Efforts Under Way to Preserve Forgotten Cemetery

From: Wyckoff Patch article by Don E. Smith Jr. / July 13, 2010


The Union cemetery is a small gravesite that is the final resting place for many early area settlers, found behind the Wyckoff Assembly of God Church on Franklin Avenue.

However, much of the cemetery is forgotten, and it has been overgrown with poison ivy and other weeds. Trees have popped up and fallen over fences, making the graveyard hidden by walls of shrubbery, though it corners homes off Franklin Avenue.

The latest grave in the cemetery is from 1940, but the earliest go all the way back to the late 1700s after the American Revolution.

With it being overgrown by weeds and the occasional trespasser, members of the Wyckoff Historical Society are working on ways to clean up the cemetery and preserve the area’s past.

The cemetery was originally called Van Blarcom Cemetery in the 18th and 19th century and is home to a descendant, John Van Blarcom, an officer in the Continental Army, as well as his wife and brother. The officer’s service was quite momentous at the time, as many land-owning Bergen County residents were loyal to the British crown, said Ken Miller, a Revolutionary War re-enactor.

The cemetery is also home to many early settlers and their descendants who left their mark on the county, including the Ackermans and Blauvelts.

After the war Van Blarcom helped found the Episcopal Methodist Church which was associated with the Union Cemetery. But according to Wyckoff Historical Society President Richard Lynch, the Methodist Church moved to Franklin Turnpike in Waldwick.

Calls to the Waldwick Mehodist Church were not returned.

Lynch said that he along with other members of the historical society, such as Jim Abma, are spearheading efforts to clean up the Union Cemetery.

“We plan on doing something in the fall,” said Lynch.

Lynch explained that due to the weather and the explosion of poison ivy it is best to wait for the poison ivy to bloom, when it can be easily spotted and killed. This prevents it from growing back.

“The first effort to clean up the cemetery came in 1976 with a group of Boy Scouts,” said Lynch, although disrepair remains.

Lynch further aded that the society wants to prevent future growth of vegetation that will be destructive to the tombstones.

“The goal is try and prevent the regrowth of the trees and the other weeds and saplings before something happens,” he said.

Lynch explained that the roots of many trees have lost their footing, having been knocked over by storms and weakened by animals. Several parts of the fence had been damaged because of fallen trees.

“We are working on getting a tree company to come in and help us out with the trees,” said Lynch.

However, Lynch said that volunteers and funding are appreciated to clean up Union Cemetery.

“We always welcome donations, and we will need volunteers for the autumn,” he said. To help, contact him at richardlynch@aol.com.

“This cemetery is a unique look back at Wyckoff’s past,” he said. “We want to preserve it.”