Photo by John Mager
“SAVE THE STONE” OF REBECCA DURIE
The Harrington Park Historical Society's ongoing fundraiser is "Save the Stone" of Rebecca Durie at the Old Burying Ground on Tappan Road in Harrington Park, New Jersey.
The Old Burying Ground cemetery is part of the land apportioned to Garret Huybertsen Blauvelt, son of one of the original sixteen grantees of the Tappan Patent approved by the Governor of New York in 1686. Although there are believed to be earlier ones, the first known burial was in 1732 and the last in 1905.
A recent Ground Penetrating Radar survey revealed that in addition to the known graves, there are indeed another thirty or so internments at the site, most likely earlier than the 1732 date that was known. A small stone that had the year 1722 inscribed on it was thought to be a possible land marker rather than a gravestone, and the GPR findings now reveal that this stone might be a gravestone confirming the Society’s speculation of earlier burials.
Rebecca Durie, daughter of Jacobus Durie and Geesje Demarest was born in 1772 and was baptized in 1773 at the Schraalenburgh Reformed Church. She married John Myer who was born September 3, 1764, baptized September 30, 1764, at the Tappan Reformed Church and died September 19, 1829. John was the son of Abraham Myer and Catharine Nederman, both of whom are also buried in the Old Burying Ground. John and Rebecca were married October 27, 1793 at Schraalenburgh Reformed Church.
They lived in present Harrington Park, Bergen County, New Jersey, where John Myer’s father, Abraham, operated a grist mill prior to 1765. Abraham Myer’s will was probated January 24, 1784, and John Myer inherited his father’s land in 1784 and subsequently purchased adjacent land. He operated the mill until his death in 1829.
At that time his property was divided between his daughters, Trietje and Jannetie. Jannetie married James Bogert who continued the business and it became known as “Bogert’s Mill” as long as it lasted. It remained in the Bogert family until the 1920’s when the property was purchased by the Hackensack Water Company.
The homestead site was near present 163 Bogert’s Mill Road, and the mill formerly stood opposite on the north side of Harriot Avenue.
Rebecca and John are both buried at the Old Burying Ground. All that remains of John’s headstone are several illegible fragments. The top portion of Rebecca’s deteriorated headstone was lying on the ground until it was recently uprighted and reset (see photo). The remaining portion of the inscription will eventually fall off unless the headstone is professionally “glued” together. The original inscription was
John Myers who
departed this life
May 26th 1854
Aged 81 Years 6 Months
The Lord Doeth all things well
Rebecca Durie’s red sandstone tombstone marker has weathered a lot of storms, but needs much restoration work. In the words of Master Stonecutter, Robert Carpenter; “There is extensive erosion throughout the interior of the stone. The center of the piece is hollow from the breakdown of the stone particles throughout the years. Water is the main reason for this as it has worked its way into this sedimentary stone along the fault lines. The inscription is still there and that is worth saving if possible.”
The Society agrees with Mr. Carpenter when he says “… this stone grave marker is unique and worth thinking about” and will restore the stone with the help of the public through their “Save the Stone” fundraiser.
If you would like to help the Society “Save the Stone,” please send your donation to P.O. Box 105, Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640. After the Rebecca Durie stone is restored, the Society will host a Tour of the Old Burying Ground for the donors who made the restoration of Rebecca’s stone possible. The tour will be followed by a reception. Please note: The Harrington Park Historical Society is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Corporation.