Sussex County celebrates history

Newton. Program sponsored by Sussex County Historical Society hightlights local history.

Sep 23 2019 | 01:11 PM

The Sussex County Historical Society presented their History Day on a stunning Saturday, Sept. 21 afternoon in the area of the Old Newton Burial Ground.

The late summer day offered historical society tables from numerous local towns like Montague, Sussex-Wantage and the Walpack Historical Society.

A Civil War encampment by the 27th New Jersey regiment was on hand explaining and demonstrating equipment and weapons. The Long Hill String Band performed two performances during the afternoon event, also on hand were Wreaths across America and the Daughters of the American Union.

The highlights of the day were the tours of the Old Newton Burial Ground Tour, complete with costumed interpreters. As the nearby courthouse was being built in 1762, land was set aside by Jonathon Hampton for the cemetery.

The first burial was two-year-old William Darby in 1770. The original rock wall built in 1837 is still unbelievably intact and preserved. Interpreters Geoffrey Ithen, Wendy Wyman, Ed Koenig, Toni Zimmer and Wayne McCabe represented many of the cemetery’s dearly departed. Telling their family stories and the history of the early county. Geoffrey Ithen as George Watson Roy expertly explained the many gravestones and markers.

“There are four basic types of stones,” Ithen said.

The four include fieldstones which are simple rocks with no carvings. Brownstones and grey stones didn’t weather well over the years. Expensive marble stones were popular for wealthy families in the 1800s and finally granite became the top pick for gravestones.

Veterans buried in the burial ground total 45 with several from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Wendy Wyman as Letitia Thornton Anderson spoke about her husband Thomas Anderson, a local lawyer who entertained General George Washington at the family home that still stands, a neat white house near the courthouse and the Newton Green.