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Restoration moving forward at historic Old Colonial Cemetery

METUCHEN — Two years after the vandalism of at least 11 headstones at the historic Old Colonial Cemetery on Main Street, cleanup and restoration is moving forward at the 300-year-old graveyard.

Mayor Jonathan Busch announced on Aug. 8 that the borough would be completing the necessary tree work at the cemetery, which would clear the way for the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society to use its fundraising donations to restore the stones and perform much needed clean-up at the site.

During the evening of Aug. 18, 2016, and the morning of Aug. 19, 2016, the stones, which date from 1796 to 1892, were vandalized. Police were notified of the incident by a resident walking through the cemetery.

Police Capt. Arthur Flaherty said police investigated the incident; however, no suspects were found.

“We believe juveniles were probably to blame,” he said.

Most of the stones were large stones that were pushed over and broken. The damaged stones were Abigail Bloodgood (Hampton), who died in 1869; Rachael Thornal, (d. 1829); a group stone for Jeremiah Compton, (d. 1892), Catherine Compton, (d. 1882), Ester Compton, (d. 1883), and Charles Compton, (d. 1838); Nathan Bloomfield (d. 1852); Mart LaForge (Bloomfield), (d. 1852); Henry Freeman, (d. 1835); Mary (5 months and 20 days), daughter of Neil and Prudence Campbell (d. 1800); Elizabeth Freeman, (d. 1796); Margaret Freeman, (d. 1806); and Josiah (age 11) and Thomas (age 6), sons of Azel and Mary Freeman, (d. 1807).

The cemetery was established between 1715-30 as the burying ground associated with the Presbyterian Church. The grounds contain 1,045 marked graves and 60 unmarked graves. Of these, 59 are graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and seven are “Patriots” who contributed to the cause.

Since the vandalism, the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society had been collecting donations toward the society’s existing Cemetery Fund, which society members said was used over the last few decades towards critical work on the site.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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