deeds, T2: 64-66, Larner Waterman and wife to Perry Gibson, Wardell Parker, and others, March 15, 1826; Burlington County Clerk’s Oﬃce, Mount Holly